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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Unions Are Still Good for Workers, and More

According to two new reports, collective bargaining is the best tool we have to increase opportunity for workers.

In today’s On the News segment: According to two new reports, collective bargaining is the best tool we have to increase opportunity for workers; Scott Walker doesn’t just want to wage war on unions, he wants to destroy the agency in charge of protecting workers’ rights; Gov. Andrew Cuomo uses his executive power to raise wages for fast food workers in New York state; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.


Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. It’s official, unions are still very, very good for workers. According to not one, but two new reports, collective bargaining is the best tool we have to raise wages and increase opportunity for workers. The first report was released by The Center for American Progress last Wednesday, and it focused on economic mobility and “the ability to improve upon the economic situation of one’s birth.” The authors of that study found, “a strong relationship between union membership and inter-generational mobility.” In other words, children who grew up in union households were more likely to lead a better life than their parents. The other analysis, which was released last Friday by the AFL-CIO’s Center for Strategic Research, draws a clear line between union membership and higher wages. Separately, and together, these reports show how important it is to protect our collective bargaining rights, and why we should celebrate when workers declare a victory. According to the AFL-CIO report, in the first half of 2015, workers who bargained for new contracts saw an average wage increase of 4.3 percent. And, despite the Right’s best efforts, even more employees will fight to form unions in the upcoming year. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said, “This report provides clear evidence that joining a union and bargaining with your employer is the most effective way to give workers the power to raise their own wages.” He added, “When working people speak with one voice, our economy is stronger, and all workers do better.” The Republican war on unions hasn’t stopped people from organizing, but we need to fight hard to make sure our collective bargaining rights don’t disappear.

Leaving an abusive spouse is a difficult task for any victim, but one moving company is looking to make that move a little easier. The California-based company, Meathead Movers, helps women – and men – who find themselves trapped in abusive relationships. The company teams up with local nonprofits that assist domestic violence victims, and they donate their relocation services free of charge. They founded the company in 1997, and they employ college athletes who share their beliefs about helping those in need. In an interview with LA Weekly, CEO Aaron Steed said, “We know how hard it is to pack up someone’s life and move it to a new location – but it’s unimaginable to think about a woman and her children trying to pack up all their belongings and flee before an abuser returns home.” Meathead makes that possible by coordinating their moves with local shelters and police departments, and arriving with a volunteer-team that can pack and move quickly. Although most of their clients are women, the movers emphasized that they will help all domestic violence victims, and they’re encouraging more companies to do the same.

Scott Walker doesn’t just want to wage war on unions, he wants to destroy the agency in charge of protecting workers’ rights. According to a plan released by Walker’s presidential campaign, the Wisconsin governor wants to create a national right-to-work law and eliminate the National Labor Relations Board. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Walker said that if he gets elected, he would reverse President Obama’s recent executive order that requires federal contractors to provide paid sick leave. And, he pledged to end the policy that allows some low-level salary workers to receive overtime pay. Most of us view these proposals as an out-right assault on workers’ rights, but Scott Walker says they’re only part of his effort to “take on the big-government union bosses in Washington.” These proposals are even more extreme than the measures that Walker implemented in his home state of Wisconsin, where the middle class has been shrinking faster than any other state in our nation. Just in case you didn’t already have a reason, these policies are exactly why we must keep Scott Walker far away from the White House.

These days, a low credit score doesn’t necessarily mean someone has been irresponsible. All it takes is a few sudden medical expenses or the loss of a job to lower your FICO score. Despite that, many companies continue to use this information in their hiring process. Thankfully, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Steve Cohen are working to limit when and how this information can be used. Last week, they introduced legislation to prohibit managers from reviewing your credit report unless it’s required by state law or relevant to the job in question. In an op-ed about the so-called Equal Employment for All Act, the senators wrote, “Credit reporting companies that sell Americans’ personal data to potential employers have pushed the narrative that a credit history somehow provides insight into someone’s character.” They added, “In fact, research has shown that an individual’s credit has little to no correlation with his or her ability to succeed in the workplace.” Between student loans, medical expenses and the linger effects of the last economic collapse, it won’t be long before all of us have a few negative lines on our credit, and it’s more important than ever that those marks don’t keep us from finding a job.

And finally… The Fight for $15 has declared victory in New York state. Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his executive power to raise wages for fast-food workers in his state. And, he vowed to keep pushing until all workers in New York receive a raise. Governor Cuomo helped make this possible by directing that state’s labor commissioner to sign an executive order, which raises pay to $15 dollars an hour by 2018, but he needs legislative approval to apply the new wage to all workers. At the announcement, Governor Cuomo said, “Every working man and woman in the state of New York deserves $15 an hour. We’re not going to stop until we get it done.” The Fight for $15 movement welcomed the news that New York state is joining the cities of Los Angeles and Seattle, and they held rallies around the country to celebrate. They cheered and carried signs saying where they planned to bring the fight next. Whether it’s Detroit or Chicago or any city, we already know that won’t give up until all workers are given the respect of a living wage.

And that’s the way it is – for the week of September 21, 2015 – I’m Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.

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