Friday, July 30, 2010

Links 07/30/10

The new division of labor: Adding profits, subtracting workers Washington Post ...If Chamber President Tom Donohue wants to round up those responsible for the lack of job growth in this country, all he has to do is call a meeting of his board of directors.

In Michigan Visit, Trade Talk Is Taboo Wall Street Journal ...On his first presidential visit to the heart of the American auto industry Friday, President Barack Obama is likely to avoid a subject that's high on Detroit's list of concerns—trade.

Thrifty Rivals Know Value of Dollar Wall Street Journal ...Avis Budget vowed not to let Hertz carjack Dollar Thrifty, but its own offer still has a whiff of grand theft auto about it.

Jobless Claims Fall Wall Street Journal ...In a positive sign for the labor market, the number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week by more than expected and continuing claims fell to their lowest level since December 2008.

U.S. Economic Growth Slowed to 2.4% Rate in 2nd Quarter New York Times ...The United States economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter, after expanding 3.7 percent in the previous three months.

House rejects bill to aid sick 9/11 responders Associated Press

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Analogies we didn't expect

Hank Stuever describes how the 20-something cast of 'Jersey Shore' headed to Florida during the winter. From today's Washington Post:

They have the grim determination of Teamsters about them this time -- they have a job to do and they'll do it well.

Make It In America

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard argues that the federal government needs to spend money on manufacturing.
...After all the support America has given the financial sector – estimated to total more than $4 trillion – it’s time for Congress to invest in the productive sector, the one that creates jobs, real wealth and American power,

he writes in In These Times.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will soon pass “one bill after another” supporting American manufacturing. The House last week passed a bill to train people for jobs in emerging industries, which the Teamsters support. Another bill passed to ease American industries’ access to raw materials.

On Wednesday the House passed three more "Make it in America" bills.

Pelosi said in a statement:

With these measures, we are calling for a strategy to strengthen our manufacturing base and create jobs. We will help U.S. clean energy technology firms market and sell their products here and around the world – ensuring that American energy and know how power the 21st century. And we will take steps to reduce our trade deficit, strengthening our economy and our national security.

More are on the way. It's about time.

Links 07/29/10

California's Building Bust Choking Off Jobs Wall Street Journal ... California's construction industry continues to hemorrhage jobs, helping to explain why unemployment across the state remains so much worse than elsewhere in the country.

Avis Tops Hertz Bid For Dollar Wall Street Journal ...Avis Budget Group Inc. announced Wednesday that it is offering $46.50 a share for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., topping rival Hertz Global Holdings Inc.'s $39-a-share proposal.

Job Subsidies Also Provide Help to Private Sector New York Times ...States are putting hundreds of thousands of people directly into jobs.

Ports trade tricks for greener jobs Politico ...Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) — with over 55 colleagues from 15 states — is leading the effort Thursday to end the Third World practices of our nation’s ports by introducing the CLEAN Ports Act.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Links 07/28/10

Public Employees Get More Benefits Wall Street Journal ...88% of state and local government workers had access to employer-sponsored medical plans, compared with 71% of private-sector workers

UAL-Continental Merger Moves Ahead Wall Street Journal ...Negotiations between UAL Corp.'s United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc. are picking up pace, with parties believing a merger deal could be reached at the end of this month or early May

The jobs machine grinds to a halt Washington Post ...Ain't no hiring. And ain't likely to be any for a good long time.

Qualms build over consumer agency Politico ...The BCFP will also enjoy broad rule-making and enforcement authority over virtually all financial institutions in the nation.

Companies hold record $837B in cash, yet won't hire workers USA Today ...instead of spending on the typical things, such as expanding and hiring people, companies are mostly pocketing the money and stuffing it under their corporate mattresses.

Cities, counties face job cuts Las Vegas Review-Journal ...Nearly half a million city and county government jobs could be eliminated nationwide in the next two years because of budget shortfalls, a new study estimates.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Links 07/23/10

President Obama signs six-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits Washington Post ...The jobless bill revives a program that provides up to 99 weeks of income support to those who have lost their jobs in the recession.

Treasury Secretary Geithner says tax cuts for rich should expire Washington Post ...the White House wants to extend Bush-era tax cuts that benefit families earning less than $250,000 a year. But he said President Obama believes cuts affecting the top tax brackets should be allowed to expire on Jan. 1 to help reduce the nation's bloated budget deficit.

Lobbying By Obama Administration Foe U.S. Chamber of Commerce Grows To More Than $44 Million This Year ...The lobbying powerhouse U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with its subsidiaries, spent a whopping $13.4 million on federal, state-level and grassroots lobbying during the second quarter.

Netroots-Labor Solidarity: A Work in Progress In These Times ...Netroots Nation shuns hotel over worker treatment, as bloggers and labor strenghen alliance.

Union, Giant Food strike deal on 341 jobs for warehouse: Grocer transferring operations in Jessup Maryland Business Gazette ..."We have reached agreement with Teamsters Local 730 concerning the effects of the transfer...

Which Senate hopefuls would defend secret ballots in union votes? Charleston Daily Mail ...
The AFL-CIO believes Manchin supports the plan. The state Chamber of Commerce believes Manchin opposes such measures.

U.P.S., Citing a Strong Performance, Raises Outlook New York Times ... the package delivery company said Thursday that its second-quarter net income increased 90 percent and raised its earnings outlook for the year

Continental Returns to Profit Wall Street Journal ...Continental Airlines Inc. reversed a big year-earlier loss in the second quarter, beating Wall Street estimates and underlining the airline industry's broader turnaround.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Q. What do small businesses want most?

A. People to buy their stuff.

Thanks to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, we have the results of a recent National Federation of Independent Business survey. It shows small businesses aren't mostly concerned with taxes or regulation. They're concerned about lack of demand.

Which brings us to the next question.

Q. How do you increase demand?
A. Create jobs.

It never should have taken this long

Unemployment insurance extension finally passed. Steve Benen at Political Animal has the story.

Links 07/22/10

Workers on Doomed Rig Voiced Concerns About Safety New York Times ...A confidential survey of workers on the Deepwater Horizon in the weeks before the oil rig exploded showed that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems.
Maine Giving Social Security Another Look New York Times ...Maine legislators have prepared a detailed plan for shifting state employees into Social Security and are considering whether to adopt it. They acknowledge it will not solve their problem in the short term but see long-term advantages.
Program to Help Prevent Foreclosures Falls Short New York Times ...Only 390,000 homeowners have seen their mortgage terms permanently modified since the $50 billion program was announced in March 2009.
No Fed Plans to Give More Support, Bernanke Says New York Times ...The chairman of the Federal Reserve, in saying that it had no immediate plans to provide additional support to the economy, dashed the hopes of some economists and executives who have been pushing for action to add momentum to the sluggish recovery.
Restore the Estate Tax! Newsweek ...abolishing the estate tax massively increases the deficit in order to help a few very wealthy people.
Mine Citations Focus on Ventilation, Fire, Electricity NPR ...Citations for safety and health violations by operators of underground coal mines have increased by nearly a third since 2006.
Workers To Vote on Teamsters Contract Modesto Bee ...One of the largest cheese manufacturers in the United States is on the cusp of signing a new labor contract with Teamster Local 386, which represents about 100 workers at the company's Newman cheese plant.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Social Security Zombie Lies

Most Americans actually believe they won't receive any Social Security benefits at all. Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum has a nifty chart illustrating the results from a recent Gallup poll that show six in 10 people don't think they'll get a dime from Social Security. Drum concludes

That's loony tunes territory, and it's now what most Americans believe.

Dean Baker believes that a concerted public relations campaign by investment banker Pete Peterson is undermining Americans' confidence in Social Security.

Peterson, a Wall Street investment banker, has pledged $1 billion to a foundation that has cutting Social Security and Medicare as its major goals. He has spoken widely around the country telling people that Social Security is going broke and that it has no trust fund. He has enlisted prominent political figures, including former President Bill Clinton in this effort.

Baker points out that other groups are eroding support for Social Security, including President Obama's deficit commission.

Duncan Black, who blogs under the Atrios handle, refutes additional Social Security Zombie Lies.

No, life expectancy at age 65 has not changed all that much, and those changes were anticipated.

No, the beneficiary/taxpayer ratio is not an important issue.

No, you can't do better investing the money in private sector funds (and people wouldn't do it anyway. 25-year-olds do not save 15% of their gross for retirement).

Hugo Boss plant produces suits once again

Some good news for a change. U.S. jobs stay in the U.S.

Links 07/21/10

Fed in Hot Seat Again on Economic Stimulus New York Times

S.E.C. Pursuing More Cases Tied to Financial Crisis New York Times ...the S.E.C. is continuing to press for accountability and restitution for the upheaval in financial and housing markets in 2007 and 2008, which led to the sweeping regulatory bill that President Obama is scheduled to sign on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart Is Sued Over Care Wall Street Journal ...The lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart broke state and federal laws by using a subsidiary to control the treatment for employees with workplace injuries.

AFL-CIO plugs Warren for consumer protection chief The Hill ...The nation's largest labor federation endorsed Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday to head the new consumer financial protection agency.

FedEx Increases Lobbying Spending to Fight FAA Union Provision Bloomberg ...FedEx Corp., trying to defeat legislation that would make it easier for its employees to unionize, almost doubled its lobbying spending in the first six months of this year compared with the same period a year ago. ...FedEx spent $11.6 million on lobbying between January and June...UPS spent $2.9 million to lobby between January and June.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Note to the State Dept: This man is not a terrorist

A Colombian journalist, once praised by U.S. State Department officials, is now denied a visa to visit the U.S. Those who've followed events in Colombia will immediately jump to the correct conclusion: the journalist criticized the government.

The peerless Kevin Cullen, columnist for the Boston Globe, tells the story of Hollman Morris, who received a Nieman fellowship to study for a year at Harvard.

The Colombian government has deemed Morris too cozy with terrorists, and the US
government is taking the word of its closest ally in Latin America, ignoring Morris’s colleagues and human rights organizations who consider him a courageous, call-’em-as-he-sees-’em journalist.

Morris produces a TV news show called “Contravia,’’ which translates to “going against the traffic.’’ And when it comes to covering President Álvaro Uribe, Morris has consistently gone the wrong way down what that government considers a one-way street.

Cullen points out that reporting in Colombia is dangerous.

There have been 43 journalists killed there in the last 18 years. There is enormous pressure on journalists to be seen as taking the right side, and in the government’s view the right side is always its side.

It's also dangerous to be a trade unionist in Colombia -- more dangerous than in any other country on the planet. At least 48 unionists were murdered with impunity in Colombia last year, according to US LEAP.

Links 07/20/10

Senate Set To Extend Unemployment Benefits Wall Street Journal
Consumer Post Prospect Has Democrats in Knots Wall Street Journal
Republican immigration position likely to alienate Latinos, Obama officials say Washington Post
Troops Head to Arizona Border Aug. 1 Politico
Republicans kiss the rich; diss the jobless The Hill
Union, Giant Food Strike Deal on 341 Jobs

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good question

Bob Kuttner asks why the Tea Party is giving a free ride to Republicans protecting bankers.

In today's Huffington Post he writes,
Two years and counting into the most severe financial collapse in nearly a century, bankers still rule. Republicans protect bankers from reform, yet amazingly masquerade as the party of populist backlash. If Democrats let the right play this double game, shame on them. It's only possible because too many Democrats are too cozy with the same bankers.

Kuttner was prompted to write because he's rightly concerned that financial reform may not make it through Congress. What looked like a sure thing a few weeks ago is now in jeopardy because of the death of Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and the wavering of several Republican senators who previously voted for the bill.

Kuttner tells us

...sure enough, three of the four Republican supporters have gone wobbly. Olympia Snowe of Maine voted for the Senate bill, but is now making equivocal noises about whether she'll support the conference bill (which is weaker in some respects than the Senate's version.) Likewise Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

The always wily Scott Brown of Massachusetts threatened to withhold his vote until the House and Senate leaders agreed to scrap a $19 billion tax on large banks. He voted for the senate bill, but now Brown is warning that
he may vote against the final bill anyway. Apparently there is no honor among thieves. The financial industry was the largest donor to Brown's Senate campaign.
The bill isn't perfect, but it's a desperately needed improvement. Prudent regulation would have averted the global economic crisis. Without it, we may well see another financial meltdown.

Links 07/12/10

White House Plans to Revisit Business Rules Wall Street Journal
Fiat Asks Union to Fall Into Line Wall Street Journal
Tremble, Banks, Tremble The New Republic
Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in ‘Silent Raids’ New York Times
It's always the economy, stupid Washington Post

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


President Obama says he'll push for trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, the New York Times reports.

Rob Scott at the Economic Policy Institute just posted his report that shows a trade deal with South Korea will

... increase the U.S. trade deficit with Korea by about $16.7 billion,
and displace about 159,000 American jobs within the first seven years after it takes effect.

Global Trade Watch points out that Panama

is one of the world's top venues for tax evasion and money laundering

and that the proposed trade deal includes special requirements that take into consideration, much less try to counter, Panama's banking secrecy rules, lax financial service regulations or designation as a venue for money laundering and tax evasion. In fact, if the Panama FTA were adopted, it would make these matters of bipartisan concern worse.

The U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project reminds us that Colombia kills more trade unionists than all other countries in the world combined.

Through April 2010, more than 2,700 trade unionists have been assassinated in the last two decades. Virtually no one is prosecuted or convicted for these murders, with approximately a 96% impunity rate.

Here's why we need labor law reform

The owner of a company in Connecticut threatened to kill one of the union workers he'd fired (replacing them with non-union workers, of course).

Unfortunately the National Labor Relations Board can't do much about it, reports Michael Whitney at firedoglake. The NLRB is charged with enforcing labor law, but

...this responsibility comes almost no enforcement power for the NLRB to effectively hold accountable corporations that break the law.

All the NLRB could do was require the owner to post a notice that said:
“We will not threaten to kill you or to cause you bodily harm because you engage in activities in support of SEIU, Local 32BJ."

Here's the whole story from Newsday.

Good for business owners, bad for America?

The View From Your Recession - The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan

Links 07/07/10

Slowing Service Growth Adds to Recovery Doubts Wall Street Journal
China Says U.S. Went Too Far in Sanctions Wall Street Journal
Little Train That Could Is Still Chugging Wall Street Journal
American Dream Is Elusive for New Generation New York Times
Q&A With Veteran Union Organizer Stewart J. Acuff The Hill
Farm workers: Take our jobs, please!
Talks continue in clerical workers strike at ports Daily Breeze

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's go back to the America John Boehner grew up in

House Minority Leader John Boehner accused the Democrats of snuffing out the America he grew up in. He's 61. Michael Tomaskey describes the America of Boehner's youth:

...the top marginal tax rate on wealthy earners was 90%. It had gone up there during the war, and five, 10, 15 years after armistice, no sizable group, Democrat or Republican, felt any strong urge to lower it.

In the America John Boehner grew up in, private-sector union membership was around or above 30%. Today's figure is 7%. The right to form a union was broadly accepted. Outside of a few small turbulent pockets, there was no such thing as today's union-busting law firms hired by management to go into workplaces and intimidate workers.

Not just arrogant, but clueless about China

China is out for China, period, and that is a stance that the US would be well advised to emulate, rather than being brainwashed (or bribed) into thinking that the interests of large multinational are aligned with national goals.

Yves Smith in her naked capitalist blog, writing about GE CEO Jeff Imelt's comments on China and Obama.

Good question: How can Walmart's CEO sleep at night?

A Chicago alderman points out that Walmart's CEO will earn more in an hour than his workers will earn in a year, ABC News reports.

By Ed Smith's math, the CEO of Walmart earns more in an hour than his employees will earn in a year.

Smith, an alderman in Chicago, presented posters at a city council meeting showing that Walmart CEO Michael Duke's $35 million salary, when converted to an hourly wage, worked out to $16,826.92. By comparison, at a Walmart store planned for the Windy City's Pullman neighborhood, new employees to be paid $8.75 an hour would gross $13,650 a year.

Links 7/2/10

U.S. Economy Shed 125,000 Jobs in June New York Times
Economies in Latin America Race Ahead New York Times
Two Competing Visions of a European Economy New York Times
Bad News Back Home New York Times
UBS analyst upgrades FedEx, UPS to 'buy' Bloomberg BusinessWeek
The Little, but Real, Effects of Unemployment Mike Konczal
Habitat for Humanity Among Nation's Top Homebuilders Wall Street Journal