The People Who Make Reality TV Make Trashy Wages, But That Could Change: Punching In

What’s the matter with Alabama?

In the Deep South, the number of African-American elected officials is increasing while their political power is shrinking. What’s going on?

New Koch is about as good as New Coke

AFSCME’s Lee Saunders picks apart the Koch Brothers’ recent charm offensive.

The reality of reality television

New York City Councilman Daneek Miller stands up for mistreated reality show writer-producers.

Coffee with a side of social justice

This new coffee shop is staffed by homeless people…and it’s working.

116 Win Union Plus Scholarships

116 Win Union Plus Scholarships

The 2014 Union Plus Scholarship program has awarded 116 union members and union family members $150,000 in higher education scholarships, ranging from $500 to $4,000. Click here to see the scholarship winners and their unions.

Union Plus Scholarships were introduced in 1992 to help support union members, leaders and families in their pursuit of higher education. To date, Union Plus has awarded more than $3.6 million in educational funding to more than 2,400 active and retired union members, their spouses and dependent children.

Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school or a recognized technical or trade school. Recipients are selected based on academic ability, social awareness, financial need and appreciation of labor.

The students selected for university, college, trade school or technical scholarships represent a wide sampling of backgrounds, union affiliations, goals and accomplishments. The selection process is very competitive, with more than 5,000 applications each year.

For information about obtaining the Union Plus Scholarship and how to apply to the program, click here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Taxi Drivers Unite Against Uber: Punching In

Federal ruling changes the way NCAA does business

On Friday, it was decided that Division 1 basketball and football players can receive money for the use of their names and images.

Uber unites taxi drivers, unexpectedly

Cab drivers have joined forces to protest car services like Uber and Lyft, while modernizing their business practices.

Fair scheduling

Part-time employees working at a New Hampshire chain of supermarkets are protesting cuts to their work hours.

Inequality is still an issue…

And these mayors compiled a report that shows the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening.

Why Is This Woman Smoking At Her Desk? Doesn’t She Know What Year It Is?

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With Mad Men wrapping up this season, we will no longer be getting a weekly dose of what the workplace was like during the 1960′s.

Well, in a way, we will.

Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks appeared in a video on the site Funny Or Die this week in which she points out that when it comes to wages for women and the gender pay gap, we’re very much stuck in the 1960′s.

Hendricks appears as her Mad Men character Joan Holloway, recently hired at a modern office. She is hopelessly out of place: she can’t use the modern phones, mixes a martini instead of using the water cooler, and even tries to erase text on her computer with the back of a pencil.

When questioned about her odd behavior, she brings up a few key statistics: women make 23 percent less than their male counterparts, nearly 70 percent of minimum wage workers are women, and only 15 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female.

“So I figure if we’re going to run our businesses like it’s the 1960′s,” she says, “I’m going to act like it.”

“Or I could’ve had a stroke…I smoke a lot.”

Here’s what Hendricks doesn’t mention: that lawmakers across the country are working to to make these grim statistics a thing of the past, and that there are forces fighting equally as hard to keep the status quo.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) would have made it harder for companies to pay women less than men and easier for women to take legal action against employers who deliberately pay them less. On April 9, 43 Republican Senators and 1 Independent joined to filibuster the bill, requiring a 60 vote threshold and denying us a public debate.

As for low wages, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, but it never reached an up-or-down vote. On April 30, 41 Republicans lead by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell filibustered the bill. All this while at least 69 percent of Americans support raising the wage.

(More on the ridiculousness of these filibuster votes and how the media reports them.)

Luckily, there’s been action in the states. In June, Massachusetts became the tenth state this year to raise the minimum wage, a list that includes Republican-dominated Michigan. And Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) signed into law a statewide version of Sen Mikulski’s pay gap bill in the Granite State.

Like its viral video hit “Minimum Wage Mary Poppins” last month, Funny Or Die is writing the book on how to use parody videos to shed light on economic issues. But often, when you include the part of the story about the individuals and forces working hard to keep things the way they are–or make them worse–everyone stops laughing.

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A Male CEO Is Stepping Down to Spend More Time With His Family. No, Seriously: Punching In

From CNN to anti-union

Charles P. Pierce dives into what Campbell Brown is doing and why.

A new bill of rights

San Francisco is considering a groundbreaking bill of basic rights for retail workers.

Great memo, or greatest memo?

Tech CEO Max Schireson tells us why he’s stepping down–to (actually) spend more time with his family.

Last year’s rent, this year’s rent, next year’s rent

Seven charts showing that indeed, the rent, is too damn high.

A Brief History of Why We Still Have Tax Breaks for Companies That Ship Jobs Overseas

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There was a lot going on in the news last week, so no one would blame most Americans for missing a key vote in the U.S. Senate.

On July 30, 42 Senators, 41 of them Republican, filibustered a bill called the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would have ended tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and eased the tax burden for companies who wanted to bring jobs back to the United States.

Let’s be clear about this. They filibustered the bill, meaning they didn’t even allow it to go to a full debate. They didn’t allow it to reach an “up or down vote,” where it would’ve only needed a simple majority of 50 votes to pass.

The filibuster started as a last ditch, emergency maneuver where a Senator could stand up and talk for hours upon hours to keep a vote from happening. The only way to stop the speech was a vote of 60 present Senators. But since 2008, Senate Republicans–under the direction of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)–have used the filibuster to block everything from economic stimulus to reauthorizing longstanding funding. Basically nothing can move without reaching that 60 vote threshold.

These filibusters and “cloture votes” have become so common in the last 6 years, barely anyone in Washington acknowledges how wildly ridiculous they are. The media, eager not to blame any party or individual in particular, still publish headlines like “bill fails 59-41″ without mentioning that there were 59 YES votes, and that a 41 vote minority oddly had the power to stop the bill in its tracks.

Last November, Democrats lead by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) successfully ended the use of the filibuster only for certain votes; specifically, votes on presidential appointments like judges (but not Supreme Court judges) and key government officials. Sen. McConnell and his allies howled, as if this had come out of nowhere and they hadn’t abused the filibuster for 6 years. The media pushed this as a big event, leading many Americans to believe the filibuster had ended outright.

Oh no. It’s very much alive. And 2014 has seen its fair share: renewing unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, and much more.

So why fight so hard to preserve tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas? Steelworkers President Leo Gerard documents some of the reasons given:

Some Republican Senators stomped their feet and demanded continued subsidies for offshoring of jobs unless the entire tax code was overhauled, a feat that seems, well, somewhat unlikely from this record-breaking, do-nothing, Republican-thwarted Congress.

In other words: we don’t want to change the tax code until we change the whole tax code all at once. That’s not typically how things get done.

Other Republicans protested the cost. It’s true that over a decade, the change from tax breaks for offshorers to tax breaks for onshorers was projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation to cost $214 million. That’s million, not billion. And it’s over a decade, so $21.4 million a year.

Is that too high a price tag? Well…

That’s not chump change, but for comparison purposes, the state of Tennessee gave Volkswagen $165.8 millionthis year to expand its Chattanooga assembly plant. In 2008, Tennessee gave VW $577 million to build the factory in the state. That’s more than $742 million from one state to one company over six years, or, to put it another way, $123 million a year. That’s nearly six times the annual national cost of the Bring Jobs Home Act…there’s something deeply wrong with forcing Tennessee taxpayers to spend hundreds of millions to bring jobs to their state, and, at the same time, subsidize corporations moving jobs out of the state and the country.

Blocking the Bring Jobs Home Act and giving halfhearted excuses is bad enough. The other half of the injustice is how they blocked it, and how filibusters of much-needed legislation happen so often that it gets buried at the bottom of the weekly news.

Photo of Senator Mitch McConnell by Gage Skidmore

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Ga. Governor Agrees His State Is Great for Business Because Workers Are Cheap

Here’s your rage-inducing video clip of the day. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal agrees in a CNBC interview his state is a real “deal” for businesses because workers are paid so little. Oh yeah, he directly ties this with being a “right to work” state.

Here’s a handy graphic from our friends at Working America that explains all you need to know about right to work states and the raw deal workers get there:

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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ID Required: Use These Photo ID’s To Vote In North Carolina

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Starting in 2016, voters will be required to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballots in person.

Supporters of the law claim it will reduce voter fraud, yet voter fraud has been negligible. More likely is that they wish to suppress the votes of the many groups of people who may find the photo ID hurdle too much to overcome. These groups include blue collar laborers, minorities, students, youth, and the elderly.

Acceptable IDs include:

  • a NC driver’s license,
  • a NC identification card,
  • a US passport,
  • a  US military ID or Veterans ID card,
  • or a tribal enrollment card from a federally or NC recognized tribe.

Please note: No student IDs will be accepted, not even ones from North Carolina state colleges and universities.

Due to perfectly reasonable circumstances, not everyone has a photo ID. For some residents, obtaining one is a difficult task.

As a Quaker, I know many folks at the Quaker-run retirement homes in Greensboro. Many of them are elderly and obtaining a photo ID may prove difficult. Many have been too unhealthy to drive for years and therefore they don’t have valid driver’s licenses. As well, because they do not drive, transportation to a DMV office is difficult. Some often do not have relatives or friends nearby to rely on to drive them to get a photo ID. One woman I know there was permanently injured in an automobile accident years ago.  She has no reliable transportation anywhere. Additionally, finding the documents required for such an ID (such as a birth certificate or marriage license) can also be an obstacle.

Everyone should be able to cast a ballot unhindered. Demanding a photo ID creates nothing but a problem for people who have been voting without incident for years. Especially because it was passed to solve nonexistent fraud. We must elect people who will erase the photo ID requirement.

Photo courtesy of Theresa Thompson via Flickr.

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New Rules For College Athletes: Punching In

The involuntary part-time worker

For many, full-time work is difficult to come by.

When overtime doesn’t pay

Overtime reform could lead to middle-class growth.

College athletes may see a new set of rules

The N.C.A.A. may let college programs make their own rules.

6 Ways to Reconnect Hard Work with Decent Pay

Photo by Annette Bernhardt/Wikimedia Commons

It’s pretty frustrating seeing all the headlines that claim the economy is alive and kicking. Sure, there is economic growth and a steady increase in jobs, but what kind of jobs are we talking about exactly?

Well, they aren’t the kind of jobs we think of first when it comes to steady, middle-class jobs. No big surprise here, low-wage service sector jobs like those in the fast-food industry are seeing the biggest gains.

Bryce Covert at The New Republic has a nice summary of what America’s workers are up against when it comes to wages.

Covert emphasizes the need for “ways to reconnect hard work and decent pay” that “hand employees more power so they can ask for more.” What does she have in mind?

  • Making it easier for workers to unionize and demand better pay;
  • Aiming for full employment, so all people who want a job can have one for as many hours as they need;
  • Urging the Federal Reserve to be more concerned about unemployment than inflation;
  • Following the German model of putting workers on corporate boards, so firms are not used as piggy banks to pump money out to shareholders;
  • Providing a path to citizenship for undocumented workers; and
  • Raising the minimum wage.

Covert discusses more than just minimum wage workers and the fast-food industry, she points out other issues, including wage theft, the uphill battle for workers trying to form unions, NFL cheerleaders getting paid what sometimes amounts to $2 an hour, unscrupulous employers exploiting immigrant workers and more.

Make sure you read the rest of Covert’s article on decent wages: The NFL Cheerleaders Should Be Your Fair-Pay Heroes.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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