The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Labor

HAPPY LABOR DAY WIDDERSHINS!

Is it correct to say that?  I’m not sure but I’m going to anyway.  I can say I hope you enjoy your day, whether you are at the beach, or you are having a barbecue or what have you. I also hope you are celebrating safely, six feet apart from strangers, and away from Trump boats on the water.  

However, let’s not forget the reason we celebrate the day.

In the United States, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

n 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

Finally let’s celebrate with some songs

Enjoy the day and long weekend Widdershins.  If you are going out to celebrate, be safe!

Open thread.

HAPPY LABOR DAY WIDDERSHINS!

Is it correct to say that?  I’m not sure but I’m going to anyway.  I can say I hope you enjoy your day, whether you are at the beach, or you are having a barbeque or what have you.  I will be enjoying some barbeque from Jim n Nick’s along with their great potato salad and other sides.

However, let’s not forget the reason we celebrate the day.

In the United States, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

n 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

So let’s honor the day and the reason we celebrate it.  If you put your mouse over the pictures you’ll see a navigate button which goes forward, back and pauses.

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And let’s celebrate with some song.

and one of my favorites:

Enjoy the day Widdershins. This is an open thread.

Morning Widdershin friends — here’s hoping two days in a row of my ramblings won’t cause anyone undue emotional or intestinal problems.

asteroid hitting Russia

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how important visioning is to leadership. Last week I wrote a Danny Downer post about the transitory nature of globalization. This week in focusing on the future after globalization, I was tempted to just write one sentence and call it good — something along the lines of, “Morning Widdershins, let’s hope the Earth learns how to jump out in front of asteroids — have a nice day.”

It’s not that the future is all that dismal even though some economists are a liquor store and pharmacy stop away from reenacting a Tennessee Williams play. The challenge here is that no one really knows with any certitude how the economic/militaristic/deglobalization future is going to unfold. Since I don’t have any real guideposts, today we will be flying from the soggy seat of my Underalls.

What I can do is share some hints about things I use as touchstones for the future. There’s little rhyme or reason other than they seem to make sense to me. I can say without fear of contradiction, they will be absolutely correct until they’re not.

Being the Bully on the World Block Carries a Price

Beginning in 1980 and accelerating in 1989 with the fall of the old Soviet Union, Americans have reveled in being the world’s one superpower. For the brief period of 1989 until 2001, it was doable within economic realities. Then 9/11 happened and with it, a wild and in hindsight, reckless military expansion the likes this planet has never seen began. In 2001, our military expenditures were roughly $287 Billion annually. By 2008, our military expenditures had risen to about $700 Billion without counting either the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars — and according to the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch war.”

Defense ExpendituresWe now spend more than the next 13 countries COMBINED on the military and the real irony is that 11 of those countries are our allies. This “out of balance, budget-busting quest” to be the world’s policeman has taken its toll in terms of scientific, industrial, and infrastructure investment. As northern Africa and the Middle East has demonstrated, even a modern, armed-to-the-teeth military can’t stop broad-based revolutions or as Iraq has proven insure democratization.

Many industrialists will tell you that our military has to make the world safe for commerce — many economic thinkers will tell you commerce will make the world safe from military adventurism. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between these poles. One thing is for sure — we have overspent and under delivered in terms of focusing 20% of the annual federal budget on the military to the exclusion of science, research and development, and infrastructure spending. That has to change.

Read the rest of this entry »

Michigan is now a right to work state.  Holy freakin’ crap,  people.  That’s a lot like  a Pentecostal church becoming a  same-sex wedding mecca.

As a long-time trade-unionist, my blood runs cold.  Michigan was always the union state of all union states, and now this, from ABC News:

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a right-to-work bill limiting union power into law in his state, he announced in a press conference on Tuesday evening.

“I view this as an opportunity to stand up for Michigan’s workers—to be pro-worker,” Snyder said.

“I don’t view this as anti-union at all…I believe this is pro-worker.”

Anyone else find this to be pro-worker?  Me, either. Rick Snyder campaigned as a moderate Republican “nerd”, and won both the primary and the election because of crossover votes from moderate Democrats.

Of course, any moderate anybody in the state of Michigan should have had an epiphany by now.  Governor Snyder previously enacted the Emergency Managers, who could toss out all of your duly-elected local offficials and sell off your public property, such as the  land in Benton Harbor that was bequeathed to the town as a public park,  I’m certain that Snyder did this because he is pro-public property, especially when it becomes a private commercial enterprise.  Oh, and Michigan’s Snyder-approved law exonerates the EM from any liability from “oopsies” such as this.

Rick Snyder campaigned on union rights, and promised to eschew legislation of this type as “Too divisive”.  The Governor was on “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning, and stated  that this legislation absolutely had to be rushed through the lame-duck session as an emergency measure because the unions had the temerity to attempt to pass a constitutional amendment making Michigan forever a closed shop.  Although the amendment failed, he apparently just could not live with himself if this law were not enacted immediately if not sooner.  He also pointed out that Mitch Daniel’s similar law in Indiana had brought many jobs into the state,  When he was asked what the wages were on the Indiana jobs, he had no answer.   When he was asked if the Republican losses in the state legislature might have made this impassable in 2013, he had no answer again.

Governor Snyder does not need to concern himself with the ballot initiative that Governor Kasich suffered – Michigan’s apparently contains an appropriation, which precludes a ballot initiative.  Therefore, the die is now cast, and the Governor and the members of the Michigan legislature have given Democrats and unions only one mechanism of redress – the 2014 elections.

Understand that union jobs tend to pay more, are more,likely to have benefits, and provide due process for employees.  I have spent most of my life working in RTW states, and union activity is more difficult though not impossible.  People who don’t belong to the union, as a rule, receive precisely the same wages and benefits as those who are dues-paying members.  The main thing that they lack is representation with administrative actions, and that can be really important.

I once had an incident where two employees were involved, and were pretty much equally culpable.  Labor Relations advised me to suspend the union member for three days with pay, and terminate the non-member.   Their rationale was simple – the union would fight a termination clear through arbitration, and the non-union member would probably not hire his own attorney.

As a college graduate, I never thought that I would require a union.  Registered Nurses are told that they are professionals, but my personal feeling is that if I am punching a time clock, I am a pink-collar worker.  Unions insist that their employees are actually paid overtime for staying late, as opposed to donating the time, or receiving the nebulous promise of compensatory time to be scheduled in the distant future.   Unions also can intervene in various payroll and benefit problems, ranging from screwed-up paychecks to denial of vacation time or even denial of promotions.  Union dues pay for a level of representation that would be difficult to replicate on a personal level.

Of course, Michigan has exempted their police and fire personnel from these odious requirements,  Somehow, they are always exempted, and they are not known to be particularly supportive of other unions.  This nurse’s cap is off to the fire personnel of Madison Wisconsin who stayed with the other public employees to the end up there – that is not the usual.

SEIU;s President Mary Kay Henry has already announced that they will be front and center in the Midwestern elections of 2014.  Richard Trumka and James Hoffa, Jr. will be there as well.  I think that the more people understand the absolute agenda of the plutocracy, the more likely they are to stand with labor.  While a job paying $10-15 per hour is better than nothing, this is not a wage that will support a family, find decent housing, or feed and clothe children adequately.   This leaves the rest of middle-class society to look after them with government-funded supports while the upper 10% pays fewer and fewer taxes.  I’m having trouble following the logic here, people.  Why would we wish to doom more and more people into lives of requiring some level of public assistance to remain afloat?

I will be amazed if some other states do not attempt to replicate this before the end of the year.

This is an open thread’

The world did not end.  The Rapture is still out there for all who believe. In the meantime, a great deal has occured in and around our governmental centers.  I personally thought that I had seen everything in the way of hubris during the Second Bush Administration, but I have commenced to believe that it was merely a preview of coming attractions.  Just look at all the fun that we’ve been having:

(1) The Republicans:  The GOP appears to be intent upon its own destruction.  I heard on the teevee that John Boehner had been advised by his pollsters that the citizens were quite unhappy with the changes to Medicare in the Paul Ryan “adult” budget.  Nevertheless, the budget was brought forth in it’s Ryan-esque form and passed with overwhelming Republican support.  Yes, the same folks that whipped up the town hall meetings into a frenzy over Grandma and the Death Panels now appear to be stunned by the reaction of their constituents.  One Congressmen reportedly told an angry voter that he really hadn’t wanted to vote for it.  Sen. Scott Brown (R-Cosmo) first lauded the plan and “thanked God” for Paul Ryan, but has since done everything in his power to walk that back, including writing an op-ed entitled “Why I Don’t Back The Ryan Medicare Plan”.   Even better than that, Newt Gingrich (R-Tiffany’s) told David Gregory in no uncertain terms that Ryan’s budget was right wing social engineering.  (Never thought that I would find myself agreeing with Newt!) He was promptly and roundly excoriated for this rather truthful statement, and has spent the past week running just as fast as he possibly can from the whole thing.  He has actually stated that any Democratic advertising showing the video from MTP should be taken as a lie.  (Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes???)  Mitch McConnell (R-Filibuster), Senate Minority Leader, appeared on the Sunday shows denying that Paul Ryan’s plan gives Grandma a voucher that could leave her seriously in the hole for her medical care.  No, indeedy, instead we are “empowering Grandma” by awarding her “premium support” in the private market.  Ryan himself disavows the current polling, and insists that people are dad-gummed grateful for his help.  Widdershins, you just can’t make this stuff up – in fact, you shouldn’t even try.

(2) The Democrats:  Okay, they’ve just been handed a gold-plated set of keys to 2012, so what do they do?  They are trying to find a way to compromise with the Republicans.  Again, you just can’t make this stuff up.  All they would have to do to provoke a tsunami in their favor is to go to their elderly constituents and say “I won’t let them touch your Medicare” and there would be a stampede to the polls, but instead they want to compromise.   Further, VP Biden has announced that we should not count him out for a 2016 run, despite the fact that he will be somewhere around 74 years old at the time.  God love him.  On a happier note, the Wisconsin courts have denied challenges to the recall of three Republican state legislators – so far.

(3) The Debt Ceiling.  Tick-tock, Washington.  As I understand it, Treasury is robbing Peter to pay the interest on Paul.  The US Chamber of Commerce is wringing it’s hands over the prospect of skyrocketing interest rates.  However, the following article provides juts a little bit of comedic relief to the whole thing:

(AP) DENVER — It would be a “moral disaster” if the United States were to default on its debts and become unable to pay its obligations, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said at an appearance in Colorado Thursday evening.

The U.S. is the financial linchpin of the world, and the economic effects of the U.S. defaulting could be “potentially catastrophic,” he said at a dinner for the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

Actually, who better to define moral disasters than a member of the very  American financial elite that personified them?  I guess he figures that we should continue to stick around in case he needs us again.

(4) Investments in infrastructure: Step aside, Clinton and Bush.  In the strangest of alltime political bedfellows, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue went to Congress to lobby for some infrastructure spending.  From everything that I’ve seen, it did not go particularly well.  However, the following passage just says it all:

The two adversaries recognized they rarely have found themselves on the same
side of an issue. “Rich and I may not be Facebook friends, but we can
occasionally find common cause, pool our resources, and get stuff done,” Donahue
joked.

“The fact that Mr. Donahue and I appear before you today does not mean that
hell has frozen over or unicorns are now roaming the land,” Trumka said. “We
both realize that our country needs to step up our ‘Investment in America’ for
business, as well as working Americans, to succeed.”

Trumka and Donahue also agree that gasoline prices need to be addressed, and have visited Congress to that effect.  However, Trumka has told the Democrats to get off the stick or forget Labor’s backing come 2012.  Should Donahue send a similar message to the Repubs, this might actually get somewhere.

(5) Unemployment:  I’ve saved the best for last.  Actually, I recently read an article that is literally so sad that it’s funny.  It seems that seven of the major corporations advising the President on jobs and the economy are investing far more money overseas than here,  most notably General Electric and Intel.  Caterpillar (not on the panel) was honest enough to say this:

Jim Owens, former Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) chairman and CEO, who isn’t on the council, said large U.S.-based companies generally are expanding overseas investments as economic growth rates in emerging markets offer better opportunities. Executives from those companies can offer the Obama administration useful advice on making the U.S. more competitive, he said.

“The reality is that corporations make investments to the best advantage of their shareholders,” Owens said. “The United States government should be in the business of stimulating economic growth and making sure our economy is competitive in the world market. That will attract more investment from U.S firms, as well as foreign firms.”

And, apparently it’s not exactly a one-time thing:

At Xerox Corp. (XRX), where advisory council member Ursula Burns is chairman and CEO, reinvested earnings for 2010 were the same as they were in 2005. AOL Inc. (AOL), whose founder Steve Case is on the council, was spun off from Time Warner Inc. (TWX) in 2009 and hadn’t made disclosure filings for all of the past five years.

Overall, the U.S. public companies represented on the council reported $197 billion of what are known as “permanently reinvested earnings” as of 2010, up from $103 billion in 2006, according to annual reports and disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Companies can defer U.S. taxes on profits of foreign subsidiaries until the income is brought home to the U.S. parent. Companies that would owe U.S. taxes on overseas profits can avoid payment by reinvesting the proceeds abroad.

And:

The companies represented on the White House council continued to reinvest earnings abroad even when U.S. profits and tax liabilities plunged during the recession.

GE’s earnings reinvested abroad grew to a total of $94 billion in 2010 from $47 billion in 2006, according to disclosure filings.

At the end of last year, 54 percent of GE’s 287,000 employees worked outside the U.S. As recently as Dec. 31, 2005, a majority worked in the U.S., according to disclosure reports filed by the company. The portion of the company’s revenue that comes from U.S. sales fell to 47 percent in 2010 from 56 percent in 2005.

And:

Earnings reinvested overseas give White House advisory council executives a parochial interest in debates over tax laws regarding the treatment of foreign profits, said Paul Hughes, a Bloomberg Government economist who analyzed the tax data.

As Congress and the White House consider proposals to overhaul the U.S. tax code, GE is among companies that have backed a change to a territorial system that would tax earnings from U.S. operations rather than global profit.

Companies including Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) andPfizer Inc. (PFE) are pushing Congress to set up a temporary period when U.S. multinational corporations could bring home overseas profits at a reduced tax rate. A previous tax holiday in 2005 temporarily cut corporate taxes on repatriated earnings by 85 percent.

“Some of the council’s members clearly have strong interests in having another amnesty or moving to a territorial tax system,” Hughes said.

Some companies may be keeping cash abroad in anticipation of another tax holiday.

Kodak repatriated $580 million under the last tax break and is part of a coalition advocating another repatriation holiday. Kodak’s earnings reinvested abroad grew to $2.4 billion in 2010 from $2 billion in 2006.

Let me guess:  These mega-corps that are trying soooooooo hard to figure out our employment dilemma desperately require another amnesty to bring their ill-gotten gains back to our country.  Let me get this straight now:  Part of the reason that we are in the Middle East is “to protect our interests”, e.g. the oil companies.  The oil companies who not only pay no taxes, but receive rebates of millions on top of their profits of billions.  Now these corporations who are studying away on our employment problem wish to take money out of our country and invest it in other countries, then bring their money back here essentially tax-free?  Talk about massive welfare kings, riding down the street in designer clothes, driving their pimped-out Beemers on our money.  They are the worst of all corporate welfare frauds.
This is an open thread.


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