With 252,000 New Jobs, December Unemployment Drops to 5.6%

The economy added 252,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6% from November’s 5.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the year, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.1 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.7 million.

Job growth in 2014—2.95 million new jobs—was the best since 1999. But as speakers at this week’s AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages pointed out, even with better job growth this year, wages remain stagnant. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez outlined the defining economic fact of the past generation: productivity has gone way up and wages have stayed flat. (Read more about the summit here and here.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was unchanged from November at 2.8 million, and over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.1 million.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business services (52,000), construction (48,000), food services (44,000), health care (34,000) and manufacturing (17,000).

Other sectors that showed increases included financial activities (20,000), construction (20,000) and transportation and warehousing (17,000). Employment in wholesale trade and financial activities showed slight gains.

Employment in other major industries, including retail trade, mining and logging, information, warehousing and government, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in November for adult women (5%) decreased from November’s 5.2%. The rates for men (5.3%), teenagers (16.8%), blacks (10.4%), Latinos (6.5%) and whites (4.8%) showed little change in December.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Republican House Bill Cuts Workers’ Health Care Coverage

Some 1 million workers could lose their employer-provided health insurance under a Republican bill (H.R. 30) passed by the House (252-172, with 12 Democrats crossing the aisle.) today. On top of stripping health care coverage from those workers, the bill also would add some $53.2 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes just two days after Republicans approved legislation that could lead to cuts in Social Security disability and retirement benefits.

Under the ACA, large employers must provide health care coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours a week or they face a penalty. H.R. 30 kicks up the 30-hour threshold to 40 hours a week.

That increase, say health care experts, provides an incentive for employers to drop their 40-hour a week employees down to just 39 hours without a penalty and avoid any responsibility to offer health benefits.

UC Berkeley Labor Center study estimates there are 6.5 million people at risk of having their hours cut back under the Republican bill. That’s nearly three times the number (2.3 million) that are vulnerable to losing their hours under the current 30-hour threshold.

But even with the current 30-hour a week definition, some employers are cutting back the hours of workers—many of whom worked 30–36 hours a week—to duck providing health coverage and avoid paying the ACA’s penalty. The AFL-CIO and other groups support strengthening employer responsibility rules in the ACA.  Delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention 2013 approved a resolution on the ACA that includes a call for:

Applying a full employer penalty for failing to provide affordable comprehensive coverage to workers who average 20 or more hours per week and adding an employer penalty on a pro rata basis for employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week.

Since the ACA became law, the number of Americans with health insurance has increased by more than 10 million, with the majority of those receiving employer-provided health care. Since the law’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect a year ago, the percentage of uninsured has dropped from 17.1% to 12.9%.

H.R. 30 and a companion Senate bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will have on the floor before the end of January will wipe out those gains. We’ll keep you posted on the Senate bill and how you can take action.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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First Target for House Republicans? Cutting Social Security

NCPSSM photo

On the very first day that the new larger House Republican majority got to work, it made a move that could mean some 11 million people who receive Social Security disability benefits will see their lifeline benefits cut by 20% in 2016—or even cuts to Social Security retirement benefits for everyone.

No, Republicans didn’t pass a bill or hold a lengthy debate on something so important. Instead, buried in a package of rule changes, they included a provision that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) says:

would allow a 20% benefit cut for millions of disabled Americans unless there are broader Social Security benefit cuts or tax increases improving the solvency of the combined trust funds.

Republicans didn’t call it a Social Security cut. They just said they were changing the rules on what is known as reallocation, i.e., the routine transfer of funds between the Social Security retirement trust fund and the disability program.

Congress has approved those transfers 11 times in the past, but now, under the changes Republicans approved Tuesday, any reallocation must also “improve the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds.” That, say experts, means either new revenue or benefit cuts. Dylan Scott at Talking Points Memowrites:

New revenues are highly unlikely to be approved by the deeply tax-averse Republican-led Congress, leaving benefit cuts as the obvious alternative.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) slammed the House Republican action and said in a statement:

Reallocation has never been controversial, but detractors working to privatize Social Security will do anything to manufacture a crisis out of a routine administrative function. Reallocation is a routine housekeeping matter that has been used 11 times, including four times under Ronald Reagan. Modest reallocation of payroll taxes would ensure solvency of both trust funds until 2033. But if House Republicans block reallocation, insurance for disabled Americans, veterans and children could face severe cuts once the trust fund is exhausted in 2016.

The Alliance for Retired Americans called the House action:

A direct attack on seniors, disabled Americans and the Social Security trust fund…[and] a complete disregard for keeping the promise to hardworking Americans who have contributed to Social Security.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Holiday Gift Shopping? Check Out These Union-Made in America Ideas

Holiday Gift Shopping? Check Out These Union-Made in America Ideas

It’s getting there, but it’s not too late yet to find that perfect holiday gift that carries a union label and is made in America. Below is a wide range of gift possibilities, from clothes to games to sports equipment and more, made by members of UNITE HERE, Boilermakers (IBB), Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), Machinists (IAM), United Steelworkers (USW), Teamsters (IBT), UAW, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW) and United Farm Workers (UFW).

This list is compiled from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411Union Plus, the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department and the BCTGM website. Check them out for even more gift ideas.

Apparel and Accessories

Brooks Brothers (UNITE HERE)

Joseph Abboud (UNITE HERE)

Majestic Athletic (UNITE HERE)

Timex watches (IAM)

Naturalizer shoes (UFCW)

Nunn Bush shoes (UFCW)

Red Wing Shoes (UFCW)

Beauty Products

Avon (UFCW)

Caress skin care (UFCW)

ChapStick (USW)

Dove beauty products (UFCW)

Revlon (UAW)

Old Spice (UFCW)

Games

(All made by RWDSU/UFCW)

Barrel of Monkeys

Battleship

Candy Land

Chutes and Ladders

Clue

Connect 4

Game of Life

Hi Ho Cherry-O

Monopoly

Mouse Trap

Operation

Pictionary

Risk

Scrabble

Sorry

Taboo

Twister

Yahtzee

Sports Equipment

American Athletic (Russell Brands) (UAW)

Louisville Slugger (UAW and IBT)

MacGregor Golf clubs (IBB)

Standard Golf (IAM)

Top-Flite golf balls (IBB)

Stocking Stuffers

Rayovac batteries (IBT and UAW)

Bic Lighters (USW)

Ghirardelli chocolates (BCTGM)

Jelly Belly (BCTGM)

Laffy Taffy (BCTGM)

Tootsie Roll Pops (BCTGM)

Wine and Beer

(Wines brought to you by UFW.)

Chateau Ste. Michelle (IBT)

Columbia Crest

St. Supery

Charles Krug

C.K. Mondavi

Gallo of Sonoma

Miller Beer (UAW and IBT)

Miller High Life

Miller Genuine Draft

Miller Lite

Milwaukee’s Best

Icehouse

Red Dog

Anheuser-Busch (IBT and IAM)

Budweiser

Budweiser American Ale

Bud Light

Michelob

Shock Top

Busch

Rolling Rock

O’Doul’s

If You’re in the ‘Big Spender’ Category (UAW)

Jeep

Ford Mustangs

Cadillacs

See more cars made by UAW.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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321,000 New Jobs Added in November, Jobless Rate Remains 5.8%

The economy added 321,000 jobs in November—a big jump from October’s 214,000—and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the year, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.2 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.7 million.

But even with better job growth this year—wages remain stagnant, with the median family income in the United States falling back to 1995 levels. Earlier this week, the BLS reported that productivity increased in the 3rd Quarter by 2.1%, but that unit labor costs fell by 1.5% because wage gains are still lagging productivity growth.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 2.8 million, slightly down from October’s 2.9 million. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.2 million.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business services (86,000), retail trades (50,000), health care (29,000), food services (27,000) and manufacturing (25,000).

Other sectors that showed increases included financial activities (20,000), construction (20,000) and transportation and warehousing (17,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, wholesale trade, information and government, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in November for adult men rose to 5.4% from 5.1%. The jobless rates for adult women (5.3%), teenagers (17.7%), blacks (11.1%), Latinos (6.6%) and whites (4.9%) showed little change in November.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Rally Urges Court to End Pregnancy Discrimination

Rally Urges Court to End Pregnancy Discrimination

No one should have to choose between their job and the health of their pregnancy. Peggy Young was forced to do just that in 2006 when she became pregnant and her employer, UPS, refused to accommodate her with light duty as her doctor recommended. She was forced to take unpaid leave and go without her employer-provided health coverage.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard her case claiming UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Outside, about 200 of her supporters from women’s groups across the political spectrumrallied in her support.

Moms Rising Executive Director Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner says:

Far too many employers are either ignoring or misinterpreting the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was expressly designed to protect pregnant workers from discrimination and promote their economic security.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes:

Peggy Young’s Supreme Court case sounds like a throwback to the “Mad Men” era, when employers weren’t expected—or required—to welcome women in general and pregnant women in particular.

Young’s story is, says Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, “ unfortunately, not unusual, as reflected in the number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.” She adds:

Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and are breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families….When employers deny equal treatment to these women, they force workers like Peggy Young to make an impossible choice between jeopardizing their families’ financial security and following their doctors’ advice for a healthy pregnancy.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Put Union Plus Discounts on Your Holiday Shopping List

Photo by Poulet Sue via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s easy to get into the better-to-give-than-receive generous holiday shopping spirit. But it doesn’t hurt to save a few bucks, too, and Union Plus can help you stretch your holiday budget with money-saving discounts and special deals exclusively for union families.

There are Union Plus discounts on laptops, wireless phones, union-made clothing, movies, car rentals and a lot more, including treats and toys for your favorite four-legged family member. But please, no reindeer antlers, let your fur kids have a little bit of dignity.

Click here to see all the gift possibilities from Union Plus.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Here’s Your Union-Made in America Thanksgiving Shopping List

Before you put together your Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, check our list of union-made in America food and other items that are essential to a traditional family Thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanks, a big “thank you” to the Union Label and Service Trades Department (ULSTD), Union Plus and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, for compiling their extensive catalogs of union-made products.

Here are some of the best union-made Thanksgiving eats and cookware from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM); Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP); Machinists (IAM); United Steelworkers (USW); and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Appetizers

Kraft/Nabisco crackers—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) crackers—BCTGM

Keebler (Kellogg) crackers—BCTGM

Turkey 

Boar’s Head—UFCW

Butterball—UFCW

Foster Farms—UFCW

Thumann’s—UFCW

Side Dishes

Ocean Spray whole berry cranberry sauce—IAM

Birds Eye vegetables—UFCW

Bread 

Pillsbury crescent rolls, frozen and ready to bake rolls/breads—BCTGM

Pillsbury pie crusts—BCTGM

Stroehmann bakery products (for stuffing)—BCTGM

Dessert

Sara Lee pumpkin, apple pie—BCTGM

Mother’s Kitchen cheesecakes—BCTGM

Nabisco (Mondelez) cookies—BCTGM

Rich Products pies and cakes—BCTGM

Cookware/Cutlery

Cutco knives—USW

All-Clad cookware—USW

Corning—USW

Ware—USW

Fiestaware—GMP

Anchor Hocking—GMP

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Jobless Rate Dips to 5.8% with 214 New Jobs Added in October

The economy added 214,000 jobs in October, down from September’s 248,000 new jobs, but the unemployment rate fell to 5.8% compared to last month’s 5.9%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since the beginning of 2014, the unemployment rate has dropped by .8 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.2 million.

While jobs are being created—about 200,000 a month for the past year—wages remain stagnant, with the median family income in the United States falling back to 1995 levels. Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said:

The good news is that manufacturing jobs have grown over the past few months. The bad news is that they haven’t grown fast enough. I’m very concerned that a surge of imports from China and a paucity of public investment in infrastructure will continue to hamper the great potential of the productive sector of our economy….No doubt the economic anxiety that many Americans still feel is compounded by stagnant wage growth and diminished opportunities for middle-class careers.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 2.9 million, slightly down from September’s 3 million. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.1 million.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in food services (42,000), professional and business services (37,000), retail trades (27,000) and health care (25,000).

Other sectors that showed increases include manufacturing (15,000), transportation and warehousing (13,000) and construction (12,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, wholesale trade, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in September declined for whites (4.8%) last month. The rates for adult men (5.1%), adult women (5.4%), teenagers (18.6%), blacks (10.9%) and Latinos (6.8%) showed little change in October.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Paid Sick Leave, Minimum Wage, Equal Pay and Other Ballot Measures Fare Well

In an election night that was rather bleak for working families and their candidates, one bright spot was the success of several state ballot initiatives dealing with some core worker issues, including wages, equal pay, education and paid sick leave. Here’s a quick look.

In an election night that was rather disappointing for working families and their candidates, one bright spot was the success of several state ballot initiatives dealing with some core worker issues, including wages, equal pay, education and paid sick leave. Here’s a quick look:

  • Voters approved increases to the minimum wage in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as Oakland and San Francisco, Calif.
  • In victories for working women and families, voters in Oregon approved the Equal Pay Measure and in Massachusetts a measure calling for up to 40 hours a year of paid sick leave for employees was approved. Paid sick leave measures in Oakland, Calif., Montclair and Trenton, N.J., also won.
  • Measures to strengthen voting right were approved in Missouri, Montana and Illinois.
  • New York voters passed Proposal 3, an education funding initiative, and in Missouri, Amendment 3, which would have weakened due process for teachers and would take local control of schools away from parents, teachers and school districts, was defeated.
  • In Anchorage, Alaska, voters defeated AO-37, which would have introduced “right to work” for less measures in the city and prevented collective bargaining for city employees.
  • California voters also struck a blow to unfair laws and passed Prop. 47, dealing with mass incarceration and unfair sentencing for nonviolent crimes.
  • Important tax and budget ballot initiatives won approval in Alaska,
    Illinois and North Dakota.
  • Transportation funding measures were approved in Maryland, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Clayton County, Ga., voters approved a contract with public transportation provider MARTA.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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