Young Philly Politics - Unions en The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated <p><strong>By Stephen Herzenberg, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>There's a good deal of crowing in conservative circles this week about the new 2012 numbers on union membership. Union membership nationally&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">fell by about 400,000, to 14.4 million</a>. Union membership in Pennsylvania <a href="" target="_blank">declined 45,000</a>, including 59,000 in the private sector.<br /><br />Of course, for anyone who cares about, say, the American Dream, democracy, and rising living standards, the newest numbers are bad news. A simple <a href="" target="_blank">chart put together by the Center for American Progress</a>&nbsp;shows that unions are vital to the middle class. As unions have weakened, so has the share of income going to middle-income workers&nbsp;—&nbsp;and the gap between the 1% and the 99% has mushroomed.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> democracy Income Inequality middle class Pennsylvania Unions Fri, 25 Jan 2013 21:50:56 +0000 8565 at How About A Sitdown Strike Across Hershey’s Supply Chain? <p><em>A blog post by <a href="" target="_blank">Stephen Herzenberg</a>, originally published at <a href="" target="_blank">Third and State.</a></em></p> <p>By now most of you have heard about the recent Hershey incident in which foreign students, having paid for the privilege of participating in a “cultural exchange” visit to the United States, found themselves packaging the candy company’s chocolate for about $8 per hour (not counting the upfront fee for the program and before you subtract the living costs taken out of the students’ paychecks).&nbsp; </p> <p>As Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and I pointed out in a recent <em>Philadelphia Inquirer </em><a href="" target="_blank">op-ed </a>, the implications of this incident go far beyond the advantage taken of the 400 students. It’s a case that demonstrates the irresistible urge of global corporations to fragment workers in their production chains so that the most vulnerable can be paid very low wages. Hershey, after all, has a stronger motivation than most corporations to resist this impulse: it’s in a capital-intensive industry, it has a cherished consumer brand placed at risk by the relentless pursuit of low wages, and the company is held in trust on behalf of a school for underprivileged children. The Hershey case demonstrates the need for constraints on companies’ freedom to pursue low-wage strategies.</p> <p>Our suggestion in the <em>Inquirer </em>was a union that cuts across the entire company supply chain (within the U.S. for starters). This type of “network” unionism would generate long-term economic benefits for the U.S. because companies would be able to pursue productivity enhancing strategies with all their workers and also through cooperation among plants at different points in the production chain. </p> <p>Since the legislative route to such multi-plant unionism could take a while, what about taking a tactic out of the students’ playbook — and out of the 1930s — a sitdown strike, this one including all workers in the entire Hershey production chain? </p> <p>More than any other single step that I can think of, broad-based unionism that restores industrywide private-sector wage and benefit standards — in local service industries as well as within manufacturing — could fix the economic inequality threatening the United States and restore the middle class.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Hershey jobs Pennsylvania Unions Workplace Mon, 12 Sep 2011 13:46:27 +0000 8172 at Could It Be the Weather? <p><em>A blog post from <a href="" target="_blank">Michael Wood</a>, originally published on <a href="" target="_blank">Third and State.</a></em></p> <p><em>The Delaware County Daily Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reprinted</a> a story from the PA Independent (the state news service started by the Commonwealth Foundation) which mistakenly blames unions for the out-migration of taxpayers in the state. </p> <p>Here is the claim:</p> <blockquote><p>The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., tax policy nonprofit, tracks tax returns filed in every state to determine how shifts in population affect working by tracking the Social Security numbers of income tax returns filed with the IRS each year.</p> <p>Between 1999 and 2008, Pennsylvania saw an overall decline of 84,000 tax returns. The top three destinations for people leaving Pennsylvania during that time — Florida, Virginia and North Carolina — are all right to work states. The data is the most recent available.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are a couple of problems with this rationale.</p> <p>1. Not many people move between states as a share of the population. According to data on the IRS's website for the period 2004 to 2009, Pennsylvania lost a net 21,847 filers. This equates with less than 0.2% of our population. Most people who move do so to neighboring states. </p> <p>2. Included in these numbers are retirees. If you aren't in the workforce, I don't think workforce policies are high on your priority list.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> economic development economy Pennsylvania Taxes Unions Wed, 24 Aug 2011 13:32:14 +0000 8152 at The Middle Class ‘Under Attack’ <p><em>A blog post from <a href="" target="_blank">Mark Price</a>, originally published on <a href="" target="_blank">Third and State</a>.</em></p> <p>At the Keystone Research Center, we have been chronicling for years the forces that are putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on middle-class Pennsylvanians.</p> <p>Last week, we released a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> in partnership with the national policy center Demos that takes the temperature of the state's middle class in the wake of the Great Recession. I'm sorry to say, once again, the patient is not well.</p> <p>The state's annual unemployment rate is the highest it has been in nearly three decades and the cost of going to college is on the rise. </p> <p>According to the report, times are particularly tough for Pennsylvania's young people, with state budget cuts to 18% of public university funding and a 7.5% tuition hike in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. Pennsylvania's young people already bear the seventh highest rate of student debt in the nation — at approximately $28,000 on average.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> economy health care Higher Education Income Inequality jobs middle class Pennsylvania Poverty recession Recovery Unions wages Workplace Mon, 25 Jul 2011 19:19:19 +0000 8133 at Your Job or Your Hours <p><em> A blog post from <a href="">Chaquenya Johnson</a>, originally published on <a href="">Third and State</a>.</em></p> <p>When the economy is hit by a sudden drop in demand, employers typically react by cutting employment or hours of work — sometimes both. </p> <p>In a recent <a href="" target="_blank">paper</a>, John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the experiences of Denmark and Germany in the Great Recession and finds that, while both countries experienced a comparable decline in their economies, the outcomes for employment were very different.</p> <p>German employers absorbed the decline in demand entirely with reductions in employee hours of work. As a result, unemployment actually fell over the course of the Great Recession, even as Germany’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined.</p> <p>The German approach is partly attributable to negotiations with unions; union coverage in Germany is 63%. But German employers also took this path because of a program called “short work,” a version of what we know in the U.S. as Shared Work.</p> <p>Under these programs, an employer facing a decline in demand can cut hours of work rather than jobs. Employees who take a pay cut because they are working fewer hours have their pay supplemented with unemployment insurance benefits.</p> <p>Employers get the benefit of having workers available when demand returns, which saves them training and hiring costs. Workers get unemployment benefits, while keeping their job and their skills and maintaining ties to the workforce. </p> <p>In Denmark, employers reacted to the Great Recession in much the same way as they have in the U.S.: they cut mostly jobs.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Denmark economy Germany jobs Pennsylvania recession Shared Work Unemployment Unions wages Mon, 11 Jul 2011 16:16:51 +0000 8126 at In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 21 <p>This week on <a href="">Third and State</a>, we blogged about Marcellus Shale trickle down economics, the Affordable Care Act's first birthday, unions and inequality, and much more!</p> <p><strong>In case you missed it:</strong></p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> economy Federal Budget Income Inequality Marcellus Shale Pennsylvania State Budget Unions wages Fri, 25 Mar 2011 20:51:19 +0000 7986 at Why have Democrats abandoned labor? Discuss with fmr. AFSCME DC 47 Pres. Thomas Paine Cronin at the next Green Night Out! <p>From the <a href="">Green Party of Philadelphia</a>:</p> <p>Green Party of Philadelphia<br /> <a href="" title=""></a><br /> GREEN NIGHT OUT</p> <p>Saturday, March 12, 7:00 pm</p> <p>Enjoy an endless supply of<br /> vegetarian, kosher, Chinese food.</p> <p>Discuss how too many Democrats have turned against Labor<br /> with Thomas Paine Cronin,<br /> retired president of AFSCME District Council 47.</p> <p>Please join us.<br /> GREEN NIGHT OUT<br /> will be open to the public,<br /> an exceptional bargain<br /> for only $25/person.</p> <p>Singapore Vegetarian Restaurant<br /> <a href="" title=""></a><br /> 1006 Race Street<br /> Chinatown, Philadelphia</p> <p>For more information:<br /> 215-243-7103 or email <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>[I went to the last Green Night Out, when an organizer from Action United (btw, good luck to them in their fight for sick days for Philly workers) spoke, and both the food and conversation were great]</p> <p>And here's the facebook event: <a href="" title=""></a></p> Cheri Honkala Green Party Hugh Giordano Labor third party Thomas Paine Cronin Unions Wed, 02 Mar 2011 03:21:21 +0000 rossl 7951 at Wisconsin Public Workers <p>I remember in 1981 when the Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) went on strike it was during the strikes in Poland that eventually brought down European communism. Those PATCO employees were fired by President Reagan. I still have a button that says “The right to strike-Only in Poland. The reason I raise this is we are seeing history repeat itself. While protests are breaking out all over the Middle East we are seeing an attack on our own citizens in Wisconsin. This is an assault on all working people by the far right and their funding sources in the business community. All working people should fight back in any way they can to stop this. Labor missed an opportunity in 1981. Let’s not miss another.<br /> The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is urging people to wear red on Tuesday. It’s the least we can do.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Labor Union Worker Rights Public workers right wing Unions Sat, 19 Feb 2011 03:23:31 +0000 Agrelou 7933 at Hugh Giordano to unions: The two parties have sold us out and the Greens are 100% pro-labor! <p>The following is an open letter sent to every Philadelphia area union by Hugh Giordano, printed with permission. Make sure to check out <a href="">the Green Party of Philadelphia's upcoming events</a>, like a meeting on the 27th and a concert on the 4th.</p> <p><strong>STOP Supporting the Democrats and Republicans!</strong><br /> LET’S RUN OUR UNION REPRESENATIVES FOR CITY COUNCIL AT LARGE AND CITY COMMISIONER IN 2011 AS GREEN PARTY CANDIDATES!</p> <p>Dear Union Brothers and Sisters,</p> <p> My name is Hugh Giordano, and I am fellow union representative for the UFCW, Local 152. Many of you know me or have heard about me in my run for State Representative where I produced the highest percentage of vote of any third party candidate in a three-way race – beating the Republican in Philadelphia!</p> <p> I produced this great victory because I stood for the issues, used basic union organizing skills, took NO corporate money, and had union support. Just imagine what I could have accomplished if I had all the unions behind me, the man power, and financial backing; I could have done so much more to defeat the CEO/corporate Democrat.</p> <p> Although I did not win that election, I opened the doors for us, as a united labor front, to do great things for the future. We have a duty to do what is right and to fight back against the status quo. That is why we are labor leaders and chose this activist life. I use the word ‘activist’ because that is what we are supposed to be, NOT businessmen and businesswomen. </p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> 2011 elections City Council commissioner Hugh Giordano Labor open letter Unions Mon, 24 Jan 2011 02:15:37 +0000 rossl 7903 at Philadelphia Weekly: 'Third-party candidates emerge as champions of the working-class' <p>From Philadelphia Weekly (<a href="">read the whole article here</a>):</p> <blockquote><p>Hugh Giordano, a 26-year-old, Roxborough native and food workers’ union organizer for UFCW Local 152, ran on the Green Party ticket against Democrat Lou Agre for a seat in the 194th. He lost, but garnered 18 percent of the vote (23 percent in Philly)—an unprecedented number for a third-party candidate. He may have his district’s attention, but Giordano and the Green Party of Philadelphia want everyone to know that when it comes to the ballot, three isn’t a crowd. What’s more, they’ve got heavy union support—typically an automatic vote for Democrats—to help them.</p> <p>“They want you to be stupid,” he says of the “party button,” which essentially allows citizens to vote along party lines without looking at who’s up for election...</p> </blockquote><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Green Party Hugh Giordano Labor Philadelphia Weekly third party Unions working class Thu, 30 Dec 2010 00:57:41 +0000 rossl 7866 at