Published Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at www.TheStand.com
By David Kumler
As an academic student employee (ASE), I occupy a strange position: I’m both a student and an employee; I’m neither a student nor an employee. You see, my status with respect to these categories is constantly in flux, largely because — in the eyes of a university — sometimes it’s better if employees are seen as students, and other times it’s better if students are seen as employees. The label “academic student employee,” not unlike the term “intern,” offers many advantages to any employer interested in obtaining cheap to free labor.
On the one hand, the university would like ASEs to be perceived as employees. A university needs employees, after all, and very good ones at that. In particular, it needs highly educated and highly qualified academic staff. Unfortunately, high qualifications often come with a high price tag. While professors and full-time faculty are not always paid particularly well at the University of Washington, they are nevertheless significantly more expensive than is desirable. This puts the University of Washington — with tens of thousands of students and billions of dollars in research grants — in a bit of a dilemma: How can it fulfill its obligations to students and grant-providing organizations while keeping costs low? How it offer quality instruction and research without paying the wages that faculty expect?
One answer is to hire “academic student employees,” persons who are both teachers and learners, employees and students. These employees perform the same tasks as professors and tenured researchers — in fact, we perform many of these tasks, like teaching introductory level courses, so that tenured faculty do not have to — but are a significantly cheaper source of labor.
Of course, it is also true that, with any source of labor — cheap or expensive — an employer benefits most when employees are well-trained and well-prepared for the task they have been hired to perform. For this reason, employers pay for their workers to attend training sessions, to visit trade shows, to present and learn at conferences, to teach and learn from their peers — in a word, employers pay their employees to become more educated, because they know that this is in the best interest of the company.
The University of Washington also knows this. The administration is fully aware that it cannot hire students directly out of high school or undergraduate institutions and place these individuals in demanding research and teaching positions without providing some training. The university then has two options: First, they could hire highly qualified staff, with doctoral degrees and ample research experience. This would be a wonderful option, were it not so expensive. The university’s second option, then, is to hire less-experienced employees for a fraction of the cost. The trade-off is that the university must train these employees. Read entire article
Published Sunday, May 13, 2018 in The Columbian
By Jake Thomas, Columbian staff writer
When Monica Stonier first started working full time as a teacher in 2001, she was more focused on learning her students’ names than about her union, the Washington Education Association. But now Stonier, who has since been elected as a Democratic state representative for Vancouver, gives more thought to the future of organized labor.
Stonier said that somehow the Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based conservative think tank, found her home address. Like thousands of other public employees, she receives a letter each year reminding her that she can limit her financial support for her union.
In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a series of cases that right-to-work advocates hope will further the decline of organized labor (particularly among public-sector employees).
The Freedom Foundation has actively sought to reduce the power of public-sector unions using these rulings. Last legislative session, Stonier, and other like-minded lawmakers, passed legislation intended to minimize the impact of court rulings unfriendly to unions. This legislation could soon be put to the test.
In June, the court is expected to rule on Janus v. AFSCME. The case is centered on an Illinois state employee who is arguing that being forced to pay fees to a union for representation violates his civil rights. A ruling in favor of Janus would overturn a decades-old precedent and could significantly peel back support for politically influential public-sector unions.
“Janus is the newest attempt to undermine and destroy public-sector unions,” said Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, in a press release. “If Janus succeeds, it will be a win for powerful special interests and another setback for the struggling American middle class.”
Democrats could have reason to worry about the outcome of Janus. In 2011, Wisconsin’s Republican governor signed sweeping legislation that later undercut the finances and political influence of that state’s public-sector unions. Union membership plummeted and the once-dominant Democratic Party saw its influence wane. Read entire article
Published Friday, May 11, 2018 at www.King5.com
By Natalie Brand
The Seattle head tax debate seemingly divided the city, as well as labor groups who usually stand united.
Politically powerful unions representing home and healthcare workers, grocery workers and nurses wrote the city council in support of the tax, while key trades groups across building, shipping and the food industry sent letters in opposition.
“This is about our ability to work,” Monty Anderson of the Seattle Building Trades testified on Friday, ahead of the council committee vote.
“The ability for us to work is based on companies wanting to come here and build, and that's just a fact for us,” he continued.
Tensions over the proposed head tax escalated last week after Amazon announced it would pause construction on one of its new buildings downtown, pending a vote.
According to Anderson, Amazon would move forward with the project, if Mayor Jenny Durkan’s compromise proposal to cut the head tax in half passes, instead of the original proposal to charge $500 per full-time employee for Seattle’s largest companies.
Both Anderson and Dale Bright of Laborers International Local 242 support the Mayor’s more moderate proposal saying it strikes the right balance between protecting jobs and helping to address the homelessness crisis.
“We will support a tax, as long as it doesn't negatively impact our members. The original head tax—we have developers threatening to walk away from projects in Seattle. We build these buildings,” said Bright.
Bright says he doesn’t blame Amazon for pausing its project, but rather believes it opens the door to a compromise before it’s too late.
“I don’t really see it as bullying, they just stated their position, and it’s a fair position,” said Bright.
“They’re looking for a second headquarters, they’re looking for a place to put more employees. They’re just stating a fact that they cannot continually make it hard to do business in Seattle, or business will start to look elsewhere.”
However, supporters of the original proposal accuse Amazon of holding the city hostage. The activist labor group Working Washington even asked Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson to charge Amazon with a felony charge of “intimidating a public servant.” Read entire article
Posted by GKLYM on April 30, 2018 in seiu6.org
After a busy three months of organizing and bargaining, the hard work paid off as SEIU6 union security officers voted on Thursday to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement. The new contract sets several industry-leading standards, including a minimum wage for officers working in Seattle and Bellevue that will come into effect on May 1 at $15.65 and will increase each year, to $17.27 by 2022.
With 73% of the present membership voting “YES” to ratify, security officers overwhelmingly approved the proposal recommended by the member bargaining team.
In addition to strong wage increases, officers won stronger seniority rights, protections from mandatory overtime, established a 3-day time limit to resolve wage and hour discrepancies, guaranteed minimum pay if a shift is canceled, and more paid time off.
SEIU6 security officers will re-open negotiations this fall in order to make further improvements to healthcare.
Want to get involved so we can win big?
Contact our union at 206-448-7348 and ask for Bryce.
Published April 13, 2018 in The Stand
The following is a message from Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Jeff Johnson and Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson sent last week to the hundred of union members, stewards, staffers and leaders who attended the WSLC’s “Building Strong Unions” Labor Summit in February.
Sisters and Brothers,
On February 5th, we came together as labor and community leaders and vowed to stand together against anti-worker attacks and protect the freedom to join together in unions. At the Building Strong Unions Summit, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions highlighted our collective power and how that power makes the American Dream possible for everyone. We committed to a comprehensive program of one-on-one conversations about how we win in a “right-to-work” environment and build even stronger unions. When we plan, have conversations, recruit and train others to have conversations, and hold ourselves accountable to this at our worksites — we win. Worksite conversations are our secret weapon; listening to our members and working together is how we will grow stronger unions and a stronger labor movement.
Today, we are asking each of you to take the time this week to “Strive for Five” worksite conversations about right to work (for less), the conservative billionaires and anti-labor politicians behind these attacks, and court cases like Janus v. AFSCME that are intended to take away our freedom to join together and negotiate a fair return on our work. At our Summit we spent some time talking about the best ways to have those conversations. The three key points when talking about right to work are 1) Call out the extremists pushing RTW; 2) Describe the effect of RTW and make it personal; and 3) Explain our vision and values.
This is the first in a series of weekly emails that will give updates about the status of the Janus case that threatens to impose right to work on all public employees, talking points, and actions you can take as activists. All of materials distributed in these weekly emails, the contents of the Summit Toolkit binder, and additional materials submitted by WSLC affiliates since the Summit can be found at the WSLC website on a password-protected page. (Click here to request the link/password.) If your union is willing to share your internal organizing plans, training materials, message and talking points, membership/recommitment forms, or other materials related to this effort, please send them to David Groves at email@example.com and he will add them to this password-protected site.
On Feb. 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v AFSCME. We know Janus is a blatant attempt by right-wing individuals and corporations to take away the freedoms of working people to join together in strong unions, but we will not be deterred. Here are some important articles from The Stand with more background on the case, the threat to unions, and how we can stick together and win:
As many of us remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, we must remember what he said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and collective bargaining…”
Jeffrey Johnson, President
Lynne Dodson, Secretary Treasurer
Published April 12, 2018 in The Guardian
A nationwide network of rightwing thinktanks is launching a PR counteroffensive against the teachers’ strikes that are sweeping the country, circulating a “messaging guide” for anti-union activists that portrays the walkouts as harmful to low-income parents and their children.
The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.
Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”
The “messaging guide” is the brainchild of the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 rightwing “ideas factories” that span every state in the nation. SPN uses its $80m war chest – funded by billionaire super-donors such as the Koch brothers and the Walton Family Foundation that flows from the Walmart fortune – to coordinate conservative strategy across the country.
Another financial backer of SPN is the billionaire DeVos family of the Amway empire. Betsy DeVos is the current education secretary in the Trump administration.
SPN’s previous campaigns have included a plan to “defund and defang” public sector unions. Now it is turning its firepower on the striking teachers. Read entire article
Published April 10, 2018 in USA Today
By Nick Hanauer
Free tip from a successful businessman: Always get paid.
In selling you their trickle-down tax plan, President Trump and congressional Republicans promised you a $4,000 pay raise.
"This change, along with a lower business tax rate, would likely give the typical American household around a $4,000 pay raise," Trump said in October.
“At least $4,000,” House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasized in a post on his official website.
So now that rich people like me have gotten our billions of dollars in tax cuts, you might be wondering where your $4,000 raise is.
Spoiler alert: You’re not getting one.
Take it from someone who has helped run three dozen companies: Businesses don’t give raises because they can. Businesses give raises when they have to. They give raises when they fear losing employees to a competitor, or when the government requires them to through minimum wage laws. But businesses don’t give raises just because they got a tax cut. Businesses pay you what you can negotiate. And few employees in today’s economy have the leverage to negotiate. Read entire article
Published March 11, 2018 in the Chicago Sun-Times
The following is from Rick Hicks, President of the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28:
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust Union Chairman Chuck Mack will be at the Teamsters Building located at 14675 Interurban Ave. S. in Tukwila, WA 98168 to explain the immediate ramifications of the “Select Committee on Pension Reform” and the impact to all multi-employer defined benefit Pension Plans, including the Western Conference Pension Plan.
As the birthplace of the Western Conference Teamsters Pension Trust, Seattle will be the first stop in a series of meetings throughout the West that each Joint Council will be conducting. This is an extremely important meeting. We would like to include our local Trade Unions and Union Leaders.
If you would like to attend the meeting, you are more than welcome.
The results, unless we mobilize quickly and decisively, will be devastating to our Pension Plan.
Date: Friday, March 23, 2018
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Tukwila Teamster Building – Main Auditorium
For more information on the Select Committee on Pension Reform, see this news release from Sen. Sharrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Published March 11, 2018 in the Chicago Sun-Times
By David McGrath
I had no inkling there was a problem.
The students in my college English class were working in the computer lab, where each station has a wraparound console which affords pupils the privacy they need to concentrate on their writing. But this also means I can’t see everyone at a glance, the way I do in a regular classroom.
So not till I walked to the middle of the room, and then to the very end of a row of stations, did I see the student I’ll call William with his head buried in his hands.
“Are you feeling okay?” I whispered.
No answer. He was shaking.
Having been a teacher for over three decades, I’ve encountered students in distress. Once I had to make a referral for domestic abuse. Another time, I had to drop a student after he kept arriving inebriated.
William, it appeared, was in some kind of pain.
“Would you like me to call the school nurse?” I asked.
In the past decade, I’ve dealt with immaturity issues with students as young as 16 because of dual enrollment, a program which allows high schoolers to sign up for college classes to get a head start and save on tuition. But William looked to be about 19, average for a college freshman.
Finally, when I insisted he speak to me so that I would know how to help him, he reluctantly lifted his head.
“I can’t do this,” he said. No tears, but his eyes were red, his face a coil of hurt. “Too much pressure.” Read entire article
Published February 8, 2018 by www.HeraldNet.com
By Jerry Cornfield
One of the world’s leading aerospace industry experts is going to help the state try to convince the Boeing Co. to build its next new plane in Washington.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president of the Teal Group, will analyze the state’s competitive strengths and weaknesses to design, manufacture and assemble the New Market Airplane on the Boeing drawing boards.
He’s been enlisted by the Choose Washington Council, a coalition of representatives of local and state government, and business and labor organizations. It is tasked with making the business case for Washington as the preferred site for the new passenger plane program. The analysis, for which his firm will earn $55,000, is expected in April.
“We are seeking an outside perspective so we know where we can improve as a region,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the state Department of Commerce and a leader of the council. “We can never be complacent about these things.”
Boeing is eyeing a so-called mid-market aircraft, informally dubbed the 797. It would fit somewhere between the largest 737 and the smallest 787. With 200 to 270 seats, it would fill a niche left by the discontinuation of the Renton-built 757.
Boeing officials, who first discussed the plane openly at the Paris Air Show in June, aren’t expected to commit to this new plane before summer and only after that start thinking about where to assemble it.
“We know our state provides the best value for building that airplane,” Gov. Jay Inslee told a room full of aerospace executives and civic leaders in Lynnwood in September. “I think it’s reasonable for Washington state residents to expect that Boeing would build its next aircraft here.”
Inslee announced formation of the Choose Washington Council in December. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is a member. Other members include the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 and Aerospace Futures Alliance, which is an industry lobby group. Read entire article
Published February 5, 2018 in TheNation.com
By Michelle Chen
Are you a young adult confused about your economic future? You’re not alone. The president brags of surging markets and job growth, but you’re getting rejected for every job you apply for, scrambling to pay rent, and stuck in a dead-end retail job. Maybe it’s time to take inspiration from the latest stats about millennials: Workers age 35 and under are the main component of an unprecedented surge in union membership over the past two years.
Nationwide in 2017, nearly 860,000 workers under age 35 got hired, and nearly a quarter of those were union jobs. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, “Historically, younger workers have been less likely than older workers to be a member of union,” so in that sense there’s a lot of room to grow among younger workers, whose union membership lags behind other age groups. Millennials are responsible for a huge portion of the recent gains in union representation across the workforce, which has managed to remain fairly steady (yep, young people are keeping labor alive). Growing by some 198,000 workers, youth in union jobs are offsetting loss of union jobs in older age brackets; union jobs for workers age 45 to 54 dropped by some 75,000 over the same period.
So, in contrast to the myth of millennials’ being economically and politically adrift, they’re stepping in readily to fill the union ranks that have hemorrhaged middle-aged workers over the years—2017 actually saw an increase in the overall number of unionized workers over the previous year. A movement that we’re used to thinking of as getting older and smaller is actually growing stronger and younger—and they may well be leading the next progressive voting bloc in tandem with the labor movement.
In addition to breaking with an overall long-term decline in unionization across the workforce (now 10.7 percent), the youth surge highlights another dimension to the simultaneous rise in “gig economy” jobs. A recent analysis of job growth since 2005 reveals massive growth in temporary, irregular, or subcontracted work, known for unstable pay and precarious working conditions. And yet there hasn’t been a correlating backslide necessarily in younger workers’ labor power. There are actually signs that youth are increasingly driven to join unions precisely in response to economic precarity and eroding economic mobility. Even youth-oriented sectors have seen high-profile union victories, from digital-newsroom unions at Vice and Fusion to graduate-faculty unions at many public and increasingly, private, university campuses. Read entire article
Published January 31, 2018 in The Everett Herald
Bloomberg News and Associated Press
The Boeing Co.’s stock price jumped to an all-time high Wednesday as the company reported higher earnings in the fourth quarter of 2017 on surging deliveries of the 737 and an unexpectedly large one-time gain from U.S. tax cuts.
The world’s largest aerospace company is extending a remarkable stock rally as it benefits from strong jetliner demand and plans to ramp up output of the 737, its largest source of profit. Meanwhile, the U.S. corporate tax cuts are taking effect just as the 787 Dreamliner starts to generate hefty cash gains after a decade of losses.
The company’s stock has more than doubled since the start of 2017. Chicago-based Boeing has surpassed General Electric to become the largest U.S. industrial company by market value. Its stock price had advanced 15 percent this year alone through Tuesday, the largest gain among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Shares closed Wednesday at $354.37, up 4.93 percent — near an all-time high of $360.97, reached earlier in the trading day.
“It’s a very visible, must-own stock right now,” said Carter Copeland, an analyst at Melius Research, who added that strong numbers across the board will probably entice more investors.
Driving the bullish outlook was the announcement of results for the fourth quarter of 2017 and the full year. The company pocketed a tax boost of $1.74 a share in the quarter and expects more benefits to come this year.
Lower taxes are combining with record jetliner deliveries to fuel the cash gush at Boeing. In an earnings report, the company predicted the first annual sales growth since 2015 and said operating cash flow, a focus for investors, would climb to $15 billion.
Boeing delivered a record 763 airliners in 2017 and predicts that will rise to between 810 and 815 planes this year. It has a backlog of more than 5,800 planes valued at $488 billion, although that figure is based on list prices, and airlines usually get big discounts. Read entire article
Published January 29, 2018 by NBCnews.com
By Conor Ferguson
More than 50,000 bridges across the U.S. are falling apart and endangering drivers, according to a new report.
NBC News found cases from Florida, Georgia, Michigan and other states where pieces of crumbling bridges broke off and fell to the roadway, sometimes hitting vehicles.
In Utah, driver Mike Peterson escaped serious injury when a chunk of a bridge smashed through his windshield as he drove underneath.
"Another six to eight inches, you might not be talking to me today," said Peterson.
Using government data, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association compiled a report showing that 54,259 American bridges are "structurally deficient."
So many bridges are in need of repair, says the report, that if placed end-to-end they'd stretch nearly from New York City to Miami. And experts say that at the current rate of repair or replacement it would take 37 years to fix all the bridges.
"It really comes down a failure of leadership in Congress to address some of these issues and provide additional funding," said Dr. Alison Black, author of the ARTBA report. Read entire article
Published January 28, 2018 in USA Today
By Richard Wolf
WASHINGTON — The nation's powerful public employee unions stand to lose membership, money and political muscle at the hands of the Supreme Court this year. The only question appears to be how much.
On the court's docket next month are fees paid in 22 states by police, firefighters, teachers and other government workers who decline to join unions that must represent them anyway. But much more is at stake in a nation with declining union membership and growing economic inequality.
After three tries in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the high court is poised to reverse its own 40-year-old precedent and strike down the so-called "fair share" fees as unconstitutional. The 1977 ruling said workers did not have to pay for unions' political activity. The verdict expected by June would allow them to contribute nothing at all.
If the court's five conservatives vote the way both sides anticipate, public employee unions in traditionally Democratic states in the Northeast and West will lose those workers and the fees they pay. Other lawsuits could follow if workers are allowed to band together and seek refunds for fees already paid.
On top of that, unions are braced for a slow bleed of full dues-paying members. Until now, those workers could save only about 10% to 20% of their costs by quitting the union; a ruling against fair-share fees would enable them to become "free riders." That could force unions to raise dues on those who remain or lose clout in states such as California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"If they don't see this coming, they're totally blind," says Daniel DiSalvo, a labor expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute. He predicts public employee unions could lose from 10% to 30% of their membership and financing over time.
The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, will be heard Feb. 26 and decided by the end of June. It's backed by conservative groups that have tried for years to overturn the court's decades-old decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld charging non-members fees to pay for collective bargaining, but not politics.
The court has ruled 7-2, 5-4 and 4-4 on three similar cases in the past six years, eating away at that 1977 decision without overruling it entirely. In 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia's death a month after oral argument denied conservatives their fifth vote — a vote Justice Neil Gorsuch is widely expected to provide.
Less assured is the impact such a ruling would have on organized labor in general, and public employees unions in particular. But after a 70-year decline in union membership, the consensus is for more of the same. Read entire article
Published January 17, 2018 by the Economic Policy Institute
By Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer
The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a rule that would make it legal for employers to pocket their workers’ tips, as long as they pay those workers at least the minimum wage. The proposed rule rescinds portions of longstanding DOL regulations that prohibit employers from taking tips. We estimate that if the rule is finalized, every year workers will lose $5.8 billion in tips, as tips are shifted from workers to employers. Of the $5.8 billion, nearly 80 percent—$4.6 billion—would be taken from women who are working in tipped jobs.
DOL has masked the fact that this rule would be a windfall to restaurant owners and other employers—out of the pockets of tipped workers—by making it sound as if this rule is about tip pooling. Of course, once employers have full control of tips, one of the things they could do with those tips is distribute them to “back of the house” workers like dishwashers and cooks. But the proposed rule does not require employers to distribute the tips, so employers would be no more likely to share tips with back-of-the-house workers than they would be to make any other choice about what to do with a business windfall, including using the money to make capital improvements to their establishments, to increase executive pay, or to line their own pockets.
Many employers pocket tips even now, when it is illegal for them to do so (for example, research on workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York found that 12 percent of tipped workers had tips stolen from them by their employer or supervisor). The fact that illegal tip theft is so prevalent underscores that when employers can legally pocket tips, many will. And basic economic logic dictates that it is highly unlikely that back-of-the-house workers will get more pay. There is currently no limit to what these workers can be paid, so employers are already paying their back-of-the-house workers what they need to pay to attract workers willing to work in those jobs. If employers do share some tips with them, it will likely be offset by a reduction in their base pay, leaving their take-home pay largely unaffected. Read entire article
Published January 12, 2018 by the Economic Policy Institute
By Josh Bivens, Daniel Costa, Celine McNicholas, Heidi Shierholz, and Marni von Wilpert
The tax cut law that President Trump boasts will make his wealthy friends “a lot richer” is just the latest in a series of betrayals of working people by the administration and Congress since Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017. In addition to passing a massive tax cut for wealthy business owners, Trump and Republicans in Congress have rolled back important worker protections, advanced nominees to key administration posts who have a history of exploiting working people, and taken other actions that further rig the system in favor of corporate interests and the wealthiest Americans.
Here are the 10 worst things Congress and Trump have done to undermine pay growth and erode working conditions for the nation’s workers:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) signed into law at the end of 2017 provides a permanent cut in the corporate income tax rate that will overwhelmingly benefit capital owners and the top 1 percent. It also includes temporary reductions in the tax rates faced by the richest households and a temporary tax cut for “pass-through” business owners—a provision that has been marketed as a small business tax cut but that will actually deliver an even higher share of benefits to top one percenters than the corporate rate cuts will. While TCJA also includes some temporary cuts that could potentially benefit some low- and moderate-income families, these benefits are both stingy and temporary, whereas the tax cuts for the largest corporations have no expiration date. President Trump’s boast to diners at the $200,000-initiation-fee Mar-a-Lago Club during the holidays says it best: “You all just got a lot richer.”
The net effect of the TCJA is clearly regressive, with 83 percent of the benefits accruing to the top 1 percent by the time it is fully phased in, in 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center. Defenders of the TCJA argue that the benefits of corporate tax cuts will trickle down to workers in the form of faster productivity growth and higher wages, but this claim falls apart in the face of many real-world data points; for one thing, the historically high level of corporate profits proves we do not need to redistribute wealth upward through the tax code to give corporations funds for productivity-enhancing capital investment—they already have the funds they need.
A wide body of research finds that the benefits of a cut in corporate income taxes accrue overwhelmingly to owners of capital instead of to workers. In turn, capital ownership is extraordinarily concentrated at the top of the income distribution. For example, the top 1 percent of households own roughly 40 percent of all stocks, including those owned indirectly in 401(k)s and other savings vehicles. Read entire article
Published January 10, 2018 in Politico
By Danny Vinik
In 2013, Diana Borland and 129 of her colleagues filed into an auditorium at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Borland had worked there for the past 13 years as a medical transcriptionist, typing up doctors’ audio recordings into written reports. The hospital occasionally held meetings in the auditorium, so it seemed like any other morning.
The news she heard came as a shock: A UPMC representative stood in front of the group and told them their jobs were being outsourced to a contractor in Massachusetts. The representative told them it wouldn’t be a big change, since the contractor, Nuance Communications, would rehire them all for the exact same position and the same hourly pay. There would just be a different name on their paychecks.
Borland soon learned that this wasn’t quite true. Nuance would pay her the same hourly rate—but for only the first three months. After that, she’d be paid according to her production, 6 cents for each line she transcribed. If she and her co-workers passed up the new offer, they couldn’t collect unemployment insurance, so Borland took the deal. But after the three-month transition period, her pay fell off a cliff. As a UPMC employee, she had earned $19 per hour, enough to support a solidly middle-class life. Her first paycheck at the per-line rate worked out to just $6.36 per hour—below the minimum wage.
“I thought they made a mistake,” she said. “But when I asked the company, they said, ‘That’s your paycheck.’”
Borland quit not long after. At the time, she was 48, with four kids ranging in age from 9 to 24. She referred to herself as retired and didn’t hold a job for the next two years. Her husband, a medical technician, told her that “you need to be well for your kids and me.” But early retirement didn’t work out. The family struggled financially. Two years ago, when the rival Allegheny General Hospital recruited her for a transcriptionist position, she took the job. To this day, she remains furious about UPMC’s treatment of her and her colleagues.
“The bottom line was UPMC was going to do what they were going to do,” she said. “They don’t care about what anybody thinks or how it affects any family.” UPMC, reached by email, said the outsourcing was a way to save the transcriptionists’ jobs as the demand for transcriptionists fell.
It worked out for her former employer: In the four years since the outsourcing, UPMC’s net income has more than doubled. Read entire article
Published January 9, 2018 in www.salon.com
Amazon’s soaring stock this year has granted Jeff Bezos a title of a lifetime: the richest man in the world. Some claim that he’s the richest man in history.
While that’s debatable, Bezos is a very wealthy man and is likely to only going to get wealthier.
According to Bloomberg’s billionaire tracker, Bezos’ total net worth is $105 billion. This week alone, CNN reports he’s added $1.4 billion to his fortune; Amazon stock increased 1.4 percent on Monday and Bezos reportedly own 78.9 million shares. Market forecasters have publicly predicted that they don’t foresee a downward trend for Amazon in the near future.
It’s worth noting that Bill Gates would still likely be wealthier than Bezos now if he didn’t donate much of his wealth to charity.
The richest man in the world doesn’t become the richest man in the world without a little help, though. In Bezos’s case, his help is thousands of workers at fulfillment centers who are reportedly subjected to grueling work conditions— workers who are vital to Amazon’s success; ensuring Amazon’s picking, packaging and sorting. A new study by Policy Matters Ohio showed that more than 700 Amazon workers receive food stamps in Ohio — yet, Amazon has reportedly received an estimated $123 million in tax breaks in Ohio. That means that American taxpayers are subsidizing Bezos's fortune, as Amazon isn't paying a living wage to many workers. Read entire article