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Top Findings from the 2017 Death on the Job Report

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 19:55:08 +0000

Top Findings from the 2017 Death on the Job Report

150 workers die every day on the job.
AFL-CIO

In 2015, 150 workers died each day from hazardous working conditions. This year is the 26th year the AFL-CIO has published a report on the state of safety and health in the workplace, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, which compiled 2015 injury and fatality data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and FY 2016 enforcement data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Here are some of the findings from the report:

What industries are most dangerous?

Deaths on the job are increasing for people who work in construction, transportation, agriculture, forestry and fishing. People working in logging, fishing, roofing, truck-driving and landscaping occupations were particularly at high risk of dying on the job.

Who is at the highest risk of dying on the job?

In 2015, the number and rate of Latino worker deaths increased significantly, while other workers’ risks decreased. Almost the entire increase in Latino deaths was among immigrant workers, and workers in construction, transportation and agriculture. California accounted for half of the increase in Latino worker deaths. Latino workers have a fatality rate that is now 18% higher than the overall working population.

Older people are dying on the job at a higher rate than the overall workforce population. People ages 65 and older are nearly three times more likely to die from work-related causes.

What about serious injuries or getting sick from work?

Many working people have work-related injuries and illnesses that are severe and debilitating, and impact their livelihoods. It’s estimated that 6-9 million people become seriously injured at work, or become sick from toxic chemicals. We need to make sure workers can report injuries at work without fear of retaliation, and need a better system for counting occupational illnesses.

The number of workplace violence injuries is a growing problem, particularly in health care. In 2015, more than 26,000 workplace violence injuries were reported and the rate of injuries in state government health care facilities is staggering. These injuries can and should be prevented through commonsense prevention programs in a workplace violence standard.            

What are we doing to prevent workplace deaths?

OSHA—the agency in charge of protecting all working people in the United States—has consistently been underfunded, understaffed and penalties remain too low to be a deterrent for employers. The average federal OSHA penalty for a serious violation is only $2,402. Twenty-six years ago, federal OSHA had the capacity to inspect each workplace once every 84 years; now that capacity is once every 159 years.

Unions are fighting to keep the job protections that we have won, for stronger safeguards on the job, and for improved OSHA resources to keep workers safe.

Have workplaces gotten safer and what does the future hold?

Since the OSHA law was passed in 1970, workplaces have gotten safer and job fatalities and injuries have declined: More than 553,000 workers’ lives have been saved. Under the Obama administration, OSHA and MSHA strengthened enforcement, issued new safeguards on silica, coal dust and other hazards, and expanded workers' rights. But now, under the Trump administration, this progress is threatened. President Trump already has repealed two worker safety rules and delayed others. He has proposed to slash the budget for the Department of Labor and job safety research and to eliminate worker safety and health training programs and the Chemical Safety Board. Workers’ safety and health is in danger. 

What can be done to prevent workplace deaths?

We must defend the worker safety and health protections we have won, and we must move forward. We will continue working for safe jobs for our union brothers and sisters, as well as fighting for protections and representation for all working people.

The nation must renew its commitment to protect workers from injury, disease and death.

View the full report.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 04/25/2017 - 15:55

Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Massive Giveaway to the Wealthy Few

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 20:10:44 +0000

Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Massive Giveaway to the Wealthy Few

Taxes
401(k) 2012

President Donald Trump is working on a new tax plan. Reports suggest that Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15%. That proposal could have serious long-term consequences for the United States—estimates show this will reduce revenue by $2.4 trillion in the first decade—and it amounts to little more than a massive giveaway to big corporations. Trump proposed the same tax cut for big corporations during the presidential campaign, as part of a larger tax plan that also included tax giveaways for the wealthy at a total cost of $7.2 trillion. We'll have to wait to see what the details of the plan are, but it's important that any tax plan help working people.

This is what a plan that actually works for working people would look like:

Big corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes: Our rigged and broken tax system lets big corporations and the wealthy avoid paying their fair share of taxes, sticking the rest of us with the tab. Any tax reform proposal must not cut taxes for big corporations or the wealthy. On the contrary, tax reform should restore taxes on the wealthiest estates and tax the income of investors as much as the income of working people. It's imperative that tax reform make our tax system more progressive than it is now. Big corporations and the wealthy must pay more in taxes than they pay now, so we can build an economy that works for all of us.

Tax reform must raise significantly more revenue: Tax reform must raise enough additional revenue over the long term to create good jobs and make the public investment we need in education, infrastructure and meeting the needs of children, families, seniors and communities. Any tax reform that reduces revenues in the short term or the long term is unacceptable. Additionally, cost estimates must be honest and not rely on gimmicks that hide the true long-term cost of tax cuts.

Tax reform must eliminate the tax incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore: Taxing offshore profits less than domestic profits creates an incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore, while giving global corporations a competitive advantage over domestic corporations. Tax reform must eliminate the tax incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore, a move that would raise nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. Reform must not include a “territorial” system that further reduces taxes on offshore profits and would increase the tax incentive for global corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore. Tax reform also must encourage investment in domestic manufacturing, production and employment to ensure a robust manufacturing sector.

Global corporations must pay what they owe on past profits held offshore: Global corporations owe an estimated $700 billion in taxes on the $2.6 trillion in past profits they are holding offshore. Tax reform should use these one-time-only tax revenues to increase smart public investment in infrastructure rather than cut corporate tax rates permanently. The higher the tax rate on these accumulated offshore earnings, the more funding will be available for public investment in infrastructure.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/24/2017 - 16:10

Another Organizing Victory in the South: Georgia’s Nestlé Workers Vote to Join RWDSU

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:28:31 +0000

Another Organizing Victory in the South: Georgia’s Nestlé Workers Vote to Join RWDSU

Nestle
Wikimedia Commons

Contrary to many claims by pundits, amateur or professional, working people are showing, more and more, that they do want to organize their workplaces in the South. The latest victory comes from McDonough, Georgia, where employees at Nestlé’s logistics and shipping center voted to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

The Nestlé employees are fighting for a voice on the job, fair treatment, job security and fair wages. More than 100 working people will be represented by RWDSU. The workers handle shipping and logistics for Nestlé’s food product packaging.

Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSUs president, said:

These workers have been through a lot in the past few months both personally and at work, and it is time that their voices are heard and that they are treated both respectfully and fairly by Nestlé. Nestlé’s workers deserve a strong union voice at the bargaining table, and we are proud to be representing the 102 workers in McDonough, Georgia, as we work to secure a fair contract.

Edgar Fields, president of RWDSUs Southeast Council, lauded the Nestlé employees:

The people of Georgia are fighters, and the workers at Nestlé here in McDonough are a force to be reckoned with—and I could not be prouder to represent them. Neither union-busting efforts nor flood and gale-force winds could deter these workers from defending their right to organize, and now it’s our turn to fight for them. We are ready.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/24/2017 - 15:28

Yes, the Republican Health Plan Is Still that Bad

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:39:30 +0000

Yes, the Republican Health Plan Is Still that Bad

Health care
PicServer

Big health care cuts and huge tax cuts for the wealthy few are back on the front burner for Congress. President Donald Trump is now saying he expects to have a deal with congressional Republicans for a health plan this week or shortly thereafter.

Just a month ago, Trump said he was moving on to do tax cuts instead of health care after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) failed to get enough votes in the House of Representatives for their bill repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The deal Trump and congressional Republicans are trying to cut now is really just the old plan from March with a few changes in which they are trying to paper over differences among House Republican leaders.

The old plan clearly was bad for working people and retirees.Congress budget experts said it would take health benefits away from 24 million people, by cutting the number of people with Medicaid by 14 million and those with benefits at work by 7 million, and spike out-of-pocket premiums and other costs for millions more people. At the same time, the Republican plan also would be a massive wealth transfer to the wealthy few. It would give the average millionaire household a $50,000 per year tax cut and prescription drug and insurance companies hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks.

So, what is in the plan now? Pretty much all of the bad stuff from the old plan—that is, it is still a massive tax cut paid for by cutting health care for working families and retirees—plus more.

Based on news reports, the Republican plan still:

  • Jacks up individual premiums for older people, as well as those with lower incomes and living in areas with high medical costs.
  • Takes away help for people who struggle to pay high insurance deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.
  • Guts Medicaid by phasing out the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility to more working-age adults and ending the federal funding guarantee in favor of a fixed-dollar contribution.
  • Cuts Medicare funding to give a huge tax break to the wealthy few and prescription drug companies.
  • Taxes the health benefits of millions of working people with high-cost health coverage.

What are the changes in their revised plan? To meet the demands of some House Republican leaders who want even bigger health care cuts, the new Republican plan also lets states decide whether to get rid of certain protections.

According to a leaked document, states will be given the option to get rid of the so-called essential health benefits rules, which require insurance to cover a minimum set of benefits, such as prescription drugs, emergency care and maternity coverage. The earlier plan would have eliminated this minimum benefit requirement outright. Now, a state will have to ask the federal government for a waiver. In exchange for a waiver, a state will simply have to say—but not prove—that the purpose of these changes is to reduce premiums, increase coverage or advance some other benefit to the state.

Under the new plan, a state also can get rid of the ACA protection against an insurance company charging higher premiums for someone with a pre-existing condition. Where this happens, someone with a pre-existing condition could end up paying a whole lot more just to get basic health insurance. According to a recent estimate by the Center for American Progress, insurance companies likely would charge a 40-year-old with diabetes an extra $5,510 per year and someone with certain cancers as much as $140,510 more.

In exchange for letting insurance companies do this, a state would need to have a so-called high-risk pool. These are arrangements set up by governments to offer coverage to people who cannot get or afford insurance anywhere else because they have costly conditions. These pools existed before the ACA and were notorious for not working very well. Premiums were still high, and the programs were so poorly funded that only a small fraction of the people who needed them could get in.

The new Republican plan also would create an “invisible” reinsurance program. Very little has been revealed about this, but the basic idea is each state would run a program that pays for some of insurance companies’ costs for people with expensive conditions. The federal funding for this would be so low, however, that the big cuts in the rest of the Republican plan swamp any impact from it. The Center for American Progress estimates the average enrollee would have to pay $3,000 more by 2020 under this plan.

What’s the bottom line for the revised Republican plan? The more things change, the worse they get.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/24/2017 - 13:39

Tax Reform Should Increase Taxes for Wealthy: The Working People Weekly List

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:53:09 +0000

Tax Reform Should Increase Taxes for Wealthy: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Retired Miners Lament Trump’s Silence on Imperiled Health Plan: "Donald J. Trump made coal miners a central metaphor of his presidential campaign, promising to 'put our miners back to work' and look after their interests in a way that the Obama administration did not. Now, three months into his presidency, comes a test of that promise. Unless Congress intervenes by late April, government-funded health benefits will abruptly lapse for more than 20,000 retired miners, concentrated in Trump states that include Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Many of the miners have serious health problems arising from their years in the mines."

Six Questions for Labor's Top Workplace Safety Expert: "Already we’ve seen the Trump administration repeal two important workplace safety rules. They’ve proposed the elimination of funding for worker safety and health training programs."

AFL-CIO: Tax Reform Should Increase Taxes for Wealthy: "The AFL-CIO on Monday pressed its tax reform priorities, pushing back against concepts likely to be included in a Republican bill. 'Big corporations and the wealthy must pay more in taxes than they pay now, so we can build an economy that works for all of us,' the group said."

The Human Cost Of Trump’s Rollback On Regulations: "After numerous efforts under other presidents failed, the Obama administration finally tightened the regulations covering silica last year, further restricting the amount of dust that employers can legally expose workers to. The tougher standards were 45 years in the making, the subject of in-depth scientific research and intense lobbying by business groups and safety experts. When the rules were finalized in March 2016, occupational health experts hailed them as a life-saving milestone. But now the enforcement of the rules has been delayed ― and the rules themselves could be in jeopardy."

Unionized Scientists March in Protest of Attacks on Science and Jobs: "Of all the attacks on our civil society, the attacks on evidence-based science pose perhaps the greatest existential threat. Decisions being made about climate science and environmental protection at this critical time will shape the future of our planet."

We Need Tax Reform That Works for Working People: "Tomorrow, Americans will fulfill our civic duty of paying taxes to a system that is far from perfect or fair. As Congress reportedly is working on a plan to reform it, the AFL-CIO has a simple framework for what a serious proposal should include and what should not be included. These are the standards we will judge it by..."

Joe Arpaio's Infamous Arizona Tent City Closing: "By the time former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his re-election bid in 2016, he was widely thought of as one of the worst sheriffs in the country, if not the worst. He was known for harsh anti-immigrant policies, accusations of racial profiling, misuse of funds and any number of other complaints—and the perfect symbol of everything wrong with his way of approaching law enforcement was Tent City."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/24/2017 - 10:53

Bluegrass State Union Members Accept Teacher’s Invitation to Teach Labor History at Her High School

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:48:04 +0000

Bluegrass State Union Members Accept Teacher’s Invitation to Teach Labor History at Her High School

Berry Craig & John Coomes
Berry Craig

A bumper sticker was John Coomes’ “teacher’s certificate” at Henderson County High School in Henderson, Ky., his hometown.

“It said, ‘China is a right-to-work state since 1949,’” explained the Henderson-based Tri-County Labor Council president, who just finished a second daylong labor history presentation at HCHS, one of the largest schools in western Kentucky.

Coomes’ cup runneth over.

“We were there last year and have been invited back next year,” said the 66-year-old retiree from Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 136, based in Evansville, Ind., across the Ohio River from Henderson.

“Everybody—the teachers, the students—has been very supportive. This is a great way to teach these millennials about unions, which have gotten beaten up pretty badly in Kentucky lately.”

The just-concluded session of the Republican-majority state Legislature passed a trio of union-busting bills—“right to work,” prevailing wage repeal and a paycheck deception measure.

Tea party-tilting, union-despising GOP Gov. Matt Bevin gleefully signed the legislation.

“We wanted the students to know how these bills hurt everybody and not just union members,” Coomes said.

“We” included a trio of helpers: Marty Owens, Larry Parsons and Butch Puttman, all from Laborers Local 1392 in Owensboro, Ky., about 30 miles upriver from Henderson.

“We were in the auditorium all day,” said Coomes, who also sits on the Kentucky State AFL-CIO Executive Board.

The session was a reprise from the 2016 program, which stemmed from the bright red sticker showing an outline of China and the familiar hammer-and-sickle Communist symbol.

Coomes, who worked out of Local 136 for 47 years, happened to be handing out the stickers last year. When HCHS history and government teacher Ginger Stovall spied them, she had to have one.

“She’s my niece,” Coomes explained.

Uncle John wasn’t sure whether to give her one. “Knowing that her family is Republican, I asked her what she was going to do with it. I said, ‘If you put it on your car, your family is going to be upset.’

“She said, ‘Oh, no. I’m going to put it on my bulletin board in class.’ She also said she spends a week teaching about unions.”

Then she popped the question to her kin: “Could you bring someone in to help me teach the history of unions?”

Uncle John was happy to oblige. He summoned Louisville, Ky., labor lawyer Dave Suetholz. “Dave was very gracious to do this for us last year. He taught five classes and probably saw over 500 kids.”

Coomes got the stickers from Tim Donoghue, president of the Erlanger, Ky.-based Northern Kentucky Central Labor Council. “We are using the bumper stickers to educate our new members as well as the public,” he explained.

“I get to teach labor history at Lloyd High School in Erlanger, and l have contacted several other schools. I like to stress to our council delegates and union leaders that we must get involved in school board elections and demand our story be told.”

This year, Coomes’ program grew into seven classes with about 700 students participating. It was held in conjunction with career day.

He said representatives of unions, mostly building trades, constituted about “a third of everybody who was there. I felt really good about that.”

He said Parsons did most of the history teaching. “After he finished, I’d talk about my career and plug the building trades at career day,” Coomes said.

Meanwhile, he and Madisonville, Ky., resident Kevin Walton of United Steelworkers Local 9443 in Robards, Ky., are working on a labor history CD. Walton, the central labor council vice president and COPE director and a state AFL-CIO board member, helped with the 2016 program. But this year he was away at the USW’s convention in Las Vegas.

“We really want the CD to have a wow factor with slides and photos,” Coomes said. “We want it professionally done. It’s a great way to show high school students how bad unions have been mistreated and what unions do for all working people, not just union members.”

This is a guest post from Berry Craig, a retired member of AFT Local 1360. It originally appeared at Kentucky State AFL-CIO.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:48

Unionized Scientists March in Protest of Attacks on Science and Jobs

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:34:07 +0000

Unionized Scientists March in Protest of Attacks on Science and Jobs

Kathy Setian and other members of IFPTE Local 20 march at the Inauguration protest on January 20th in San Francisco.
IFPTE Local 20

Of all the attacks on our civil society, the attacks on evidence-based science pose perhaps the greatest existential threat. Decisions being made about climate science and environmental protection at this critical time will shape the future of our planet.

Advances in research are produced by the twin pillars of dedicated scientists and an activated citizenry who demand that the best science be applied to today’s most pressing problems. Because scientists produce the facts that expose the lies currently being purveyed, the tip of the spear is pointed at the heart of science-based policy and research.

But the imminent threat also presents an extraordinary opportunity for the scientific community to unify around a message of resistance, one in which organized labor has a critical role to play. Unionized scientists are well-positioned to fight back against the false narratives being pushed by the administration and to advocate collectively for continued funding of crucial basic research. Science professionals need a workplace free from fear of corporate power and political malfeasance influencing their results. We are the protectors of truth and facts, and in that way we all are in service to the public. With scientific integrity, we speak truth to power.

Budget cuts are the beginning of the attack. For example, the Donald Trump administration is proposing a 31% cut in funding and 21% cut in workforce at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on top of less-heralded budget cuts over the past three years. Such low funding levels have not been seen since the 1970s, prior to the enactment of most of our national environmental laws. Enforcement is also targeted, crippling the EPA’s ability to protect human health.

Is this a good way to save money? Investments in environmental protection pay huge dividends for the country. For example, air pollution reductions will avoid 230,000 premature deaths and produce total benefits valued at $2 trillion in 2020, according to a 2011 study. This benefit exceeds costs by more than 30-to-1, to say nothing of the human suffering.

Scientists have long held the view that with enough data and evidence we will be able to convince skeptics that climate change is real, that humans are responsible and that immediate action must be taken. It is increasingly clear that this approach has not worked.

For the nearly 7,000 postdoctoral researchers at the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab represented by UAW Local 5810, having a union ensures strong workplace protections as well as a powerful, nationwide platform for advocacy when research comes under threat. And the collective power of the union is not limited to the workplace.

With a diverse membership that includes both higher education and the manufacturing sector, the UAW has been a leading advocate for climate change policies that both create healthy communities and address economic and racial inequities. And at the EPA, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 20/Engineers and Scientists of California (ESC) has rallied in opposition to the cuts and will continue to speak out, including in San Francisco at the March for Science.

Make no mistake. As organized scientists, we are in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters who have lost jobs and real income steadily over the past several decades. We support the creation of jobs in clean energy sectors and in green infrastructure projects. 

It is time for scientists and the citizenry who depend on science to embrace our responsibility to advocate for sound policies. Our very lives and livelihood are now dependent on stepping collectively forward into the realm of political advocacy and action.

Together we will March for Science on April 22, in opposition to the damage that the current administration seeks to do to research and in solidarity with scientists, researchers, and concerned citizens who remain resolved, undeterred, and organized in the face of these threats.

Carly Ebben Eaton is a postdoctoral scholar and executive board member of UAW Local 5810. Kathy Setian was a project manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a steward of IFPTE Local 20, Engineers and Scientists of California. She will be a speaker at the April 22 March for Science in San Francisco.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 04/18/2017 - 13:34

We Need Tax Reform That Works for Working People

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 15:00:45 +0000

We Need Tax Reform That Works for Working People

Tax Day
Getty Images

Tomorrow, Americans will fulfill our civic duty of paying taxes to a system that is far from perfect or fair. As Congress reportedly is working on a plan to reform it, the AFL-CIO has a simple framework for what a serious proposal should include and what should not be included. These are the standards we will judge it by:

Big corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes: Our rigged and broken tax system lets big corporations and the wealthy avoid paying their fair share of taxes, sticking the rest of us with the tab. Any tax reform proposal must not cut taxes for big corporations or the wealthy. On the contrary, tax reform should restore taxes on the wealthiest estates and tax the income of investors as much as the income of working people. It's imperative that tax reform make our tax system more progressive than it is now. Big corporations and the wealthy must pay more in taxes than they pay now, so we can build an economy that works for all of us.

Tax reform must raise significantly more revenue: Tax reform must raise enough additional revenue over the long term to create good jobs and make the public investment we need in education, infrastructure, and meeting the needs of children, families, seniors and communities. Any tax reform that reduces revenues in the short term or the long term is unacceptable. Additionally, cost estimates must be honest and not rely on gimmicks that hide the true long-term cost of tax cuts.

Tax reform must eliminate the tax incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore: Taxing offshore profits less than domestic profits creates an incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore, while giving global corporations a competitive advantage over domestic corporations. Tax reform must eliminate the tax incentive for corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore, a move that would raise nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. Reform must not include a “territorial” system that further reduces taxes on offshore profits and would increase the tax incentive for global corporations to shift jobs and profits offshore.  Tax reform also must encourage investment in domestic manufacturing, production and employment to ensure a robust manufacturing sector.

Global corporations must pay what they owe on past profits held offshore: Global corporations owe an estimated $700 billion in taxes on the $2.6 trillion in past profits they are holding offshore. Tax reform should use these one-time-only tax revenues to increase smart public investment in infrastructure rather than cut corporate tax rates permanently. The higher the tax rate on these accumulated offshore earnings, the more funding will be available for public investment in infrastructure.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 04/17/2017 - 11:00

Joe Arpaio's Infamous Arizona Tent City Closing

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 15:57:59 +0000

Joe Arpaio's Infamous Arizona Tent City Closing

Joe Arpaio
Gage Skidmore

By the time former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his re-election bid in 2016, he was widely thought of as one of the worst sheriffs in the country, if not the worst. He was known for harsh anti-immigrant policies, accusations of racial profiling, misuse of funds and any number of other complaints—and the perfect symbol of everything wrong with his way of approaching law enforcement was Tent City.

Bearing signs with the horrible pun “In-Tents unit” (“intense,” get it?), Tent City was Arpaio’s silly “get tough on crime” idea. And it quickly gave Maricopa County, and Arizona, a reputation as a place where revenge and hate were the driving principles behind law enforcement, an approach as inefficient and ineffective as it is immoral.

Since 1993, as many as 1,700 inmates at a time were housed in a seven-acre plot of tents. Inmates were forced to wear stereotypical black-and-white striped prison uniforms and, seriously, pink underwear. This is the type of man Arpaio is. He wants prisoners not only to pay their debt to society but to be humiliated—and he thinks making men wear pink underwear is the way to do it.

More serious were accusations of inhumane conditions at the facility, where the Arizona heat could reach 110 degrees during the hottest parts of the year. Prisoners complained of expired food and undrinkable water.

Contrary to Arpaio’s claims, evidence shows that Tent City was not only an ineffective crime deterrent, but expensive as well. Newly elected sheriff Paul Penzone said closing it will save millions of dollars, making the prison more efficient, more effective, and safer for both inmates and prison employees:

The image of the tents as a deterrent to recidivism, and as a symbol of being tough on crime may have been true in the past. Today it is only a myth. Tent City is no longer an effective, efficient facility. It has been effective only as a distraction. The circus is over; the tents are coming down.

It’s good to see that this shameful part of Arizona, and American, history is finally ending.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 04/13/2017 - 11:57

The Plan Behind a Chicago Project to Lift Up Working People

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 15:23:21 +0000

The Plan Behind a Chicago Project to Lift Up Working People

Image courtesy Brooke Collins / City of Chicago
Brooke Collins City of Chicago

Manufacturing jobs have been on a steady decline for several years because of trade deals, technological advancements and economic recessions. Despite this, manufacturing remains one of the most important sectors of the U.S. economy, employing more than 12 million workers, or about 9% of the total U.S. employment.

American cities continue to spend billions each year to buy major equipment, such as buses and railcars for public transportation systems. This spending has the potential to support tens of thousands of good manufacturing jobs. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, there will be 533,000 good middle-skill manufacturing jobs available over the next decade.

Jobs to Move America is working with labor, business, community and governmental groups around the country to ensure money spent on building transportation infrastructure is also used to promote equity and bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. The organization also is advocating for workforce development and training programs that prepare working people for high-skilled careers that will help them succeed in the 21st-century economy.

Jobs to Move America and community partners recently managed to ensure a project in Chicago will create good jobs and long-term economic opportunities for the community. JMA worked with the Chicago Federation of Labor, the city of Chicago and the Chicago Transit Authority for four years to ensure that the U.S. Employment Plan was included as part of the CTA’s latest $1.3 billion project, which will supply up to 846 new railcars and replace about half of the CTA’s current fleet. The employment plan is a toolbox of policy resources transit agencies can include as part of their request for proposals to encourage bus and rail manufacturers to train and create good high-skilled U.S. jobs in communities that need it most.

The company that won the contract, CRRC Sifang America committed to building a new $100 million unionized facility on Chicago’s South Side, the first in 36 years. The company will spend $7.2 million to train 300 factory and construction workers. Additionally, CRRC has signed on to a community benefits agreement guaranteeing support for South Side residents and is part of a workforce-labor-business consortium that received a $4 million Department of Labor grant to develop an apprenticeship and training program, and a pipeline into manufacturing jobs in Chicago.

The work of JMA with labor and community partners leveraged a robust manufacturing jobs program that will strengthen the middle class, stimulate increased investment in new domestic manufacturing facilities, and create opportunities for low-income communities. Most importantly, the Chicago work has set a precedent for the rest of the country, lifting up standards and creating a model for how communities and business can and should work together.

The idea behind JMA’s work is simple. There is a need to reframe the discussion about good jobs and economic prosperity away from a "cheapest is best" approach to a broader discussion about the economic impact of using taxpayer dollars to create good jobs, especially for those historically excluded from the manufacturing sector, like women and people of color.

Take, for instance, Kristian Mendoza in the Los Angeles area, a veteran who was struggling to find a good-paying job after his service. He was forced to commute to a job an hour-and-a-half each way from his home. The job paid so little he could barely afford the gas to get there and did not have the resources to take care of his two young children.

Because of the work of the JMA coalition in Los Angeles, a U.S. Employment Plan was implemented in a project of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Part of the agreement is a community-labor partnership with Kinkisharyo, the company that won that bid. The company committed to hiring and exploring skills training for disadvantaged U.S. workers. To date, the company has exceeded its commitments, employing some 400 workers, most of whom are people of color in a unionized factory.

Mendoza is one of the 400. After struggling for years, he has been able to move out of his family’s home and into a place close to the Kinkisharyo factory.

The JMA team is now working on multiple projects across the country, monitoring the industry for upcoming opportunities to maximize public transportation dollars and ensure there are more success stories like Mendoza’s.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 04/12/2017 - 11:23

   
  

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