Never Too Young

America has had a proud tradition of fighting against child labor…….especially in the early years of the 20th century……but in case my reader needs a reminder…….

1904 National Child Labor Committee forms……… Aggressive national campaign for federal child labor law reform begins

1916 New federal law sanctions state violators……. First federal child labor law prohibits movement of goods across state lines if minimum age laws are violated (law in effect only until 1918, when it’s declared unconstitutional, then revised, passed, and declared unconstitutional again)

1924 First attempt to gain federal regulation fails……….. Congress passes a constitutional amendment giving the federal government authority to regulate child labor, but too few states ratify it and it never takes effect

1936 Federal purchasing law passes Walsh-Healey Act ………..states U.S. government will not purchase goods made by underage children

1937 Second attempt to gain federal regulation fails…………. Second attempt to ratify constitutional amendment giving federal government authority to regulate child labor falls just short of getting necessary votes

1937 New federal law sanctions growers Sugar Act makes sugar beet growers ineligible for benefit payments if they violate state minimum age and hours of work standards

1938 Federal regulation of child labor achieved in Fair Labor Standards Act……… For the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.

I know….thanks for the history lesson but why bring all this up?  I read some news the other day that made me think about the history I just wrote about………

Children are toiling in unsafe conditions, suffering everything from breathing problems to vomiting, and putting in 12-hour days and 72-hour weeks. Think we’re talking a third-world sweatshop? It’s what’s happening right now on US tobacco farms, Human Rights Watch alleges in a report today. The group spoke to 141 tobacco farm workers aged 7 to 17, and found that many came in bare-skin contact with tobacco plants. That can cause acute nicotine poisoning—and indeed, 66% of those polled reported symptoms consistent with that, including dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

“On the first day when I was working [chemicals] got on my face a lot and I didn’t know until I got home later that my face was burning,” one 13-year-old worker tells the BBC. US labor laws protecting child laborers have exceptions for agricultural jobs, the group explains, allowing children of any age to work the fields, and those 12 and older to work unlimited hours. An attempt to change that for tobacco farms died in 2012. HRW shared its findings with tobacco producers, and most expressed concern. Philip Morris, which has the toughest child labor policy, tells Reuters that it believes there’s an opportunity to impose an industry-wide standard. The complete report is here.

Child labor is something we here in the US condemn 3rd world countries for allowing to exist…..it is not something that needs to be watched in our country, right?

There was a time and a place when child labor could have made some sense…..but today a child needs to be educated….not working his ass off in some field.

Labor For Life

In my younger more impetuous days I was a labor organizer and since then I am always reading about the movement and trying to decide where it is going in this country…….

In modern politics the word labor and unions are dirty words in conservative circles……..this institution has been blamed for all sorts of woes…it has been blamed for a wide array of situations from the high cost of cars to poor educational performance to the unwanted outcome of elections…..in short…..unions are the anti-Christ in some corners.

The perfectly executed character assassination of unions has, in my opinion, has lead to a weakening of labor’s position in the workplace which in turn has slowly fueled the demise of the middle class….

Fast forward to this week……the ‘big story’ has been the union vote in a VW plant in Tennessee on whether to unionize or not….BTW the union lost out in that vote…..they voted to NOT unionize…….

The obvious loser in last week’s failed bid to unionize the Volkswagen auto plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the United Auto Workers. The union was counting on a victory at the German-owned plant, which stayed officially neutral in the unionizing effort but hinted it welcomed a platform for organizing other plants in the South.

But the vote — and the forces that had arrayed themselves against the UAW — could also represent a setback for the economy and blue- and white-collar employees, a number of auto-industry and economic experts suggested.

U.S. management and labor organizations have battled each other —with both sides wasting resources in the process — ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor used his “scientific” methods a century ago to de-skill and control production workers, explained James P. Womack, founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and a co-author of “The Machine That Changed The World.” For Womack, the acrimonious fight and vote in Chattanooga was part of a historical continuum that has often hobbled U.S. industry, especially in the face of international competitors who embraced much more collaborative approaches to management.

My personal opinion was that it would not succeed in unionizing the plant….after all it is in the South and Right To Work is strong in the region…….so was the vote a big win for VW?  I thought so until I read another article shortly after the vote…….

The head of Volkswagen’s General Works Councils in Germany is threatening to block any further investment in the southern United States, Reuters reports, after workers at VW’s Chattanooga plant voted against union representation. “I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the South again,’ Bernd Osterloh said. “We as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of one. Osterloh blames US conservatives for stirring up “massive anti-union sentiments.” He serves on a 20-member supervisory board split evenly between workers and management that could block future investments unless Chattanooga gets a German-style workers’ council. VW would still like to create a council without the United Auto Workers union, the New York Times reports, but legal experts say that might violate federal laws against company-controlled worker groups. Some anti-UAW workers have offered to set up an alternative union to get around the problem.

An interesting turn of the screw, right?  With all that info in hgand, who would you say was the big winner in this situation?

Please throwing your hat into this conversation.  I would like to have as many thoughts as possible……

Income Inequality

It seems that the more the term is used the more it is becoming the latest buzz term….a dog whistle for the Left…..the Left?  I am so tired of that term!  There is NO one in Washington that is on the Left.  At best the ass clowns are solidly in the middle….with that said I will move on……

For the last couple of months the term “income inequality” has been batted around and used for talking points……..but is any of this going to do any good?  Or is it just something to talk about until a bigger news story breaks?

Any way….the prez has jumped onto the subject……

President Obama raised this issue yesterday in a speech to a progressive audience so I think it’s a worthy topic for discussion. In the President’s view, income inequality and disparity are issues which only the government can “solve” by some sort of redistribution scheme. However, the President offered no specifics, he only encouraged congress to […]

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As an old hippie commie pinko and about a hundred other adjective that people used in the past to describe me and people like me………I have been bitching about income inequality for decades…..usually to deaf ears until recently…….there seems to be a growing concern over something that has plagued American workers for years……but what if anything will be the answer to solving the problem?  I have a plan but NO one will like it…….and then I will once again be bombarded with the insults on my political beliefs…..cool, huh?

Hire The Elderly PSA

On occasion I do what I consider a public service post….this is one.

I am an old fart and retired…..there are times I wish I could work but the accident with Katrina left me all but lame……I know I have several retired followers and some may want to work and they may not know just how to go about it…..the Week came up with a good list and I want to share it with my readers……it is an issue that not much is said…….we are aged not dead!

1. Don’t … try harder
You read that right. Don’t.

If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while, with little or no success, you may have heard this platitude: Just try harder! But according to Bob Sullivan, co-author of The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck to Success, it’s actually the worst thing that you can do in this situation.

“When you find yourself putting more and more effort into something that’s getting less and less results, it’s not a sign that you should keep trying — it’s just the opposite,” says Sullivan. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should stop putting in effort altogether. Rather, you should try something different, whether it’s re-vamping your LinkedIn profile, networking more consistently, or working with a career coach to more effectively bust through a job-hunt rut.

2. Do … make your resume ageless
Lisa Johnson Mandell was in her late 40s when she suddenly found herself without a job. Although she made sure to show off her 20-plus years of experience as an entertainment reporter on her résumé, after countless job applications went unanswered, her husband gave her the hard truth. “He said, ‘Lisa, don’t hate me, but you really look kind of old on paper,’ ” she recalls.

So Mandell removed key age indicators from her resume, such as the year she graduated from college and the lengths of time that she was employed. “As soon as I sent out this new résumé that wouldn’t tell anybody how old I was, I started getting responses — I’m not kidding you — within 20 minutes,” she says. “And, in two weeks, I had three full-time job offers.”

The result wasn’t just a new gig, either — she also wrote a book, Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want, in which she shares strategies for giving a resume a more youthful spin. “Somebody in their 20s looks at 20-plus years of experience and puts you in the same age group as a mother or grandmother,” she says. Of course, in an ideal world, experience should trump age, but Mandell adds that “if you’re really intent on getting a job, you have to make concessions.”

3. Do … brush up on your interview skills
If you haven’t interviewed in a long time, you could probably use some practice. Instead of role-playing with a too-comfortable friend, try going on a few interviews for jobs that you aren’t as jazzed about “because what you don’t want is to go on an interview for the job that you most want and screw up,” explains Art Koff, founder of RetiredBrains.com, which connects older workers with employers. “Every interview is a learning process.”

You may also want to record yourself speaking. It’s a tip that David Welbourn received while making a career switch at the age of 59 from a fundraising post at a hospital to a director role at a nonprofit. His advice: “Listen to your own voice, and ask yourself: Do I have enough emotion? Do I sound like I care?”

4. Don’t … write off temporary or part-time work
“Employers are particularly receptive to hiring the over-50 set on a part-time, temporary or project basis,” says Koff. “The employers get experienced, reliable employees, and in most cases, they don’t have to pay benefits for these positions, making these workers cost-effective.”

Koff even advises reaching out to a company that you admire and offering to work on a part-time, trial basis. “It gives you a little bit of a leg up because the employer can then say, ‘We can hire this guy, and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll let him go,’ ” he says.

In fact, that’s exactly how Evelyn Wolovnick found her way back into the workforce after being laid off from her job at an insurance company at the age of 59. After writing a few letters to companies suggesting that they hire her on a temporary basis, she landed a part-time consulting gig with a business in Chicago. Wolovnick signed the six-month contract six years ago — and she’s still happily employed.

5. Do … start a blog
Blogging about your field will help alleviate younger hiring managers’ concerns about your tech-savviness, advises Mandell. “It shows that you’re web savvy and that you’re up-to-the-minute in your field,” she says. “If you’re blogging about the latest advancements going on in your field, potential employers will say, ‘Wow, this person is really current.’ “

6. Do … give yourself a makeover
Mandell often advises older job seekers to make an effort to look younger, like dying gray hair or shaving your head to disguise balding. “It sounds kind of vacuous, but it really can make a difference,” she says.

Welbourn received similar advice during his job hunt. “Somebody mentioned to me that I should get my teeth whitened, and dress a little less formally,” he recalls. “It doesn’t show a lack of understanding of the corporate culture — it shows confidence in being able to be a little informal with people in an informal setting.”

7. Don’t … ignore alternative ways to make money
There are a number of things that you can do on the side to earn money while you look for more permanent employment, such as freelancing in your field or even participating in market research surveys. “If you’re working a 30-hour side gig, we’re talking about making anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 on a monthly basis,” Koff says.

There’s also an added bonus to this approach: If you’re forced to step away from a full-time job, you may stumble onto something different — and even more lucrative. Koff recalls the story of one man who, after being laid off in his 50s, said to his wife, “After all these years, I’m going to finally clean out my garage.” He did such a great job that he now operates a garage-cleaning company that staffs five employees!

8. Do … view your age as an asset
While working with New Directions, a company that provides career transition training, Welbourn learned how he could differentiate himself from younger competition. “I got wonderful coaching about how to make the case for myself not as an older person,” he says, “but as an experienced individual who was less likely to be fooled by situations, and someone with a good track record of success.”

I have done #5 and now I wait for the offers to come pouring in…..I jest…..any thoughts or additions that I have missed?

The Economy Is Healing

Or is it?

We seem to have great news ever month and every quarter that the unemployment is down, jobs are created and the GDP is slow but looking good……right?

The media leaps onto the news with both feet…..they have to keep high end investors happy and optimistic….they need to help them make the decision on where to put their billions that they are holding…..all in all the macro sector is looking good….the micro sector sucks and sucks big time!

Explain to me how you can say that the economy is doing well when this is happening…..

Temp jobs made up about 10 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, and because of high turnover (the average length of temp employment is 3 months before a worker moves on to a permanent job), one in 10 non-farm workers were employed by a US staffing firm at some point during the past year, according to ASA. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all jobs gained since the recession ended have been temporary.

Many workers now have to periodically revalidate their status via systems of “continuous professional development”; almost all work, no matter how menial, involves self-surveillance systems in which the worker is required to assess their own performance. Pay is increasingly correlated to output, albeit an output that is no longer easily measurable in material terms. For most workers, there is no such thing as the long term.

Part time work and low wages these are what some are calling a recovery…..to me there is NO recovery as long as Americans are being hampered from making an adequate living…..the only way for the economy to truly heal is to grow the Middle Class…..and how can we do that since corporations will not?

From the CAP Action War Room….and it is a good plan…..

  • Investments in growing the middle class: Investing in education, infrastructure, energy, and innovation boosts the economy today and helps create the job creators and strong middle class that will fuel economic growth tomorrow.
  • Everyone paying their fair share: Tax cuts for the wealthy and huge corporations don’t grow the economy. If the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share, we simply cannot afford to make the investments in the middle we need to in order to grow the economy.
  • Minimum wage: Nobody who works full time in America should have to live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage will lift people out of poverty and create more consumers to help fuel the economy.
  • Health security:  Millions of Americans will soon have access to quality, affordable health care for the first time and the 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance are seeing new benefits and better coverage as a result of Obamacare.
  • Retirement security:  We need to strengthen both Social Security and our private retirement system so middle-class Americans can afford to retire and live with dignity, a promise beyond the reach of too many.
  • Affordable housing:  The housing market is recovering, but we need to implement additional policies and reforms to help those who are still underwater and the millions who can’t get a loan to buy a home today.

The sad part is that there is not a elected official at any level, federal, state or local, that is willing to show courage and work for a plan to strengthen the Middle Class……..

SCOTUS Humps Workers

While you were pissing and moaning about the SCOTUS ruling on voters rights or celebrating their ruling on DOMA, they were screwing the American worker……

In the first case, Vance v. Ball State University, the court ruled workers only are protected against a supervisor who has the power to make “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits” or if the company ignores the fact a supervisor without this power is engaging in harassment. This very narrow definition of “supervisor” makes remedying harassment more difficult and ignores the reality that many supervisors without hiring and firing power have the ability to make an employee’s life much more difficult.

The second case, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, eliminated so called “mixed motive” retaliation claims under existing anti-discrimination law. Employees who pursue discrimination claims now will have to prove that discrimination was the sole thing on their boss’s mind when they were fired or demoted. Previously, discrimination only had to be one factor involved in punishing an employee and bosses were required to reveal what they were thinking at the time of the punishment. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, that standard is almost impossible to meet, since few people in the real world are motivated by a single cause.

Not much to celebrate there now is there?

The Righties are winning their war on labor and the workers….and we seem to be blind to all these efforts while we stroke out over background checks or voters rights  or we pee all over ourselves with a minor victory in same sex marriage……all these worker hostile issues that the GOP is winning is doing what it intended…making of a low paid worker that has no rights and has only the ‘mercy’ of the employers whims….this benefits no one but corporations and it does not create jobs that would give the worker a liveable wage……

Expand your issues beyond the single issue that excites your passion…..

Why The Hate?

I am sure that if you watch or read news reports you have been subject to the attacks on labor unions…..they have been blamed for every bad economic trend in this country……from expensive cars to problems in the schools to voter fraud to….well pick an issue and some mental midget will blame it on unions……..and all the misinformation has been used by red states to want to make their states right-to-work states (anyone who thinks that is a good idea then Google Mississippi stats)…….

If you work for a living then unions have help get you should horrible things as…….8 hour day, overtime, 40 hour week…..workmen’s comp……on and on……..

Union membership is at a 97-year low in America, with just 11.3% of workers belonging to one. Because you’re probably not one of them, you probably don’t care about this low point—but you should, writes Eric Liu in Time. Not only do unions lift wages for their members, they also lift wages for the rest of us “by creating a higher prevailing wage,” Liu writes. “The presence of unions sets off a wage race to the top. Their absence sets off a race to the bottom.” But most Americans don’t see it that way—rather, many see unions “as special interests seeking special privileges, often on the taxpayer’s dime.” But consider this: Workers in unions are making a better wage, and are thus less likely to rely on government assistance. “The weakness of labor is everyone’s problem—and its revival everyone’s opportunity.” Click for Liu’s full column.

Before someone thinks they have me pegged….let me say….while I believe that unions have done more good than harm….I do not like the bureaucratic structure….to my thinking the head of a union should make only 20% more than its highest paid member….but as long as we have this sort of set up….unions will be nothing more than expensive lobbyists…..

I realize that most Americans will buy into the BS spread about unions….all I can say is all that wanted to be a right-to-work state…….welcome to low ages and crap jobs……and then it may be too late to remedy the situation…….what’s the old saying, “crap in, crap out”……

2012 Forgotten Issue

This could be just about anything….there is a wide array of issues that neither candidate wants to talk about……we know that both Obama and Romney say they will create jobs only if they are elected…….we know that taxes are too high in one camp and too low in another…….we know that Obama sucks and Romney is a liar………the spin is so thick that it borders on propaganda….well it is propaganda but we Americans cannot call it for what it is……but there is one issue that both candidates have been unwilling to talk about……..can you name that elusive issue?  (Pause he for thought…….oh who am I kidding voters do not want to think that is why we have the two pathetic candidates that we have)……okay the forgotten issue is…..(drum roll please)……..the stagnant income….yes for all the progress and all the hoopla on Wall Street, income is not moving at all…..Corporate biggies are doing marvelous but the rest of us mere mortals are stuck in limbo with worse than modest increases in wages that is quickly ate up by those inflationary things that are not counted as inflation…..like gas….food…….etc.

Newser) – The economy has taken center stage in the race for the White House, but amid the chatter about government spending and taxes, the New York Timesthinks one subject that hits close to home for many poor and middle-class Americans has been largely left out: the long-term stagnation of income. For the first time since the Depression, median family income has decreased over a decade, and though both candidates acknowledge the problem, they rarely touch on the true catalysts behind it—automation, globalization, and education. All are complex issues that can’t be “quickly remedied through legislation,” writes David Leonhardt.

Often, politicians place the blame for falling wages on flashpoint issues such as immigration, but what’s going on is far larger in scope, writes Leonhardt. Pessimism abounds because no quick fixes are in sight, though “maybe the biggest reason for optimism is that there is still a strong argument that both globalization and automation help the economy in the long run,” he writes. It just happens to be painful in the interim. Click to read Leonhardt’s full piece.

With about 10 days left before we decide who will lead the country…….the most important issue is still unexplained…..why?