Posts tagged ‘Labor Law’

12/13/2011

Republican Debate in Iowa (12-10-11)

Six of the remaining Republican candidates, with the notable absence of Gov. Huntsman, debated in Iowa on Dec. 10, 2011.

CANDIDATE HARDSHIPS: Romney admitted he didn’t grow up poor. If people are looking for that background, he said, he is not their man. He said his father taught him hard work, by making sure he had jobs, such as serving overseas for his church. While debating health care, Romney however showed how out-of-touch he is with normal people, by offering to bet Perry, not $10, but $10,000, over the content of his book. Perry explained his family didn’t even have running water, until he was a 5-year-old. Paul worked his way through college, saying they didn’t have much. Bachmann got a job at age 13, when her mother divorced, and her family dropped below the poverty level. Gingrich’s father was in the army, causing him to move about a lot. Santorum was happy to have lived in a modest setting with a father and a mother.

FOREIGN POLICY: Paul would stop being the policeman of the world, allowing us to cut billions from overseas spending. He said we don’t need another war in Syria or Iran. We pretend we are leaving Iraq, he said, but we still have 17,000 contractors there. He would get rid of the new embassy in Iraq that cost 1 billion.

IRAN: Perry thinks Obama could have retrieved or at least destroyed the Drone recently downed by Iran. He believes China and Russia now have the Drone’s highly technical equipment.

SPACE: Romney disagreed with Gingrich’s idea to establish a lunar colony to mine minerals from the moon. Gingrich said he only wanted to prompt kids into dreaming of going to Mars.

PALESTINE: Paul correctly explained: when the Ottoman Empire ruled the Mideast, neither the Israelis, nor the Palestinians, had independent states. He suggested letting the people in that region deal with their own problems, as we cannot be the policeman of the world, or settle their disputes, because we are broke. Gingrich, ignorant of history, called the Palestinians an “invented people.” He labeled all of “these people” terrorists. He accused them all of teaching terrorism in schools. He exaggerated, suggesting Israel was getting rocketed every day. He believes the Palestinian “right of return” to their homeland, now illegally occupied by Israel, is based on a historically false story. He incorrectly suggested the word “Palestine” did not become a common term until after 1977. The Chief Palestinian negotiator correctly observed Gingrich’s statements will give Bin Laden like extremists, ammunition for a long time. Romney agreed with “most of what Gingrich said, except the Palestinians are an invented people.” He criticized Obama for wanting to go back to the 1967 borders, as he thinks this would only make things more difficult for Netanyahu. Our disagreements with Israel, he said, should be conducted in private. Bachmann went to Israel in 1974 and worked on a kibbutz. Before she would make any statements about Israel, she would first call Netanyahu to seek his permission, by asking him “would it help if I said this?” She thinks all Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews. Santorum said “the Israelis have a right to determine what happens on their land,” but incorrectly believes, “the West Bank is Israeli land.”

IMMIGRATION: When Gingrich was asked how many years an illegal alien would have to live in the U.S. to get special consideration, he said the issue would be turned over to local review boards, who would consider whether they had been a good local “citizens,” or belonged to a church, before granting residency, not citizenship. He doubted there are 3.5 million who have been here 25 years. He wants severe penalties for employers who hire illegally. Romney said amnesty would give rights to education and health care. He does not want to encourage another wave of illegal immigration and would make them get in the back of the line with everyone else who wants to come here. Perry would enforce the immigration laws already on the books. He would not do catch and release, or sue states like Arizona.

WALL STREET: Bachmann opposed the Wall Street bailout, as they made foolish decisions, took profits in good times, but when things went bad, their losses were socialized. Paul said the Middle Class is being destroyed, and things are only going to get worse.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Perry accused Obama of defunding Social Security through a payroll tax cut. We can’t fix the Trust Fund by taking resources away from it. Either you care about Social Security, and you fund it, or you don’t, he said.

HEALTH CARE: Bachmann said Gingrich advocated for an individual mandate for over 20 years, and Romney implemented socialized medicine in his state. Perry also accused Romney and Gingrich of favoring the individual mandate. Gingrich said the mandate idea arose in the 1990s in response to Hillary Care. Newt said he fought Obamacare every step of the way, incorrectly arguing if Congress can make you buy insurance, they could make you buy anything. He said the whole third party payer model, public or private, has become difficult and expensive, suggesting we return to a doctor-patient relationship, with Health Savings Accounts, so people are involved in their own health care costs. Santorum opposed the mandate in 1994, while a Senate candidate, and supported Medical Savings Accounts. Romney authorized the mandate in Mass, because three of four supported it. He said Obama’s plan does three things Mass. did not do: 1) raise taxes 500 billion; 2) cut Medicare 500 billion; 3) take over health care. Obama’s plan, he said, is wrong, and should be repealed, because it cuts Medicare and raises taxes. He thinks the Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional, as it violates the 10th Amendment. The right course, Romney said, is to let each state experiment.

JOBS: Gingrich thinks he will create jobs by lowering taxes, repealing regulations, and developing energy. Romney said jobs are not created in Washington, but in the private sector. He would do seven things to create jobs: 1) lower tax rates; 2) change regulations; 3) alter trade policy; 4) use energy resources; 5) curtail the NLRB; 6) use human capital; and 7) limit government spending. Paul thinks jobs are related to financial bubbles, caused by excessive credit, stimulated by the Fed. The debt, he said, inhibits economic growth. Instead of liquidating it, it was dumped on the American people. Paul said the culprit is big government spending. Bachmann thinks she would create 1.4 million jobs by legalizing American energy. She would cut Obamacare, as she believes it will cause a loss of 1.6 million jobs. Santorum said 21% were employed in industry, but now it’s only 9%. To revitalize it, he would eliminate income taxes on manufacturing.

LABOR LAW: Romney does not agree with Gingrich’s idea to abolish Child Labor laws, or have kids clean schools. He said those laws don’t need changing. Gingrich thinks kids should learn to work at an early age, saying janitors in New York are paid twice as much as teachers, and children should take their jobs.

HOUSING: Paul said Gingrich supported TARP, and received a lot of taxpayer money from Freddie Mac, which is essentially a government organization. Gingrich denied being a lobbyist for any government agency. He said he was only paid to give advice. Paul reminded Gingrich he took taxpayer money.

ENERGY: Gingrich said he testified against “cap and trade” and helped defeat it in the Senate, the same day Gore testified for it.

TAXES: Gingrich would eliminate capital gain and death taxes, and would lower corporate income tax rates to 12.5%. Perry wants a flat tax of 20%. Bachmann would abolish the entire Federal Tax Code, and replace it by lowering tax rates for individuals and businesses, and increasing them for the poor, by making sure everyone pays. She said 47% pay no federal income tax. She opposed the payroll tax cut for ordinary Americans, because she called it a gimmick that took 111 billion from the Trust Fund, forcing us to go to the Treasury for the difference. Romney called the payroll tax cut a Band-Aid.  He repeated his desire to help the rich, by eliminating taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains.

FAMILY: Perry said if you cheat on your spouse, why wouldn’t you cheat on anyone? Santorum would not go so far as to say character is a disqualifier, since people make mistakes, but said it’s a factor. Gingrich admitted, as a 68-year-old grandfather, he made mistakes, but went to God for forgiveness, and the question now is whether he can be trusted. Bachmann declared herself an unashamed and unapologetic Christian. Paul, married for 54 years, said marriage vows are as important as the oath of office. If we took our oath seriously, he said we would get rid of 80% of government, have a balanced budget, not be the policeman of the world, not have a Fed Reserve, and not invade the privacy of citizens under the Patriot Act.

09/05/2011

Labor Day Laws Deserve Support Of All

Before the Industrial Revolution, small farmers and their helpers negotiated face-to-face over conditions of employment, but as factories opened in cites, people took jobs with big companies, where terms were dictated by bosses, on a take it or leave it basis.

To respond to the one-sidedness of big business, American labor unions started to organize around 1850. The Knights of Labor formed in 1869. With a growing national labor movement, the U.S. Labor Dept. was created in 1884.

The deadly Haymarket Riot broke out in Chicago in 1886 when the police broke up a union meeting. Workers in Pennsylvania died at a steel mill strike in 1892. The Pullman Railroad Union strike ended violently in 1894, as federal troops used weapons.

More than 1.75 million children under the age of 16 were working in U.S. factories in 1908. 25% of the cotton mills in the South employed children, 200,000 of whom were under the age of 12.

When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, the Great Depression gave momentum to unions, as the political tide turned, and pro-labor legislation finally passed in Washington, DC in the 1930s.

Labor’s first objective was to stop the courts and police from breaking up strikes. The Norris-LaGuardia Act (1932) prohibited federal judges from issuing injunctions against unions, while non-violent strikes, or labor disputes, were in progress. Contracts in which employees had to agree not to join a union were outlawed.

The Wagner Act (NLRA) (1935) was next, as it made it illegal for management to interfere with union organizing, and protected the right to strike. If a majority of workers voted for union representation, they became the exclusive bargaining agent for all. Management had to engage in good faith collective bargaining with unions, and had to at least talk about wages, overtime pay, seniority, hours, discipline, terminations, insurance, and other topics. The National Labor Relations Board enforced labor laws. If a collective bargaining contract defined the hiring of strikebreakers as an unfair labor practice, striking workers had a right to return to their jobs, after the strike ended.

The Social Security Act (1935) created a federal retirement program, where employees paid .062 of each check into the Retirement Trust Fund and employers contributed matching sums.

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (1935) required employers to pay unemployment taxes to the federal government, as states also collected taxes to be used when employees were laid off.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) set minimum wages and overtime rates. It required time and a half for employees who worked more than 40 hours a week.

The Republican Taft-Hartley Act (1947), required unions to also bargain in good faith, and outlawed closed shops, which made union membership a condition of employment. Although union shops, where workers had to join a union after they were employed, were not barred, states were allowed to pass so-called right to work laws that gave employees the ability to avoid union dues, by making union shops illegal at the state level. Anti-union right-to-work laws now exist in many states.

The Landrum-Griffin Act (1959) established democratic procedures such as secret ballots for union elections and required unions to report on how union dues were spent.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) (1970) created safer workplace conditions.

The Employment Retirement Security Act (ERISA) (1974) arose from pension abuse, where payments disappeared as it was time to collect. The law vested pensions by making them the property of the worker, which meant they could not be taken away.

The COBRA Act (1985) gave terminated workers 60 days to continue group health insurance plans, provided they paid the premiums. The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPPA) (1996) improved portability and continuity by requiring health insurance companies to renew group policies, if requested.

All of these laws improved life for millions of laborers and helped create a Middle Class. On Labor Day, all should remember they were enacted for good reasons and still deserve the ongoing support of all, including the most recent crowd of right-wing Republicans who would repeal them, if they could.

06/15/2011

Republican Debate New Hamp (6-13-11)

Seven Republicans answered questions on CNN on June 13 in their first presidential debate. Four of the seven are unlikely to get the nomination, because voters usually pick Governors or Senators, who have had statewide experience. Since House members Bachmann, Paul, and Gingrich have not served an entire state, and Cain has not held any office, they are not credible candidates. Of the three with credentials, former Sen. Santorum was beaten badly in a re-election bid in Pennsylvania, and he is damaged cargo. This leaves only two plausible candidates: former Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Romney of Massachusetts.

Before addressing Pawlenty and Romney, let’s examine what the party stands for by reviewing the statements of the others.

CAIN opposed auto industry loans that successfully saved GM and Chrysler, along with countless jobs. He supports Ryan’s voucher plan, which would destroy Medicare, as we know it. He would phase out Social Security Retirement, the most popular government program ever implemented. He would single out Muslims, in violation of the 1st Amendment, and would solve a problem that does not exist, by baring Sharia Law in U.S. Courts.

BACHMANN would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (yes, she really said this). She opposed government loans that prevented the recent Great Recession from becoming a Great Depression. She opposes the right to abortion. She criticized President Obama for working with allies like France, as to Libya.

GINGRICH would dismantle the National Labor Relations Board. He would not pay Medicare “crooks,” as he put it. He supports unconstitutional loyalty oaths for Muslims.

RON PAUL, usually an interesting man, would have denied government assistance to all private enterprise. He said average retirees draw three times as much as they contribute to Medicare, but his numbers need a fact-check. As to Afghanistan, he courageously said he would not duck the issue by waiting for the generals to act; he would pull out now, and would save billions of dollars.

SANTORUM criticized sending jobs overseas, yet he historically supported free trade. He opposed loans to help American industry. He supports the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, and apparently thinks elderly people will somehow be able to afford private health insurance premiums. He would not close U.S. military bases around the world, as he thinks we need every single one of them.

PAWLENTY opposes unions and labor laws that protect ordinary working people. He thinks Congress created the housing bubble, but did not explain. He supports an unspecified option, other than Medicare. When asked about separating church and state, he left non-believers out of the 1st Amendment, as he referred to “people of faith.” He is proudly pro-life. He would allow the 50 states to have their own immigration laws, even though the constitution clearly delegates naturalization to Congress. He promised to bomb other countries.

ROMNEY opposed the auto industry loans that successfully saved thousands of American jobs, saying he would have let them go bankrupt. He dodged a question about Afghanistan, and cowardly failed to indicate a willingness to withdraw, by saying he would instead defer to generals or conditions on the ground.

As a group, Republicans oppose saving American industry and their jobs. They oppose labor laws that protect ordinary working people. They would repeal environmental protection. They wish to destroy Medicare, as we know it. They appear to be ignorant of the problems with private health insurance. Some would end the Social Security Retirement System. They support a Christian Nation, to the exclusion of other faiths and non-believers. They would discriminate against Muslim-Americans and would require loyalty oaths. They would deny women the liberty to have an abortion. They talk about spending too much, but refuse to close unnecessary military bases around the globe, and promise no end to the waste of tax dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only thing they were really good at was convincing me not to vote for them.