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Posts Tagged ‘American Federation of Labor’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a corporate power grab, a 5,544-page document that was negotiated in secret by big corporations while Congress, the public, and unions were locked out.

Multinationals like Google, Exxon, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, UPS, FedEx, Apple, and Walmart are lobbying hard for it. Virtually every union in the U.S. opposes it. So do major environmental, senior, health, and consumer organizations.

This agreement has virtually nothing to do with trade since tariffs between the twelve nations of the TPP are at historic low. This agreement is really about exporting jobs, raising prices and more bonuses for the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent.

The TPP will mean fewer jobs and lower wages, higher prices for prescription drugs, the loss of regulations that protect our drinking water and food supply, and the loss of Internet freedom. It encourages privatization, undermines democracy, and will forbid many of the policies we need to combat climate change.

The worst part is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision, which allows a multinational corporation to sue to override any U.S. law, policy, or practice that it claims could limit its future profits. Secret panels of corporate lawyers and corporate lobbyists will decide these cases. Their judgments cannot be appealed, not even to the Supreme Court.

This provision will override your votes on the state and local levels. In other words, President Obama and Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden intend to suppress your voting rights, along with most of the Republican Party led by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.

Though the Obama administration touts the pact’s labor and environmental protections, the official Labor Advisory Committee on the TPP strongly opposes it, arguing that these protections are largely unenforceable window dressing.

On behalf of Wall Street and rich investors throughout the United States, President Obama is planning to call for a vote on the TPP in the US senate and the US House after the elections in November. Obama signed the TPP, a despicable income and political power redistribution scam, months ago. Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden will likely introduce the TPP in the senate. Wyden is Obama’s and Wall Street’s attack dog in the US senate in their war against the middle class. He has voted to redistribute trillions of dollars from the 99 to the 1 percent over the course of the his career in congress.

To learn more about the TPP, check out Citizen’s Trade Campaign, and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Public Citizen. For labor-specific resources, try CWA, http://stopthetpp.org/, and the AFL-CIO, http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Trade.

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On May 24, the state leader’s of Vermont’s AFL-CIO asked their national leadership to endorse Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination over Wall Street’s candidate, Hilliary Rodham Clinton. This endorsement follows South Carolina’s state AFL-CIO endorsement of Sanders.

There was simply no way that the leadership could endorse Wall Street candidate Hilliary Rodham Clinton, whose economic plan calls for eliminating labor unions by shipping jobs overseas, redistributing more income from the 99 to the 1 percent, and increasing the trade deficit, among other things.

The 1 percent now steal over 36 percent of all income produced in the United States, compared to 8 percent back in 1980. This redistribution is one of the reasons why the US economy is historically weak. The 99 percent simply don’t have the money to demand more goods and services, thereby increasing job and wage growth. Clinton plans to enact her plans by supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest income and political power redistribution scam in US history, which is currently being marketed as a trade agreement.

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka has come out against such endorsements, rightfully pointing out that it violates the rules of their association, which only allows the national leadership to make endorsements. However, Hilliary has earned $200,000 at least twice from Goldman Sachs for giving two half an hour speeches. That alone, coupled with the campaign contributions alone, see the list below, should tell you exactly where her sympathies lay, especially compared to Sanders sympathies. Hilliary is the candidate of Wall Street.

In other words, Trumpka and the national leaders of the AFL-CIO would be total idiots, or corrupt boneheads, to endorse Hilliary over Sanders.

Politico reports that “some local AFL-CIO leaders in Iowa want to introduce a resolution at their August convention backing the independent senator from Vermont. More than a thousand labor supporters, including several local AFL-CIO-affiliated leaders, have signed on to “Labor for Bernie,” a group calling on national union leaders to give Sanders a shot at an endorsement.”

The endorsement of Sanders is below and is taken from the Facebook page of the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee:

“Whereas: The Executive Committee of the Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is committed to building a broad, effective movement for democratic change, and

Whereas: Our goal is a government that carries out the will of the people, not prop up the profits of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, and

Whereas: We firmly believe that Senator Bernie Sanders is the strongest candidate articulating our issues. His commitment to union principles and labor’s values is longstanding and heartfelt, and

Whereas: As a truly progressive candidate for President, Bernie has the chance to inspire millions of Americans with policy proposals that put the interests of the labor movement, front and center. His campaign will draw attention to what unions and collective bargaining have accomplished for workers and energize our movement, and

Whereas: Labor must step up to fundamentally change the direction of American politics, by refocusing on the issues of our time: growing inequality and pervasive racism, the power of concentrated wealth and its corruption of our democracy, an escalating pension and retirement security crisis, runaway military spending and a militarized foreign policy*, Medicare for All, and the need for new, bold solutions to our shared problems.

Therefore be it resolved that:

We call on the AFL-CIO, labor leaders, union members and working people everywhere to unite behind Bernie Sanders and elect the President America’s workers desperately need, and

Be it further resolved that:

The Vermont State Labor Council, AFL-CIO strongly urges the AFL-CIO to support Bernie Sanders 2016 and his campaign to become the nominee of the Democratic Party for president.

Adopted May 24th, 2015 and respectfully submitted for consideration to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.* Teamsters Local 597 proposed deleting “runaway military spending and a militarized foreign policy” but supports the general line of the resolution.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/afl-cio-endorsement-2016-democratic-primary-119701.html#ixzz3er9K6IN6

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The leadership of the South Carolina Chapter of the AFL-CIO announced last week that it was endorsing Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary for president of the United States. There was simply no way that the leadership could endorse Wall Street candidate Hilliary Rodham Clinton, whose economic plan calls for eliminating labor unions by shipping jobs overseas, redistributing more income from the 99 to the 1 percent, and increasing the trade deficit, among other things.

The 1 percent now steal over 36 percent of all income produced in the United States, compared to 8 percent back in 1980. This redistribution is one of the reasons why the US economy is historically weak. The 99 percent simply don’t have the money to demand more goods and services, thereby increasing job and wage growth. Clinton plans to enact her plans by supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest income and political power redistribution scam in US history, which is currently being marketed as a trade agreement. The South Carolina AFL-CIO leadership also recommended that the national leadership endorse Bernie Sanders. Duh!

Click on the link below for more on this story.

Bernie Sanders Gets the Endorsement of the South Carolina AFL-CIO

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Four Graphs that Will Make You Boiling Mad About the Trans Pacific Partnership–Or Why President Trump, former President Obama, along with executives from Nike, Microsoft, Apple and other US corporations Steadfastly Support China’s Currency Manipulations

income inequality

Originally published May 19, 2015 by John Hively

When China manipulates its currency vis-a-vis the US dollar it increases the profits of US job exporters that produce stuff in China and exports that cheap stuff to the USA.

That’s most likely why former President Obama said he will veto any congressional legislation that seeks to stop the Chinese government from manipulating its currency.

Why do President Obama and executives of US based multinational corporations, like Nike, want the Chinese government to manipulate its currency? And what does this have to do with the Trans Pacific Partnership and Fast Track Authority?

The answer to one of these questions is simple: the TPP will force China to manipulate its currency even more than is currently the case.

Take a look at the graph below. On the left side is the Yuan, which is the Chinese currency. On the bottom line is the dollar. Now look at the two intersecting lines, which is the supply and demand for dollars. In this example, 600 yuan can purchase $100 in the currency markets, which is roughly what the two currencies currently exchange for.

So when Nike, Microsoft or Apple Inc. manufacture a product in China that costs the consumers, say, 600 yuan in China, given the exchange rate, the same product will cost $100 in the United States, after, of course, it is exported from China to the USA. Assume these US corporations have a 25% profit margin. That means these companies get 150 Y profits in China per product, and $25 profit when they export their products to the United States.

The same is true for companies that manufacture products in the USA, and then export them to China. American manufacturing companies earn $25 per $100 of product sold in the USA, and 150 Y when their products are exported from the USA to China.

The government of China has been accused of manipulating the value of its currency. So what happens when it does this? It purchases dollars. This shifts the D1 line to the left, because there are less dollars on the market, which is shown in the graph below as line D2. This makes the Yuan less expensive in terms of dollars.

Why would President Obama encourage the Chinese government to manipulate its currency by threatening to veto US legislation aimed at stopping it? Why would Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden only pay lip service to the evil of Chinese currency manipulation, while apparently supporting it? Why are the higher up folks at Nike, Microsoft, Apple and every US corporation that is producing goods in China for export to the United States against any legislation that seeks to address Chinese currency manipulation? There is a very good reason they’re all for this.

Look at the example in the next graph below. When the Chinese government manipulates it’s currency by purchasing dollars, 800 Y will now purchase $75. Do the math; 600 Y will purchase now $56. What does that mean?

It means that when Nike manufactures a pair of shoes in China which costs 600 Y there, in the US it should cost $56 rather than $100, thanks to China’s currency manipulation, but that rarely happens. The US corporate propaganda machine will lie to you and tell you it makes Chinese imports less expensive. However, the truth is that China’s  manipulation increases the profits of Nike.

Nike still gets 25%, or 150 Y, in profits when its shoes are sold in China. When it exports the same shoes to the USA from China, Nike still gets 25% profit on $56, which is $14 dollars. However, Nike still sells it’s shoes for $100 in the United States, which means another $44 in earnings per pair, in addition to the $14.

That means Nike’s profit margin on a $100 pair of shoes goes from 25% at the old exchange rate to 58% at the new exchange rate. This sends its earnings and stock prices higher. The same thing occurs with Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and every US corporation manufacturing in China, that are exporting their products to the United States.

So who pays the price for this?

You do; if you work for a living in the United States, or if you’re a  small or medium size business owner. Here’s how. Suppose you are a US manufacturer producing shoes in Oregon that sell in the USA for $100. You ship them to China at 600 Y for $100, and earn 150 Y, or $25, in profits. Now suppose the Chinese government, with the encouragement of your corrupt government and many US business leaders, manipulates its currency by purchasing tens of billions upon tens of billions of dollars. The supply of dollars on the international currency markets shrinks, making dollars more expensive, and as noted above, the D1 line shifts to D2, which represents the new supply of money. BTW, the space between D1 and D2 represents the amount of dollars the Chinese purchased.

Those $100 US made shoes now costs 1000 Y in China. Okay, my graph isn’t too high tech, but the actual figure is 1066 Y, if you do the math, but let’s stick with the 1000 Y, for simplicity sake. There’s still a 25% profit margin per pair of shoes, but at the 1000 Y price, there’s not a whole lot of buyers in China. The US manufacturer could lower the price of the shoes to 750 Y, but he or she isn’t making a penny at that price, and they’re still overpriced for the Chinese market. Say goodbye to the Chinese market for all US products at the new exchange rate.

US exports to China are going to shrink quite rapidly under this scenario. This means fewer American jobs, and less wages for everyone. It means less tax dollars going to schools and other government services, it means no retirement pay for a larger percentage of the 99 percent. Rich folks don’t need the money they’re going to steal from us, except to keep the latest stock market bubble surging, at least until it pops. However, greater profits mean the bubble can keep expanding for a while longer.

So how can US corporate leaders and their corrupt politicians encourage the Chinese government to manipulate its currency even more than it already has?

The scams that have been created to do this are called the Trans Pacific Partnership and Fast Track Authority. So what do these two things have to do with Chinese currency manipulation? More importantly, why would the Chinese

government want to engage in currency manipulation?

The answer in one word; Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of the nation’s involved in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership. As you can see from the graph below, China’s annual minimum wage is nearly twice that of Vietnam. The wages in China at those Nike and Microsoft and Apple and Hewlett-Packard factories and their suppliers and contractors and subcontractors have been going up rapidly over the past fifteen years. Those labor costs have been able to go up because the Chinese government has increased the profit margins of its US manufacturers by manipulating its currency. But there’s another reason why China needs to manipulate its currency vis-a-vis the dollar.

As you can see from the map below, there are nearly 313,000 Nike workers toiling in Vietnam, and nearly 250,00 in China. Vietnam clearly has lower labor costs than those in China. The Chinese government, however, can offset its labor cost disadvantage by manipulating its currency. So it can keep those jobs in China, and still allow the wages of Chinese workers to expand. But that might not be the case should the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) become a reality.

Tariff is another word for tax. When a US company like Nike manufactures its products in Vietnam, and then exports them to the US, a tariff is charged against the products of between 10 and 15 percent. So another $10 to $15 dollars is added to the cost of a $100 pair of Nike’s Vietnamese made shoes exported to the USA. That means less profits, lower dividends, and lower share prices than would otherwise be the case without tariffs. The US tariffs on US corporate goods manufactured in Vietnamese factories helps to offset some of the Vietnamese labor cost advantages vis-a-vis the cost of Chinese labor.

Under the TPP, should it become law, those tariffs will likely be gone, giving Vietnam a much larger labor cost advantage over Chinese workers.

In which case, the Chinese government will have two options; let millions of Nike and Dell and Apple and Microsoft jobs head south to Vietnam, along with the jobs of contractors and subcontractors, or manipulate its currency even more, which means all of those US corporations manufacturing stuff in China for export to the US will see unprecedented and explosive growth of their profits; and all of this will occur at the expense of small and medium sized US companies that make stuff in the United States and export them to China.

That means several unpleasant things will occur to the US economy: US unemployment will grow with the TPP, as exports to China diminish, inequality in wealth and income will continue to increase during the reign of Obama and Wyden, the stock market bubble will continue to expand, the coming stock market crash will be even worse than imaginable, US businesses will need to export more US jobs to China, and all of these bad things will trickle down to more crowded classrooms, less government services, reduced wages, fewer jobs, more poverty, and much more negative stuff for the 99 percent. However, the super rich will become even more super rich. And Chinese currency manipulation will not be the only thing in the TPP contributing to all of these things. See https://johnhively.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/how-the-trans-pacific-partnership-will-destroy-american-jobs-by-destroying-us-exports/

The political game in the US over the TPP and Fast Track Authority currently being played out is a complete farce.

Start with Fast Track Authority, which President Obama, Nike, Microsoft, Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and just about every major US corporate CEO and investor desperately want Obama to have. Fast track will limit congressional debate on trade deals, it will scuttle any possible congressional amendments, and eliminate the use of the filibuster in the senate to stop the TPP. Fast track needs to pass through both houses of congress.

As a condition for bringing Fast Track Authority to a debate on the floor of the US senate, on May 13, a number of Democrats who traditionally vote to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent (Ron Wyden, Harry Reid, Patty Murray, Heidi Heitkamp, Bill Nelson, Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskell, and Ben Cardin) agreed to first bring a vote for a bill by which the US will crackdown somehow on China for manipulating currency.

These folks know such a bill may not pass the senate, much less the house of representatives. If it did pass, then it will sit on Obama’s desk until Fast Track Authority passes both chambers of congress. Then he will veto the currency manipulation bill. There’s a ton of income to be redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent resting on his shoulders.

Then the above senators will pretend to the folks back home that they did all that they could, when in fact, they did nothing when they could have done something to protect the folks back home from the TPP.

Every US senator and every US house representative knows this is the game, and many are willing to play this deadly game so as to justify their support for giving President Obama Fast Track Authority, even though the TPP will likely rip out the guts of the middle class, as well as the US economy.

If the above named Democrats were at all serious about Chinese currency manipulation, then they would agree to wait until Wall Street President Barack Obama signed the bill into law before opening debate on fast track authority.  That won’t happen.

Fast Track Authority is the only way the president can ram the TPP through congress. It’s an income and political power redistribution agreement falsely marketed as a trade agreement. Most of those in the know say the TPP is dead if the president doesn’t receive fast track authority. So fast track is the key.

Save the United States. Fight against this madness called Fast Track Authority. The TPP will only create greater trade deficits in the future than is currently the case. As US Congressman Alan Grayson famously and recently said, “You will find that the largest fourteen trade deficits in the history of the world have been the US trade deficits in each of the last fourteen years….What sane person can look at these trade deficits and conclude we need more free trade?”

The political fight over the Trans Pacific Partnership, Fast Track Authority, and Chinese currency manipulation isn’t about sanity; it’s about greed and government corruption. It’s about raising the already soaring share prices, dividends and earnings of US corporations that have exported millions of US jobs to China and other third world nations, and doing so at the expense of everybody else. It’s about redistributing your standard of living to a small minority of overly rich people who have corrupted and rigged your government in favor of themselves. It’s about redistributing your income and wealth to the 1 percent so as to keep the current stock market bubble expanding. It’s about redistributing the American dream to the 1 percent. It’s about taking the opportunities that once existed for the majority of American citizens and wiping them out by giving 100 percent of all income growth to the 1 percent, and leaving more and more people in poverty.

Currently, the 1 percent steal 37 percent of all income produced in the United States compared to 8 percent in 1980, back when opportunities for financial advancement existed for most Americans. Now the big boys, and the politicians they’ve bought off in one way or the other, want to eliminate your opportunities, as well as those of your children.

Call your senators. Call your congressmen and congresswomen. Stop Fast Track in the senate. Stop the corruption. Stop the insanity.

Over the past fourteen years, since China was granted most favored nation trade status, Nike’s stock price has risen over a thousand percent, from $10 a share to over a $100. Chinese currency manipulation has helped fuel this bubble. So if you purchased a million shares of Nike in the year 2000, today the value of those shares would be over $10 million. With the TPP and Chinese currency manipulation, the value of Nike’s stock will continue to increase, but only at the expense of everybody else. Much of the US stock market bubble is fueled by the same force, and that goes for the stock prices of Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Adidas, Hewlett-Packard and more. And if the TPP goes through, more US manufacturers will need to shift production to China.

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by
Elizabeth Warren

Reprinted with permission from Readersupportednews.org

Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. The text of Senator Warren’s remarks as prepared for delivery follows:

Good morning, and thank you MaryBe for the introduction, and for your work with the North Carolina AFL-CIO. Your efforts make a real difference for our families.

I want to start by thanking Rich Trumka and Damon Silvers for your leadership on economic issues, for your good counsel, and, for a long time now, your friendship. I also want to give special thanks to my good friends from the Massachusetts AFL-CIO who are here today, Steve Tolman and Lou Mandarini.

I love being with my labor friends, and I’m especially glad to join you today for the AFL’s first-ever National Summit on Wages. You follow in the best tradition of the American labor movement for more than a century-always fighting for working people, both union and non-union. Today you’ve spotlighted an economic issue that is central to understanding what’s happening to people all over this country.

I recently read an article in Politico called “Everything is Awesome.” The article detailed the good news about the economy: 5% GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014, unemployment under 6%, a new all-time high for the Dow, low inflation.(i)

Despite the headline, the author recognized that not everything is awesome, but his point has been repeated several times: On many different statistical measures, the economy has improved and is continuing to improve. I think the President and his team deserve credit for the steps they’ve taken to get us here. In particular, job growth is a big deal, and we celebrate it.

I’ve spent most of my career studying what’s happening to America’s middle class, and I know that these four widely-cited statistics give an important snapshot of the success of the overall economy. But the overall picture doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening at ground level to tens of millions of Americans. Despite these cheery numbers, America’s middle class is in deep trouble.

Think about it this way: The stock market is soaring, and that’s great if you have a pension or money in a mutual fund. But if you and your husband or wife are both working full time, with kids in school, and you are among the half or so of all Americans who don’t have any money in stocks,(ii) how does a booming stock market help you?

Corporate profits and GDP are up. But if you work at Walmart, and you are paid so little that you still need food stamps to put groceries on the table, what does more money in stockholders’ pockets and an uptick in GDP do for you?

Unemployment numbers are dropping. But if you’ve got a part-time job and still can’t find full-time work — or if you’ve just given up because you can’t find a good job to replace the one you had — you are counted as part of that drop in unemployment, but how much is your economic situation improving?

Inflation rates are still low. But if you are young and starting out life with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt locked into high interest rates by Congress, unable to find a good job or save to buy a house, how are you benefiting from low inflation?

A lot of broad national economic statistics say our economy is getting better, and it is true that the economy overall is recovering from the terrible crash of 2008. But there have been deep structural changes in this economy, changes that have gone on for more than thirty years, changes that have cut out hard-working, middle class families from sharing in this overall growth.

It wasn’t always this way.

Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class unlike anything seen on earth. From the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up pretty much across the board. In fact, 90% of all workers-everyone outside the top 10%-got about 70% of all the new income growth.(v) Sure, the richest 10% gobbled up more than their share-they got 30%. But overall, as the economic pie got bigger, pretty much everyone was getting a little more. In other words, as our country got richer, our families got richer. And as our families got richer, our country got richer. That was how this country built a great middle class.

But then things changed.

By 1980, wages had flattened out, while expenses kept going up. The squeeze was terrible. In the early 2000s, families were spending twice as much, adjusted for inflation, on mortgages as they had a generation earlier. They spent more on health insurance, and more to send their kids to college. Mom and dad both went to work, but that meant new expenses like childcare, higher taxes, and the costs of a second car. All over the country, people tightened their belts where they could, but it still hasn’t been enough to save them. Families have gone deep into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, or just to stay afloat a while longer. And today’s young adults may be the first generation in American history to end up, as a group, with less than their parents.

Remember how up until 1980, 90% of all people-middle class, working people, poor people-got about 70% of all the new income that was created in the economy and the top 10% took the rest? Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero. In fact, it’s worse than that. The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago.(viii) So who got the increase in income over the last 32 years? 100% of it went to the top ten percent. All of the new money earned in this economy over the past generation-all that growth in the GDP-went to the top.(ix) All of it.

That is a huge structural change. When I look at the data here – and this includes years of research I conducted myself – I see evidence everywhere about the pounding that working people are taking. Instead of building an economy for all Americans, for the past generation this country has grown an economy that works for some Americans. For tens of millions of working families who are the backbone of this country, this economy isn’t working. These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead. Opportunity is slipping away. Many feel like the game is rigged against them – and they are right. The game is rigged against them.

Since the 1980s, too many of the people running this country have followed one form or another of supply side – or trickle down – economic theory. Many in Washington still support it. When all the varnish is removed, trickle-down just means helping the biggest corporations and the richest people in this country, and claiming that those big corporations and rich people could be counted to create an economy that would work for everyone else.

Trickle-down was popular with big corporations and their lobbyists, but it never really made much sense. George Bush Sr. called it voodoo economics.(x) He was right, and let’s call it out for what it is: Trickle-down was nothing more than the politics of helping the rich-and-powerful get richer and more powerful, and it cut the legs out from under America’s middle class.

Trickle-down policies are pretty simple. First, fire the cops-not the cops on Main Street, but the cops on Wall Street. Pretty much the whole Republican Party – and, if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats – talked about the evils of “big government” and called for deregulation. It sounded good, but it was really about tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do-turning them loose to rig the markets and reduce competition, to outsource more jobs, to load up on more risks and hide behind taxpayer guarantees, to sell more mortgages and credit cards that cheated people. In short, to do whatever juiced short term profits even if it came at the expense of working families.

Trickle down was also about cutting taxes for those at the top. Cut them when times are good, cut them when times are bad. And when that meant there was less money for road repairs, less money for medical research, and less money for schools and that our government would need to squeeze kids on student loans, then so be it. And look at the results: The top 10% got ALL the growth in income over the past 30 years-ALL of it-and the economy stopped working for everyone else.

The trickle-down experiment that began in the Reagan years failed America’s middle class. Sure, the rich are doing great. Giant corporations are doing great. Lobbyists are doing great. But we need an economy where everyone else who works hard gets a shot at doing great!

The world has changed beneath the feet of America’s working families. Powerful forces like globalization and technology are creating seismic shifts that are disrupting our economy, altering employment patterns, and putting new stresses on old structures. Those changes could create new opportunities-or they could sweep away the last vestiges of economic security for 90% of American workers. Those changes demand new and different economic policies from our federal government. But too many politicians have looked the other way. Instead of running government to expand opportunity for 90% of Americans and to shore up security in an increasingly uncertain world, instead of re-thinking economic policy to deal with tough new realities, for more than 30 years, Washington has far too often advanced policies that hammer America’s middle class even harder.

Look at the choices Washington has made, the choices that have left America’s middle class in a deep hole:

* the choice to leash up the financial cops,
* the choice in a recession to bail out the biggest banks with no strings attached while families suffered,
* * the choice to starve our schools and burden our kids with billions of dollars of student loan debt while cutting taxes for billionaires,
* the choice to spend your tax dollars to subsidize Big Oil instead of putting that money into rebuilding our roads and bridges and power grids,
* the choice to look the other way when employers quit paying overtime, reclassified workers as independent contractors and just plain old stole people’s wages,
* the choice to sign trade pacts and tax deals that let subsidized manufacturers around the globe sell here in America while good American jobs get shipped overseas.

For more than thirty years, too many politicians in Washington have made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power. And the consequence is that instead of an economy that works well for everyone, America now has an economy that works well for about 10% of the people.

It wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make new choices – different choices – choices that put working people first, choices that aim toward a better future for our children, choices that reflect our deepest values as Americans.

One way to make change is to talk honestly and directly about work, about how we value the work that people do every day. We need to talk about what we believe:

We believe that no one should work full time and still live in poverty – and that means raising the minimum wage.
We believe workers have a right to come together, to bargain together and to rebuild America’s middle class.
We believe in enforcing labor laws, so that workers get overtime pay and pensions that are fully funded.
We believe in equal pay for equal work.
We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

We also need a hard conversation about how we create jobs here in America. We need to talk about how to build a future. So let’s say what we believe:

We believe in making investments – in roads and bridges and power grids, in education, in research – investments that create good jobs in the short run and help us build new opportunities over the long run.

And we believe in paying for them-not with magical accounting scams that pretend to cut taxes and raise revenue, but with real, honest-to-goodness changes that make sure that we pay-and corporations pay-a fair share to build a future for all of us.

We believe in trade policies and tax codes that will strengthen our economy, raise our living standards, and create American jobs – and we will never give up on those three words: Made in America.

And one more point. If we’re ever going to un-rig the system, then we need to make some important political changes. And here’s where we start:

We know that democracy doesn’t work when congressmen and regulators bow down to Wall Street’s political power – and that means it’s time to break up the Wall Street banks and remind politicians that they don’t work for the big banks, they work for US!

Changes like this aren’t easy. But we know they are possible. We know they are possible because we have seen David beat Goliath before. We have seen lobbyists lose. We’ve seen it all through our history. We saw it when we created the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, when we passed health care reform. We saw it when President Obama took important steps to try and reform our immigration system through executive order just weeks ago. Change is difficult, but it is possible.

This is personal for me. When I was 12, my big brothers were all off in the military. My mother was 50 years old, a stay at home mom. My daddy had a heart attack, and it turned our little family upside down. The bills piled up. We lost the family station wagon, and we nearly lost our home. I remember the day my mother, scared to death and crying the whole time, pulled her best dress out of the closet, put on her high heels and walked to the Sears to get a minimum wage job. Unlike today, a minimum wage job back then paid enough to support a family of three. That minimum wage job saved our home-and saved our family.

My daddy ended up as a maintenance man, and my mom kept working at Sears. I made it through a commuter college that cost $50 a semester and I ended up in the United States Senate. Sure, I worked hard, but I grew up in an America that invested in kids like me, an America that built opportunities for kids to compete in a changing world, an America where a janitor’s kid could become a United States Senator. I believe in that America.

I believe in an America that builds opportunities. An America that ensures that all hardworking men and women earn good wages. An America that once again grows a strong, vibrant middle class.

I believe in that America, and I will fight for that America! And if we fight-side-by-side-I know we will build that America again.

Thank You!

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Made in America for Christmas!

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Will big labor support Obama in 2012? Yes, the leaderships already have. But will rank and file workers support the lying liar of a president? Nope, at least not like last time. Many of us want the money back that we contributed to his campaign. We wish we hadn’t gone door-to-door for the forked silver tongue of a president. We can’t admit to anybody that we were foolish enough to listen to his promises and subsequently manned his phone banks.

You know the old saying. Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Why do so many of the rank and file feel this way? Oh, let me count the ways.

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