Closing Thought–10Sep18

Strike!

Something that is not in the news much these days….a labor strike.  Seems that the industry that may benefit most from Our Dear Leader’s tariffs is the steel industry and they may go on strike……

US Steel workers are fired up and ready to strike if a new contract isn’t reached soon, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports. Workers for the Pittsburgh-based company voted nationwide this week to approve a strike if talks involving health care costs, retiree benefits, and wage increases don’t work out—at a time when their employer is apparently rolling in money. “Angry USW members conducted strike authorization meetings at each US Steel local over the past week,” the United Steelworkers said in a statement to workers, adding that there was “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in every local. Many locals reported that their results were unanimous.” A three-year US Steel contract for roughly 16,000 USW workers ran out Saturday.

Don Furko, president of USW Local 1557 in Clairton, Pa., says workers are pushing back at a time when President Trump’s policies are benefitting US Steel: “Between the tariffs and the tax break for corporations, they stand to make $2 billion this year,” he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. US Steel says it’s offering workers profit-sharing of at least $6,000, a signing bonus of $4,000, wage increases starting at 4%, a 15-cent hourly increase to 401(k) retirement plans, and a one-time $5,000 health-care bonus. But Farko says workers still have too many out-of-pocket health care costs for family coverage. The pro-strike vote surprised steel-industry sources, says the Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been a US Steel work stoppage since the company locked out workers for six months in 1986.

As an old labor activist it is good to see the workers taking control once again.  No matter the outcome…..the workers are asserting themselves once again…..but the “Man” will make sure this goes nowhere.

Will the National Guard be called in to “break” any strike….

But the gauzy, halcyon portrait of the New Deal does not stand up to the reality of the Little Steel Strike of 1937 that is the subject of Ahmed White’s magisterial The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America that I discussed in a previous CounterPunch article focused on identity politics and the racism endured by Black steelworkers. For those new to the topic, “little” refers to the group of companies that blocked the CIO from organizing its workers, as opposed to US Steel, the “big” company that had they had come to terms with in March 1937. Little Steel consisted of Republic Steel Corporation, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company and Inland Steel Company. Despite being called “little” in comparison to US Steel, each ranked among the hundred largest firms in America

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/23/fdr-and-the-little-steel-strike/

Would Our Dear Leader call out the Guard to break a strike?

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Labor Day–2018

Today is the first Monday of September and that means that it is Labor Day….most other countries celebrate it on the First of May but we here must be different.

Because it is a holiday I will be doing the usual stuff with family….grilling and a little fun…..

Since this will be my last post today and I do like some history I offer up a couple of videos on the history of the celebration of Labor Day….

A wee bit more history for you……

Many people worked hard to see that Americans could make a living wage (some say we are not there yet)…..as for my musical interlude is songs from the workers struggles of the early days of the 20th century.

I do hope that everyone has a wonderful day off and be well and be safe and please drink responsibly….

If It Is Monday It Must Be WTO!

First, this is not some post about some moronic wrestling federation extravaganza….no I am talking about the World Trade Organization (WTO)….or some of you old farts might remember it as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)…..but what the Hell is it?

The WTO was born out of negotiations, and everything the WTO does is the result of negotiations. The bulk of the WTO’s current work comes from the 1986–94 negotiations called the Uruguay Round and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is currently the host to new negotiations, under the ‘Doha Development Agenda’ launched in 2001.

Where countries have faced trade barriers and wanted them lowered, the negotiations have helped to open markets for trade. But the WTO is not just about opening markets, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example, to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.

https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/who_we_are_e.htm

I know you are probably thinking that this has nothing to do with you…well you would be wrong for Our Dear Leader if successful could make your living a lot more expensive than today……

He, Dear Leader, has declared a possible war on the WTO……

Shape up or we’ll ship out. That was essentially the message President Trump had for the World Trade Organization in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday. Trump described the 1994 agreement that formed the WTO as “the single worst trade deal ever made” and issued his threat: “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO.” The body sets rules for global trade and serves as a forum for handling trade disputes, and Trump complained about the historical outcome of those complaints. He had this to say: “We rarely won a lawsuit except for last year. In the last year, we’re starting to win a lot. You know why? Because they know if we don’t, I’m out of there.”

The BBC cites a study that shows the reality is more like 90/90: We win about 90% of the cases we bring, and lose just shy of 90% of those filed against us. As for the cases filed against us, ones from China have made recent headlines. The AP reports Beijing on Monday formally sought “dispute consultations” over the latest round of tariffs—$16 billion of them—imposed last week on Chinese goods. China is a thorn, per US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who views China’s 2001 entry into the body as a mistake. Bloomberg’s take: “A US withdrawal from the WTO potentially would be far more significant for the global economy than even Trump’s growing trade war with China.” In the meantime, the US has been blocking the appointment of new judges, which could ultimately put the WTO’s ability to issue judgments on ice. Click for more on Trump’s wide-ranging interview.

As this policy expands items will becoming more expensive and in some cases more difficult to obtain and that could influence the production in this country…and for what?

Some minor machismo for the news cycle…….for he must be the talk of the town whether good or bad…..

Closing Thought–08Jun18

Last week Pres. Trump made a statement about the jobs report and the markets were happy….well at least for awhile….

I have a problem with the jobs reports…not because of Trump I have been bitching about them since Poppy Bush’s days……these reports are not accurate and the unemployment figures are off by a lot……

In an article that I found last week there is some saying that as many as 95 million people are no longer in the labor force and as such are not counted in any of these reports……

In what was otherwise a solid jobs report – one which Donald Trump may or may not have leaked in advance – in which the establishment survey reported that a higher than expected 223K jobs were added at a time when numbers below 200K are expected for an economy that is allegedly without slack, the biggest surprise was not in the Establishment survey, but the household, where the unemployment rate tumbled once more, sliding to a new 18 year low of 3.8%, even as the participation rate declined once again, as a result of a stagnant labor force, which was virtually unchanged (161.527MM in April to 161.539MM in May, even as the total civilian non-inst population rose by 182K to 257.454LMM).

What was perhaps more interesting, however, is that for all the talk that the slack in the labor force is set to decline, precisely the opposite is taking place, because in May, the number of people not in the labor force increased by another 170K, rising to 95.915 million, a new all time high.

Adding to this the 6.1 million currently unemployed Americans, there are 102 million Americans who are either unemployed or out of the labor force (and it is also worth noting that of those employed 26.9 million are part-time workers).

In other words, contrary to prevailing economist groupthink, there is a lot of slack in the economy, and if as the latest Beige Book revealed, employers are now hiring drug addicts and felons to make up for the shortage of qualified candidates, a long time will be pass before wages see significant gains.

http://theantimedia.com/americans-no-longer-labor-force/

The figures that are given to the public are not accurate just like the inflation reports…..that is NOT an accurate count…..why?  Food, Gas and Housing are not part of the equation…….how can one get an accurate inflation picture if those sectors are omitted?

The economy may not be as booming as we have thought……just saying a little more accuracy would be helpful….at least to me.

Have a good Friday and I will return for the weekend…..be well, be safe….chuq

It’s Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

Making America Great Again!  Apparently we do this by helping China’s ZTE corporation……wait for the WTF!

Remember all those jobs that the president said would come flowing back to the shores of America? 1.7 million jobs created in 2017…..compared to 2.2 million created in 2016….I feel confident that we will have a new day in this country any time now.

Trump is planning to save jobs in China….you heard me….CHINA…..that is the nation of China not China, New Mexico….

President Trump surprised the business world Sunday by saying Washington would help keep the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE alive—right after US sanctions had crippled it, the New York Times reports. “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast,” tweeted Trump. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” The Commerce Department last month imposed a seven-year ban on US companies shipping technology to ZTE, saying it had allowed workers to disregard US trade controls on North Korea and Iran.

Then ZTE, which has 70,000 workers across 160 countries, announced Wednesday that it was stopping “major operating activities.” So, what’s up? “Given his pressure on Beijing on trade, I don’t understand concern for Chinese jobs,” says technology and security expert Adam Segal. In fact, many analysts are “initially scratching their heads,” the Times says, while the Wall Street Journal calls Trump’s about-face “extraordinary.” Reuters notes that US suppliers like Intel and Qualcomm will likely suffer “a significant impact” from the Commerce Department ban. American companies are said to supply 25% to 30% of components used by ZTE, which makes smartphones and gear for telecom networks.

So Trump is going to help save jobs for a Chinese company…that ought to give all those workers that lost their jobs when Harley-Davidson closed their plant to move to Thailand so much confidence and a warm feeling while they try to get some unemployment hopefully they will not suffer the insult of being called a freeloader for needing help.

Also keep in mind that ZTE is one of the companies that has software to make a security breech easy……we will help save jobs and help make security violations so much easier.

That should “Make America Great Again”.

Eugene V. Debs

My weekend begins and as usual I have something different to post…..I do not usually do book or movie reviews but I will make an exception in this case.

In my past I was a member and organizer of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and as a member I learned all about the early days of the workers movement of the early 20th century and one of the giants of the labor movement in those days was Eugene V. Debs.

Tuesday was May Day and a new movie was released about the life of Eugene V. Debs and since I live in a jerkwater town in Mississippi it will not show here so I will have to wait for streaming or the DVD.

I did find a good review of the movie in The American Conservative…….

May Day is a workers’ holiday in socialist history, greeted with joy, celebration, picnics and speeches since at least the 1880s. In contrast, and exactly a century ago, May 1918 was a time of trepidation. The government of Woodrow Wilson, reacting to opposition of US entry into WWI, set out to squelch the free speech of antiwar protesters. At the same time, labor struggles had reached a point that threatened the administration, and so Wilson also set out to drive the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World out of business entirely, if possible.

Imagine the great socialist hero Eugene Debs at this moment. Sixty-two years old and physically worn out, discouraged because the socialist presidential vote two years earlier had fallen sharply from 1912, he nevertheless rallied his energies. He would speak about the horrors of war and the hopes of socialism, no matter the dangers to himself.

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/44254-american-socialist-film-chronicles-the-life-of-labor-hero-eugene-v-debs

If you live where the movie is showing then you should go watch if you like American history and the people that made this country great and see just what the American worker had to go through to get to where they are today.

Time for a breakfast and a walk……TTFN

Closing Thought–06Dec17

The tax bills are in conference to hammer out the details for one big f*cking of the Middle Class……I have read what parts are not scribbled in some lobbyist lingo and found the one part that is most disturbing to me.

In my younger days I was a labor organizer for the IWW, yes I was a Wobbly and if you do not know that term then you are too young …….and as an organizer I fought hard for workers to to re-trained when their jobs were either outsourced or replaced by machines…..the new tax bill will screw the worker hard and with a smile…..

The section I am referring to…….

Encouraging corporations to automate ― without any help for displaced workers.

A provision of the tax bill would allow companies to deduct from their taxable income the entire cost of certain kinds of business investments that were previously only eligible for a 50 percent deduction. Traditionally, manufacturing firms and other infrastructure-heavy companies took advantage of the deduction to buy new factory equipment.

But the increase in the deduction comes at a time when corporations are investing in automation of their production facilities through the use of robots and artificial intelligence technology, noted Robert Kovacev, a corporate tax attorney for the Steptoe & Johnson law firm in Washington, D.C.

“It’s going to accelerate spending, basically, on robots that could displace workers,” Kovacev told HuffPost.

Kovacev is supportive of the deduction, because automation is likely to increase productivity ― defined as the amount of economic output generated per work-hour. And many experts maintain that, over the long run, this type of technological disruption is a net job creator.

That is likely to serve as cold comfort, however, for the mostly blue-collar workers displaced by automation in the short term. And Congress chose to speed up the automation process without any companion measures to offset the fallout for affected workers.

“It would be a good idea to pair this with a tax incentive to encourage companies either to employ more human workers or retrain them for jobs in the new economy,” Kovacev said.

Some progressive lawmakers have other ideas about how to address the harm caused by automation. For example, San Francisco County Supervisor Jane Kim has explored the idea of implementing a ”robot tax” on companies for every robot they employ to perform a job previously done by humans. The revenue raised by the tax would fund the retraining of displaced workers.

I approve of the “robot tax” and the money used to re-train workers for other aspects of the job.

Every trade union should be on this section of the bill like a pit bull with a lobbyist leg in its mouth.

The workers are screwed every time these cowards try to help their corporate masters….time for them to pay up to help the worker…..PERIOD!

Don’t mourn….organize!

“An injury to one is an injury to all”

Bring back the radicalization that was the IWW!

 

TTFN……tomorrow is another day……chuq