Just the Facts? Not from Rick Snyder

Just the Facts? Not from Rick Snyder

In this week’s debate between Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, Snyder ignored the advice Sgt. Joe Friday in “Dragnet” always proffered to witnesses and suspects, “Just the facts” when it came to his record on education, jobs and the economy. That’s alright. The good folks at You Got Schooled 2014 have the facts that Snyder ignored.

Here’s a sample. Click here for the full story.

On charter schools:

Rick Snyder: “They are giving parents choice because we have had a lot of failing schools, and the point was to give parents the opportunity to give their kids an education, create competition.”

Mark Schauer: “The first thing I will do is put the money back [Snyder] took from public schools. It is irrefutable.…Charter schools were allowed to expand with no oversight. That was a big mistake by this governor.”

The facts:

  • Traditional public schools perform better than charter schools, even when poverty is taken into account.
    “According to the Free Press’ review, 38% of charter schools that received state academic rankings during the 2012–2013 school year fell below the 25th percentile, meaning at least 75% of all schools in the state performed better. Only 23% of traditional public schools fell below the 25th percentile.“Advocates argue that charter schools have a much higher percentage of children in poverty compared with traditional schools. But traditional schools, on average, perform slightly better on standardized tests even when poverty levels are taken into account.” —“Michigan Spends $1B on Charter Schools but Fails to Hold Them Accountable,” Detroit Free Press
  • More than 80% of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profit companies.
    “Michigan has more for-profit charter schools than any other state in the country. ‘We’re an anomaly in the nation,’ says Western Michigan University professor Gary Miron. He says over 80% of the charter schools in Michigan today are operated by for-profit companies, while the national rate is 35%.” —“Three Little-Known Facts About Charter Schools in Michigan,” Michigan Radio

On $1.7 billion business tax cut:

Snyder: He thinks business owners shouldn’t be taxed on income beyond what regular folks pay. He said, “We made a fair system to encourage job creation.”

Schauer: “Yes, I will repeal the job-killing pension tax. It is wrong, it is bad tax policy and it is breaking a promise.…Our ‘accountant governor’ is missing some columns on his spreadsheet and it is called people.”

The facts:

  • Snyder shifted the tax burden from businesses to individuals, so low-income individuals and seniors saw their taxes increase the most. 
    “A major tax shift approved by the Michigan Legislature in 2011 made the state’s tax system significantly more regressive by cutting business taxes by 83% while increasing taxes for individual taxpayers by 23%, with a net loss of state revenue. Low- and moderate-income families were hardest hit, as many of the credits and deductions  intended to reduce their income tax burden were reduced or eliminated, most notably a 70% cut in the state Earned Income Tax Credit—a refundable tax credit that has been shown to lift children and families out of poverty, increase employment and reduce the need for public assistance.” —“Losing Ground: A Call for Meaningful Tax Reform,” Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Snyder’s tax increases included a new tax on pensions.
    “A big and controversial part of that income tax increase was the taxing of public and private pension income. That change alone was expected to raise for the state, and cost pension-receiving taxpayers, about $343 million in fiscal year 2012–2013.

    “The changes are phased in, with those reaching the age of 67 in 2020 or after facing more taxes.

    “According to a House Fiscal Agency analysis, a retired couple born after 1952 with $48,000 in pension income would pay $3,130 more in taxes.” —“Foul on Snyder for Playing Word Games with Pension Tax,” Bridge magazine

For even more on Snyder, check out 5 Reasons Why Rick Snyder Is One of the Worst Candidates for Working Families in the 2014 Elections.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Walmart Wouldn’t Make a Dime Without Its Workers

Walmart Wouldn't Make a Dime Without Its Workers

A group of Walmart associates marched today from the AFL-CIO to the Washington, D.C., Walton Family Foundation’s offices to deliver more than 15,000 signatures from workers asking Walmart to pay $15 an hour and provide full-time hours.

Shouts of “We’re fired up! Can’t take it no more!” rang out as the workers and hundreds of supporters and allies marched down I Street and made their way to the foundation offices. Before the workers attempted to deliver the petitions, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka reminded everyone that Walmart, which rakes in billions every year, wouldn’t make a dime without its workers, yet pays wages so low that many of its workers need to rely on public assistance and food stamps to get by.

One Walmart worker, Isaiah, shared heartbreaking stories of seeing co-workers cry in the Walmart break room when they found out their hours had been cut, making it impossible to provide for their families.

When the workers got inside the office, the building manager claimed no one from the Walton Family Foundation was working today (um, OK) and said they couldn’t call the office because they didn’t know the number. “We’ll be back,” shouted the determined workers, including Bene’t Holmes who was leading some of the chants. Holmes said they weren’t going to leave the petition with the front desk and promised this is not the last time they would attempt to hand deliver those signatures.

Following the demonstration outside the office, 15 Walmart workers and supporters sat down in a cross section of the street in front of Walmart heir Alice Walton’s condo and took arrest. See some aerial views from the action below:

The workers were accompanied by union members and allies from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), AFSCME, AFT, Jobs with Justice, UNITE HERE, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), UAW, United Steelworkers (USW), the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and many others. 

See more tweets here and some photos from a similar action in New York City today:

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

NNU, AFT Urge Stronger Patient–Worker Protections in Ebola Treatments

In a letter to President Barack Obama about the growing concern over Ebola in the United States, the National Nurses United (NNU) urged the president to “invoke his executive authority” to order all U.S. hospitals to meet the highest “uniform, national standards and protocols” in order to “safely protect patients, all health care workers and the public.”

Two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas who later died have contracted the disease and there have been serious questions raised about that hospital’s protocols and preparedness and concerns if other health care facilities are prepared. In the letter, NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro writes:

Not one more patient, nurse or health care worker should be put at risk due to a lack of health care facility preparedness The United States should be setting the example on how to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

Read more here and here.

At a press conference today, AFT, which represents nurses and other health care professionals, called on all health care facilities to adopt a three-point plan as the core of their response to treating possible Ebola victims and protecting the health care workers who treat them. It includes an infectious disease control protocol and worker protections; developing a dedicated treatment team of willing staff members—doctors, nurses and support staff and providing front-line health care workers a voice in developing the procedures, protocols and plans to deal with Ebola at their facilities.

Says AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Nurses and health care professionals are the front line in this fight, and their number one priority is to keep their communities safe….Health care professionals step up when there are crises, they run toward crises.

Read more here and here.

Along with calling for stronger protocols and protections, the United States along with NNU and AFT have been providing assistance to nurses unions and health care workers organizations in West Africa who are in the center of the Ebola battle. That includes working with international organizations to provide health care workers with education, training and other support. Weingarten says:

We must deal with the Ebola crisis globally and locally.

Bonnie Castillo, RN, director of NNU’s Registered Nurse Response Network, says:

All of us have a responsibility to support the humanitarian effort and assist the heroic nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are on the front lines risking their lives to heal the thousands of infected patients in West Africa.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Walker Says Minimum Wage Serves No Purpose

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) doesn’t believe the minimum wage “serves a purpose.” Yes, that’s what he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Tuesday. It should come as no surprise then that Walker also opposes raising the federal minimum wage from the $7.25-an-hour level where it’s been stuck since 2009.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) doesn’t believe the minimum wage “serves a purpose.” Yes, that’s what he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board Tuesday. It should come as no surprise then that Walker also opposes raising the federal minimum wage from the $7.25-an-hour level where it’s been stuck since 2009.

For the 700,000 Wisconsin workers who earn less than living wages and would like to be able to support their families, Walker has some sound and sage advice. He says those workers in fast food and retail and other low-wage jobs just have to get better jobs. He suggests welding. Hand me my helmet and spot welder. Then beam yourself up, Scotty. Obviously you’re from another planet. Here’s proof.

Earlier this month, a group of low-wage workers filed a complaint with the state that the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage actually violates a state law that says the minimum wage must be a living wage.

According to the Walker administration, $7.25 an hour is a living wage. Who knew? This is what the state’sDepartment of Workforce Development said in rejecting the workers’ claim of poverty wages:

The department has determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the wages paid to the complainants are not a living wage.

You can’t make this stuff up.

The group Wisconsin Jobs Now said after that decision that Walker’s “political stance against raising minimum wage is one thing.”

But for the governor to brazenly say to the working families of Wisconsin that $7.25 an hour is enough to sustain themselves is not only misguided, it is incredibly ignorant and willfully obtuse.

We agree. So does Mary Burke who is running to unseat Walker. Burke, who supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, said the wage law does indeed serve a purpose.

It’s important that people who are working full-time are able to support themselves without government assistance. That’s just sort of common sense.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Union-Made in America Halloween Candy Shopping List

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If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is union-made in America. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, has an extensive list of union-made candies. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

1. Baby Ruth
2. Butterfinger
3. Candy House Buttons
4. Caramello
5. Clark Bar
6. 5th Avenue chocolate bar
7. Ghirardelli Chocolates
8. Halloween Candy Corn (Herman Goelitz Company)
9. Hershey’s Candy Corn Kisses
10. Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate bar
11. Hershey’s Hugs
12. Hershey’s Kisses and Kissables
13. Hershey’s Nuggets
14. Hot Tamales
15. Jelly Belly
16. Kit Kat bars
17. Laffy Taffy
18. Malted Milk Balls
19. Mary Jane
20. Mike and Ike
21. Peanut Chews
22. Rolo
23. Smarties
24. Super Ropes
25. Tootsie Roll
26. Trolli

What are your favorite union-made candies? Comment below.

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AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre: ‘We Will Get $10.10, but It’s Not Enough’

Photo by Joe Kekeris/AFL-CIO

Workers across the country are using the symbolism of Oct. 10 to amplify the call for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre commemorated the day by meeting with low-wage workers from the D.C. region who would be impacted by a minimum wage increase. Over lunch, the workers talked about what it’s like to raise their families on low pay and the challenges they face every day to make ends meet.

Here are two of their stories:

Fatmata, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia and mother of two, works at Walmart for $8 an hour. She used to dream of coming to America and providing a good life for her family, but her life doesn’t feel like the American dream. She cannot afford to feed her children without government assistance, and she frequently is forced to borrow money to pay for transportation to work and for rent. She doesn’t want to depend on outside assistance—she wants to be financially independent—but she has no choice. For Fatmata, a $2 an hour increase would be significant in many ways.

She’s asked her manager to make her full-time, but her hours vary from one week to the next, which is common practice throughout the retail industry. The United Food and Commercial Workers has strived for years to bring more attention to this problem, particularly at Walmart. This has led many Walmart employees to speak out and advocate for scheduling improvements and other workplace rights through the Our Walmart campaign.

Akofa is a taxi cab driver in Montgomery County, Md. Every day is a challenge. She’s raising three children on a single source of income. Her husband is sick and can no longer work, so she works long hours to make ends meet for her family. After deducting for gas, insurance, credit card fees and the daily expenses the cab company charges, Akofa barely takes any money home. She has no ability to save, and she struggles to even pay her rent. She described her daily life as “slavery, not work” and told Gebre, “Something is wrong if a job can’t feed you,” especially when you work more than 12 hours a day.

Akofa is grateful for the labor federation’s support and is joining her fellow drivers in organizing a union, which has already made a big difference in the way she has been treated by the cab company. A higher minimum wage would make life less burdensome, and give her and her co-workers more leverage in contract negotiations.

After hearing the workers’ stories, Gebre thanked them for having the courage to speak out. He reminded the workers that these struggles are not new, telling them, “There has been economic injustice throughout the history of our country…but it’s important to remember that things like slavery, sharecropping and child labor did not end because corporations came together and suddenly decided to. Workers came together to make the change, and the bravery of everyone here today gives me hope that it will change again.”

“The minimum wage will not be raised if politicians are not held accountable,” Gebre continued. But, as he reminded the room, a higher minimum wage is not enough. “Wages have been stagnant for a generation, and tens of millions of families live in economic insecurity. It will take political intervention to change the course of our nation, and it will take a wave of workers who are willing to stand up for their rights.”

Having heard the conviction in each of the workers’ voices and seen the look of determination in their eyes, Gebre told the room he was confident justice is coming. And, he said, it will arrive soon.

Stand with workers who want to raise the federal minimum wage and sign the petition. 

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Supreme Court Blocks Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Wisconsin from implementing the nation’s strictest voter photo ID law that could have denied more than 300,000 registered voters the right to vote in the Nov. 4 election.

The one-page order gives opponents of the law 90 days to file a formal petition asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The court’s three most conservative justices, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, dissented.

It is estimated that some 300,000 registered Wisconsin voters—mostly African American, Hispanic, students and young voters (18–24) and those older than 65—do not currently have the types of IDs the law requires.

There have been a number of legal challenges to the photo ID law that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the Republican-majority state legislature passed in 2011. The most recent when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to block the ruling.

Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair says:

As we showed in the federal District Court, approximately 300,000 registered Wisconsin voters, disproportionately voters of color, lack the forms of ID that would have been required under the state’s restrictive voter ID law. These voters have a fundamental right to vote, a right that should not be denied by politicians who manipulate the voting rules weeks before Election Day. In a democracy, elections should be free, fair and accessible to all Americans.

Also announced yesterday, a federal judge struck down Texas’ very strict voter ID law.

On Oct. 8, the key parts of North Carolina’s restrictive voting rights law go forward, and last week the court allowed new voting restrictions in Ohio that severely curtailed early voting opportunities to go forward.

The Fair Elections Legal Network says that over the past two years, more than 30 states have introduced legislation or enacted laws that would curb voters’ access to voting. Find out more here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Working Families to Join ‘Justice for All’ March in Ferguson

In September, when AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke to the convention of the Missouri AFL-CIO, he addressed the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., that led to the shooting of Michael Brown, saying that it was important for labor to be a part of the necessary conversation about race in the United States. Now the AFL-CIO, including the federation’s director of civil, human and women’s rights, Carmen Berkley, and Neidi Dominguez, assistant director of community engagement, will be in Missouri this weekend as part of the “Justice for All” events, including a national march and rally in St. Louis and Moral Monday-themed civil disobedience.

If you are going to be in the area for the national march on Saturday, please RSVP to be included as part of the working families contingent.

Learn more about all of the events, which begin today at the Ferguson October website.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Horrible: Supreme Court Allows North Carolina’s Voting Restrictions to Go Forward

North Carolina AFL-CIO photo

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday allowed key parts of one of the most restrictive voting rights laws in the nation to go forward. A federal appeals court had enjoined the provisions and North Carolina officials asked the Supreme Court to stay that ruling.

The majority of justices who voted to stay the appeals court ruling that would have reinstated same day voter registration during the early vote period and allowed the counting of ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct did not comment on their reasoning.

But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, who dissented, wrote that allowing the two provisions to stand “risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise” their right to vote.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted (5–4) the Voting Rights Act by eliminating a provision that allowed the federal government to step in and preserve the people’s right to vote in all or parts of 16 states with long histories of voter discrimination.

Justices Ginsburg said Sotomayor said North Carolina’s new restrictions on voting “likely would not have survived” scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act.

Studies show that in North Carolina, African Americans were more likely to use same-day registration than other groups. The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and organizer of the “Moral Monday” protests, said:

Tens of thousands of North Carolina voters, especially African American voters, have relied on same-day registration, as well as the counting of ballots that were cast out of precinct, for years.

The ruling means that Friday is the last day North Carolinians can register to vote. Find the latest information on voter requirements from the North Carolina Board of Elections.

The 2013 North Carolina law was pushed by extremist lawmakers, including North Carolina House Speaker and current U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory (R). It directly targets the voting power of working people by shortening early voting periods, imposing restrictive voter ID requirements in 2016, along with eliminating same-day voter registration. The law faces further legal challenges next year.

USA Today reports that Tillis trails Sen. Kay Hagen (D) by just two percentage points. Figures from the North Carolina State Board of Elections show that more than 21,000 voters registered and voted on the same day during the early voting period in 2010, and more than 6,000 voters were able to have their ballots counted even though they voted in the wrong precinct.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Wisconsin’s strict voter photo ID law soon. Last week, the court allowed new voting restrictions in Ohio that severely curtailed early voting opportunities to go forward.

In a video posted Monday on the Department of Justice website, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said:

The early voting times targeted for cancellation, including weeknight and Sunday hours, previously provided critical opportunities for many people to get to the polls [and] disproportionately affect people with child care responsibilities, hourly salaries and reduced access to transportation—people who may have difficulty getting to the polls at any other time, and who are much more likely to be low income or minority individuals.

The Fair Elections Legal Network says that over the past two years, more than 30 states have introduced legislation or enacted laws that would curb voters’ access to voting. Find out more here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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248,000 New Jobs Drop Jobless Rate to 5.9% in September

The economy added 248,000 new jobs in September, a big increase over the 180,000 jobs added in August. The unemployment rate fell to 5.9% compared to 6.1% in August, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped by 1.3 percentage points and the number of jobless workers has decreased by 1.9 million.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was 3 million, unchanged from August. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term jobless workers has decreased by 1.2 million.

AFL-CIO Policy Director and Special Counsel Damon Silvers said while the drop in the jobless rate is encouraging, wages continue to stagnate.

For the economy to work for everyone, we need to see low unemployment rates coupled with wages that are rising, like we saw in the late 1990s, when real wages rose and the jobless rate dropped as low as 4%.

While long-term joblessness has dropped some, it remains a major problem. House Republicans have, since the end of last year, refused to allow a vote on the extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits program that was approved by a bipartisan Senate majority. Now, Congress is out of session until after the election, and even then House Republicans are likely to turn their backs on long-term jobless workers again.

Last month’s biggest job gains were in professional and business services (81,000), retail trade (35,000) and health care (23,000).

Other sectors that showed increases include leisure and hospitality (21,000), construction (16,000), information (12,000), financial (12,000) and mining (9,000).

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing and government, showed little change in September.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates in September declined for adult men (5.3%), whites (5.1%) and Latinos (6.9%). The rates for adult women (5.7%), teenagers (20%) and blacks (11%) showed little change.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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