Recently I saw an interview with former Florida Governor, Charlie Christ. Years ago I would have called Mr. Christ a flip-flop or pancake, referring to his changing of parties so many times. But I believe that interview enlightened me in two ways:
#1 Mr. Christ is an unapologetic jerk. I believe he should have informed Mr. Romney of his change of endorsement in 2008 or at the very least displayed some form of regret for not doing so.
#2 It is tough to go Independent because of a lack of infrastructure like there is for the Democrats and the GOP. And that is the part of the interview I would like to touch on. The fact that in this country we have to choose between one party that is in bed with Corporate America and the other that is constantly climbing out of bed just long enough to convince the rest of America that they are here to help us. We need more political parties in America.
When the Republicans do something we don’t like we vote in the Democrats, then the Democrats proceed to do the same thing the Republicans were going to do. The reason is that both parties realize more than ever that we only have two choices (for the most part), and that if they lose this time they will always have a 50% percent chance of winning the next time.
Mr. Christ did go Independent for a short period of time. However, one of his biggest complaints was that there was no infrastructure for Independents, and that made it difficult to run as one. But there is one group that does have the infrastructure, the money, and the people to start a third party in this country: UNIONS. Most unions have political delegates at each local. They also have people who are experienced in campaigning. They also know how politics work on a local level and in Washington.
Now the problem. It is both sad and hard for me to face this fact, but unions are drawn to Democrats like a moth to a flame. They know they are going to get burnt, but they don’t care because their line of crap sounds oh so good. But if the Democrats had been defending Labor with the same vigor that the GOP has been destroying it, we would not be at less than 7% membership in the private sector.
It seems to me Organized Labor wants the Democrats to fight their fight. But one thing I have learned is no one is going to argue your points the way you are. It’s like Organized Labor has been sitting around and waiting for a Superman to come out of the Democratic Party when they really should have been creating their own Superman or Superwoman.
I do want to make one point as I do believe there have been pockets of real help from the Democrats. However the two-party system only works for the two parties, and workers will never get properly represented by a system that only focuses on perpetuating itself. This is not only a call for just a Labor party, we need closer to four or five different parties, but organized labor is the only group that I know of that could potentially start their own party and succeed. I think it is time for Organized Labor to stop depending on those who are there to serve the interests of others.
Finally, I will leave you with this. UAW President Bob King said at a conference the UAW has no future without the South. I respectfully disagree with Mr. King. I don’t think organized labor has a future with its continued dependence on the Democratic Party and without creating a political party of its own.
NORTH LIBERTY, IA—The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found sufficient evidence to prosecute South Slope Telecommunications Cooperative with three separate violations of federal labor law.
South Slope employees represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed unfair labor practice charges against South Slope in November, 2013, after management locked employees out for one day and then imposed harsh new contract changes—including 30% wage cuts for new hires and transfers—that employees had unanimously voted to reject on two occasions.
This week the NLRB announced results of its investigation finding merit in CWA’s allegations that South Slope committed the following unfair labor practices:
· Threatening employees with the loss of benefits,
· Unlawfully locking out employees on November 1, 2013, and
· Unlawfully implementing a last, best, and final contract offer prior to reaching impasse in negotiations.
The NLRB will now attempt to negotiate a settlement with South Slope, allowing management the chance to remedy the violations and begin bargaining in good faith. If South Slope refuses to remedy and settle the charges, the NLRB will move forward with scheduling a hearing to prosecute South Slope with violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
“We hope the NLRB’s announcement serves as a wake-up call, and that South Slope management will take this opportunity to revoke their unlawfully imposed contract changes and return to the bargaining table with intent to bargain toward a fair contract,” said Kay Pence, CWA staff representative.
South Slope employee Matt Holub, who has been directly involved in contract negotiations, said he was “relieved but not surprised” by the NLRB’s announcement. “My co-workers and I have already witnessed first-hand our new management’s refusal to seek compromise or even follow standard procedures in this year’s negotiations. We sincerely hope the results of the Labor Board’s investigation will encourage South Slope to work with us to move bargaining forward. All of us are eager to reach a fair contract agreement and keep focusing on the quality customer service that makes South Slope successful.”
On February 12-14, the men and women who assemble the Volkswagen Passat at a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will get to vote on whether or not they want the UAW to represent them and implement a Work Council. Work Councils exists at every other Volkswagen plant in the world except for those in China and the one in Chattanooga.
This election is meaningful on so many levels, not the least of which is that there hasn’t been a major organizing drive at a plant in the south since UFCW organized Smithfield in 2009 after a 16 year struggle there. But it would also be fascinating to see how the Work Council will work in the U.S. Though Work Councils are common in Germany, if the UAW/Volkswagen election succeeds, it would be the first Work Council established in the U.S.
Work Councils operate differently than how the majority of unions are organized in the U.S. A typical industrial or public sector union in the U.S. exists after workers democratically vote for a union to represent them. They elect the president and local officers, and the local unions’ delegates elect the International or council officers who then hire business managers who work with local leadership on the day to day business of unionism. This includes everything from bargaining a contract, holding labor management meetings and representing workers grievances.
The union (local workers with union staff) will then negotiate with management to establish a contract that covers wages, benefits and conditions of employment. They do not get to make decisions typically decided as management’s decisions, and most contracts usually start with a “Management’s Rights” clause laying out management’s rights to hire and make other decisions about how the plant/office will run.
In Germany, worker representatives serve in equal number as management on a council to make mutual decisions about how the plant will operate. This goes well beyond the U.S. model and may include such discussions previously categorized as “Management Rights” like what cars will be manufactured at what plants. Read more here and here
As UAW President Bob King describes it, “In Germany, work councils are a unique model of collaboration between workers and employers that simply doesn’t exist in the U.S. yet. Works councils and the German system of co-determination demonstrate how company management and a strong union can partner and thrive.” http://www.detroitnews.com/
UAW has declared that a majority of workers support the union, and Volkswagen, though not officially in support of the organizing drive, has neither launched an anti-union campaign like what you typically see during an organizing drive. Frank Fisher, chairman and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga said, “Volkswagen Group of America and the UAW have agreed to this common path for the election. That means employees can decide on representation in a secret ballot election, independently conducted by the NLRB. Volkswagen is committed to neutrality and calls upon all third parties to honor the principle of neutrality.”
This should make for a non-controversial organizing. However, politicians and right wing think tanks are not allowing the organizing effort to go unchallenged. Tennessee’s Senator Bob Corker said Volkswagen would be a “laughingstock” for not fighting the union. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has been a constant critic claiming it will hurt the state’s economy. “I think that there are some ramifications to the vote in a terms of our ability to attract other suppliers,” Haslam told a regional newspaper’s editorial board.
Additionally, Center for Worker Freedom, an offshoot of Americans for Tax Reform the dark-money group headed by Grover Norquist, has reportedly bought radio ads and more than a dozen billboards in the area that are thinly veiled attempts to squash the effort using race and communist fears, an ugly regression of Southern stereotypes.
One of them has the words “United Auto Workers,” written in large black block print, but the word “Auto” is crossed out with what looks like red spray paint and replaced with the word “Obama.” Underneath it reads, “The UAW spends millions to elect liberal politicians, including Barack Obama,” and it directs you to a website: workerfreedom.org.
Another enormous bill board has a picture of a crumbling former auto plant and reads, “Auto Unions ATE Detroit…Next Meal: Chattanooga?” It also directs to the workerfreedom.org website where you are warned that “UAW Wants Your Guns.”
Yet another billboard refers to a Reuters article which claims, “almost every job lost at U.S. car factories in the last 30 years has occurred at a unionized company.”
But I prefer what Pete Seeger had to say about what happens when workers join a union:
That if you don’t let red-baiting break you up
And if you don’t let stoolpigeons break you up
And if you don’t let vigilantes break you up
And if you don’t let race hatred break you up
You’ll win. What I mean, take it easy, but take it
Apparently, locking out workers, once a rare practice, is the new normal for employers. Last November, South Slope Communications in North Liberty locked out 55 employees for 3 days after their union contract with the cooperative expired. Employees who came to work were told they were trespassing.
Employees were allowed to go back to work and now the question is: Should these decent people who have done nothing wrong other than try to make a living, really be expected to accept a proposed tired system involving a 30% reduction in wages for some?
If you would like to show support for your friends and neighbors, the Quad City Federation of Labor is sponsoring an event Thursday, January 23rd to help the workers.
“Co-op members and employees have built South Slope into a vibrant, local customer-oriented communications service. Now our co-op is in danger of being hijacked for personal gain.
We call on South Slope’s current Board of Directors to stop operating in secret, imposing harsh new contract terms without agreement from employees, and withholding information about upcoming Board elections.
We own the co-op, and together we can call for transparent co-op governance and better business practices. We care about South Slope’s future and are committed to saving our co-op!”
WHAT: Save Our Co-op Rally
WHERE: South Slope Cooperative, 980 N. Front St., North Liberty
WHEN: 4:30 PM, Thursday, January 23
WHO: South Slope Co-op members, employees, and concerned community members
WHY: This is OUR co-op! Together we can restore South Slope’s commitment to cooperative principles, member accountability, and employee fairness.
The [South Slope] offer reportedly includes a proposed 30 percent reduction in pay from existing wages for new hires or existing workers who transfer into new titles.
The CWA bargaining committee said it is concerned the two-tier pay structure will negatively affect employee morale and the ability to attract and retain qualified employees.
The Communications Workers of America contends South Slope refused to continue bargaining or extend the contract to accommodate the ratification vote.
South Slope Communications provides telephone, internet and cable television services to Amana, Ely, Fairfax, Newhall, North Liberty, Norway, Oxford, Solon, Shueyville, Tiffin, Watkins, Walford, and parts of Cedar Rapids and Coralville.
America’s unionized workers, buffeted by layoffs and stagnating wages, face another phenomenon that is increasingly throwing them on the defensive: lockouts.
“This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action — in the form of lockouts.”
Employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock.
If you look around the cable system or the radio spectrum we see very little that one could say lies on the left side of the spectrum. MSNBC in the evening starting with Ed Schultz comes first to mind. I would not include Chris Matthews in there. Then there is Free Speech TV on DISH and Directtv and a few cable systems. DemocracyNow is carried on FSTV and many radio stations across the country. On the radio side, what little was left wing radio has been closed down by the owners of the stations, Clear Channel Radio and Cumulus Radio. There are but a few left wing stations left even though they delivered the numbers. NPR has long since been co-opted and tries to stay non-controversial and out of the light.
So for the most part we have few, mostly marginalized, left wing outlets on TV and radio spectrum. Expect that ASAP on the internet unless the FCC stands up and says STOP! If you have never stepped up to write a letter, write one now. or better yet call FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and tell him that America needs to have an internet that is not just one more purveyor of the corporate line. We need an open internet. It is our last lifeline to our heritage of a free press.
Contact Tom Wheeler: http://www.fcc.gov/leadership/tom-wheeler-mail
FCC Phone: 1-888-225-5322
Branstad: Proving The Adage About Crazy
If you say something that is wrong once it is a lie; if you say it over and over again hoping it will come true is the definition of crazy. Terry Branstad wants you to know that he continues to drastically inflate employment numbers because he really wants them to be true. Truth be told, Terry, Iowa is not even getting their fair share of jobs that have been created in the recovery. Pretty hard to screw that one up, but by golly Terry did it! (8 million new jobs in the country * 1% (Iowa share of population) = 80,000. Branstad actual new jobs = 54,000. That is 67.5% of where he should be.)
Legislators Unknowingly Signed Up To ALEC.
Well it looks as though Democrats in the Iowa House may have been signed up as members of ALEC without being told and after demanding they not be. My guess is this was meant to defuse ALEC as a campaign issue. I can only hope that each and every democrat goes after each and every Republican legislator as the puppet of a group outside of Iowa this fall. After all, if they are a voluntary member of ALEC, they have given their vote away to ALEC.
NLRB Charges Walmart.
Well it is about time. Walmart has been charged with labor violations including illegally firing or disciplining employees who took part in legal protest.
One thing that really, really irks me about Walmart, McDonald’s, Target and their ilk is that taxpayers make up the difference between their low wages and what their employees need to live through SNAP and Medicaid and other programs. I would think that could be easily calculated over the years and Walmart et alia presented with a bill. Remember what they did not pay to their employees trickled up to the top where the Walton clan claims more wealth than nearly 1/2 of America. They were literally stealing the life from their employees.
Senator Bernie Sanders has long been a critic of Walmart and the Walton family. At a panel discussion on this topic Thursday Sanders challenged Walmart defenders:
“The Walton family is the wealthiest family in America,” Sanders said. “Does anybody on the panel think that they need significant welfare help? And yet it turns out that they are the largest recipient of welfare in America.”
He accused the retailer of paying its employees “starvation wages,” which in turn forced working families into taxpayer-funded social welfare programs to help pay for their medical care, food and housing.
“Do you think the Walton family, worth a hundred billion dollars, is in need of welfare from the middle class of this country, or do you think maybe we should raise the minimum wage so that those workers can earn a living wage and not have to get Medicaid or food stamps?” Sanders asked the panel.
Iowans believe the income gap between rich and poor is getting bigger, and most do not have an equal shot at getting ahead economically.
Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa today (Jan. 9th) released the results of a recent statewide survey testing issues expected to face the legislature during the upcoming session, scheduled to begin next week. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) between January 3rd and 5th, 2014.
The results showed 53% of Iowans support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, while just 36% opposed. The minimum wage increase received support across the entire economic spectrum. 58% of Iowans who earn more than $100,000 per year supported raising the wage. Iowans also believe by wide margins that the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger (60%-31%) and that not everyone in Iowa has an equal shot of getting ahead economically (56%-36%).
“The Governor and the legislature need to focus on closing Iowa’s income gap and make sure everyone has a fair opportunity to get ahead,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “They can start by raising the minimum wage, which would put more money in the pockets of 216,000 working Iowans without the state having to spend a single dollar.”
“Iowans see a widening gap between the rich and poor, and don’t believe everyone has the same chance to get ahead,” said Jim Williams, a polling analyst at PPP. “That’s why there is such an appeal for increasing the minimum wage among all income levels, even the top earners.”
Polling results also showed strong opposition to policies pursued by Governor Branstad:
67% of Iowans believe that the Governor’s method of counting ‘gross jobs’ is not honest. Only 13% believe it is an honest assessment of job growth.
65% of those polled do not want Orascom to receive additional tax breaks from the state. And 22% want the original tax breaks promised to Orascom rescinded. Only 24% want to continue the tax break as planned.
54% oppose the measure signed and supported by Governor Branstad, giving him approval for the reimbursement of Medicaid funded abortions. Just 18% support the Governor having such approval.
“Governor Branstad’s deceptive trick of counting only jobs gained and ignoring jobs lost is not fooling Iowans,” said Sinovic. “Two thirds of his constituents believe that the Governor is being dishonest about jobs. It’s unfortunate that the Governor doesn’t seem capable of honesty on this issue, especially because any discussion about improving Iowa’s economy must start with an honest assessment of job growth.”
When asked how the state should spend the $120 million in the new ‘Taxpayer Trust Fund’ more than 90% of Iowans believe it should be spent on something other than personal tax credits. Just 7% wanted every Iowan to receive a $54 tax credit with the funds, while 39% want the state to rebuild Iowa’s roads and bridges, 26% want the funds to be saved for potential future shortfalls, and 23% want the funds invested in public education.
Public Policy Polling surveyed 965 Iowa voters between January 3rd-5th. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.2%. PPP surveys are conducted using automated telephone interviews.
Wonder how the Democrats in New Jersey feel now? So many made a point of backing Chris Christie for governor last fall. This helped give Christie the patina of a politician who is a cut above the rest. Christie got that supposedly valuable word “bipartisan” attached to his name with the help of various members of the New Jersey Democratic Party who endorsed him.
Why they endorsed him was something of a mystery. Christie did not bend to compromise with Democrats or their constituencies. Rather he looked to slap them down when he could. But the press created this image of Christie as someone that appealed to both sides of the aisle even as he bullied voters, belittled reporters and sparred with members of the Democratic Party.
New Jersey Democrats had a really good candidate to run against Christie for governor last fall. Barbara Buono was her name. She is a solid Democrat with a long track record. But it sure seemed like her name may as well have been Typhoid Mary the way she was avoided by her own party. It was a Christie love fest and apparently Democrats had to get on board while there was still room. Were they threatened by Christie? Were they just wanting to get on board the Christie White House Express early to maybe catch a plum federal appointment? As I said it is a mystery.
What is not a mystery these days is that if a politician identifies themselves as a Republican, they pretty much by definition endorse Republican policies wholesale. Therefore for the most part they stand in direct opposition to most of what a Democrat or a progressive should stand for. I want to make this quite clear. Whether the Republican in question is named Christie or Branstad or Grassley or Matt Schultz or a Mike Huckabee. Much of what a Republican must espouse is due to kow-towing to the tea bagger contingent that has taken over their party.
So whether it is Christie or Branstad, they believe that
a) women should not be in control of their own bodies. That groups of old white men should choose whether birth control or abortion is available to women. Gee, this sounds like a middle eastern country.
b) Babies must be born. After that who cares if they are fed, schooled or doctored. If they did choose the right parents then their lives may be miserable.
c) Christian religion is much more important than science. Following the precepts of Christianity is not important. Saying you are a Christian publicly and loudly is important.
d) If you are poor, you must remain poor and suffer. No government help of any sort should be available to you, or your family ever.
e) If you were born rich you are obviously chosen by God to lead and deserve to be treated as special by the government.
f) If you are a working person, you are lucky to have a job. You should have no right to organize into unions and should be happy to even have a job.
These values are not written down anyplace, but this is what the Republican party practices daily. So why the main stream media has taken it upon themselves to paint Chris Christie as someone who does not encompass these repugnant views is beyond me. They skewer any Democratic politician who endorses even one of those views, yet let Republicans pass even get praised even though holding such views is the price of admission to their party.
Iowa’s version of Chris Christie is Terry Branstad. As governor he uses his line item veto to cut substantial aid to food banks and the press barely reports it. When he realizes he can’t simply dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA because it would be too politically dangerous, he comes up with a scheme that attempts to make the poor pay for their Medicaid and our press barely reports on it. Instead of being truthful in record keeping his administration constantly lies about things like jobs and the press doesn’t even question it.
I am hoping Iowa’s Democrats are much smarter than New Jersey’s Democrats. Branstad over the years has proven he is thoroughly Republican from his days as an early leader of ALEC to these days when he is more than happy to punish the poor. Democrats don’t need to bow to Republicans like Branstad, they need to proudly back their own candidate, Jack Hatch. Hatch is a long standing progressive who would bring solid progressive credentials to Terrace Hill. Iowa can no longer afford Branstad’s unreported Republican agenda.
In Nov. 2011, Iowa Democrats held their annual Jefferson Jackson dinner, their biggest event of the year attended by thousands of party leaders from across the state. The keynote that year was Rahm Emanuel, the newly elected Mayor of Chicago, also former senior advisor for President Clinton and Chief of Staff for President Obama.
Touting his credentials, then-state party leader Sue Dvorsky said, ““Mayor Emanuel has proven to be one of the great advocates for Democratic values and middle class opportunity throughout his service in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, as a leader in Congress, and now at the helm of the great city of Chicago.” [Read full transcript of Emanuel’s JJ remarks here]
Dvorsky couldn’t have been more wrong in describing Rahm this way, but one could hardly blame her. Very little up to that time had been written that was critical of the wunderkind who emerged into the national spotlight during the Clinton years. Pundits may have rightfully described Rahm as a cuss-wielding, politically-savvy lobbyist and whip, but few actually surveyed Emanuel’s public service from the vantage point of the poor or of a working class person oppressed by Emanuel’s neo-liberal Democrat Party policies.
But if Emanuel was invited to the JJ dinner to raise money, as the JJ dinner is meant to do, then Rahm was their man. It was this ability that first attracted the attention of Clinton in the early 90s, and which is well documented in the recently published book, “Mayor 1%” by Chicago journalist Kari Lydersen. The thoroughly-researched portrait that emerges is not of a populist advocate for democracy and that elusive mythical thing, the “Middle Class”, but of a cunning and cut-throat power broker, representing the investment class with a disturbing detachment and growing inaccessibility to his Chicago constituents.
The book spans Emanuel’s rise to power from his childhood in the wealthy Chicago suburbs and ends with him rebidding then-union janitor jobs at O’Hare Airport from the barely livable wage of $15.45 an hour down to $11.90 an hour with a non-union mob-connected firm.
Do not mistake this book as a partisan political lambast, à la Ann Coulter. Rather, Lydersen’s training and decades of experience as a professional journalist with the Washington Post populate the pages of the book with heart-wrenching first-hand interviews and dozens of pages of citations.
As Lydersen states in the introduction, “Although this is a book about Rahm Emanuel, it is also a story about organizations – like the Mental Health Movement and the Chicago Teachers union – made up of regular people who are finding it harder and harder to secure basic rights including housing, health care, and a voice in their governing institutions.”
The book speaks for itself (order it online through the non-profit, progressive book publisher Haymarket Books). Some of the stories covered include:
- How Rahm Emanuel earned $18 million during two years as an investment banker between the Clinton and Obama years
- Was a key architect of NAFTA
- Established the Infrastructure Trust that proposes to finance and manage municipal projects by a non-elected board that raises money through complicated financial mechanisms rather than the traditional bond market
- Closed half of Chicago’s Mental Health Clinics and more than 50 Chicago Public Schools, almost all in black and Latino neighborhoods
- Waged a contract battle against the Chicago Teachers Union leading to a week-long strike – first in more than twenty years
- Passed constitutionally questionable city ordinance curtailing civil liberties during NATO Summit in Chicago.
Today’s guest post is by Larry Hodgden of Tipton Iowa. Larry is a retired Viet Nam era veteran of the USAF. He and his wife of 40 years, Sharon, have three children and seven grandchildren who keep him very busy. Family, education, church and politics have been a lifelong passion.
Having had the good fortune to recently attend a discussion series about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, I have learned that 170 years later Scrooge lives on. You won’t readily recognize him in our town where many very generous people give so much of their time and treasure for the public good, yet there is, no doubt, a little bit of Scrooge in many of us.
Dickens writes that this festive season (Christmas) “is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices”. Few can argue that in this nation there is a shortage of wealth, nor can they argue that were it more evenly shared, Want would become rare. Once again we, as a society, are experiencing the widest disparity of wealth since the 1920’s and we know, or should know, the result of that.
The ghost of “Christmas Present” introduces two disheveled and clearly malnourished children to Scrooge whom the ghost describes as Ignorance and Want. When Scrooge inquires who the children belong to, the reply is “they belong to man”. Today we create a new generation of Want when we as a nation, among other things, fail to provide universal preschool for all children, not because we cannot afford to, but because we choose to protect the status of our own wealth.
How else can you explain your support for those in Congress that will abide subsidies for oil companies and large corporations along with tax breaks and loopholes for millionaires and billionaires while they seek to cut food stamps for hungry children, deny a living minimum wage for working people and withhold unemployment funds for struggling families.
Our hearts may be in the right place and we can salve our conscience by small deeds of benevolence but when it comes to caring for mankind and the offspring of mankind it would be better if we did not have to be reminded by Charles Dickens and by Pope Francis that we, as Christians, fall far short of the admonitions of the teachings of Jesus whose birth we celebrate.
Once again the master explains in a few paragraphs one of the most basic problems confronting our society. I will never understand why a supposedly liberal or progressive president has not sought out the views of this man or others like him such as Bill Black or economist Richard Wolff or Joseph Stiglitz.
Here are some excerpts from Friday’s NYT column recognizing that as of today 1.4 million Americans will be cut off from long term unemployment insurance. Republicans are pushing hard to up that number. Always remember one of the basic tenets of labor: the more people in the labor pool, the cheaper labor is. Thus the reason that Republicans wouldn’t care if children were in the labor pool or if Social Security ended and older Americans were in the labor pool also.
“So employment is a power relationship, and high unemployment has greatly weakened workers’ already weak position in that relationship.
We can actually quantify that weakness by looking at the quits rate — the percentage of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs (as opposed to being fired) each month. Obviously, there are many reasons a worker might want to leave his or her job. Quitting is, however, a risk; unless a worker already has a new job lined up, he or she doesn’t know how long it will take to find a new job, and how that job will compare with the old one.
And the risk of quitting is much greater when unemployment is high, and there are many more people seeking jobs than there are job openings. As a result, you would expect to see the quits rate rise during booms, fall during slumps — and, indeed, it does. Quits plunged during the 2007-9 recession, and they have only partially rebounded, reflecting the weakness and inadequacy of our economic recovery.
Is there any evidence that this is happening? And how. The economic recovery has, as I said, been weak and inadequate, but all the burden of that weakness is being borne by workers. Corporate profits plunged during the financial crisis, but quickly bounced back, and they continued to soar. Indeed, at this point, after-tax profits are more than 60 percent higher than they were in 2007, before the recession began. We don’t know how much of this profit surge can be explained by the fear factor — the ability to squeeze workers who know that they have no place to go. But it must be at least part of the explanation. In fact, it’s possible (although by no means certain) that corporate interests are actually doing better in a somewhat depressed economy than they would if we had full employment.”
Krugman’s full piece is well worth the read as usual.
Remember also that many of the pieces to put labor into a fear economy were in place long before the Republican recession. Policies that eviscerated labor unions and sent American jobs overseas in the tens of millions. So, no, this is not an accidental outgrowth of the recession but a planned situation.
We will need strong leadership to quit playing into corporate hands.