Yes, America Is Rigged Against Workers

By

Mr. Greenhouse writes about labor.

 

 

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CreditCreditIllustration by Alvaro Dominguez; Photographs by Chris Clor and Classen Rafael/EyeEm, via Getty Images

The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that doesn’t have national laws guaranteeing paid maternity leave. It is also the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee workers any vacation, paid or unpaid, and the only highly developed country (other than South Korea) that doesn’t guarantee paid sick days. In contrast, the European Union’s 28 nations guarantee workers at least four weeks’ paid vacation.

Among the three dozen industrial countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the lowest minimum wage as a percentage of the median wage — just 34 percent of the typical wage, compared with 62 percent in France and 54 percent in Britain. It also has the second-highest percentage of low-wage workers among that group, exceeded only by Latvia.

All this means the United States suffers from what I call “anti-worker exceptionalism.”

Academics debate why American workers are in many ways worse off than their counterparts elsewhere, but there is overriding agreement on one reason: Labor unions are weaker in the United States than in other industrial nations. Just one in 16 private-sector American workers is in a union, largely because corporations are so adept and aggressive at beating back unionization. In no other industrial nation do corporations fight so hard to keep out unions.

The consequences are enormous, not only for wages and income inequality, but also for our politics and policymaking and for the many Americans who are mistreated at work.

To be sure, unions have their flaws, from corruption to their history of racial and sex discrimination. Still, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson write of an important, unappreciated feature of unions in “Winner-Take-All Politics”: “While there are many ‘progressive’ groups in the American universe of organized interests, labor is the only major one focused on the broad economic concerns of those with modest incomes.”

As workers’ power has waned, many corporations have adopted practices that were far rarer — if not unheard-of — decades ago: hiring hordes of unpaid interns, expecting workers to toil 60 or 70 hours a week, prohibiting employees from suing and instead forcing them into arbitration (which usually favors employers), and hamstringing employees’ mobility by making them sign noncompete clauses.

America’s workers have for decades been losing out: year after year of wage stagnation, increased insecurity on the job, waves of downsizing and offshoring, and labor’s share of national income declining to its lowest level in seven decades.

Numerous studies have found that an important cause of America’s soaring income inequality is the decline of labor unions — and the concomitant decline in workers’ ability to extract more of the profit and prosperity from the corporations they work for. The only time during the past century when income inequality narrowed substantially was the 1940s through 1970s, when unions were at their peak of power and prominence.

Many Americans are understandably frustrated. That’s one reason the percentage who say they want to join a union has risen markedly. According to a 2018 M.I.T. study, 46 percent of nonunion workers say they would like to be in a union, up from 32 percent in 1995. Nonetheless, just 10.5 percent of all American workers, and only 6.4 percent of private-sector workers, are in unions.

Corporate executives’ frequent failure to listen to workers’ concerns — along with the intimidation of employees — can have deadly results. On April 5, 2010, a coal dust explosion killed 29 miners at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia. A federal investigation found that the mine’s ventilation system was inadequate and that explosive gases were allowed to build up. Workers at the nonunion mine knew about these dangers. “No one felt they could go to management and express their fears,” Stanley Stewart, an Upper Big Branch miner, told a congressional committee. “We knew we’d be marked men and the management would look for ways to fire us.”

The diminished power of unions and workers has skewed American politics, helping give billionaires and corporations inordinate sway over America’s politics and policymaking. In the 2015-16 election cycle, business outspent labor $3.4 billion to $213 million, a ratio of 16 to 1, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. All of the nation’s unions, taken together, spend about $48 million a year for lobbying in Washington, while corporate America spends $3 billion. Little wonder that many lawmakers seem vastly more interested in cutting taxes on corporations than in raising the minimum wage.

There were undoubtedly many reasons for Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, but a key one was that many Americans seemed to view him as a protest candidate, promising to shake up “the system” and “drain the swamp.” Many voters embraced Mr. Trump because they believed his statements that the system is rigged — and in many ways it is. When it comes to workers’ power in the workplace and in politics, the pendulum has swung far toward corporations.

Reversing that won’t be easy, but it is vital we do so. There are myriad proposals to restore some balance, from having workers elect representatives to corporate boards to making it easier for workers to unionize to expanding public financing of political campaigns to prevent wealthy and corporate donors from often dominating.

America’s workers won’t stop thinking the system is rigged until they feel they have an effective voice in the workplace and in policymaking so that they can share in more of the economy’s prosperity to help improve their — and their loved ones’ — lives.

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Trump is Currently Deleting His Tweets that Refer to Immigrant ‘Invasions’ and ‘Invaders’

By Andrea Jefferson
August 4, 2019

A manifesto tied to the alleged El Paso, Texas, shooter included ranting about Hispanic immigrants “replacing” European-American culture and preemptively defended Donald Trump from media criticism.

Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, was arrested Saturday without law enforcement firing a single shot after he allegedly gunned down dozens of people, killing at least 20.

The manifesto was posted to the website 8chan about an hour-and-a-half before the El Paso Walmart shooting began. Authorities have not yet definitively said whether the manifesto was written by Crusius and said they were still investigating the hateful screed.

The manifesto has been published in its entirety by conservative website, Drudge Report, and rails against Hispanics, immigrants and Republican Party “inaction” against the country’s so-called destruction.

The manifesto acknowledges inspiration from fellow white supremacist Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter Brenton Tarrant, 28, who killed more than 50 people earlier this year. The manifesto points directly to a shared interest in French white nationalist conspiracy writer Renaud Camus’ The Great Replacement.

Tarrant, like Crusius, attempted to distance himself from Trump, while praising the U.S. president in his March writings. Tarrant lauded Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” before adding, “As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no.”

And much like Crusius mimicked the ideas of Camus and Tarrant, he also attempted to offer a pre-emptive defense of the president from the “fake news” media in the rantings released online Saturday.

“My ideology has not changed for several years,” the purported Crusius text reads. “My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I [sic] putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric.”

“The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that,” it continued.

However, Trump’s own words and even reactions to the Christchurch shooting used much of the same language and anti-immigrant fear-mongering regurgitated in the manifesto.

“That’s an invasion. I don’t care what [the Democrats] say. I don’t care what the fake media says. That’s an invasion of our country,” Trump said at a rally last November as supporters chanted, “Build the wall.”

And now, perhaps Trump knows that his words are causing people to lash out, because according to Twitter, Trump is deleting some of his more divisive tweets, particularly ones that use the word “invasion.”

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Time asks Trump to take down fake magazine covers

Mike Snider, USA TODAY Published 12:00 p.m. ET June 28, 2017 | Updated 1:51 p.m. ET June 28, 2017

President Trump is being asked to remove a fake Time Magazine cover of himself from his golf clubs. Nathan Rousseau Smith (@fantasticmrnate) has the story. Buzz60

You need a scorecard to keep track of the fake news charges being slung lately.

Among the latest: Time magazine has asked The Trump Organization to take down fake magazine covers featuring a pre-presidential Donald Trump.

The newsweekly made the request after The Washington Post reported Tuesday that at least five Trump properties had hanging a Time magazine cover showing Trump.

But the magazine covers, dated March 1, 2009, were fake. The magazine did not publish on that date; its March 2, 2009 issue featured actress Kate Winslet.

Trump is tweeting about fake news this morning. Speaking of fake news, Time is asking Trump to remove phony covers https://t.co/6tRI2ZRFmN

— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) June 28, 2017
The fake cover’s headlines read: “‘The Apprentice’ is a television smash!’ and “Trump Is Hitting On All Fronts … Even TV!”

Two of the headlines used — “Obama’s Next Move: Can He Curb Health-Care Costs?” and “How Stressed Is Your Bank? A Checkup”  — do appear on the real March 2, 2009 issue.

Photojournalist Scott Keller of The Tampa Bay Times posted a photo of the cover hanging at Mar-A-Lago, the Trump property in Palm Beach, Fla.

Fake Time Magazine, cover, right, hung on Mar-a-Lago wall near entrance. @TB_Times@realDonaldTrump@TIMEMagUSApic.twitter.com/xwMs6kisYH

— Scott Keeler (@SKeelerTimes) June 27, 2017
The Post found the cover also hanging at Trump National Doral near Miami and at the Trump National Golf Club outside Washington, D.C. The fake magazine cover also had hung, but were no longer on the walls at Trump golf resorts in Ireland and Scotland.

After The Post’s story ran, NJ.com, which includes news from local papers including The Star Ledger of New Jersey, found another copy of the fake March 2009 magazine cover at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. which hosts the U.S. Women’s Open in two weeks.

https://t.co/gqpj5BRxCE found Trump’s fake TIME cover hanging in another one of his golf clubs — in Bedminster, NJ https://t.co/RYxE6tmTTN

— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 28, 2017
Time has asked The Trump Organization to remove fake magazine covers. The Trump Organization did not respond to request for comment Wednesday.

Overall, Trump has been on the cover of Time 14 times — for real.

The fake Time cover comes at a time when the issue of fake news seems to be hitting another crescendo.

After three CNN journalists resigned Monday over a story on Russian ties to Trump failed to meet the network’s reporting standards, Trump tweeted on Tuesday CNN is looking at “big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down! ”

To that, CNN tweeted that the network had just posted its most-watched second quarter ever.

CNN just posted it’s most-watched second quarter in history. Those are the facts.

— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) June 27, 2017
Also on Tuesday,  a video emerged showing a CNN producer criticizing the network’s aggressive coverage of possible ties between Trump and Russia. On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr., urged people to watch the video. CNN later issued a statement supporting the producer, John Bonifield, who covers the medical beat not politics, saying, “Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it.”

On Wednesday, Trump charged that The Post is “FAKE NEWS!” and Amazon — owned by Bezos, as is The Post — is not paying Internet taxes.

The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017
Technically, there is no Internet tax. And as of April 1, the online retailer does collect sales tax on Amazon online purchases in the 45 states that collect sales tax. Also, the EU’s European Commission has been investigating Amazon and several other U.S. multinational corporations over unfair tax advantages earned by subsidiaries in Luxembourg.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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