We need an economy that works for the 99 percent.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, we need an economy that works for everyone – not just the top one percent. The EPI recently issued a new report on how those at the top have fared - compared to the rest of us - over the last few decades. What they found proves that the system is rigged. The EPI report states that, “between 1979 and 2007, the top one percent of taxpayers in all states captured an increasing share of the income.” And, in the years since the Great Recession, the “top one percent of incomes in most states once again grew faster than the incomes of the bottom 99 percent.”

The report shows that in all 50 states, income inequality has gotten worse, and the average worker has been shut out of our nation's prosperity. EPI noted that unionization rates are lower than they've been since before 1928, which means that most workers don't have the power to demand higher wages. In fact, the EPI report states “The federal minimum wage purchases fewer goods and services than it did in 1968.”

There is just no denying it – those at the top are getting richer, and the rest of us aren't even keeping up. In their conclusion, EPI states, “In the next decade, something must give. Either America must accept that the American Dream of widespread economic mobility is dead, or new policies must emerge that will begin to restore broadly shared prosperity.” Income inequality is finally getting some long-overdue attention from our lawmakers, but we need less talk and more action to make our economy work for the 99 percent.

Comments

eatroots's picture
eatroots 7 years 39 weeks ago
#1

The Deep State has a "Giant Vacume Cleaner" and boy do they clean up good!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 39 weeks ago
#2
Quote Hartmann:
Quote EPA:“In the next decade, something must give. Either America must accept that the American Dream of widespread economic mobility is dead, or new policies must emerge that will begin to restore broadly shared prosperity.”

I don't think it will take the next decade to realize that! It's already blatantly obvious to most people now. And, probably in just a matter of a year or three the masses may very well get way beyond expecting politics, as usual, to change things. Know what I mean?!!

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 39 weeks ago
#3

The quote doesn't say "realize", it says "accept".

It also doesn't say "one decade from now". "In the next decade" means "at some time between now and a decade from now".

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 39 weeks ago
#4

mathboy: Thank you for your astute observations and corrections! :-)

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 39 weeks ago
#5

If the U.S. currency gets revalued, I'd like to simultaneously increase the factor between dollars and cents to, say, 10,000. (Obviously, the term "cent" would no longer make sense, so I'll use "penny".)

When grocery shopping, or even furniture shopping, prices would just be in pennies. Only when you get into the level where you take out a loan would you use dollars. Even so, we could add another level at another factor of 10,000, which would be useful for expressing amounts in the federal budget and national debt. So let's use "shilling" for 10,000 pennies, and "dollar" for 10,000 shillings, while revaluing the penny by a factor of ten. (The funny thing here is that the abbreviations, D-S-P, are the reverse of those for the British pounds-shillings-pence, where the abbreviation for pence was "d" from the Roman correlate "denarius".)

My last shopping trip: 939 pennies

Ford Focus MSRP: 16.81 shillings

Median household income: 51.371 shillings

New house: about 300 shillings

New NFL stadium: about 40 dollars

Annual federal spending on education: 7,148 dollars

Annual federal budget deficit: approximately 49,180 dollars

National debt: approximately 1,965,800 dollars

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 39 weeks ago
#6

What is that background noise we always hear at press conferences? It should no longer be the popping of flash bulbs, but that's the best I can come up with.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#7

over taxing doesn't work. Just look at Detroit and New York. People with money will just leave.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 7 years 39 weeks ago
#8

The democrats and Bernie would do themselves and the rest of the country a salvation by suppressing voter suppression! Namely Ohio.

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 7 years 39 weeks ago
#9

Thom Hartmann consistently fails to realize that the income gains of the 1 percent, that far out distant the earnings of the labor workers, is due to the fact that they are the wealthy owners of our nation's wealth-creating, income-producing productive capital assets, held legally by the shareholders (them) of corporations. In other words, they are rich not because of their labor input but because of their ownership interests in the non-human factor of production that is largely and increasingly responsible for how products and services are made and delivered.

Until the Hartmann's of the world and other media and economic and social justice advocates wake up to this reality and begin to advocate for broadened ownership of private sector capital assets among the 99 percent who are now propertyless or under-capitalized, economic inequality will persist and worsen. What is needed are policies that will un-rig the system and provide equal opportunity for EVERY child, woman and man to acquire ownership stakes in FUTURE wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets with the earnings of capital. So that they do not have to deny themselves consumption or accumulate past savings and pledge personal equities (none of which the 99 percent possess) as security, we need to provide insured, zero-interest capital credit loans to finance the FUTURE productive sector repayable in the FUTURE earnings of the new capital assets to be formed.

OWNERSHIP is the key, yet Hartmann and others ignore this reality, even though they should be intelligent enough to understand that the rich are rich not because of their labor contributions but because of their productive contributions of tools and machines and other physical capital assets that they own.

Hartmann needs to study and support the Agenda of The JUST Third Way at http://foreconomicjustice.org/?p=5797, Monetary Justice at http://capitalhomestead.org/page/monetary-justice, and the Capital Homestead Act at http://www.cesj.org/homestead/index.htm and http://www.cesj.org/homestead/summary-cha.htm. See the full Act at http://cesj.org/homestead/strategies/national/cha-full.pdf.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#10

Remember Gary with ownership comes risk. i would bet that many of these wealthy poeple lost a lot of money at different times In there business. I my self have had many months where everyone got paid but me. Don't assume all businesses make money all the time. That is why the Hartmann's of the world would rather just take it from the wealthy. There is no risk this way.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 39 weeks ago
#11

But Kend, who did the wealthy "just take it from"? They took it from the masses of worker's labor. It's time the workers took some of it back...in fact, it's time they took it all back and throw some of those conniving capitalist-pig criminals in jail. Everyone takes risk...bank robbers take risk...carjackers take risks...gamblers take risks...and sometimes they pay off..sometimes they get away with it. That doesn't make it right! There's nothing holy or sacrosanct about taking risk...especially if that risk is about leveraging someone else's well being in order to make yourself shamelessly wealthy. People don't get rich by playing fair or being nice. They get rich by taking unfair advantage of other people.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 39 weeks ago
#12

Overtaxing the rich does work! Just look at the Eisenhower days where the wealthy had to pay a much higher tax rate than those at the bottom. Just as there should be a decent minimum wage, there should also be a maximum income ceiling for everyone so that no tiny percentage of the population can accumulate obscene wealth. A truly progressive income tax would do that. It is really the death of democracy when 1% of the population owns most of the means of production and income.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#13

Palin they didn't take it from anyone. They earned it. Poeple worked for them and got payed. Of course there are a few crooks out there in all business including government and unions but the majority of business owners pay and treat employees well that is why union membership is Declining

You are dead wrong. Most wealth is created by playing fair.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 39 weeks ago
#14

Kend ~ Just what isn't fair about a progressive tax? Most workers can only afford to pay a certain amount because almost everything else goes to the cost of living. High wage workers, earners, and investors can afford to pay more; and, since their use of the commons amounts to a greater strain on the commons, they have the inherent responsibility to pay more. What's not fair about that?

PS Personally I feel that if this group of high income earners wish to accumulate their fortunes overseas instead of recirculating their capital in our own economy, they should be taxed at an even higher rate then otherwise. Make the incentive to spend their profits here. What is spent here stays here. What's not fair about that?

PPS Nothing Palindromedary said is incorrect.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#15

Palin you have a progressive tax already. If everything I read is correct the to 30 % pay 70% of the taxes. I am just saying don't get too tax greedy the wealthy will take all there money out of the country and invest it else where.

Dont blame people for taking there money else where blame the government for not changing the tax law. I am totally with you on this you should pay your taxes.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 39 weeks ago
#16

Kend, maybe you should clean out your pipes more often...they get clogged up with nonsense. You're not a plumber are you, by any chance?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#17

Okay Kend, Marc, Palin- here's my take on all this. Kend, the hell rich folks "earned" it! From my perspective it makes no difference if someone started the business from scratch and is the owner. If he (or she) has employees, in all likelihood that's who is doing most of the work producing or providing whatever it is said owner is in the business of selling. Like Thom has pointed out over & over, nobody gets rich or "makes it" by themselves. And if business owners are not willing or able to pay employees a living wage for full-time work, wealthy or not, they've no business hiring in the first place. And if they are wealthy, well shame on them.

Don't tell me the CEO of United Health "earns" the millions he rakes in every year, to cite just one example. Sorry Kend, that's BS. You're not selling me on the idea that anyone "earns" thousands of bucks per hour. Where health "insurance" piracy is concerned, that's government-sanctioned extortion pure and simple. Put more bluntly: THEFT.

This next point I'm about to make is one I've made before, but it's been awhile and I think it bears repeating. I'll begin by acknowledging that I don't know about any language outside of English (I'm almost embarrassed to say). However I've long observed that the English language in itself is not neutral; there's a semantical slant to it. I suspect this is true of all languages to varying degrees. When it comes to words or phrases used by most of us to express our thoughts, there is nothing neutral about it. I'm talking about these little biases woven through everyday dialogue. Want an example? Look at how folks refer to that which is earned through labor, rather than simply taken (with or without coercion or force) or stolen, or received as a gift. Because nobody - and I mean NOBODY - "earns" $9000 bucks an hour, or millions of bucks in annual "compensation". Virtually everyone uses the "e" word it seems, regardless of political persuasion… Even progressives do! And it grates on me big-time, whenever I hear it. When it comes to these grossly overcompensated toadies at the top of the ole dung heap, I prefer to use words like "given" or "paid" (or less polite terms than that!) rather than referring to such ill-gotten gains as something they've "earned".

This of course goes without saying, I've neither the ability nor the right to change everybody's behavior or way of speaking. I'm simply sharing an observation, along with my problem with this, because of how it relates to the topic at hand. There is nothing morally sound about any society with such extremes of poverty and wealth. Why dignify CEO piracy by referring to such ridiculous compensation as something they've "earned"? The hell they "earned" it! They stole it from us. - Aliceinwonderland

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 39 weeks ago
#18

Aliceinwonderland ~ Don't feel bad about your linguistic background. It is what it is. I myself speak two languages. Not much either on the grand scheme of things. The two I know, English and Spanish, are revered amongst languages. Spanish because of its consistency and simplicity. English because of it's clarity. In the 18th century, when the Constitution was written, English was acknowledged as the superior language of law because it was "impossible" to second guess it's meaning. As we all know now that is not so. The purity of language remains in the ear of the listener. If one wants to they can twist the meaning of anything written in any language.

Lets look at ancient Greek and Hebrew. The Ten Commandments wrote the simple phrase, "Thou shalt not kill." How can that be screwed up, you might ask? What does "kill" mean? Is it the same as murder? Is defending killing? When you say, "I didn't have sex with that woman," what does 'sex' mean? What does 'didn't' mean? There is always more than one way to stick your hand in the cookie jar regardless of language.

The latter most "Judeo-Christian" Empire--The United States--has slaughtered more innocent people than any other group in the history of the world. How can that be? It is precisely because of the fact that human communication is only limited by human imagination. If you want to twist any words to suit your needs you can. If a child is told by their parents not to touch a cookie jar, and they still want cookies, they will find a way. Like you said it is all semantics. The time has come where we need to put our money where our mouth is. One language is all you need to master to tell that you are being lied too. One language is all it takes to insist on the truth. Anything less is not civilized.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#19

Thanks, Marc. I concur.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#20

Sorry Alice but nothing is stole from you. a employee works for a Agreed amount of money for a agreed amount of work. I think anyone making that kind of money is stealing from his shareholders though.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#21

Baloney, Kend. Without strong unions to back them up, workers are denied a seat at the negotiating table and thus, forced to accept whatever crumbs are offered. (Remember "collective bargaining"?) With the balance of power tilted completely towards the business owners' side of that table, no actual "agreement" is even possible. Employers hold all the cards. It's non-negotiable; comply or else, suckers. You call this "freedom", living paycheck-to-paycheck with no benefits, no safety net and just a heartbeat away from homelessness?! Let's get real my friend. Against this kind of backdrop I say, to hell with the shareholders! - Aliceinwonderland

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#22

Alice. You must have been happy when the government took the shares from GM from the shareholders and and gave them to the employees. This will be a good test. "to hell with the share holders" you say. You do know most of them where seniors pension funds don't you.

If the power is so tilted why did the VW plant decline the union? The employees there have all of what you just said they didn't have. Unions to me are a good thing. They help a lot of people who can't help themselves but sometimes they push to hard.

I have a freind that works for the post office here. He gets nine weeks holidays. He told me the average postal carrier is off on sick leave 38% more than the private sector. Even he says that's crazy. Our post office here just went to super box delivery nation wide. No more door to door. There is a union that went to far. Now the whole nation suffers.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#23

Kend, read Thom's report "Lawmakers Intimidate VW Workers", dated February 17th. (Talk about willful ignorance… tsk-tsk) Tennessee Governor Haslam threatened to eliminate VW's state tax incentives if workers unionized. Meanwhile you've got these Republican fascist bullies pushing their weight around, scaring people with consequences if they try to unionize. Corporate anti-union gestapo bullies, doing what they always do. (YAWN)

I'll not spend my Saturday morning paraphrasing something Thom wrote that you apparently never bothered to read. - AIW

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 39 weeks ago
#24

Kend, when a stick up man puts a gun to your head you "agree" to give him your wallet, considering the choice you have. People work where they can not where they want. You think a poor laborer can negotiate a "free" and fair contract with a big corporation, or even a smaller business? The power imbalance is much too great. Unions are because an individual worker lacks the power to negotiate a free and fair contract with their employer but doesn't so much when she or he unites with their coworkers and bargains collectively. It's a matter of compensating the workers with a fair percentage of the profits not the least amount you can get away with giving them.

Capitalism, or a competitive system, also make impossible ethical behavior of business owners. Ethics are not competitive, they are an impediment to one's competitiveness. If your competitor pays their employees a slave wage you have to as well or get done in by their competition. That's how the Walton family got to be the richest in the world and why Walmart destroys more jobs than it ever creates. When Walmart moves into a community Kroeger's has to leave; Safeway has to leave; Ehrmann's has to leave because they are union shops and can't compete with Walmart's low wage model.

The future of workplace democracy is not unions but worker owned businesses. When a worker owned business falls on hard times, i.e., experiences low sales or profits, employee/owners (effectively, partners) collectively agree to take a pay cut. Traditional businesses close their doors when that happens.

Democratically agreed upon progressive tax policies are another way of fairly compensating working people.

The reasons manufacuring left Detroit and New York are much more nuanced. Examine, for example, why Germany and France have retained their manufacturing and you'll see it's because unions there are stronger and here they are not strong enough.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 39 weeks ago
#25

Here's the thing. I just had a long argument on the member blogs about this.

There's this thing called the "Theory of the Surplus Value of Labor" (by Karl Marx) and it goes thus (First let me say that Marx studied the evolution of oppression and enslavement that he expected to result in ultimate liberation. He initially welcomed capitalism thinking that it would liberate people from the enslavement of the feudal social order redistributively giving economic power to the common individual but then he saw that the relationship between capitalist factory owner and worker is really the same as that of the aristocrat or nobility and peasant or serf of feudalism or master and slave of the slave societies of ancient Greece or Rome only in different clothing.) the surplus value of labor is the amount of value produced by the labor of the "direct producers" (factory workers, agrarian feudal peasants, slaves, etc.) that is in excess of the value that is necessary to maintain the subsistence of the direct producer and the direct producer's family so that they can survive to work some more tomorrow and to enable them to reproduce themselves and ensure a continuous supply of labor. That value, the surplus value, the amount produced in excess of that that is needed for the subsistence of the direct producers and their families, is the income of the ruling class.
Thus the value produced by our labor is stolen from us as it has been for millenia since the domestication of plants and animals when that principle of domestication came to be applied no longer just to plants and animals but also to other people, i.e., when soon after the domestication of plants and animals by people commenced the domestication of people by people and different forms of slavery, patriarchy, etc. began.
So then, the degree to which you do that, i.e., the degree to which you take the "surplus value" of your employees' labor (perhaps, in excess of any necessary cost of administering or coordinating their work) is the degree to which you are enslaving, exploiting and robbing them.

Contemporary mainstream economists like to validate this process by euphamizing all the terms of the matter simply calling the surplus value of labor, for example, "profits" or "production less labor costs" that presuppose its legitimacy. But we know what they really mean.

Craig Bush's picture
Craig Bush 7 years 39 weeks ago
#26

We want a 4 day work week 3 day alternative shift with a liveable wage. The raise in minimum wage is not enough. We want our lives back and one less day of servitude. Equal pay for women now. Equal employment rights for farmworkers. We want energy and water efficient home ownership for single income families. Acces to clean water to be proclaimed an inalienable human right and declared a public resource. Single payer health care for all. Treasury notes earmarked for education. A limit of 20 students per class with 15 for math and science. A $10,000 raise for all teachers with guaranteed home ownership in the communities they serve. A minimum subsidy earning allowance for all unemployed. A national work movement to usher in the green economy and national effort to end the petrol-chemical economy. End the oil subsidies. Force a formation of a 50 year super clean-up fund from oil and coal corporations. Enact the carbon tax. Create a socially responsible form of capitilism.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#27

Indeed, Craig! Great list. Got my vote! - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 39 weeks ago
#28

Aliceinwonderland and Mark Sauleys ~ Well said!

Craig Bush ~ Very well said!

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#29

Look no one put a gun to anyones head. The VW employees had a vote. One vote one person. Get over it. Geez you guys act like there was no union intimidation.

Craig I want a new jet but no one is prepared to by me one either. There are plenty of jobs that you can work four days a week. Obama care took care of that.

bobbler's picture
bobbler 7 years 39 weeks ago
#30

All we need do is look at any third world country to see where unregulated business leads; extreme disparity. Its as simple as a game of monopoly; do we really want a society where an insane percentage of the money goes to the %1? Regulations and unions made America's economy explode, because people suddenly had money to spend. When the 1% hold all the money, like a big game of Monopoly, the money doesn't get spent because game over. It is offensive that when big business is extremely profitable, They still fight tooth and nail to not pay their employees better wages. Example Walmart, where their employees need to be subsidized by government welfare to be above the poverty level, while the Walmart owners are the richest people in America., Another example is that jackass that owns Papa John's pizza; he complained tooth and nail and thru a two-year-old baby tantrum, that he might have to add six cents per pizza to give all his employees medical health care (probably need it even more from eating his pizza).

And don't give me this BS that small business would need to lay someone off, because when the 99% have money to spend, businesses flourish (increased profits when the market does better, would far exceed the cost of paying employees higher wages).

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago
#31

Kend, try shakin' dat sawdust out'cho haid!

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 39 weeks ago
#32

Sorry Alice I can't Be fixed. Me and 51 plus one percent of VW workers think the same. I hope all is well with all that rain in your area.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 39 weeks ago
#33

The Bureau of Labor Stastics:

Union Membership in 2013: Public sector Had a union membership of 35.8%. Private sector had a membership of 6.7%. Total Union membership as a percentage of the total workforce. 11.3%. This is the lowest percentage of Union membership ever since data was first collected in 1983, when it was 20.1%.

This trends raises several questions in my mind. Why do workers in the Private sector not feel the need for a union? Most of the losses have been in the Private sector. My second question is why do so many government workers feel the need to Unionize? Are our governments treating workers so unfairly the feel they need to unionize? or is it more for political access.

richinfolsom 7 years 39 weeks ago
#34

In my lifetime, the economic system has morphed in innumerable ways. The days of the 50's and 60's: a capitalistic system of highly competitive businesses energized by the tax code to reinvest their profits into the growth of the enterprise generating I ever increasing, higher paid work force. Yes, the counter revolution took to the streets seeking social justice, the end of war, and equal rights for minorities and women. The eighties brought the wrecking ball of economic America: consolidation of corporatiinto and banks, many the result of unwanted hostile take over. Tax codes modified, placing the burden on the workers and at the same time forcing out the unions. Computerization, sku labels, instaneous computerized results. Middle management fired. local businesses undermined by the likes of Walmart. Entire small cities displaced. Like a virus, the financisl plague spreads through the factories of americif proudest cities: Detroit, Harrisburg PA steel plants, Delco Radio, and countless plants. jobs sent to Mexico, China, Vietnam, call centers in India, computer processing centers in the Phillipines. The advent of the Internet arrived with its promise to deliver groceries and all our household needs to our doors. eBay, amazon. Travel sites. Download movies. chat with the friends you have not seen in 20 years and still don't have anything in common. The banks took a craspop followed by the rich scooping asks devalued assets at dirt bottom prices! The politicians rhetoric is but a plagiarism from thirty years ago, get a job! Everything has changed since the days when a man's labor was valued And necessary to make our country prosper, Today, work is little more than an exercise of futility.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 7 years 39 weeks ago
#35

HUD's federally funded Housing Choice Voucher Program, otherwise known as Section 8, is failing many of the people it is suppose to help. In case you are not familar with some of the specifics, the amount of rent that a person has to be from one year to the next can fluctuate rather wildly as the funding for the program does not appear to be stable. The rent has gone up in some cases so much that HUD's own guideline that a person pay 30% of one's income toward the rent is violated, because the tenant all of a sudden has to pay more than 30% toward rent due to federal funding and budget cuts affecting the program. If a person's apartment cannot pass inspection, even if this is because the landlord refuses to provide any maintenance as most leases spell out will be provided, the Section 8 program penalizes the tenant, instead of taking the landlord to court. A woman in Ohio on the program had her apartment flunk the required inspection. She took the case to a hearing officier who agreed with the housing inspector. Her rental subsidy had been stopped. Then, the woman felt it necessary to take the housing authority to court, probably a federal court. She told the judge that she had paid for some repairs herself and that the landlord would not provide maintenance and should have been responsible for fixing the problems that caused the apartment to fail the inspection. The judge sided with the tenant and reversed the decision. I also read that the director of a small public housing authority in Southern Indiana told a landlord that a prospective tenant who would have been assisted through the Section 8 program and who happened to be African American was "not the kind of person you want to be renting to." The applicant sued the housing authority for discrimination and the housing authority lost the case. HUD is on the side of well-off property management companies and landlords, not low-income citizens. The government does not provide funding to decrease the national waiting lists for housing vouchers. During Bill Clinton's administration, according to Adloph Reed Jr. writing in the March issue of Harper's, the government got out of the business of helping to finance apartments through public housing. People in Section 8 live in privately owned apartments. Public housing has been associated with mismanagement, crime, poor building maintenance, and in some cases, old, obselete buildings. This whole issue is among the most important. Unfortunately, both on your show on on this Web site, there is little detailed discussion including those with knowledge and expertise in this area on housing, and how to address the increased financial squeeze on renters.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#36

Union intimidation, Kend? Substantiate that wild claim. I've been a working stiff forever and there is never anybody who doesn't want to join a union. There isn't anybody who doesn't want better pay, better conditions to work under and better job security. What rightist fantasy is this that some working people don't want a union?

Some people don't want good health care either, right Kend? Were interfering with their freedom.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#37

Ou812, don't imagine for a second that those figures represent working peoples' desire to join a union. The choice of union membership or not is a no brainer and survey research bears this out (http://www.sharedprosperity.org/bp182.html). I mean, the stereotype of a union protected job that most people, including and, perhaps especially, working people have is like the one that Kend has of the Canadian postal workers. Who wouldn't want that?

There is, however, a tremendous amount of threatening, intimidation and illegal firing of workers by employers during workplace organizing campaigns and discrimination against workers who engage in organizing campaigns by employers. The VW campaign is fairly typical. Union organizing is legally protected activity, but in 2007 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that 31% oworkplace organizingcampaigns result in an illegal firing of one or more of the workers engaging in the campaign. In 2000 Human Rights Watch announced a quadrupling of the instances of discrimination practiced by employers of employees who bengaged in workplace organizing campaigns since the '60s. Employers involved in workplace organizing campaigns use many methods to undermine it, including:

Threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union orengage in protected activity.• Threatening to close the plant if employees select a union to represent them.• Questioning employees about their union sympathiesor activities in circumstances that tendto interfere with, restrain, or coerce employeesin the exercise of their rights under theNLRA.• Promising benefits to employees to discourage their union support.• Transferring, laying off, terminating, or assigning more difficult work tasks to employeesbecause they engaged in union or protected activity.

In 80% of workplace organizing campaigns employers use outside consultants who have union busting down to a science. Here are a couple of excerpts from report of an extensive study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2000-2005 (one of whose authors I know from my organizing days - as I participated in the study as a subject). I recommend reading the report http://web.wm.edu/so/tlsc/orgmaterials/Busting.pdf it's a great read, real enlightening and engrossing.

Organizers and workers reported that consultants are effective in helping employers erode theunion’s majority position within voting units because of the considerable time and expertise theydedicate to an anti-union campaign. Consultants provide employers with experience using the mosteffective anti-union tactics. They know how bestto sequence the use of these tactics during theelection process and how to avoid violating thelaw while achieving maximum impact. ArthurMendelson, a leading consultant in the field, explained, “Management can do so much within theconfines of the law to combat unionism that they need not and should not break the law.” (Logan2002: 208) The following example illustrates howquickly support for unionization can erode whena management consultant is involved: As soon as the employer found out the union was involved, they flew in their consultants. They hadthe consultant working in the nursing home for five straight weeks. We had 35 workers out of 43who signed cards when we filed foran election. In the last week before the election, we had only 28workers. Then, on the Monday night before the election, we had a meeting and no one showed up.We lost the election two days later by alandslide, 29 to 12. [Interview Russow 2004] Consultants help their clients overcome a range ofobstacles encountered in the weeks leading up toan election. One worker explained the role of a consultant at his workplace: [The employer’s] biggest problem was communication with the workforce. About 80 percent didn’tspeak English. So he hired a guy out of California to come in at $500 per hour to run his campaign.He was slamming these guys. Just for this election alone, [the employer] took out a $100,000 loanjust to make sure workersdidn’t vote with the union. [Interview Worker #1 2005]


And one more,

Employer Interference Undermines Majority Support Employers have become adept at using concerted and comprehensive anti-union campaigns tosystematically undermine workers’ right to organize. The impact of comprehensive anti-unioncampaigns on the rate of unionization in the Chicagometropolitan area has been substantial. In2002, labor unions filed 179 petitions with the NLRB to represent previously unorganized workersat private-sector workplaces in the Chicago metropolitan area. (NLRB 2004b) Unions werevictorious in only 31 percent of those campaigns. That unions were not more successful in theirefforts to represent workers using the NLRB election process (see Appendix B) is remarkableconsidering that, in most cases, the majorityof workers indicated they supported unionizationbefore the election process began. At some pointbetween when unions petitioned for an electionand when the election was actually held, unions lost their majority status. In many cases, an election was never even held.The NLRB held an election in only 69 percent ofthe 179 petitions filed (124 campaigns). In allbut one of the cases where an election was not held,unions withdrew their petitions because support for the union eroded to a point where they believedthey could not win the election. Of the 124 campaigns where an election was held, the union wassuccessful in only 45 percent. Even more soberingare the statistics on total workers organized. Ofthe approximate 8,000 workers petitioned for, unions eventually represented just 2,250 (28 percent)of them (authors’ calculations based on NLRB 2004b).1 Unions were unable to maintain worker support throughout the course of representation campaignsbecause employer interference undermined that support. Nearly all of the unions had achievedmajority support at the time they petitioned the NLRBfor an election. In 91 percent of the cases inthe CRC Survey, unions filed with at least 50 percent of workers signing cards or a petition in favorof unionization. In several cases, unions demonstrated more than 80 percent support. Nevertheless,unions lost elections in nearly half of the campaigns where the majority of workers indicated theysupported the union at the time the un

ion filed its petition with the NLRB

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 38 weeks ago
#38

Peddle your BS somewhere else Saulys. The figures speak for themselves. I was a Union member until I found out the truth. Unions are out of touch, out of date and out of luck. Until unions update their offerings, membership will continue to dwindle. Check back here in 12 months to see how much more membership diminishes in 2014.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 38 weeks ago
#39

<p>Peddle your BS somewhere else Saulys. The figures speak for themselves. I was a Union member until I found out the truth. Unions are out of touch, out of date and out of luck. Until unions update their offerings, membership will continue to dwindle. Check back here in 12 months to see how much more membership diminishes in 2014.</p>

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 38 weeks ago
#40

Oooooh Mark, are you sure you want to take on this heavyweight?! (tsk) The Bachmann clone's gettin' nasty now, accusing you of "peddling BS"... the ultimate sin on this blog! Has me shakin' in mah boots.

To the contrary, dearie, figures very often don't speak for themselves. There's way more to an issue like this than can be condensed down to a few dry numbers. If unions are "out of touch" or "out of date" it's because workers need to bring them up to date. Unlike the companies these people work for, unions are democratic organizations, which makes them much more pliable than the companies. "Out of luck"? Hardly. If you look back through history, they've been "out of luck" before and still made a comeback. It will happen again. There are limits to how much abuse workers will tolerate before they start to push back. Unions remain the only means by which this can be accomplished. - AIW

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#41

Ou812, you do better without a union? I suppose you can negotiate a good contract all by yourself, huh? I find it hard to believe you ever worked for anybody other than maybe your mom or dad. Or, I Imagine you're a middle or upper class college kid who hadn't had a job other than in your chosen profession upon getting your degree and after spending a rather merry youth at school.

And this is not to attack you, many people are born lucky like that and just don't know this stuff. It was once quite common in the U.S. to be a middle class brat and have your "happy days" like Richie Cunningham. I'm just telling you all this stuff because I know it's true, I can tell you, I've lived it. When I was a labor organizer I was a volunteer organizing outsourced temporaries like myself in my own work place and others like it in something similar to the Our Walmart model of organizing.

I am also aware of the problems with unions, I got my start in organizing in the Teamster reform movement as a UPS dock worker in the1970s. The historic corruption of the Teamsters probably did more to lower the general esteem of labor unions in the United States than anything else. But even as we fought the thugs and crooks in the union and fought to get them to earn the dues having their representation was still a lot better than having none and none of us would've ever thought we'd be better off without any union at all. The predations of UPS were always there, like a hungry beast snarling and baring its fangs, and the union, even our union, was like a thin screen just strong enough to separate us from it. We knew what'd happen if the screen were to disappear - and the corrupt thugs would make sure you didn't forget it using their selective representation of us as a weapon.

We eventually won our fight against Teamster corruption - long after I had quit working for UPS - thanks, in no small part to the Clinton Administration. Working people need to take their unions back but not having them is not an alternative. I mean, that's what the employers really would like and what they were really after when they corrupted unions in the first place with their payola.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#42

Thanks Alice! Unions are not out of date! They want 'em to be but they're not.

You think Ou812 is a "liar for hire", a shill? Sure is just about the talking points.

Try those links I posted, they're real good, especially that last one, the study report.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#43

Wait a minute! Ou812, you mean you really are so pliable as to think low union membership is because people just don't want a union, don't want any power in the work place, no protection or security or any chance of gettig a good deal?

Alice, I think you're right, it's Michelle. Look at that picture, swallowing the big one! Fraudster joke, "Oh, you ate one too!".

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#44

Anyway, I'd like to know what Michelle means, she "found out the truth". What exactly would be to "update their offerings".

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 38 weeks ago
#45

You're always welcome, Mark.

It would not surprise me a bit if that Bachmann clone was a liar-for-hire. That shit ain't gonna fly here; not on our watch!

By the way, I clicked on your link to that University of Illinois article, "Undermining The Right To Organize", and read a good part of it. I intend to finish reading it when I have time. It disgusts me no end how toothless the National Labor Relations Board has been in enforcing laws meant to protect workers' right to organize. It has undermined the financial security of families all over this country. The ones who need to "update their offerings" are the employers themselves!

Employers' methods of sabotaging union membership are so predictable. Laws are only as good as the enforcement backing them, without which they are worthless. I think the NLRB needs a major overhaul, to say the least. Without democracy in the workplace, we're screwed. - Aliceinwonderland

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 38 weeks ago
#46

P.S. Mark, "Ou812's" avatar is definitely an image of Michelle Bachmann. Sometime within the last week or two, when he/she/it first appeared, ole Palin the bloodhound availed me a link showing how widely used this photo has been. So it's made the rounds! By the way, I hope Ms. B choked on that dildo.... You are what you eat! (tsk tsk) - AIW

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#47

So then, ou812 is, no doubt, a man, that's a man's ribaldry. For sure, he's a white, male, misogynist, racist, homophobic suck ass to the 1% and their wannabes.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 38 weeks ago
#48

Oh well, Mark... I guess we should expect this blog to be invaded by these clueless numbskulls every so often, being the public forum that it is. But you and I and Palin and Marc will be here to give 'em a run for their money! - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 38 weeks ago
#49

;-)

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 7 years 38 weeks ago
#50

Robindell, there's an awful lot of neglect in public housing. Before the '80s, when the budgets started getting cut, public housing was usually a reasonably nice thing for both the tennants and the community. Then, when they started cutting, it was just written off. Nothing ever got repaired or maintained and it was just allowed to slowly crumble.

Sometimes that's by design, There's an under the radar policy official called, by sociologists, "planned shrinkage", that is a vehicle of gentrification. When the realtors, businesses and rich land owners decide they want a piece of land that some poor people are living on what happens is that the local or city government officials then start the process of removing those people by just cutting the area off. They stop investing or maintaining the area, they close all the schools, libraries, parks, etc., grudgingly give the area even the most minimal services and police protection hoping everyone there will just leave or drop dead.

There's a very good book about life in public housing in Chicago called There Are No Children Here by Alex Kolowitz. Chicago, according to housing rights organizers, is a test case for the removal of public housing in the United States and our city government does and always has practiced "planned shrinkage" of poorer communities, more recent, higher profile examples are the school and clinic closings.

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