Working In These Times

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017, 5:30 pm  ·  By Yana Kunichoff

Even Trump Can’t Stop the Tide of Green Jobs

Unlike traditional manufacturing jobs, green jobs in the clean energy industry have been on a steady upward swing. (AdamChandler86/ Flickr)  

Donald Trump was elected in November on a platform that included both climate denial and the promise of jobs for Rust Belt communities still hurting from deindustrialization. In the months since, his strategy to create jobs has become increasingly clear: tax breaks and public shaming of companies planning to move their operations out of the country.

Take the case of Carrier, a manufacturing plant in Indianapolis that produces air conditioners. Trump first threatened to slap tariffs on Carrier’s imports after the company announced it would move a plant to Mexico. Then, he reportedly called Greg Hayes, CEO of the parent company United Technologies, who agreed to keep the plant in the United States in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks. (Carrier later admitted that only a portion of the plant’s jobs would remain in the country.)

The company’s decision to keep jobs in the United States was declared a victory for the Trump PR machine, but it’s unclear that it can create a major change in access to jobs in the long-term. Hayes, announcing that the tax breaks would allow additional investment into the plant, noted that the surge of money would go towards automation. And with automation, eventually, comes a loss of jobs.

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Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017, 11:34 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: Protests Show Immigrants’ Economic Power Cannot Be Ignored

Across the country last week, immigrants went on strike to demonstrate what the country would be like if Donald Trump actually followed through on his promised deportations. (Sue Ruggles)  

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. Since election night 2016, the streets of the United States have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this series, we'll be talking with experienced organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who have been doing the hard work of fighting for a long time. They'll be sharing their insights on what works, what doesn't, what has changed and what is still the same.

Across the country last week, immigrants went on strike to demonstrate what the country would be like if Donald Trump actually followed through on his promised deportations. The “Day Without Immigrants” actions kicked off in Wisconsin on Monday, February 13, where Voces de la Frontera and partner organizations held a “Day Without Latinos, Immigrants and Refugees” to protest Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke's plans to collaborate with the Trump administration to deport people. German Sanchez was one of the workers who went on strike that day. I also spoke with Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, for some background on the day's actions. Their interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017, 12:45 pm  ·  By Elizabeth Grossman

Federal Hiring Freeze To Hit Rural and Minority Communities the Hardest

A consistent theme in the 2016 election was the inequity in economic recovery since the Great Recession. The federal hiring freeze won’t help. (Indian Health Service/ Facebook)  

President Donald Trump issued a memorandum last month freezing the hiring of civilian employees throughout the federal government with the exception of military personnel and “to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.” The order specifies that contracting “to circumvent the intent of this memorandum shall not be permitted.” In addition, it directs the Office of Management and Budget to come up with a plan to reduce the size of the federal government through attrition. Under this order, except in “limited circumstances,” any federal agency jobs vacant as of noon on January 22, 2017 cannot be filled.

The hiring freeze is item No. 2 on Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter,” highlighted as a measure “to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC.” But economic analysts say it will do nothing to boost the overall job market. And a look at those who will be hardest hit by the freeze shows that it will disproportionately impact rural communities and communities of color. 

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Friday, Feb 17, 2017, 12:19 pm  ·  By Michael Arria

The Deadly Reality of Construction Work

A new report identifies the specific vulnerabilities of being a Latino construction worker. (J J/ Flickr)  

Construction worker deaths are rising in New York and Latinos are especially at risk.

That’s according to a new report, released last month, by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). Between 2006-2015, at least 464 construction workers died while on the job in New York. The study also found safety violations at more than 68 percent of construction site inspections. The penalties for such infractions are small.

Released in the shadow of Donald Trump’s controversial executive orders on immigration, the report identifies the specific vulnerabilities of being a Latino construction worker. While Latinos made up just 30 percent of the construction workforce in 2015, they accounted for 57 percent of the fatalities due to falls.

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Thursday, Feb 16, 2017, 5:04 pm  ·  By David Goodner

BREAKING: Iowa Lawmakers Pass Sweeping Anti-Union Bill

Both the House and Senate, which are controlled by the GOP, approved the bill Thursday, passing the most sweeping and impactful changes to Iowa law in decades. (Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO/ Facebook)  

DES MOINES, Iowa – Lawmakers in Iowa have voted to dismantle the state’s 40-year-old collective bargaining law, dramatically weakening the power of public sector labor unions and leaving some 185,000 public workers unable to bargain over benefits, healthcare, vacations, retirement, and nearly all workplace issues outside of wages.

Iowa is a right-to-work state, and the new law would prevent voluntary union dues from being deducted from a public employee’s paycheck. It would also require regular recertification votes. Police officers, firefighters and transit workers are exempt from most of the bill’s provisions.

Republican lawmakers introduced their union-busting bill on February 7 and fast-tracked it through the legislative process. Both the House and Senate, which are controlled by the GOP, approved the bill Thursday, passing the most sweeping and impactful changes to Iowa law in decades. Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign the bill soon.

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Thursday, Feb 16, 2017, 11:52 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: What New York Taxi Workers Teach Us About Fighting Back

On January 28, as protesters rushed to airports around the country seeking to defend refugees and migrants against Donald Trump's travel ban, taxi drivers with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance took the protest a step further and refused to pick up fares at JFK Airport. (Rick Reinhardt/ AFL-CIO America's Unions/ Flickr)  

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. Since election night 2016, the streets of the United States have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this series, we'll be talking with experienced organizers, troublemakers and thinkers who have been doing the hard work of fighting for a long time. They'll be sharing their insights on what works, what doesn't, what has changed and what is still the same.

On January 28, as protesters rushed to airports around the country seeking to defend refugees and migrants against Donald Trump's travel ban, taxi drivers with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance took the protest a step further and refused to pick up fares at JFK Airport. The taxi drivers' strike caught the imagination of the public and even spurred a massive campaign to #DeleteUber after the ride-hailing app lowered its fares in an apparent attempt to break the strike. (Uber has since apologized, repeatedly.) But the taxi workers have more to teach us than just this one action. 

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Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017, 3:11 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

BREAKING—Andrew Puzder, Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary, Is Out

A lobbying effort aimed at convincing Republican Party senators to oppose Puzder was in full swing for the last week, including demonstrations Monday in more than 20 cities. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)  

With a key Senate hearing looming, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Labor Secretary withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, backing down just as Democratic Party leaders and labor activists were unleashing their strongest attacks yet against hamburger chain executive Andrew Puzder.

Puzder decided to withdraw his nomination as the new chief of the largest federal labor agency as opposition spread from traditional pro-labor Democrats to include a handful of conservative Republicans.

“From the very start of the nomination process, it was clear that fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder was unfit to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. Thanks to fierce opposition from a diverse group of Americans, including people deeply concerned about the treatment of workers and of women, enough senators came to the same realization, forcing Mr. Puzder’s withdrawal from the nomination,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

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Tuesday, Feb 14, 2017, 5:04 pm  ·  By Chris Brooks

The Volkswagen Defeat Wasn’t Inevitable—and Labor Can Still Win in the South

We must survey the UAW’s organizing drive at Volkswagen for pertinent lessons. Winning is never easy or certain, but it is possible. (UAW/ Facebook)  

The future looks bleak. The Republican Party is now the dominant force in more than two-thirds of state legislatures, a majority of governorships, both houses of Congress and the White House. Upon seizing power, one of the GOP’s first goals is to kneecap the opposition. For labor unions, that means facing the body blow of “right-to-work” legislation, which allows workers to receive the benefits of unionization without having to pay for it. Twenty-eight states have already passed right-to-work laws and more are likely to do so in the coming months. Congress has introduced federal legislation that would make right-to-work the law of the land in the private sector and Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court could mandate it for public workers.

The further entrenched the Republicans become, the more rapidly the balance of power in society shifts to the benefit of employers. The starkly asymmetric war against workers that has typified labor organizing in the South is quickly becoming the new status quo everywhere. Part of what has led us to this moment is the labor movement’s failure to organize below the Mason-Dixon line.

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Tuesday, Feb 14, 2017, 12:14 pm  ·  By Mario Vasquez

Boeing Workers Face “Constant Barrage of Misinformation” Ahead of Union Vote

Anti-union sentiment runs high in South Carolina, where union membership is just 1.6 percent—the lowest in the nation. (Travis Dove/Bloomberg via Getty Images)  

Workers at Boeing’s aircraft plant in South Carolina are voting Wednesday on whether to join a union, capping a multi-year campaign.

The road to victory will not be easy.

Anti-union sentiment runs high in South Carolina, where union membership is just 1.6 percent—the lowest in the nation. The state is also “right-to-work,” which means members are not required to pay for the costs associated with representation.

The campaign is being run by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and involves some 3,000 Boeing workers in North Charleston, South Carolina. In 2015, IAM cancelled a vote, citing “an atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference.”

Since a new election was scheduled last month, Boeing workers who spoke to In These Times say that Boeing has been unrelenting in its opposition to the union.

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Friday, Feb 10, 2017, 5:11 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

Early Optimism Crushed in Maryland’s Fight for $15

Proposed legislation adds new loopholes and scales back a $15 minimum wage bill that failed in the Baltimore City Council last year. (1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East–Maryland/DC Division)  

BALTIMORE – The optimism that fueled the Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign last year in Baltimore and other Maryland jurisdictions is giving way to a more sober assessment of political realities and causing proponents to roll back expectations.

That new reality was on display this week at Baltimore City Hall, where Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a Democrat, unveiled a proposal for a citywide minimum wage. The proposed legislation adds new loopholes and scales back a $15 minimum wage bill that failed in the Baltimore City Council last year in the face of intense opposition by business interests and some local Democratic leaders.

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