“Take this document to the Governor’s office, present it to him yourselves and don’t go on your knees; we have no kings in America, Stand erect on both feet with our head erect as citizens of this country and don’t say ‘your honor,’ very few have honor. They don’t know what it is.”
Mother Jones instructions to miners Paint Creek and Cabin Creek Coal strikes - 1912
I think the conclusion is inevitable that every labor organization is traceable to the injustice, the oppression, the tyranny of the employing classes.
Eugene Debs from his U.S. Strike Commission testimony 1894.
“Was not a dollar a day enough to buy bread! Water costs nothing. . . . The man who cannot live on bread and water is not fit to live.”
“The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher Condemns the Strike,” New York Times, July 23, 1877
. . . Every consideration of duty, self-respect, honor, interest, demands that the majesty of the law should be vindicated whatever the cost of doing so may be. Every humane man must feel profound sympathy for all honest toilers where labor does not yield proper remuneration; but no legislation, no government, no earthly power, can rectify the immutable law by which the gifts of fortune are distributed with an unequal hand. It has been so since the beginning of time to the end, or to the millennium, for our Devine Master said, "The poor ye have always with you."
----From "The Lesson of the Recent Strikes," Wade Hampton
North American Review, CLIX (August, 1894)
Bread and Roses
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts-gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses
James Oppenheim, the American Magazine, Dec 1911
To a Scab
O outcast! despised and hated scab,
With cowardly, downcast eye,
With shuffling step and hangdog look
You meet each passer-by.
All honest men look down upon
All creatures such as you,
And shun you as they would the plague,
As all man ought to do.
You sell your fellowmen for gold;
You'd sell your soul away,
And rob, betray, steal from the dead,
Do anything for pay.
O scab awake! amd try to see
The evil you have done,
And Judas like, go hang yourself
Before tomorrow's sun.
From the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Journal, July 1888
The only class which is distinctly arrayed against the [Supreme] Court is a class that does not like courts at any rate, and that is organized labor. That faction we have to hit every little while, because they are continually violating the law and depending on threats and violence to accomplish their purpose.
United States Supreme Court Chief Justice, William Howard Taft in a letter to his brother Horace Taft, May 7, 1922
Cited from The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography, Henry F. Pringle, page 967.
Voters: 2012 and 1928
Although the 1928 [presidential] election was a portent for the future, its contemporary significance for labor lay in the fact that [presidential candidate Herbert]Hoover and the Republican Party scored a signal victory. This could not have occurred unless many workers had voted for Hoover, and their willingness to do so is suggestive of their social outlook at the end of the twenties.
Observers were struck with the materialism that permeated all levels of American society, including labor; workers shared with their bosses a devout reverence for the almighty dollar. In Middletown [Ohio] workmen derived little satisfaction from their work. “There isn’t twenty five per cent of me paying attention to the job,” a bench molder stated. Since this frustration was linked to a dim prospect for advancement as workers, the more energetic strove to enter the middle class. The acquisition of money was the main objective of life, and people were measured by the externals money bought – where they live, how they lived, the make of car they drove. In the shops, workers were more concerned with maximizing income than with learning skills or gaining leisure by shorter hours.
From Irving Bernstein, The Lean Years: A History of the American Worker 1920 to 1933, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960), page 80-81.
National labor union Congress - Baltimore 1866
From the address to the workingmen of the United States
"What is wanted then is for every union to help inculcate the grand, enobling idea that the interests of labor are one; that there should be no distinction of race or nationality; no classification of jew or gentile; that there is but one dividing line - that which separats mankind into two great class, the class that labors and the class that lives by other's labor."
"Is there any man here or women - let me say is there any child - who does not know the seeds of war are in industrial and commerical rivalry?"
President Woodrow Wilson 9/5/1918
"The ballot box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emanicpation for the working class, and to my mind never will acheve it."
---father Thomas Hagerty from the Industrial Workers of the World organizing convention June 27th - July 8th 1905.
December 14, 2011-Now that the Supreme Court has decided to hear the Arizona immigration case we can suppose they understand how much business likes cheap labor and how much commercial interests love that big supply of low paid immigrants. The law sounds draconian in the summaries I have read and reviewed. Even moderate enforcement of its clauses and conditions will empty the state of unauthorized immigrants. Good by low wages. Hello California.
Arizona’s just the beginning if the Supreme Court lets states decide their own immigration rules which I have to doubt they will, but the mystery for me is to speculate on the politics. Politicians know how much business likes cheap foreign labor, but they also know business avoids announcing their preference in the public media: talk about bad PR. They leave it to politicians to make excuses for them. At least I thought so until the Arizona governor decided to defend the angry electoral block that has to compete with cheap foreign labor.
Maybe the governor has promised to provide some cheap prison labor after the low paid immigrants make their exit? But I just don’t see how she can win election and do what business doesn’t want. Maybe she is counting on the Supreme Court to bail her out?
The caption in the Washington Post reads “Bechtel to move 625 jobs from Md. to Fairfax County.” Early in the article readers learn that transferring 625 jobs to Virginia is just the “latest round of bragging rights in the commonwealth’s cross border rivalry with Maryland to land big businesses.”
The article quoted Virginia Governor McDonnell who said “The company[Bechtel] was attracted to the commonwealth due to its business environment, cost, and ability to attract the best workforce to meet future growth needs, especially IT and engineering employees in the area.”
Then we learn more of what attracts companies because Maryland paid Bechtel $10 million to keep 1,250 jobs in Maryland as the Virginia governor was approving $6.5 million in Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grants to buy 625 jobs for Virginia.
If we do our arithmetic here we find that Maryland paid $8,000 per job to keep 1,250 jobs while Virginia paid $10,400 per job to buy 625 jobs from Maryland, reassuring us that jobs go to the highest bidder. I was relieved that no one quoted in the article called this a job creation strategy, although everyone quoted accepted or justified the practice.
No mention though where Bechtel might move next.
from November 11, 2011----
The Washington Post caption reads "Veterans jobs bill passes in Senate, 95 to 0." The bill would expend tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans. It apparently makes good politics, but it doesn't create a single job. Transactions that generate revenue and work for business create jobs. It will do nothing for veterans, but it is good for business.
The caption on the article reads, "Job listings say the unemployed need not apply."
Hundreds of job listings posted on Monster.com and other jobs sites explicitly state that people who are unemployed would be less attractive applicants, with some telling the long-term unemployed to not even bother with applying.
The New York Times' Catherine Rampell said she found preferences for the already employed or only recently laid off in listings for "hotel concierges, restaurant managers, teachers, I.T. specialists, business analysts, sales directors, account executives, orthopedics device salesmen, auditors and air-conditioning technicians." Even the massive University of Phoenix stated that preference, but removed the listings when the Times started asking questions.
From a business and financial standpoint it is an utterly stupid practice since it eliminates part of the surplus of labor that keeps wages low and saves business costs. It also makes it necessary to pay more to the currently employed to get them to change jobs. It also suggests in a more blunt way than usual that business likes to taunt people and emphasize their control.
The Washington Post ran a story May 18th 2011 titled “The Rust Belt shows some luster.” In it they describe 1,000 applicants for $7.50 an hour manufacturing jobs making EdenPure space heaters, vacuums, and air purifiers at a company known as Suarez Corporation in Ohio. If a family puts two full time people into the Suarez factory they will have $31,200 dollars of gross income. The article calls this a budding revival in American manufacturing and quotes others including a professor from the University of Michigan-Flint stupid enough to call this the “shining star of the U.S. recovery.”
These articles keep popping up like weeds but they turn into a hodge-podge of disparate quotes and scattered facts in a futile effort to make any new jobs a really good thing. The new production will be in the better known Hoover corporation plant, which was abandoned after they moved to Mexico. By quoting the founder and chief executive of the Suarez Corporation, Ben Suarez, we learn that he decided to come back from China because it takes two months to get products to markets. He got a cheap factory and some very cheap labor, but he warns that his costs are still higher than China. We learn that he will hire 2,500 in the next 18 months but he can only pay commensurate with skills, but we learn the jobs assembling space heaters require relatively simple work. We learn that Suarez has a profit sharing plan, but the new hires will be through contractors who do not receive profit sharing. American renaissance.
The National Labor Relations Board decided to defend organized labor: an incredible turn of events. In the instant case the Boeing Corporation declared their intention to move some production from Washington State to South Carolina, a right to work state whose political officials are hostile to organized labor. The National Labor Relations Act officially makes overt acts of union busting an unfair labor practice, but it is normally easy to evade with some innocuous and empty blather. Boeing must have decided there are no longer limits to their scorn for labor, or gotten the message mixed up, to leave any overt trail.
Business will do anything for cheap labor, but what else is new? The South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was quoted as furious, but last time I heard the vote has not been abolished in South Carolina. Maybe in the Palmetto state a majority think they’re part of the management class. 4/29/11
Yet it seems that the more the sense of class increases, the weaker labor becomes. There is more scabbing, more strike breaking, the fewer people voting to join. Also, the weaker labor becomes, the more it is resented. --- written in 1991, Thomas Geoghegan, labor lawyer-author, Which Side are You On?
The Washington Post story from April 14th reads Maine Politics: the Big Picture. The Maine Governor, Paul LePage, got angry and ripped down a labor mural commissioned by the Federal Government and painted by a Maine resident. The mural depicts scenes from United States labor history and includes Francis Perkins, FDR’s labor secretary. The governor decided it was like the murals the communists use in North Korea to “brainwash the masses.” Someone on the Governor’s staff named Adrienne Bennett explained the governor has a new agenda. She said the governor wants a mural with job creators.
Since Maine jobs have dropped below 600 thousand, less than 2000, Maine is a little short of job creators right now. What is odd is the politics. The governor ridicules and debases working people, but he can’t possibly be elected without their votes. Maybe in Maine working people are so brainwashed they think they’re part of the Govrnors dream. 4/14/11
The Washington Post ran a story April 5th covering hiring practices of the Prince Georges County MD school district in suburban Washington. Apparently the school district hires foreign teachers under the H1-B visa program. They had to apply through the Department of Labor under rules that require them to pay the prevailing wage, which the labor department sets from the Occupational Employment Survey. The Department of Labor has labeled them as willful violators because they steal large four figure sums from their wages and call them recruitment costs. Of course, they deny it is a wage cutting scheme.
Most people in the business community know that foreign labor certification will help enlarge the surplus of labor and hold down wages over time. Why break the rules when the rules are rigged up in you favor? All you need is a little patience, but in PG county they don’t have sense enough for that. Why be sensible when you can be crude?
In Wisconsin the teachers and public employees need to organize themselves through the social media and become more active protecting their own rights outside the confines of Federal and State labor law, which is so tricked up with delays and restrictions it is possibly worse the useless.
Do members of unions let their membership be a substitute for collective action? Does the union staff make decisions for their members as a result of member apathy? Does it make sense to use union dues to support full time salaries for administrative union staff if it does not bring more member participation or collective action?
There are 395 thousand public employees in Wisconsin with 159 thousand in the local schools. If this group pooled their assets and formed their own bank or credit union some of the money they now pay in union dues could go there to earn some interest and be a personal strike fund. Public employees could control the operation of the bank with complete authority to guarantee that loanable funds stay in the state of Wisconsin and be used only for public employee member-depositors or other approved purposes.
“The challenge of American workers is to save truly free enterprise from death at the hands of its self-appointed champions.” Walter Reuther United Auto Workers
Virginia is a union free state but on March 20, 2011 the Washington Post ran an article interviewing Governor McDonnell who says it’s easier to slash budgets and cut costs without unions. “We didn’t have to go and sit down and negotiate with a number of unions about how we were going to do that, McDonnell said. “We just did it.” It is not too hard to suspect he likes solving problems by firing people: no fuss no muss.
AT & T wants to buy T-mobile. It is worth wondering about competition, but if it goes through the consolidation will lower employment in communications.
The Washington Post reaches a new level of sleaze publishing a piece by Governor Walker on March 18, 2011. We already got his editorial opinion when he was recorded bragging to his billionaire donor over the phone. It doesn’t matter that he was duped in that recording, he gave everyone his true opinion and we don’t need his propaganda now. The Post has been going down hill for sometime but I thought we could expect better than this.
A liberal is a conservative who ignores the class distinctions and privileges the rich regard as their right.
There is no teacher good enough that someone can’t run them down if the want to. There is no teacher bad enough that someone can’t defend them if they want to.
Does American labor law help labor?
Take a casual look at America’s labor law and as you read you will realize that labor law helped labor when the statute was first passed. Gradually though there are a few changes and additions as the money interests that own the Congress and the state legislatures begin to pass amendments.
When the National Labor Relations Act was passed back in the 1930’s it was described as the Magna Charta of organized labor. That was followed by the Taft Hartley amendments in 1947, which all by itself tipped the balance of power back to management.
Now organizing a union is a long tortuous, legal and bureaucratic process of requesting and waiting that can be defeated or stalled for years. For those willing to pander to bureaucrats and overcome endless hurdles, the resulting union is an identifiable legal entity that can be threatened with fines, injunctions and law suits. Every issue is bogged down in bureaucracy. A simple grievance can be stalled for years. In the mean time you are expected to listen to sanctimonious politicians and pompous judges reciting endless rules, or wait for months for a case to be dismissed by the saboteurs the Republicans appoint to the National Labor Relations Board.
Working Americans have the legal status of brain damaged children. Labor law is for management.
When will working Americans stop ringing their hands and get mad enough to organize themselves around social networks? Working Americans could be a formidable force, but what there is now; it’s pathetic.
Union Membership down Slightly Among Federal Employees
from the Washington Post, Jan 25, 2011 1/28/10
Ed O'Keefe writes Union membership among federal employees dropped below 1 million last year: 984 thousand members. It is a drop of 1.2 percent from the previous year although about 1.1 million Federal workers are actually represented by unions. The drop is primarily tied to wider use of contractors, but some unions for veterans affairs, the Bureau of Prisons and National Treasury Employees Union increased membership.
Obama Brings Industry to Table
Taps Immelt for Jobs Panel
from the Washington Post, Jan 22, 2011 1/24/10
Zachery Goldfarb and Perry Bacon Jr write that President Obama will bring Jeffery Immelt of General Electric company into the administration to try to boost jobs with more exports. Immelt's role will be to develop ideas for "investing in innovation to provide the companies with the tools they need to compete." There are many doubters however. It was reported in the article that GE had 170 thousand jobs in America when Mr. Immelt's took over the company ten years ago, but 134,000 jobs in America now.
from U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics Jan 22, 2011 1/22/10
BLS reports union membership down 612,000 members with 11.9 percent of the labor force
Minimum wage earners in 7 states getting raises
from the Associated Press, Dec. 30, 2010 12/31/10
Kristen Wyatt reports that about 650,000 employees will get small raises in 2011 in 7 seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Washington State has the highest minimum wage at $8.67 an hour. In Colorade it will by up 11 cents to $7.36.
Obama Proposes Two Year Pay Freeze
from the Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2010 12/2/10
Lisa Rein and Perry Bacon Jr write that "President Obama proposed a two year pay freeze for most of the 1.9 million civilians that work for the federal government, as he tried to address concerns over a mushrooming deficit and placate Republicans who have targeted the workforce for big cuts."
The Bush era tax cuts have been around for 10 years but they have not generated enough jobs. Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute was quoted. "This is another example of the administration's tendency to bargain with itself rather than Republicans and the process reinforces ... the myth that federal workers are overpaid."
Senate votes, 60-40, to advance jobless benefits legislation
from the Washington Post, July, 21, 2010 7/21/10
Lori Montgomery wrote the Senate broke a months-long stalemate to restore emergency jobless benefits to people who have been out of work for more than six months, voting to advance the measure over Republican objections that it would add $34 billion to the nation's bloated budget deficit. The vote was 60 to 40 in the Senate. The House is expected to pass the measure when a final vote is taken Wednesday. Two Republicans voted for the bill and one democrate voted against it. Republicans are fretting about the deficit; Democrats worry about jobs.
The bill will revive benefits for more than 2.5 million people whose checks were cut off when the program expired June 2. It allows up to 99 weeks of income support for jobless workers through the end of November.
Democrats seek to extend emergency jobless benefits
from the Washington Post, June, 29, 2010 7/1/10
Lori Montgomery writes that Congressional Democrats are struggling to revive a plan to extend emergency unemployment benefits for millions of jobless workers. After trying for weeks to extend jobless benefits as part of a broader economic package, Democrats said Tuesday that they would jettison all other provisions and push solely for a six-month extension of jobless benefits and a small adjustment to a tax credit for home buyers.
If Congress fails to act before the July 4 recess, the Labor Department projects that more than 2 million people will have their checks cut off before lawmakers return to Washington.
Unemployment-benefits bill stalls in Senate as GOP rejects revised plan
from the Washington Post, June 24, 2010 6/24/10
Lori Montgomery writes Republicans rejected the Democrats latest offer to pare down the size and cost of the jobs bill that has been before Congress for some months. The Bill includes tax breaks for businesses and individuals, as well as emergency support for millions of jobless workers who have exhausted their regular 26-week state benefits. Again they must pass something or many unemployed will stop receiving unemployment benefits. Democrats offered some further cuts to state aid but did not get the additional votes needed.
Jobs bill blocked in Senate
from the Washington Post, June 17, 2010 6/17/10
Lori Montgomery and Brady Dennis write The Senate effectively rejected a slimmed-down package of jobless benefits and state aid late Thursday, rebuffing President Obama's call for urgent action to bolster the economic recovery. Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with a united Republican caucus to block the approximately $120 billion package. The measure needed 60 votes to advance, but garnered only 56. Republicans claim the country is more worried about the deficit.
The measure would protect doctors from a steep cut in Medicare rates, extend emergency unemployment benefits and extend some tax breaks to business and individuals.
The Democrats reduced the size of the package that narrowly passed the House. Senator harry Reid tried to add $24 billion of local government aid by trying to cut the amount of unemployment checks. The deficit dropped from $200 billion to $55 billion, but the bill still failed. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said they would regroup Friday and try to pass the bill because the public wants jobs.
Congressional Democrats downshift on spending, cut provisions to jobs bill
from the Washington Post, May 29, 2010 6/3/10
Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray write about an agonizing week where the House narrowly approved a jobs bill that started out at $200 billion but was scaled back to $116 billion. This new bill will extend unemployment benefits to November 30th, after the election, at a cost of $39.5 billion. Much of the rest of the bill is special tax favors. Congress passed an extension of unemployment benefits earlier this spring but it runs out June 5th. In the Senate, the bill hasn't moved an inch as of Memorial day.
100,000 teachers nationwide face layoffs
from the Washington Post, May 27, 2010 6/1/10
Nick Anderson writes Senior congressional Democrats and the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to line up support for $23 billion in federal aid to avert an estimated 100,000 or more school layoffs in a brutal year for education budgets coast to coast.
The House expects to take up the issue as part of the war funding bill, but republicans are against it. They argue it is too expensive. If the House approves the measure, proponents hope to overcome Senate obstacles where Senator Harkin of Iowa says he has a majority but not sixty votes.
Focus is on legal workers
Senate Dems to give federal commission say over legal immigrant workers
from Bloomberg news May 24, 2010 5/25/10
Laura Litvan writes The Democrats are thinking of creating a Federal Commission with power to regulate the flow of legal immigrant labor. The plan would require Congress, in certain cases, to vote when immigrant labor is deemed out of line with demand. It would have a major role in regulating low-skilled foreign labor.
Employers or industries that hire lower-skilled immigrants could petition the commission for temporary waivers of visa caps, although the commission would first need to determine that it wouldn't be possible to hire U.S. workers for the jobs.
The commission would issue recommendations for high-skilled worker visas and wage levels, the aide said. For lower-skilled occupations, the commission could declare "emergencies" when it sees an imbalance between foreign-worker supply and demand. A vote in Congress would be required for the panel's recommended immigration levels for these workers.
The overhaul measure would secure the U.S.-Mexico border, create a temporary-worker program and forge a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally.
Obama wants federal agencies to hit the gas on hiring
from the Washington Post, May 11, 2010 5/14/10
John Davidson and Ed Okeefe write President Obama plans to instruct federal agencies to radically overhaul the process now used to hire government workers. The change is expected to cut in half the time it takes to fill vacancies and allow the government to better compete with the private sector for top talent.
The Government Accountability Office has been calling for changes since 2001, and a host of outside voices have criticized the byzantine nature of federal hiring, with its stacks of paperwork and endless rounds of interviews that can keep an applicant hanging for months.
Obama's plan, to be announced Tuesday morning, would cut hiring time to about 80 days from the date a vacancy is announced to the point a candidate is hired. Obama also wants to get managers more involved in the process of deciding on new hires, rather than leaving the final approval to an agency's personnel office. Interviews need to be done by hiring managers that are the closest to the job.
Agencies also will be required to tell applicants when the application is received, when they are deemed qualified, when the applicant is referred for an interview, and finally if they are hired or not. Abandonment by an agency without notification is an abuse to end under the new rules.
Andy Stern Resigns
Andy Stern is leaving as President of the Service Employees International Union(SEIU), which increased its membership during his 14 years as President. It was a time when labor was declining generally. He was instrumental in "Justice for Janitors" a program to organize the lowest paid of America's labor force. He emphasized organizing and increasing union membership and union influence. He also had SEIU break away from the AFL-CIO, emphasized negotiations and deal making with business and government and alienated others in the labor movement. His legacy on Laborline is best remembered for his organizing efforts for the lowest wage workers, janitors along with hotel and garment workers and several others. Raising the wages for the lowest wage workers will eventually push up other wages and act to unite labor as a unified political and economic force.
Uncle Sam is Hiring
Find out where on the National Mall May 8th
wherethejobsare.org May 8, 2010 4/17/10
Job categories are security and compliance, medical and public health, Energy and environment, Administration and program management and international affairs. According to Partnership for Public Service the federal government will need to fill 600,000 positions in the next four years including 270,000 mission critical jobs. Jobs are available in many skills and in the 50 states.
Congress Finally Votes Jobless Benefits
from April 16, 2010 4/17/10
Congress finally agreed yesterday April 15th to restore jobless benefits. This time both houses agreed. The Senate voted 59 to 38 and the Huse 289 to 112. It continues unemployment benefits until June 2. It also blocks cuts to Medicare payments to doctors. The bill gives time to work on extending the current law to allow jobless benefits up to 99 weeks.
Bill could give boost to working from Home
from the Washington Post, April 15, 2010 4/16/10
Jesse Markan writes that a house panel advances a measure called the Telework Improvement Act that sets policies on government telework. It has the support of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and will go to the floor May 5. The Federal government has promoted telework for years, but progress is slow because of past resistence from managers and the need to maintain security.
Jobless benefits clear Senate hurdle with GOP votes
from the Washington Post, April 13, 2010 4/13/10
Ben Pershing writes The Senate moved closer to extending jobless benefits that expired a week ago. The Senate voted to 60 to 39 with four Republicans to extend unemployment insurance, subsidies and COBRA and Federal Flood insurance through May 5. The Republicans remain unhappy about $9 billion more spending without other cuts to offset the spending.
Proposal to extend jobless benefits faces showdown
Deficit Hawks Rally in Senate
Republicans seek cuts to offset $9 billion costs
from the Washington Post April 12, 2010 4/12/10
Ben Pershing writes Congress is posed for another partisan showdown over extending unemployment insurance. The bill hashed out in March got put off and now it is back. The extension of jobless benefits, subsidies for COBRA health incsurance and federal flood insurance through May 5 got through the House but not the Senate where Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn stood in the way. They want to cut the $9 billion cost elsewhere. Many Republicans are threatening to vote against the newer bill.
Deadlock is Ending on Labor Board
the New York Times, April 1, 2010 4/7/10
Steven Greenhouse writes that President Obama made two recess apointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Appointees are Craig Becker and Mark Pearce. Both appointees have labor law and union experience. The Board should have 5 members but only two prior to the new appointments, which bring the new board to four.
The board is responsible to review and make determination on claims of Unfair Labor Practices of unions or management under the National Labor Relations Law. With only two votes out of five the board deadlocked and stopped work so there is a backlog of outstanding cases. Business does not like the appointments; labor is optimistic cases will be resolved and the law applied. Bush era appointees often ruled against union practices like orgqanizing efforts for graduate assistents. The Bush era board, which also filled with recess appointments, ruled that graduate assistents are not employees and could not organize.
from the Department of Labor March 16, 2010 3/28/10
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has solicited comments on the definition it will use in measuring green jobs, the industry list, and to develop the number of, and trend over time, of green jobs, the industrial, occupational and geographic distribution of the jobs and the wages of workers on these jobs.
Several categories of green economic activity are nearly universally cited: renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and clean-up, and natural
Two approaches will be used: 1. the output approach and 2. the process approach.
In the output approach the Bureau of Labor Statistics is concerned with jobs created producing a specific set of green goods and services and not the environmental effect of the production process. In the process approach the conern is with the production process and whether it limits any environmental effect. The process approach is relevant to any industry.
In the process of counting jobs the North American Industry Classification(NAICS) of industry definitions and the Standard Occupational Classificaton of Occupatons(SOC) will be used.
Green goods and services should have a postive impact on the environment or natural resources conservation. These would be research and development, production, storage or distribution of 1. renewable energy, 2. energy efficiency, 3. greenhouse gas reduction, 4. pollution reduction and cleanup 5. recycling and waste reduction, 6. agricultural and resources conservation, 7. education, compliance, public awareness and training.
The production of green goods and services can 1. direct goods and services like pollution control equipment and weatherization of buildings, 2. indirect goods and services like electricity production from renewable sources, nonpolluting dry cleaning services, hybrid vehicles and mercury free batters, 3. specialized inputs like USDA approved fertilizers for organic crops, wind turbine blades, or mass transit rail cars, and 4. distribution of green goods like transportation and warehouse services, wholesale and retail services, rental and leasing services and restaurants.
To measure the number of green jobs any establishment producing a single green good or service will have all jobs counted, for establishments producing green goods and services and other goods and services the percentage of revenue from green goods will be applied to all jobs to get a green jobs count. BLS has identified potential green goods and services industries, which are NAICS industries that could be producing green jobs. Only establishments actually producing green goods and services from the list of potential green establishments are actually counted. Occupational employment will be estimated from these establishments.
In the Process approach the Bureau of Labor Statistics will estimate jobs associated with using environmentally friendly production processes. Processes include production of green goods and services for use for use within and establishment and use methods, procedures or practices that have a positive environmental effect. BLS would determine if any workers are employed who have primary duties related to environmental processes. These might be research to develop chemical processes that reduce air pollution, or a job operating renewable energy generation equipment, or jobs instaling or maintaining control systems that reduce water pollution.
Comments go to Richard Clayton, Office of Industry Employment Statistics, BLS, green AT bls.gov
Jobless benefits set to expire on April 5
from the Washington Post March 26, 2010 3/26/10
Ben Pershing writes again about the trials and troubles of the House and Senate to pass an extension of unemployment benefits. They keep voting on various proposals that they change and send back to the other chamber. The House approved a $9 billion dollar measure for a one month extension of unemployment benefits, COBRA health benefits and flood insurance, but the Senate refused it. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma objected to the bill and was quoted to say "by adding to the Federal deficit we are stealing future opportunities from our children."
Mitch McConnell offered a one or two week extension that would be fully funded. Speaker Pelosi said no. Stay tuned.
Initial Unemployment Claims
Unemployment Claims are Starting to Decline 3/26/10
Seasonally adjusted 4 week moving average of initial unemployment claims settled back to below 454,000 thousand in the 4 weeks ending March 20, 2010. It is dropped back from 478,000, which was the high in the weeks since January. The 4-week moving average of continuing unemployment claims have also dropped for the seventh week to 5.396 million from its 5.770 million high earlier in the year..
Because unemployment goes up and down depending on initial and continuing unemployment claims the future suggests a decline in the unemployment rate in the future; maybe to 9.6 percent. We shall see.
Senate Passes $140 Billion in tax breaks, aid to unemployed
Legislation could face obstacles in the House
from the Washington Post March 11, 2010 3/12/10
Ben Pershing writes that the Senate voted 62 to 36 to approve the $140 billion of tax breaks and aid to the unemployed. The Senate bill has a one year extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA health insurance plus extra money for states to fund Medicaid. The bill would also block scheduled cuts in Medicare payments to doctors.
The Senate has very different proposals than the House. They emphasize tax breaks to business rather than direct aid to the unemployed. However, the Senate is expected to vote on the $15 billion dollar job subsidy measure passed by the House as mentioned below.
House Passes $15 Billion Job Creation Measure
from the Washington Post March 5, 2010 3/6/10
The House vote was 217 to 201 for $15 billion of tax breaks to companies for hiring new employees. The bill was revised frm the Senate version and so must go
back to the Senate. The Senate continued with amendments to a $150 billion jobs bill that includes a 1 year extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA health benefits among several other benefits to state and local governments.
Workers wait on promise of jobs as Obama agenda stalls on Hill
from the Washington Post February 27, 2010 3/1/10
Lori Montgomery writes that even though President Obama declared jobs his "number one focus," Congress has been unable to push through a single measure aimed at putting people back to work. The House delayed a vote to extend tax breaks for employers who hire new workers. The Senate stalled a measure to extend unemployment benefits, a measure about to expire.
The house delayed a vote to extend tax breaks for employers. The Senate did not vote on a House-passed bill that would have extended emergency unemployment benefits.
The bill pending in the House has a $13 billion payroll tax credit aimed at employers who hire people who have been out of work for at least 60 days. It passed the Senate last week with five GOP votes. A larger package contains $80 billion to extend emergency unemployment benefits for a year and $25 billion to aid strapped state governments. But the measure would also devote $31 billion to revive expired tax breaks supported by Republicans. It would finance no new job-creation measures. Democrats in the House are pushing for a public jobs bill. Other democrats want summer jobs for youth and more job training, but nothing is passed yet.
White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort
from the Washington Post February 18, 2010 2/20/10
Neil Irwin, Lori Montgomery and Alec MacGillis write about the Obama press conference marking the one year anniversary of the stimulus spending but acknowledging thespending has not yet helped relieve joblessness.
Most of the press conference and article discussed additional measures for the future. These measures include $267 billion spending to support job creation. In addition, the White House called for $167 billion to extend tax cuts and spending in the original stimulus package, including tax credits worth $400 per year to individuals and $800 to married couples, additional aid for cash-strapped state governments, extension of unemployment benefits through much of this year, and an additional $250 lump-sum "economic recovery" payment to Social Security recipients this year.
The administration also wants to put an additional $100 billion toward an immediate jobs bill. One of the most significant ideas would award tax credits worth as much as $5,000 per new hire to employers that expand their payrolls this year. By the administration's calculations, the tax credit would create 600,000 jobs at a cost to the government of about $33 billion.
Not all of the projects and spending from last year's stimulus have started and other billions have not yet entered the spending stream. When it all gets going the Whitehouse is hoping for a big jump in jobs.
White house report forecasts tepid job growth this year
Unemployment rate expected to stablize, fall to 8.2 percent by 2012
from the Washington Post February 12, 2010 2/13/10
Neil Irwin writes about the release of this year's Whitehouse forecast in the Economic Report of the President. They are projecting new jobs at 95,000 a month, which is too slow to keep up with population growth. They are forecasting 10 percent unemployment through 2010 and then dropping to 8.2 percent in 2012. The report suggests the economy is driven more by business investment and exports.
Reid to Push pared-down bill desiged to create jobs
Feb. 22 Vote Scheduled
Fast-tracked provisions have bipartisan support
from the Washington Post February 12, 2010 2/13/10
Shailagh Murray and Ben Pershing write about Senator Harry Reid's announcement to pass a new job's bill. The centerpiece of the Senate jobs package would exempt companies from paying Social Security taxes for the remainder of 2010 on every new worker who had been unemployed for at least 60 days.
The Senate bill also adds new transportation infra structure spending, expanded investment breaks for small business, and added subsidies for local governments pay for new schools, court houses and other public projects.
However, Reid delayed renewal of several business tax credits, unemployment insurance mentioned below and COBRA health insurance extensions.
Decision Time on Long Term jobless
from the Washington Post February 9, 2010 2/10/10
The $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress included a measure to have additional unemployment benefits in states with high unemployment rates. Unemployment benefits were extended to 99 weeks even though 26 weeks is the normal amount of time for benefits. Benefits were extended from 79 to 99 weeks by Congress about a year ago, but they must vote again. The bill includes almost $13 billion a month to fund them because Congress is paying for the benefits that are over 26 weeks. Benefits are about 36 percent of weekly pay or an average of $325 a week.
Obama's budget calls for jobs bill and tax changes
Proposal includes health care overhaul
from the Washington Post February 1, 2010 2/3/10
President Obama's budget plan calls for billions more of new spending to combat persistently high unemployment and bolster the middle class. It slashes some programs and raises taxes on banks and the wealthy. $100 billion goes for a jobs bill that includes tax cuts for small businesses, social safety net programs, and aid to state and local government.
Assessing Obama's promises of jobs in a hub of manufacturing
from the Washington Post January 22, 2010 1/29/10
Michael A. Fletcher writes about President Obama's trip to Elyria, Ohio where he talked about job creation. During his campaign he told workers at the National Gypsum drywall factory that he would work on job creation, but the plant is now closed with a loss of 58 jobs. Many other plants in the Lorain county of Ohio are closed. The stimulus money helped but not now in the post stimulus period. Jobs continue to move overseas.
Obama, labor reach a deal on health care
Union members would get reprieve from tax on high-cost insurance
from the Washington Post January 15, 2010 1/14/10
Lori Montgomery and Michael D. Shear write about the deal betwee President Obama and organized labor oveer the tax on high-cost insurance policies. An agreement was reached to exempt unon members from a proposed surtax on expensive insurance plans until 2018, five years after the legislation takes effect.
The 40 percent excise tax on family policies over $23,000, over $8,500 for individual policies, has become increasingly unpopular politically. Labor leaders have argued the tax would especially hard on union members who have bargained for more generous benefits in lieu of higher wages. The deal just made would raise the value of policies subject to tax to $24,000 and $8,900. Some other benefits like dental and vision plans were exempted starting in 2015.The cuts are expected to reduce revenue by $60 billion over 10 years.
As Defense agencies hire, others look to trim staff
Departments offer incentives as they try to shed 37,000 workers
from the Washington Post December 30, 2009 1/4/10
Ed O'Keefe writes The Federal Government hired 97,445 people in the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, but laid off about 37,000 in all other departments.
The Postal Service and nearly every other department have begun offering buyouts with an offer of $25,000. Most of the buyouts are for economic reasons rather than a change of workforce needs.
States' Jobless funds are being drained in recession
from the Washington Post December 22, 2009 12/22/09
Peter Whorisky writes "The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks."
The article describes state benefit programs and problems for states in general and quotes and comments for the states of South Carolina, Kentucky, Nevada, Kansas, Vermont, Virginia and Indiana. States have borrowed from the Federal Government to keep up and pay benefits. Not all states fund their programs adequately but shortfalls mean raising taxes or cutting benefits.
Initial Unemployment Claims
Unemployment Claims are Starting to Decline12/10/09
Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims dropped below 500 thousand in the 4 weeks ending November 21, 2009 for the first time in 2009. They remained below 500 thousand for the week of November 28, 2009. Continuing unemployment claims have also dropped from over 6 million in October to less than 4.5 million by this December. Because unemployment goes up and down depending on initial and continuing unemployment claims the future suggests a decline in the unemployment rate in the future. This month it is 10.0 percent, but next it will drop.
Jobs plan will 'jump-start' hiring
from the Associated Press December 4, 2009 12/4/09
Philip Elliott and Andrew Taylor write "Even as he trumpeted a slowdown in the nation's job losses Friday, President Barack Obama put finishing touches on a proposal he'll unveil next week to "jump-start" business hiring across America." His remarks were part of a speech in Allentown PA
President Obama plans to send Congress an initial list of ideas he supports for a new jobs bill. Expected suggestions include gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, tax incentives and incentives for small business to hire, and more spending on construction projects through the states.
Bernanke Offers grim job outlook, help for dollar
from the Washington Post November 17, 2009 11/18/09
Neil Irwin and Ylan Mui write that Federla Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will focus on the weak job market. He continues to believe inflation will remain subdued so he will support growth by leaving interest rates at rockbottom lows.
Bernanke said "The best thing we can say about the job market right now is that it is maybe getting worse more slowly." He said Fed policies will help assure the dollar remains strong.
Obama Calls for Whitehouse Conference on Job Creation
Unemployment is 'one of the great challenges that remains'
from the Washington Post November 13, 2009 11/14/09
Michael A. Fletcher and Neil Irwin write "President Obama plans to hold a Whitehouse forum on job creation next month an to attempt to signal his concern about the growing ranks of the unemployed and build concensus on future action to stoke the economy."
Small business owners, corporate executives, economists, and financial experts will discuss ideas for accelerating job creation. The artice suggests the Whitehouse says it wants to focus on long term strategies.
Returing Workers Face Steep Pay cuts
Many bouncing back from layoffs struggle to recoup earning power as wage erosion threatens a slow economic recovery
from Wall Street Journal November 12, 2009 11/13/09
Ianthe Jean Dugan writes Nearly 5 million lost unemployment benefits in the last year but many return to steep pay cuts. Wage increases at private companies just 1.2%, adjusted for inflation, for the year ending September 2009. Wages are expected to turn negative based on experience from 2001 and earlier recessions.
Job Openings Increase in Latest Hopeful Indicator
from Wall Street Journal November 11, 2009 11/12/09
Mark Whitehouse and Sara Murray write U.S. companies are gradually catching up their search for workers for the Department of Labor found with the August and September job openings and labor turnover survey. The Labor Department also found the share of companies planning to recall workers laid off for at least 31 days increased to 33 percent in the thrid quarter over 29% in the thrid quarter a year ago.
Unions Push Issues on State Capitals
from Wall Street Journal November 11, 2009 11/12/09
Kris Maher writes Unions are pushing state lawmakers to pass legislation that would make would make organizing workers easier, as efforts to rewrite federal organizing laws remained stalled in Congress. Oregon passed legislation prohibiting companies from holding mandatory employee meetings to counter employee organizing. Law suits are expected to challenge the law. Similar bills are introduced in Connecticut and Michigan.
Congress and the President extends unemployment insurance
Press Release November 6, 2009 11/7/09
The Congress extended unemployment insurance benefits by 20 weeks
White House Faces Pressure on Jobs
Despite Stimulus Successes, More Action Sought
from the Washington Post October 9, 2009 10/12/09
Neil Irwin, Lori Montgomery and Michael A. Fletcher write "Eight months after enacting a massive economic stimulus package, the Obama administration is facing rising pressure from some congressional Democrats to move more aggressively to jump-start the moribund job market and try to spur a housing recovery."
Those in the Democratic party worry the Whitehouse staff is pre-occupied with health care and is ignoring jobs. Democrats in the house have already voted to extend unemployment benefits but they want to extend subsidies to first time home buyers and consider other options for creating jobs through additional public works-stimulus plan projects.
Employers' Hiring Plans Show Continued Anxiety About Future
from the WAshington Post September 24, 2009 9/28/09
V. Dion Haynes writes Even with rosier economic forecasts for next year, a survey of Washington area employers suggests skepticism. Employers appeared less optimistic about the future this year than last year, with more planning to freeze salaries and hire fewer new workers.
That is summary discussion of a survey by the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area. Other comments describe the Washington area as in a better position than most with expected increases in Federal Hiring.
Holiday Jobs Look Scarce As Pessimism Grips Retail
from the Wall Street Journal September 23, 2009 9/28/09
Ann Zimmerman and Elizabeth Holmes write Nearly half of the nation's 25 biggest retail chains expect to hire fewer holdiay workers this seasn than they did last year. About 40 percent of the stores surveyed expect to hire 5 to 35 percent fewer temporary help in the fourth quarter.
Federal Minimum Wage
Press release from the Department of Labor July 2009 7/30/09
The U.S. Department of Labor reminds employers and employees that the federal minimum wage will increase to $7.25 on Friday, July 24. With this change, employees who are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be entitled to pay no less than $7.25 per hour.
This increase is the last of three provided by the enactment of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which amended the FLSA to increase the federal minimum wage in three steps: to $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; to $6.55 per hour effective July 24, 2008; and now to $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. The latest change will directly benefit workers in 30 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming) where the state minimum wage is currently at or below the federal minimum wage, or there is no state minimum wage. The DC minimum wage is $1 above the national minimum.
A family with a full-time minimum wage earner would see its monthly income increase by about $120.
Pay Raises are the Smallest in Decades, Survey Shows
from the Wall Street Journal July 21, 2009 7/23/09
Michael Sanserino writes Two surveys released Tuesady by Watson Wyatt World Wide Inc and the Hay Group show that median pay raises for 2009 increased between 2 percent and 3 percent, a low increase compared to almost all years. The surveys are private surveys but consistent with data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fed Sees Heightened Joblessness Drawing Out Recovery
from the Washington Post July 16, 2009 7/16/09
Neil Irwin writes that the Federal Reserve projected that the unemployment rate may surpass 10 percent by year's end and warned that the economy may not return to full health for at least five years.
The Fed's forecasts suggest that the recovery, when it comes, is unlikely to have much immediate impact on the job market. Most of the Fed governors and regional bank presidents expect that the unemployment rate will be 10 percent or higher in the final quarter of the year, according to projections released along with minutes of a June policymaking meeting.
While economic growth and job creation often go hand in hand, that relationship has broken down in the aftermaths of the past two recessions. This could reflect efforts by companies to become more efficient as they emerge from hard times.
Then the article writes that economists are not sure of the reason, but low wages and high taxes and severe inequality of income might be another reason.
Ruling Upends Race's Role in Hiring
from the Wall Street Journal June 30, 2008 7/1/09
Jess Bravin and Suzanne Satoline write "The Supreme Court set a new standard for Employee's use of race in hiring decisions, . . ."
The New Haven, Connecticut city government wrongly discriminated against a group of mostly white fire fighters when it threw out a promotions exam when no black people scored well enought to be promoted.
Justice Kennedy wrote that employers must show a "strong basis in evidence" before ignoring results of empoyment-related tests so as not to frustrate other applicants.
The court concluded the city violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because the city made its decision based on race by rejecting test results solely because higher scoring candidates were white. The only reason to negate an exam is if there is evidence the exam discriminates.
What Helps New Ph.D.s Land Jobs in Academia? A Passport
from the Wall Street Journal June 19, 2008 6/20/09
Erica Alini writes "The scramble for faculty jobs is prompting graduate students and newly minted Ph.Ds to look overseas."
Cuts in government spending and shrinking endowments are taking a toll on many U.S. Universities. Hiring in English and foreign languages fell 20 percent this year.
Jack Schuster of Claremont Graduate School is quoted "The supply -demand ratio is a bit out of whack in the academic job market in general."
June Inflation Report Shows No Inflation
from Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) May 17, 2009 6/18/09
The BLS published its new consumer price index numbers for May 2009. Prices for the all items index dropped 1.3 percent. Price changes are for the 12 months ending in May 2009. Some prices were up but those increases were offset by a 14.3 percent decrease in fuel prices for transportation. Food and beverages were up 2.7 percent. The two industry sectors that have been doing well with increaseing jobs also had prices increases. These were medical care with 3.2 percent price increases from May a year ago and 5.5 percent increases for education. Housing and apparel were up but less than one percent.
Unions Look to Labor Board Picks to Reverse Bush Rulings
from the Wall Street journal June 3, 2009 6/7/09
Melanie Trottman writes "Unions are counting on President Obama's new appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to reverse Bush era rulings they sya hamper their efforts to organize workers."
The National Labor Relations Board(NLRB) has a 5 member board that oversees elections and resolves labor disputes. The new chair Wilma Liebman is already on the board and there are two new Obama nominees, Craig Becker and Mark Pearce. Together they will create a majority favorable toward labor and labor union needs and arguments.
Ms. Liebman is former legal counsel to the Teamsters and Bricklayers union. Mr. Becker is legal counsel to the Service Employees International Union. Mr Pearce is a founding partner of a law representing unions.
Many issues of conduct during union organizing are likely to come before the board.
Labor Department Suspends Farmworker Rules
The Labor Department proposed suspending the Bush Administration rules in March. The proposals described earlier on this link were suspended as the U.S. Labor Department restored old regulations governing the H-2A guest worker program. Officials will write new rules.
The announcement was for May 30, 2009. 6/1/09
Layoff announcments dating from May 19th to May 21, 2009. 5/26/09
American Express said it will eliminate 4,000 jobs in the process of cutting costs by $800 million. It is 6 percent of its global workforce. American Express cut 7,000 jobs in October 2008.
Lockheed announces 130 job cuts from defense department budget cuts for helicopters.
Capital One of McClean to cut 180 jobs in Baton Rouge, LA as part of a consolidation of credit card operations and telephone sales.
Despite Stimulus Funds States to Cut More Jobs
Budget Shortfalls Prompt Mass Layoffs
from the Washington Post May 12, 2009 5/14/09
Alec MacGillis writes "Eleven weeks after Congress settled on a stimulus package that provided $135 billion to limit layoffs in state governments, many states are finding that the funds are not enough and are moving to lay off thousands of public employees."
Layoffs mentioned are Washington State public colleges, 1000; Massachusetts 250 layoffs; Arizona already had 800 layoffs; Maine cut 250 jobs; Florida cut 200 jobs in the last 18 months; Virginia layoffs eliminated 1,500 jobs. California, Georgia and New Jersey are reported as ordering furloughs.
They better try more simulus with the private sector still sinking and jobs falling elsewhere.
Under Restructuring, GM To build More Cars Overseas
from the Washington Post May 10, 2009 5/12/09
Peter Whoriskey writes "The U.S. government is pouring billions into General Moters in hopes of reviving the domestic economy, but when the automaker completes its restructuring plan many ofthe company's new jobs will be filled by workers overseas."
The company admits the number of cars that GM sells in the United States and builds in Mexico, China and South Korea will roughly double. The percentage of cars sold domestically and manufactured in the above low wage countries will rise to 23 Percent from 15 percent. Labor costs are lower in those countries, which may not have health care, workman's compensation, unemployment insurance and social security burdens quite so big as the United States.
Initial Unemployment Claims
Unemployment Claims are Starting to Decline 5/8/09
The initial unemployment claims reached a high of 659 thousand in the 4 weeks ending March 28, 2009. The have been dropping and reached 622 thousand by the week of May 2, 2009. Because unemployment goes up and down along a straight line of graph with initial unemployment claims the future suggests some dropping unemployment in the future. This month it is 8.9 percent, but let's be optimistic and let the numbers do the talking a predict the unemployment rate will stop rising.
Plan to Cut Weapons Programs Disputed
Defense Supporters Say 100,000 Jobs are in Jeopardy
from the Washington Post April 28, 2009 4/29/09
Dan Eggen writes "Some of the nation's largest defense contractors, labor unions and trade groups are banding together to argue that the Obama Administration is putting 100,000 or mor3e jobs at risk by proposing deep cuts in weapons programs." Some of the contractors are quoted from Lockheed and a place called the Aerospace Industries Association. They express worry about jobs but have little to say about defense. Defense sounds like an expensive jobs program.
GM's New Road Map: Partial Nationalization
Automatker to Shed Brands and Workers; Future Hinges on Deal With Bondholders
from the Washington Post April 28, 2009 4/29/09
Steven Mufson writes "... under new sweeping plan that would also shut down GM's Pontiac operations, lay off 21,000 workers and impose harsh terms on the company's bondholders." It is hard to keep up with auto layoffs there have been so many such announcments. Gm announced layoffs of 10,000 on February 11th and then 50,000 on February 18th.
Delta Air Ends Use of India Call Centers
from the Wall Street Journal April 18, 2009 4/24/09
Paulo Prada aned Niraj Sheth write that Delta Airlines has stopped using India based call centers to hadle sales and reservations. Cusomters complained they had trouble with communicating with Indian Agents. The company said it was fundamentally cheapter to use Indian agents, but the article suggested moving the jobs back to America could be a smart public relations move. "The customer acceptance of call centers in foreign countries is low," said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive. Delta also has call centers in Jamaica, Soth Africa El Salvador and Guatemala.
GM set to Trim 1600 More Jobs
from the Washington Post from April 21, 2009 4/23/09
Kendra Marr writes that GM's president plans are for layoffs of whitecollar workers in the next few days to speed cost cutting to qualify for more federal loans. Separate negotiations have begun to cut 47,000 blue collar workers by the end of
the year. The GM will spare engineers working on the new Chevrolet Volt, but otherwise reductions will be targeted to marketing and communicatins personnel.
Labor-Management Partnerships Poised to Revive
from the Federal Diary in the Washington Post from April 15, 2009 4/17/09
Apparently partnerships in the Federal government date from 1993 as an executive order of Bill Clinton. The aim was to "build a more cooperative relationship at the workplace between management and employees, which could reduce tensions and formal complaints, including grievances and charges of unfair labor practice." George W. Bush issued hs own order revoking Clinton's less than a month after taking office. It was always hard to think of George Bush as cooperating with anybody.
GAO Report Faults Labor Dept. on Wage Complaints
Division Failed to Take Action from the Washington Post April 7, 2009 4/8/09
Chris Jenkins writes about the General Accounting Office nine-month investigation of worker claims filed with the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division. The report is titled "Wage and Hour Division’s Complaint Intake and Investigative Processes Leave Low Wage Workers Vulnerable to Wage Theft." GAO investigators posed as frustrated workers filing claims. The Wages and Hours division mishandled cases 9 out of 10 times. Caseworkers discouraged the undercover investigators from filing complaints, instead telling them to hire attorneys. Child labor law violations were not investigated. Cases were not entered into agency databases.
"This investigation clearly shows that Labor has left thousands of actual victims of wage theft who sought federal government assistance with nowhere to turn."
The report covered years of the Bush Administration and Elaine Chao as Labor Secretary. Some may regard this report is their intended legacy.
SLM Transfers Overseas Jobs to U.S.
Reston Student Lender to Move 2,000 Jobs Out of Asia from the Washington Post April 7, 2009 4/8/09
Thomas Heath writes "Sallie Mae yesterday announced plans to move 2,000 overseas jobs back to the United States from India and the Philippines, reversing a cost saving measure the company took a year ago."
Sallie Mae makes private student loans and loans backed by the federal government. It bundles the loans and sells them as securities to outside investors. Sallie Mae's chief executive Albert Lord said the company moved the jobs overseas about a year ago when the credit crisis was hurting Sallie Mae's bottom line. "It was a tough decision to move these jobs overseas," Lord said. "It was a lot easier to make the decision to bring them back."
However, all is not well in the student lending and President Obama has proposed an end to subsides for student loan providers such as Sallie Mae and Citi-Group. Government would be the sole provider.
Rep. Paul Kanjorski described the decision as a patriotic act, but the article noted his district will get 600 of the new Sallie Mae jobs. Kanjorski chairs the House Financial Services subcommitte that oversees securities. It was further reported that Sallie Mae is the biggest contributor to Rep. kanjorski's political campaigns, giving $86,000.
Initiative on Worker Safety Gets Poor Marks
IG's Report Links Weak Enforcements to Job Fatalities from the Washington Post April 2, 2009 4/4/09
R. Jeffery Smith writes "A special government program to improve worker safety in hazardous industries rarely fulfilled its promise, a Labor Department audit concluded yesterday[4/1/09], and over the past six years, dozens of deaths occurred at firms that should have been subjected to much tighter federal safety enforcement."
Apparently the program was started by the Bush Administration, but assistant inspector General Elliot P Lewis who did the above mentioned audit cited a failure of enforcement that did not correct workplace hazards of 45 emloyers where 58 fatalities occurred. The audit also concluded that more than half of the 282 workplace fatalities should have been included in the Enhanced Enforcement Program were not properly logged, partly because of poor training at Occupational Health and Saftety Administration.
Donald Shalhoub at the Occupational Health and Saftety Administration acknowledges "the program may not have been consistently accomplishing its purpose and intent." Maybe the program was just a public relations scam, but officials didn't say that.
Union Bill's Declining Chances Give Rise to Alternatives
from the Washington Post March 29th 4/2/09
Alec MacGillis writes about the Employee Free Choice Act, a law that makes it easier for unions to organize new union representation. The law would allow active employees to sign cards rather than sign cards and wait to vote in representation election. The law continues to make the news and draw comments and new proposals.
"This is not the time or the place" for card check, said Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who backed the bill in 2007. "To continue to attempt to bring up something that has already worked its way into being so divisive and distracting is unproductive."
"Labor law reform is long overdue," said Mike Asensio, a Columbus, Ohio, lawyer with Baker Hostetler who represents corporations. However, he says the debate will not advance until union supporters scrap the bill and start over. "If they make it all or nothing, they enhance their chances of getting nothing."
Joel Rogers, a pro-labor law professor at the University of Wisconsin, called the rules "ossified." Rogers supports card check but said there may be other ways to limit intimidation by employers, such as exceedingly high penalties. "The problem is not secret ballot versus card check, it's the fear that workers have."
But Robert Bruno, a labor relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, doubts reforms short of card check can work. It is unrealistic, he said, to create neutral, civic-style elections in workplaces dominated by employers. Employers "would have to agree to an environment where they give up a lot of control, a lot of prerogative."
David Radelet, a Chicago lawyer who represents corporations, said Sen Arlen Specter's 2010 warnings [that he might be replaced with a democrate] should be heeded. "It does create pressure for the business community to get something done now," he said.
Keith Smith, director of employment policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said his group is asking its members which reforms they might accept. "We're going to see something again soon. It's all a matter of what it will look like and how it will move," he said.
EEOC Willfully Violated Pay Law, Arbitrator Rules from the Washington Post March 31th 4/1/09
Steve Vogal writes "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commisssion, responsible for ensuring that the nation's workers are treated failry, has itself willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act on a nationwide basis with its own employees, an arbitrator has rule."
The arbitrator's ruling stated that the EEOC offered compensatory time off rather than overtime pay, which amounted to "forced volunteering" and was a knowing violation of the law and went beyond mere negliegence. The employees were pressured into working extra hours but not offered extra pay.
Further readers learn the agency has an unprecendented increase in discrimination claims after 8 years of budget cuts and a reduction of 25 percent of staff; all a legacy of the Bush Administration.
Artictects the Latest Dominoes to Fall
Slowdown Signals a Static Horizon from the Washington Post March 28th 3/29/09
Paul Schwartzman chronicles Washington area jobs for architects describing projects halted and the discouraging job search for laid off architects. Construction layoffs get more media attention but architecture layoffs are a slow down of planning for projects in the future.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 217 thousand jobs at Architecture firms in 2008, up slightly from 214 thousand in 2007. Over 90 percent of architects work in architecture firms or as self employed individuals. Since 2000 architecture jobs have been growing at faster than the national average growth for jobs and adding an average of 4,600 jobs a year. There are up to 4,500 architecture jobs in the Washington Metropolitan area according to analysts at the District's Department of Employment Services.
Times Co. Announces Temporary Salary Cuts from the NY Times March 27th 3/29/09
Richard Perez-Pena writes "The New York Times Company budget plans announced Thursday, including a temporary 5 percent salary cut for most employees, should avert newsroom staff cuts at the flagship Times newspaper this year . . . "
Cuts are for management and non-union and Newspaper Guild staff in the newsroom. The pay cuts are for 9 months.
In addition, the Times annouceed 100 layoffs in business operations or about 5 percent of business operations staff. The company laid off 27 in the advertising department last month and about 500 people in January. Other parts of the company including about.com will have 2.5 percent cuts and 5 days of furlough.
By the end of 2008, the company had 9,346 employees, down from 10,710 working the same operations two years ago.
IBM to Cut 5,000 Jobs; D.C. Area Largely Not Affected from the Washington Post March 27th 3/28/09
Kim Hart writes "IBM has told its employees that the company plans to cut about 5,000 jobs this week, according to industry sources with knowledge of the layoffs."
IBM is reported to be shifting a large number of jobs to lower cost regions, such as India. Most of the jobs being eliminated come from the global services division, which ranges from software developers to data center managers. IBM has been shifting jobs abroad for about a decade. Layoffs come two months after previous layoffs of 4,000 in sales jobs.
Post Offers Another Round of Buyouts from the Washington Post March 27th 3/27/09
Frank Ahrens writes "The Washington Post offered employees another round of early retirement packages yesterday - the fourth since 2003 and second within a year - as part of its ongoing effort to cut costs to compensate for declining circulation and advertising revenue."
The Washington Post continues to lose money despite its reputation as quality journalism. Jobs in newspaper publishing are down from 422,600 to 325,900 in the years since 2000. Jobs in all publishing industries are down from 774,000 in 2000 to 619,000 in 2008. Paper will soon be obsolete.
Specter Will Vote To Block Union Bill
Decision is a Blow to 'Card Check' from the Washington Post March 25th 3/27/09
Alec MacGillis writes that "Sen Arlen Specter (Pa.), the only Republican senator who did not actively oppose the Employee Free Choice Act in the previous Congress, said yesterday that he will vote to block it this year, dealing a blow to the pro-labor legislation."
While Specter agrees with unions that the current system is broken, he prefers more limited reforms. Only if more limited reforms prove ineffective will he reconsider when the economy returns to normalcy.
Business keeps saying they don't like so called 'card check' because they want democracy in unions. With current rules there is a lengthy delay after a majority of the workforce requests a certification election and before union members vote for representation. It is reported that business uses the time to bully, threaten and intimidate their workforce. Perhaps Mr. Specter would support immediate elections without delay.
Job Related Stimulus Funds Fuel Debate
Expanded Unemployment Benefits Would Hurt Business, Va. Republicans Say from the Washington Post, March 25th 3/26/09
Chris Jenkins writes "Thousands of jobless Virginians could be eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits under the stimulus package passed by Congress last month, but a group of Republican lawmakers is urging the state to reject the $125 million in federal money saying it will mean higher taxes for businesses once the money is exhausted."
Virginia business only spends $98 a year per employee to provide the meager Virginia unemployment benefits compared to a national average of $258. The federal money comes with the requirement that states expand their benefits somewhat to be eligible and the Republicans don't want their business friends to have pick up the tab later on, after two years, when the federal money is scheduled to stop.
Apparently they are worried they won't be able to eliminate those extra benefits two years along when Virginia business might have to pay so they would rather throw away $125 million of economic revival money rather than risk it. These particular Republicans seem to forget that money goes round and round; when they unemployed with wages spend their benefits it goes back to business. Only a small detail.
Consumer Price IndexThe Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index for February on 3/20/09
The overall price increase for all urban consumer was up .2 percent for the 12 months ended Februrary 2009. Small but the price index for food and beverages was up 4.7 percent. Transportation was down -11 percent, mostly because fuel prices are way down from a year ago. Details on the labor line.
Local Tech Community In Uproar over Labor Rights Bill from the Washington Post 3/16/09
Kim Hart writes about the Washington area reaction to the Employee Free Choice Act, which makes it easier for unions to organize by using a system whereby workers can organize union representation after a majority of active employees sign cards instead of having an election.
Business opponents say such things as "The legislation would undermine efforts to attract businesses to Virginia, which is a right to work state." Also ". . . it will embolden unions to try to overturn right-to-work laws." And "If all of a sudden you have a layer of bureaucracy that has a different set of rules for hiring, firing and rewarding employees, that's going to stifle creativity and our ability to innovate."
Labor proponents say "By allowing more workers the ability to bargain for better wages, benefits and retirement security, the Employee Free Choice Act will put more money in the pockets of consumers so they can purchase needed goods and services from companies on Main Streets across our nation." And ". . . Millions of working families are a step closer to gaining real bargaining rights that will enable them to have a better life and will help move our nation along the road to economic recovery."
Labor Secretary Proposes Suspending Farm Rules from the NY Times 3/14/09
Steven Greenhouse writes that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced that she would suspend regulations that the Bush administration introduced in December 18, 2008 to make it easier and cheaper for agricultural employers to use foreign workers in temporary jobs. Last year tens of thousands of foreign workers were brought in under the temporary agricultural program, known as H-2A to harvest lettuce, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, sugar cane and other crops. The Bush rules cut the wages that many of these workers will receive, reduced the amount growers had to reimburse workers for travel and eliminated other administrative burdens.
Labor unions applauded the bill. A growers representative said "A lot of people have placed orders for these workers, and this will cause some panic in the industry."
Corporations Up Drive Against Bill to Ease Unionization from the Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2009 3/11/09
Kris Mahler writes President Obama's public backing this week of a bill that would make union organizing easier is driving companies to step up opposition. The bill is called the Employee Free Choice Act, which allows workers to opt for unioinization by signing cards, rather than through secret-ballet elections.
Business sources were quoted who don't want the bill claiming it will hurt their ability to boost productivity and keep their work forces flexible enough to respond to changine markets. At Wal-Mart they complained it "effectively eliminates free choice and the right to a secret-ballet election."
Labor and some businesses were quoted as supporting the bill. Labor argues unions can contribute to productivity, safety and training. The AFL-CIO has been able to find some corporate supporters.
The article does not discuss the issue of business interference in union elections and organizing.
Unemployment Rate by Fred Siegmund 3/7/09
On February 17th last month I forecast the unemployment rate to rise from 7.6 percent to 8.2 percent for the March 6th release date. It turned out to be 8.1 percent. I got the unemployed almost exactly but I thought the labor force would decline just slightly, when in fact those not in the labor force entered and began looking for jobs. That held down the rate slightly.
How I do my forecast is not a mystery because as I mentioned the initial unemployment claims in the 4 to 8 weeks ahead give a good indication of next month's unemployment rate. A rise of the 4 week moving average of 1000 claims will bring a 20 to 21 thousand increase in the unemployed for the next month. In forecaster talk it is a tight linear trend.
The bad news is that the 4-week moving average is going up, up, up and now the same tight linear trend is forecasting 8.9 percent unemployment for March. Stay tuned.
Many Hires Needed for Budget Goals
Tens of Thousands Could Be Added to Government Payroll Washington Post 3/3/09
Philip Rucker writes President Obama's budget is so ambitious, with vast new spending on health care, energy independence, education and services for veterans, that experts say he probably will need to hire tens of thousands of new federal government workets to realize his goals.
The article discusses how many jobs might be created. Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs are going to hire 17,000 new employees, which they say will be 7,900 new nurses, 3,300 new doctors, 3,800 new clerks, and 2,400 new practical nurses.
Those are the only specific job numbers mentioned, other increases are speculations. The Heritage Foundation says 100,000 more jobs, the Center for Data Analysis suggest 230 to 260 thousand more jobs.
Federal Government employment including postal employees has an annual average of 2.777 million jobs. Exclude postal jobs and the total is just a few over 2 million, with about 343 thousand of those jobs in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Federal jobs have not changed much, up or down, for more than a decade. They were 3.2 million in 1990.
Based on published staffing in the federal government with a general increase of 200,000 jobs expect 19 thousand new managerial jobs, 10 to 11 thousand new Management Analysts, 22.1 thousand new Business Operations Specialists, 11.3 new Computer Specialists, 9 thousand new Lawyers, and 17 to 18 thousand new jobs in office administration.
Extended Mass Layoffs 3/2/09
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3,140 employer initiated mass layoff events for the fourth quarter of 2008, which resulted in the separation of 508,859 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days. It is the highest reported total of extended mass layoffs reported for a single quarter and 1,326 higher than the fourth quarter a year ago.
Extended mass layoffs are 50 or more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits from an employer during a 5-week period, with at least 50 workers separated for more than 30 days. In effect, extended mass layoffs are layoffs of 50 or more initial unemployment claims filed against a single employer that go on a long time.
Manufacturing had 35.1 percent of the 508,859 separations and construction was next with 26.8 percent, which combined is 286,658 of the mass layoff separations.
The 369 metropolitan areas had 42.7 percent, or 217,268 of the 508,859 separations. The midwest had the most of any Census region with 202,392 separations. Include 55,229 in Illinois, 38,820 in Michigan and 30,295 in Ohio.
Of the 508,859 separations 13.7 percent, or 69,471 came in just 36 layoff events with over a 1,000 separations; 19.8 percent came in 1,447 layoffs of 50 to 99; 66.4 percent came in 1,657 layoffs of 100 to 99 separations.
Of the 508,859 separations 16,061 were separations that included the movement of work to new locations within the company or to work taken over by another company; 12,206 to domestic companies, 3,775 to foreign locations.
GM, Chrysler Seek Billions More in Aid
Firms to Cut 50,000 Jobs, Drop 6 brands from Washington Post 2/1/09
Peter Whoriskey and Kendra Marr write about the continued decline of the auto industry, which is requesting aid from the U.S. government, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and Thailand. Labor issues cover reductions in wages, benefits and retiree health benefits as well as the 50,000 job cuts. There has been not agreement for how the companies will pay $20 billion of health care obligations to retirees. Both companies have been asked to consider bankruptcy.
Once-Mighty UAW Yields to MarketWage
Reductions, Job cuts and Loss of Benefits Among Likely Recorvery Concessions From Washington Post February 18, 2009
V. Dion Haynes and Kendra Marr write "The United Auto Workers, which once set the standard for organized labor for wages and job protection, said it is making concessions as part of the recovery plan submitted by General Motors and Chrysler." ... UAW President Ron Gettlefinger said "These changes will help these companies face the extraordinarily difficult economic climate in which they operate." ... Other views are quoted. Some at Universities expressed optimism that current conditions could bring a resurgence of the labor movement. The financial world is blaming the labor movement for dragging down the recovery.
It is hard to understand how lower wages will help increase buying power in country that expects to spend its way out of recession.
Initial Unemployment Claims from Fred Siegmund February 18, 2009
The average of the previous4 weeks of initial unemployment claims went up from 526 to 583 thousand for the week ending January 31. That might not sound like much but during those 4 weeks there were 2.3 million inital unemployment claims. The unemployed will not go up by 2.3 million in February because many previously unemployed find a job and go back to work, or leave the labor force.
As you might expect though the unemployment reported the first Friday of each month is closely related to initial unemployment claims. Based strictly on past performance I know that a rise of the 4 week moving average of 1000 claims will bring a 20 to 21 thousand increase in the unemployed for the next month, which will be reported the first Friday of the new month. Even though its just an average, which could be more or less, the average is the best forecaster. Therefore, I forecast 12.6 million unemployed and 8.2 percent unemployment rate for February. We'll just have to wait and see.
Congress Passes Stimulus Package
After Voting Largely Along Party Lines from the Washington Post, February 14, 2009
Shailagh Murray and Pane Kane write Congress approved a $787 billion stimulus package that aims to spur millions of jobs through massive new investments in energy, transportation, education and health care projects, while reviving the social safety-net programs that have been shrinking for nearly three decades.
The package combines tax cuts with new spending and three quarters of the money is planned to reach state capitals, businesses and individual taxpayers by the end of 2010.
The stimulus package is 5.5% of Gross Domestic Production, or $787/$14,267 (in billions of Seasonally Adusted dollars).
Gross Domestic Product went up $770.8 billion for 2006 over 2005. It was a time that establishment jobs were up 2,139,000.
Gross Domestic Product went up $646.6 billion for 2007 over 2006. Jobs were up 1,152,000 in that same period. 3.5 million new jobs?
Trim to Stimulus Carves Into Goals for Job Creation from Washington Post Feb 13, 2009
Lori Montgomery writes the Obama stimulus bill sold as a jobs bill. Congressional negotiators have trimmed the final bill to $789 billion, which "is not going to pack the same jobs punch." Estimates cited vary from 1.5 to 3.5 million jobs. There are many quotes of the optimisitic and the pessimistic.
Employers Fighting Unemployment Benefits
More Firms Contest Workers Claims by Alleging Wrongdoing, Quitting from the Washington Post 2/12/09
Peter Whoriskey writes that proportion of claims disputed by former employers and state agencies has reached record levels in recent years according to Labor Department numbers tallied by the Urban Institute. Under state and federal laws, employees who are fired for misbehavior or quit are ineligible for unemployment compensation. Employers save money when claims are blocked because unemployment insurance rates are based on the amount of claims. Disputed claims have reached 26%.
The Audacity of Hope Meets the Enormity of Inequality from the website Extremeinequality/ February 9, 2009
Sam Pizzigati writes about the symbolic value of President Obama's $500,000 pay cap on executive pay at bailed-out banking giants and the growing inequality of America's income and wealth. The article cites recently release IRS data showing the top 400 tax returns with an average of $263,000,000 of income with an average tax rate of 17.2%.
Labor Bill Targets Builders
Low-Wage Workers a worry from the Washington Post 2/9/08
Lisa Rein writes Building contractors are not paying SS taxes claiming their workforce are independent contractors. The state of Maryland hints it might take legislative action.
Deluge is Holding up Benefits to Unemployed
Decline in Funding Forces Staff Cuts as Claims Swell from the Washington Post 2/5/09
Chris L Jenkins writes that thousands of people in the Washinton Area and hundreds of thousands more across the cuntry are waiting longer than they should for unemployment benefits at a time when they need the money the most because rising joblessness is overwhelming claims offices, records show. The problem is compounded by a simultaneous decrease in federal funding, which has reduced staffing at some local government offices.
American Union Ranks Grow After "Bottoming Out"
First Significant Increase in 25 Years from the Washington Post Jan 29 2009
Peter Whoriskey writes The Percentage of American Workers belonging to a union has jumped in 2008, the first statistically significant increase in 25 years. union workers represent 12.4% of the workforce up from 12.1%.
Breakaway Union Exposes Labor Rift
Some Fear Loss of Unity at Crucial Times from the Washington Post Jan 29 2009
Alec MacGillis writes The leaders of one of the largest chapters of the Service Employers International Unions, the nation's fastest growing and most influential labor organization, broke off from the parent organization yesterday. ... A California chapter of SEIU is resisting changes made to officers and board memebers by SEIU president Andy Stern.
More than a Day Job from the Washington Post Jan 4, 2009
Nancy Trejos writes With a grim economic outlook for 2009 more Americans are not just cutting costs, but are finding ways to make more money by taking part time or odd jobs employers and economists said. Many are doing it because their wages have stalled while the cost of living has gone up. Others are pickng up extra work to pay off debt or cushion their savings. for others, it's a backup plan in case they get laid off from their full time jobs.