'Conspicuously absent' GOP’s claim of backing labor unions is 'almost comical': column

In a Tuesday, September 19 op-ed published by The New Yorker, longtime staff writer and columnist John Cassidy argues ex-President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers' claim of supporting the United Auto Workers (UAW) is laughable.

"What about Trump and Pence and the rest of the Republican U.A.W. stalwarts?" Cassidy writes. "So far, they have been conspicuously absent."

He notes that this week, UAW President Shawn Fain said, "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers."

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Cassidy emphasizes, "Most Republicans have consistently opposed legislative efforts to reverse that trend, including two bills that would have made it easier for unions to organize: the Employee Free Choice Act, which a Democratic-controlled House passed in 2007, and the Protecting the Right to Organize (pro) Act, which the House passed in 2019 and again in 2021."

Just days ago, the columnist notes the MAGA hopeful told NBC News, "The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump."

However, comparing the ex-president's labor record with President Joe Biden's, he writes, "After taking power in 2017," Trump "restored the Republican majority on the five-person National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that was established during the New Deal to support workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively," which led to the agency's quick reversal of "several pro-labor rulings that it had issued during the [ex-President Barack] Obama Administration, including one that made it easier for workers at fast-food franchises to organize."

Cassidy notes that under Biden's leadership, "the agency has abrogated many of its Trump-era rulings, including the ones related to voting procedures and independent contractors. Last month, the N.L.R.B. ruled that if a company engages in intimidatory behavior during a unionization election, such as firing union organizers, the agency will order the company to recognize the union and bargain collectively."

READ MORE: 'Even Henry Ford understood' that underpaid workers 'don’t have money' to buy things: ex-labor secretary

Cassidy writes:

Politics is politics, but the sight of senior Republicans posing as the true friends of the union workers is so outlandish as to be almost comical. From Trump on down, the G.O.P. has spent decades siding with employers and seeking to frustrate union efforts to organize workplaces and raise wages. Even as it has sought to rebrand itself as a workers' party, the G.O.P.'s actions have made a mockery of this claim.

John Cassidy's full op-ed is available at this link.

'Even Henry Ford understood' that underpaid workers 'don’t have money' to buy things: ex-labor secretary

Former United States Secretary of Labor and Carmel P. Friesen Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley Robert Reich told MSNBC host Ali Velshi on Sunday that "even Henry Ford understood" that businesses cannot be profitable if employees are so underpaid that they have no disposable income.

Reich's remarks come on the third day of the United Auto Workers Union strike. Big Three employees are demanding higher wages and better workplace conditions as manufacturers rake in massive profits.

"It's shocking when you look at 1969 — 1969, the average weekly non-supervisory wage — that's the wage for people who are not managers and not supervisors, was higher adjusted for inflation than it is today," Reich said. "And so you have an economy that over the last forty to forty-five years, fifty years, has done wonderfully well overall, has exploded. It's about two and a half times what it was then. But the typical worker, the non-supervisory worker, the worker on the frontline is actually worse off, in terms of real purchasing power, in terms of, you know, non-inflationary, adjusted for inflation."

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Reich continued, "Well, this is ridiculous. We used to have an economy that worked for everybody. Now we have an economy that works for people at the top — the big investors and the CEOs and the top executives. That's not only unfair — it doesn't even sustain itself because where are all of the consumers going to come from if people don't have money in their pockets? Even Henry Ford understood this, you know, at the start of the last century. That's why he gave everybody in Ford a raise. Because he understood that, 'Where are the people gonna come from to buy the new Model T Fords if they don't have money in their pockets?'"

Reich added, "I think that we have gone totally off course. We now have a two-tiered structure of the economy. And this is not only unfair, it's bad for the economy overall."

Watch below or at this link.

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READ MORE: Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Sanders praises auto workers striking against 'disgusting' corporate 'greed and arrogance'

United States Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) told MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday's edition of All In that working-class Americans are "sick and tired" of the extreme wealth disparity between themselves and corporate titans as auto workers are poised to strike against the Big Three car manufacturers.

Hayes and Sanders also commended United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain for standing in solidarity with industry employees who are demanding higher pay as their companies rake in massive profits and their bosses earn gigantic salaries.

"Do you have a kind of rooting interest here of the outcome you want to see?" Hayes asked Sanders.

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"Yeah, the outcome I want to see is that the UAW workers get the kind of contract they deserve," Sanders responded. "You know, the corporate media hasn't covered this very well, but the reality is over the last twenty years, real wages for automobile workers has gone down by thirty percent when you account for inflation. So what the workers are saying is at a time when the CEOs of Ford — he makes $21 million, the guy who's head of Stellantis, he makes $25 million a year, the woman who's head of General Motors, $29 million — their salaries have gone up by forty percent over the last four years. They have billions of dollars for dividends and stock buybacks. And what the workers are saying is, 'Hey, we made you those profits. We gave you those salaries. Pay attention to our needs.' We don't want to see a situation where workers at the low end make it all of $17 an hour. And I'll tell you something, Chris. You mentioned that all over this country we're seeing strikes, and you're right. And I think what's happening is working people all across this country are sick and tired of the corporate greed they are seeing every day. They see it when they go to the grocery store. Food prices, incredibly high. Gas prices, incredibly high. Companies making money hands over fist. And I really applaud the courage of Shawn Fain and the workers at the UAW for standing up and saying, 'You know what? Enough is enough. We need an economy that works for everybody, not just the people on top.'"

Hayes continued, "I want to just show some of the demands: UAW, thirty-six percent wage increase over four years. One of the things I want to do — this is actually a key one and there's a little in the weeds, but it's important for people to recognize. There are sort of these tiers that have emerged in successive rounds of organizing where newer workers aren't working at the same tier as others. It's a way of kind of breaking up the solidarity of the union. It's something that Shawn Fain has been opposed to and the folks that elected him. So we'll see how that goes. I want to ask you this question on that context. We have seen all of this union activity at Starbucks and Amazon, the Teamsters, you know, and UPS, this, this. What — you said workers are waking up. But it strikes me that part of the issue here is that you've got tight labor markets and employees have more choice now than they did during that long period after the Great Recession where you had a lot of slack in the labor market, six, seven, eight percent unemployment. People were worried they were replaceable. This, it seems to me this environment has given workers more say and more power in their negotiations with ownership."

Sanders opined, "I think there is truth to that, Chris, but I think it really goes deeper. I think COVID, the pandemic, was a real emotional wake-up for the American people. You know, the rich people, the CEOs could stay at home and work in their fancy offices or in their homes behind their computers. Working people, people at the UAW, bus drivers, people working in warehouses, nurses, doctors, they had to go out to work. And tens and tens of thousands of them died. And meanwhile, during that whole pandemic, we saw an explosion of wealth increases for the people on top. So yeah, the tight labor market is a factor, Chris. But I really think that people are becoming sick and tired of the massive levels of income and wealth inequality that they're seeing today. No one thinks that three people on top should own more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that CEOs are making four hundred times more than their workers. That's not what this country is supposed to be about. That's what the UAW is telling the American people, and I think there's massive support for what they're trying to do."

Hayes added, "I wanna play this clip that got a lot of play. It sort of went viral. It's a sort of random clip because it's just an Australian property developer. But what he's articulating at this conference with other property developers is a view that I think some — a lot of people in management or ownership at least have about exactly this awakening that's happened post-COVID, right? That people have this sort of idea that like, they want to be treated with dignity. They want fairness. This is him saying we need unemployment to rise to knock the arrogance out of these workers. Take a listen."

READ MORE: Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Hayes rolled footage of Gurner Group Chief Executive Officer Tim Gurner stating that "we need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump forty, fifty percent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around."

Repeating Gurner's remarks, Hayes queried, "We need to remind people they work for the employer, not the other way around. What do you think of that?"

Sanders was characteristically blunt.

"I think it's disgusting," Sanders replied. "And it's, you know, hard to believe that you have that kind of mentality among the ruling class in the year 2023. You know, this is the richest country in the history of the world and yet we still have sixty percent — sixty percent of our people living paycheck to paycheck. People can't afford housing. People can't afford health care. They can't afford child care, can't afford to send their kids to college. And what these guys are saying, 'Hey, this is all great working classes and disarray. Let's have more unemployment. We can get richer and richer. Make them more and more desperate.' That is the kind of greed and arrogance that the UAW and unions all over this country are standing up to. I applaud them and I would hope that all of us as Americans stand with the UAW in their struggle."

Watch the full segment below or at this link.

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READ MORE: UAW president: Union is ready to strike selected plants at all Detroit automakers

Auto worker strike 'likely' due to 'insulting' offers from Big Three car companies: ex-labor secretary

Former United States Labor Secretary Robert Reich predicted on Thursday that "it seems likely that the United Auto Workers will go on strike against the Big Three automakers" as the midnight deadline rapidly approaches.

"Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler and Jeep) have presented their latest offers, including a 9 or 10 percent raise for most workers, more paid time off, and increased benefits. The union has called both offers 'insulting,'" writes Reich.

Tom Krisher and David Koenig of the Associated Press note that "the UAW is demanding a 36% boost in pay over four years, and the automakers, General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, have countered with offers that are roughly half of that increase. The chasm between the two sides threatens to ignite the first simultaneous strike by the United Auto Workers against all three Detroit companies in the union's 88-year history, a potential shock to a U.S. economy already under strain from elevated inflation. It's also a test of President Joe Biden’s treasured assertion that he’s the most pro-union president in US history."

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Krisher and Koenig recall that "the UAW started out demanding 40% raises over the life of a four-year contract, or 46% when compounded annually. Initial offers from the companies fell far short of those figures. The union later lowered its demand to around 36%. The UAW also is seeking restoration of cost-of-living pay raises, an end to varying tiers of wages for factory jobs, a 32-hour week with 40 hours of pay, the restoration of traditional defined-benefit pensions for new hires who now receive only 401(k)-style retirement plans, pension increases for retirees and other items."

Asking, "Why is the United Auto Workers taking such a hard line in its negotiations with America's Big Three automakers?" Reich, a long-established champion of labor rights, cites "five big reasons" for the impasse.

Reich highlights that "outsized profits" and "out of sight" executive compensation have not been shared with workers, whose "wages have risen only six percent" in nearly half a decade.

Reich further points out that there is a "two-tier system" at play — one which "pays new hires substantially less than old ones" and another stemming from the fact that "the Big Three have been quietly siting new plants to supply batteries for electric vehicles in non-union states."

READ MORE: 'The risk is enormous': DC insider issues a warning about voting for third-party candidates

Reich's complete Substack post is available at this link. Krisher's and Koenig's full analysis is here.

Workers are trying to unionize in greater numbers than expected in the Midwest

ST. LOUIS — In the central Midwest, unionization attempts this year are continuing at a faster pace than expected and are on track to almost match last year's high number. In the first half of this year, 49 private sector workplaces filed for representation in the region, compared with 108 throughout the entirety of 2022, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis of National Labor Relations Board data. The 2022 number was the highest in eight years, bolstered by high costs of living, an organizing campaign at Starbucks and historically low unemployment rates. Unionization attempts are up in the Mi...

'Pro-labor populist' Senator Brown hopes to beat the odds in GOP-leaning Ohio

Democratic strategists consider Ohio a must-win state if their party is going to keep its U.S. Senate majority in 2024. But Ohio has been trending GOP in recent years, and Democrats know that a lot is riding on Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) reelection campaign.

Brown is seeking a fourth term in a state that was won by Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but went to Donald Trump in the two presidential elections after that.

The Washington Post's Camila DeChalus, in a report published on September 4, explains, "Now facing a tough reelection challenge in 2024, Brown is wagering that by casting himself as a pro-labor, progressive populist, he can retain support from white working-class voters whose embrace of former President Donald Trump has propelled Ohio's move to the right. His race offers a key test of whether Democrats could regain support in the key state and places like it, and will be closely watched as one of a few races where Democrats must defend seats in states that Trump won, as they seek to retain their Senate majority."

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In 2022, former Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) ran what many Democratic strategists hailed as a strong campaign but still lost to now-Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) by about 7 perfect. Brown hopes to avoid that fate.

The Democratic senator told the Post, "If you support workers and understand the economy depends on building out from that rather than the trickle down, the demographic or whatever change of the state doesn't much matter."

READ MORE:'As biased as possible': Ohio Republicans attempting to 'rig' November ballot proposals

The Washington Post's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

Employees allege 'hostile,' 'cruel' and 'demeaning' culture inside GOP Kentucky AG’s office: report

Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron hopes to unseat Democrat Andy Bashear as the Bluegrass State's next governor, but "his office is fielding serious employee complaints describing 'hostile,' 'cruel,' 'threatening,' and 'demeaning' treatment from senior officials" that contains "allegations that one unit director took 'zoomed in' photos of a detective's breast," The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reports.

Despite "multiple resignations" amongst staff, "Cameron's office has taken little if any action in response to the complaints, which The Daily Beast received from a public records request," Sollenberger writes.

"The one outlier appears to have been the case of the inappropriate photos, in which an investigation found in February that the woman’s supervisor 'should be reprimanded' for public intoxication. The office investigated her claims, but appears to have taken no action on her other six allegations," Sollenberger continues. "The woman who brought that complaint—an active-duty detective employed in the office of the attorney general (OAG)—is suing Cameron and his office for employment discrimination, hostile work conditions, and workers' compensation retaliation, according to filings in Franklin County district court."

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Beyond that, Sollenberger reveals a pattern of "relentless" abusive behavior occurring under Cameron's watch, including accounts that "two top Cameron officials—Deputy AG Vic Maddox and deputy solicitor general for criminal appeals Jeffrey A. Cross—are accused of routine mistreatment."

Legal briefs describe "an office out of control, streaked with fear and suspicion, where workers are routinely degraded and supervisors not only ignore the complaints but are often at the center of them," Sollenberger says. "One complaint, submitted by an attorney in Cameron's office, noted that Cross treated workers in a 'demeaning, unprofessional manner' and would 'pit employees against each other,' sowing internal mistrust. Cross' tactics, this attorney claimed, had caused 'numerous attorneys and administrative staff members' to resign or retire. A separate complaint, which the OAG's then-communications director filed against Maddox this spring, cites gender discrimination against women, conflict with another top official, 'sabotage' of official duties, and 'threatening/intimidating/humiliating behavior.'"

After the communications director alleged that Maddox "'had been threatening, demeaning, intimidating, humiliating, and highly disrespectful' to her, and displayed 'favoritism' by 'promoting men over roles assigned to women,'" Cameron "called her personally," Sollenberger explains.

Although Cameron "apologized on behalf of Vic and urged" her "not to quit," Sollenberger notes, "It's unclear if Cameron took any disciplinary action against Maddox" because "Maddox remains the deputy AG."

READ MORE: 'Taxation without full representation': Kentucky journalist questions McConnell’s 'mental fortitude'

View Sollenberger's article at this link (subscription required).

'Greedy': Freight trucking company files for bankruptcy after getting $700 million pandemic loan

The freight truck company Yellow, formerly known as YRC Worldwide, is soon expected to declare bankruptcy "after monthslong negotiations between" the company's leaders and the Teamsters union led to a shut down, The New York Times reports.

Per the NYT, "After its bankruptcy filing, company officials placed much of the blame on the union, saying its members caused 'irreparable harm' by halting its restructuring plan."

However, the publication reports:

[The company] received the $700 million loan during the summer of 2020 as the pandemic was paralyzing the U.S. economy. The loan was awarded as part of the $2.2 trillion pandemic-relief legislation that Congress passed that year, and Yellow received it on the grounds that its business was critical to national security because it shipped supplies to military bases. Government watchdogs have scrutinized the loan because of the company's financial turmoil and close ties to the Trump administration, which awarded the loan.

READ MORE: Five critical lessons from UPS’ union workers

"It is with profound disappointment that Yellow announces that it is closing after nearly 100 years in business," Chief Executive Darren Hawkins said in a statement. "We faced nine months of union intransigence, bullying and deliberately destructive tactics. The Teamsters union 'was able to halt our business plan, literally driving our company out of business, despite every effort to work with them.'"

Furthermore, transportation analyst Jack Atkins said that the company had faced adversity for some time, citing that "in the wake of the financial crisis, Yellow engaged in a spree of acquisitions that it failed to successfully integrate," and "the demands of repaying that debt made it difficult for Yellow to reinvest in the company, allowing rivals to become more profitable."

He said, "Yellow was struggling to keep its head above water and survive. It was harder and harder to be profitable enough to support the wage increases they needed."

Teamsters union General President Sean O’Brien, who called Yellow's leadership "'dysfunctional' and 'greedy'" said, "Teamster families sacrificed billions of dollars in wages, benefits and retirement security to rescue Yellow. The company blew through a $700 million government bailout.”

READ MORE: 'We will figure out how to fire you': Report shows how major corporations are fighting unionization

He urged them to "take responsibility for squandering all that cash."

The 99-year-old company, which "employed about 23,000 union employees" according to the report, says its "seeking bankruptcy protection so it could wind down its business in an 'orderly' way."

READ MORE: How concentrated wealth and corporate power nurture the greed of thieves

The New York Times' full report is available at this link (subscription required).

'It’s bizarre': Wisconsin Republicans want 14-year-olds to be able to serve alcohol

Before President Ronald Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 into law, the drinking age varied from state to state in the U.S. Some states allowed minors to legally purchase alcohol at 18, but Reagan and members of Congress agreed that 21 should become the national standard.

What still varies from state to state is how old one needs to be legally serve alcohol. Some states allow minors to serve alcohol in restaurants even though they can't legally purchase it.

The Guardian's Wilfred Chan reports that some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin favor lowering the age for legally serving alcohol to 14.

READ MORE: The 'fundamentally important' element missing from Canada’s new drinking guidelines: behavioral epidemiologist

"Wisconsin is just one of a growing number of states where predominantly Republican lawmakers are making quiet moves to roll back the alcohol service age, so that kids who can't legally buy alcohol — or in Wisconsin’s case, even drive a car — would be allowed to serve hard drinks to customers at bars and restaurants," Chan reports. "In addition to alleviating the labor shortage, lawmakers behind the bills argue letting kids serve alcohol would give them valuable work experience."

But Democratic Rep. Ryan C. Clancey, who serves in the Wisconsin State Legislature, vehemently opposes the idea.

Clancey told The Guardian, "It's bizarre. I can't believe that we’re even having this conversation."

Meanwhile, in Iowa, Democratic State Rep. Megan Srinivas opposes proposals to lower their age for serving alcohol to 16 or 17.

READ MORE: Fringe GOP presidential candidate wants to unconstitutionally raise voting age to 25

Srinivas told The Guardian, "There's a reason we've always said minors are at higher risk of assault in certain environments…. When it comes to bars, we've seen the data show over and over again that the presence of alcohol does create risk of sexual assault for all people working in that environment."

READ MORE: 'This dude is sick': Jeanine Pirro smacks down Jesse Watters for claiming that 'girls like the alcohol scene'

Saudi farming company can’t use their country’s water for crops — so they’re taking it from Arizona

A Washington Post exposé revealed that Saudi Arabia is aware that their options for growing crops in the desert are limited. It takes a hefty amount of water to grow alfalfa and it appears the country doesn't want to waste their water doing it. So, they're using water from Arizona.

Arizona is among the states currently suffering from an extended heat disaster. During the so-called "monsoon season," Arizona is able to collect water that can help for times like these. Unfortunately, this heat front has lasted longer than normal, resulting in what the Postcalled a "megadrought."

But while Arizonans are baking "green fields of alfalfa stretch across thousands of acres of the desert land, shimmering in the burning sunlight." The Saudi-owned company sucks wells dry from deep underground, grows their crops, and ships them back.

A memo given to the Post revealed state planners wondered if they should use a meter to capture "accurate information" on the water drained from the valley. But former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) stopped it, saying he wanted to be “cautious of tangling with a powerful company.”

"The proposal also ran headlong into a view, deeply held in the rural West, that water is private property that comes with access to land, rather than a public resource," the Post explained. In a world where water is expected to become a scarce resource, some states are simply giving it away. In Saudi Arabia, the Post explained, their water usage is heavily regulated.

"The inaction was an early sign of how state officials gave leeway to Fondomonte as a global fight for water took root in the Arizona desert," said the report. "Leaving water unprotected amid a drought worsened by climate change has been a boon to Saudi Arabia, where industrial-scale farming of forage crops such as alfalfa is banned to conserve the Persian Gulf nation’s limited water supply."

The Post investigation found that with lobbying efforts using a former influential GOP member of Congress, and lax regulations on the environment, Arizona has become the perfect place for the Saudi-owned corporation to tap the water resources of the desert state.

Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) doled out some tough love, demanding details about the company's water usage. When they refused, she threatened to pull their lease. They finally revealed that they use about as much water as a city of 50,000 people.

Meanwhile, despite the lack of water, California's central valley continues to be one of the largest in the country, growing more than half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the country, said research from NASA and the USDA.

Read more about the expose at the Washington Post.

How I-95’s rapid repair teaches 'lessons' in fixing infrastructure: Pennsylvania governor

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro (D) published an opinion column in Sunday's Washington Post in which he outlines what the rest of the United States can learn from his administration's lightning-quick repair of a section of Interstate-95 that collapsed outside of Philadelphia in June.

"Experts told me it would take months to get traffic flowing again," Shapiro begins. "Instead, state and local leaders and project managers on the ground made decisions quickly, thought creatively and worked together to rebuild and reopen the highway in just 12 days."

Because of President Joe Biden's Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Shapiro writes, "States and cities now have billions of dollars to spend on everything from highway and bridge repair to broadband expansion and clean energy."

READ MORE: Philadelphia highway collapse could impact major interstate 'for a long time'

Shapiro then spells out four ways that the Keystone State set an example for the rest of the country.

The first, Shapiro says, is leadership, like that of Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Michael B. Carroll, who "practically lived out of a trailer on the site, personally supervising construction and making decisions in real-time. No one had to check with headquarters to keep the project moving; the construction site was headquarters."

Next, Shapiro recommends streamlining red tape, recalling, "We fast-tracked the permitting process to avoid delays while maintaining safety standards — relying on our experience with past permitting processes as well as the expertise of engineers and other professionals. Thanks to a disaster declaration I signed within 24 hours after the collapse, some bureaucratic requirements were waived completely."

Shapiro also urges states to "encourage creativity and allow everyone to bring their ideas forward" and to "work together" to "get the job done safely and with tremendous skill."

READ MORE: DeSantis allies used $92 million in pandemic relief funds for megadonor’s I-95 project: report

Shapiro's full editorial is available at this link (subscription required).

Hollywood executives stall industry rather than give workers a raise

Refusing to negotiate better compensation and fair working conditions for actors and writers, major film and television studios are to blame for the work stoppages afflicting their industry.

Hollywood has come to a standstill this summer as actors join their writer colleagues on the picket line. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced that it would be on strike starting July 14, 2023, over negotiations breaking down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents most of the major studios in the film and television industry. That same body failed to negotiate in good faith with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since May 2, 2023. Together, writers and actors represent the majority of creative talent in the most influential film industry in the world.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Even before the SAG-AFTRA strike, labor activity had been surging across the board. Axios tallied the number of striking workers from January to May every year since 2021 and found that by the end of May 2023, there were 119,000 striking workers in the United States—far more than the number on strike during the same period in the previous two years.

Since May, the number of striking workers has surged even higher as 15,000 hotel workers employed by about 60 hotels in Los Angeles went on strike. This was quickly followed by SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 actors launching their strike, and coming on their heels was the announcement that 340,000 UPS workers could be going on a nationwide strike in August in what would be “the largest strike against a single employer in U.S. history.”

Hollywood’s rank and file joins a phenomenon that has been dubbed #HotLaborSummer, a moment when workers in industries across the nation are making themselves heard about poor working conditions and low pay. Already, production on television shows has halted with the writers’ strike. Viewers anticipating the return of their favorite TV shows in September will likely be waiting a while. As highly anticipated summer movies like “Barbie” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” hit theaters, actors will not attend press junkets, San Diego Comic Con, or any other publicity-related events to promote their projects. The Emmy Awards Show will either be empty of actors and writers or have to be postponed altogether.

In spite of the power they wield in numbers, actors and writers are facing off against moneyed interests that are so flush with cash and other projects that they can afford to wait out the workers. A shocking report in Deadline on how AMPTP plans to drag its feet on negotiating with writers suggests that the same could be in store for actors: “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.” If the strike were an on-screen plot, AMPTP executives would be the undisputed villains.

Unlike a potential UPS strike, which could economically devastate the company within days and cost the entire U.S. economy more than $7 billion over 10 days, Hollywood studios feel they can dig in their heels. According to the Deadline report, “as network schedules shift to unscripted shows and streamers buy up foreign content, the studios and streamers have been saving money on shuttered productions and cost-cutting.”

Filmmaker Boots Riley, whose new “anti-capitalist” streaming series “I’m a Virgo” has garnered serious accolades, called it a “union-busting tactic” on Twitter and added, “they want 2break [sic] us.” He told the Hollywood Reporter that the studios are “trying to put forward… a message that you’re not going to be able to have a say in how we do things.”

Indeed, that’s precisely what the Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger seemed to be saying when he claimed that the actors on strike “have to be realistic about the business environment and what this business can deliver.” Iger and his fellow entertainment industry executives appear to be claiming that it’s simply impossible for companies like Disney to continue to remain viable and pay its writers and actors what they want.

But, consider the shocking disparity in pay between rank-and-file workers and their bosses. Actor Kendrick Sampson, who is known for his work on “The Vampire Diaries” and “Insecure,” and who is a common fixture at Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles, illustrated on his Instagram page just how poorly he is compensated in residuals, or royalty payments—a major point of contention in negotiations with AMPTP. From the 50 residual checks he opened, he counted a grand total of only $86 in residual payments. “This is why we strike,” explained Sampson.

Meanwhile, Disney CEO Iger recently spent $7 million in renovations alone on his lavish $33 million Los Angeles mansion. Forbes reported in 2019 that he was worth about $690 million—a figure so unimaginably large that he could afford to work for free and would never want for anything. In spite of this, he siphons off $27 million a year in compensation to run Disney.

What’s most potentially powerful about the actors’ strike is the narrative force it wields across the country and the world. Movies and television shows influence our thinking on so many social issues. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, actors are loved and lauded. Now, they’re under attack from greedy millionaires and billionaires.

“Abbott Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph, a veteran, award-winning actor, explained it in plain terms: “We’re fighting for our art… We’re fighting for what we love, and what we know people love. We’re not big million-dollar companies. No, we’re people, and we want to enjoy what we do, and we want to make a living at it. That’s what this is about.”

The actors’ decision to strike could spark interest in labor issues and in the oppositional dynamic between bosses and workers that Ralph articulated. If our favorite movie stars are on a picket line demanding better pay and fairer working conditions just so they can survive doing what they love to do, it could have a ripple effect, inspiring others to make similar demands of their own employers.

In contrast to Ralph, AMPTP sounds heartless, responding to the SAG-AFTRA strike in a statement, saying, “The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.” There was no mention of the financial hardship that AMPTP has put union members through, as industry executives deflect blame on everyone but themselves, casting beloved actors as the villains.

Iger lamented that striking actors “are adding to a set of challenges that this business is already facing, that is quite frankly, very disruptive.” But disruption is precisely the point. If it were convenient, a worker strike would affect nothing.

AUTHOR BIO: Sonali Kolhatkar is an award-winning multimedia journalist. She is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a weekly television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. Her most recent book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights Books, 2023). She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and the racial justice and civil liberties editor at Yes! Magazine. She serves as the co-director of the nonprofit solidarity organization the Afghan Women’s Mission and is a co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan. She also sits on the board of directors of Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization.

How federal law can protect all workers on sweltering summer days

The heat index soared to 111 degrees in Houston, Texas, but the real-feel temperature climbed even higher than that inside the heavy personal protective equipment (PPE) that John Hayes and his colleagues at Ecoservices wear on the job.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Sweat poured from the workers clad in full-body hazardous materials suits, heavy gloves, splash hoods, and steel-toed boots as they sampled and processed chemicals from huge metal containers under a searing sun.

Fortunately, as members of the United Steelworkers (USW), these workers negotiated a policy requiring the chemical treatment company to provide shade, cool-down periods, and other measures to protect them during sweltering days.

But unless all Americans have commonsense safeguards like these, workers across the country will continue to get sick and die during ever-worsening heat waves.

The USW, other unions, and advocacy groups are calling on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to speedily enact a national standard specifying the minimum steps all employers need to take to safeguard workers from unprecedented and deadly bouts of heat.

Because of union advocacy, OSHA already has national standards that protect workers from falls, trench collapses, asbestos exposure, infectious diseases, injuries from equipment, and many other workplace hazards. It’s way past time to also protect workers from the heat waves that are growing more severe, lasting longer, and claiming more lives each year.

“Heat affects everybody. It doesn’t care about age,” observed Hayes, president of USW Local 227’s Ecoservices unit, who helped to negotiate the heat-related protections for about 70 workers in treatment services, maintenance, logistics, and other departments.

“There’s so many things they can come up with,” he said of OSHA officials.

The policy the union negotiated with Ecoservices requires low-cost, sensible measures like water, electrolytes, modified work schedules, tents and fans, and the authority to stop work when conditions become unhealthy and unsafe.

“If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, take your timeout,” Hayes reminds coworkers. “Don’t worry about it.”

In 2021, OSHA initiated efforts “to consider a heat-specific workplace rule.” In the meantime, states and local governments are free to make their own rules, let workers fend for themselves, or even put workers at greater risk.

While workers everywhere would benefit from a national heat standard, nowhere is the need more obvious than in Texas.

It’s one of the states hardest hit by the heat wave now blistering much of the country, with cities like Junction and Laredo shattering heat records.

Worse, in the midst of the crisis, right-wing Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law sweeping aside city and county ordinances mandating water breaks for construction workers. The so-called “Death Star law” is nothing but blatant pandering to Abbott’s corporate cronies at the expense of workers’ lives.

The law goes into effect on September 1. But in the three weeks from when Abbott signed it, at least three workers already died in the face of scorching conditions.

One was a letter carrier, another a utility lineman who traveled from West Virginia to Texas to restore power knocked out by the heat, and the third an otherwise healthy construction worker who collapsed while helping to meet Houston’s long-running building boom.

“We were called essential workers,” Hayes said, referring to Texans who remained at their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve residents and keep the state operating. “Now some of us can’t even get a drink of water.”

Heat already ranks among the top causes of occupational incidents and death, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources.

Heat can directly sicken or kill, as it did the Texas construction worker. But it also induces fatigue, dizziness, and cognitive impairments, leading to falls and other incidents on the job.

And with climate change fueling heat waves, workers face ever-greater risks.

While workers in the construction, agriculture, and other outdoor industries battle the sun, those working indoors face their own challenges from summer heat that’s magnified by steel beams, metal pipes, and energy-generating equipment.

“First of all, we’ve got huge furnaces that are melting down scrap aluminum to cast ingots,” explained David “Buzz” Sawyer, president of USW Local 309, which represents about 840 workers at two Arconic plants in Alcoa, Tennessee.

“It goes into the furnace, and from that point on, it’s either molten or relatively close to molten,” continued Sawyer, noting that welding jobs, a rolling mill, and other processes also expose workers to heat as they manufacture material for road signs, cars, and other products.

Like workers at Ecoservices, Local 309 members negotiated a contract with numerous protections, including the authority to stop work, in dangerous temperatures. “We’re the ones doing the work and know what a safer job looks like,” observed Sawyer.

Worker solidarity fuels the robust safety system. But a healthy, stable workforce is also in the company’s best interest, he said, noting the national heat standard is needed because some employers, as well as state officials like Abbott, lack both compassion and reason.

“How in the world can you deny your workers an opportunity to get a drink of water?” he said. “If you’re going to do that, what else are you going to do?”

Sawyer wants others to know about the strong safety measures that union members built at Arconic and to think, “We deserve it, too.”

At the end of a shift, he noted, “This is what takes you home to your family.”

AUTHOR BIO: Tom Conway is the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW).

SAG President Fran Drescher’s speech is a must-watch for workers everywhere

On Thursday, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists officially approved a strike vote for the first time since 1980. The union, which represents approximately 150,000 actors, announcers, dancers, stunt performers, and other artists, has now joined the Writers Guild of America in an effort to force television and film production studios to negotiate seriously toward contracts that address issues that are already threatening to destroy the lives and careers of many in the industry.

As the leadership of SAG-AFTRA put it:

… negotiations with studios over a new contract collapsed, with streaming services and artificial intelligence at the center of the standoff. On Friday, the actors will join screenwriters, who walked off the job in May, on picket lines in New York, Los Angeles and the dozens of other American cities where scripted shows and movies are made.

In addition to that short statement, SAG President Fran Drescher made an impassioned speech about the future of the entertainment industry and the people who work there. It’s a speech that really needs to be heard because not only does Drescher point out the importance of these events for the members of her union, she correctly and powerfully identifies this as a labor issue affecting everyone.

Drescher: “The eyes of the world, and particularly the eyes of labor, are upon us. What happens here is important. Because what’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor.”

What’s happening with entertainment media is twofold: First, the traditional means of transmitting entertainment by films shown in theaters and television shown on broadcast channels and cable are breaking down.

That means residuals that were once paid out when a film or show was re-aired or released to home media have all but disappeared. Production companies, operating with the near-monopoly powers of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, have used this opportunity to restructure the contracts for writers, actors, and others in a way that channels much more money back to studio executives. In the past, being part of a hit show like “Friends” or “Seinfeld” could mean those involved would enjoy a revenue stream that continued over years, but studios have used the streaming pivot to turn most productions into something closer to “work for hire”: They get a single payment with little or no residuals, no matter how popular the resulting work may prove to be.

Both actors and writers are also facing a threat from AI tools that is not just looming over the future, but deeply affecting the income of many right now. Contrary to the impression generated by reports of big paydays for well-known actors in major films, most actors—including actors you know and enjoy in major productions—have a very hard time making even a minimal living in the industry. Many never get there.

Not only are the stories of actors who spent their time waiting tables while hurrying out for increasingly desperate auditions absolutely true, for many the auditions they are chasing are for small parts, with little or no dialogue. Those smaller roles have helped many actors break into the industry or provided critical bursts of cash that sustained them as they waited for a breakthrough opportunity.

And that’s the second big problem. Those jobs, the jobs that make the life of an actor possible, are going away thanks to AI.

Actors in these kinds of roles are finding that studios want their one day on set to include some time being scanned, along with sometimes having their voices recorded. There are stories of actors in Disney series who have had their likenesses recorded and licensed “in perpetuity” for as little as $100. Those actors are never going to get another call to audition for a small role. Why should they? The studio can always put them in the background of any production, running them like a puppet over and over again. For comparison, Disney chief Bob Iger’s reported net worth is $690 million, earning $65 million in 2018 alone.

Industry reports show that the studios already have their strategy in this strike. That strategy is based on knowing that writers and actors already live on the edge. That’s why the studios are unwilling to negotiate realistically about the concerns of actors and writers. They think they can simply starve them out.

In short:

  • Where actors and writers used to see a paycheck—generally a very small paycheck—whenever a show they acted in or scripted reappeared on the air, now they’re getting a one-time payment. That one-time payment is often smaller than it was two decades ago.
  • Actors who do manage to get a small role in the background or as a minor character in a production are being pressured to accept having their images scanned so that studios can use them again in other works.
  • The whole restructuring of the industry around streaming services is resulting in huge paydays for investors and executives even as actors, writers, and all the workers involved in making entertainment media possible see their paychecks eroding by the day.

What’s happening now isn’t just another strike. It’s an existential fight to maintain an industry where most workers have never been anything close to wealthy and most were already struggling.

The members of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA deserve the support of everyone. Not just those who enjoy their work, but everyone who is concerned about how the constant streamlining of processes made possible by technology will affect their job.

That’s why you should consider being part of an entertainment viewer’s strike. Starting on Aug. 1, pick one of the streaming services or cable services you currently pay for and drop it. If the studios haven’t reached an equitable agreement with writers and actors by Oct. 1, do it again.

If you don’t subscribe to any of these services … good for you, you’re already doing what you can. But for those who do, now is the time to show which side in this existential fight has your loyalty.

Drescher: “It is sad that it came to this crossroads, but we have no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it, quite frankly. How they plead poverty, that they’re losing money left and right, while giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history.”

'You make $27,000,000 per year!' Disney CEO vilified for calling writers’ strike 'unrealistic' and 'damaging'

Bob Iger, the chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, came under heavy fire on Thursday after he told CNBC host David Fabe from the uber-rich Sun Valley Conference that striking Hollywood writers are being "unrealistic" with their demands, Variety's Ellise Shafer reported.

"It's very disturbing to me. We've talked about disruptive forces on this business and all the challenges we're facing, the recovery from COVID which is ongoing, it's not completely back. This is the worst time in the world to add to that disruption," Iger said of the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, which the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) voted to join.

"About 160,000 television and movie actors are going on strike at midnight, joining screenwriters who walked off the job in May and setting off Hollywood’s first industrywide shutdown in 63 years," per The New York Times. "The leaders of the union, SAG-AFTRA, approved a strike on Thursday, hours after contract talks with a group of studios broke down. Actors will be on the picket line starting on Friday."

READ MORE: Controversial injunction against Biden hands Disney 'open and shut' case against DeSantis: legal expert

Nonetheless, Iger — who according to a November 2022 analysis by Variety's Brent Lang "earned a total compensation of $45.9 million in 2021, up from the $21 million he earned in 2020 — exuded very limited sympathy.

"I understand any labor organization's desire to work on behalf of its members to get the most compensation and be compensated fairly based on the value that they deliver," Iger continued. "We managed, as an industry, to negotiate a very good deal with the directors guild that reflects the value that the directors contribute to this great business. We wanted to do the same thing with the writers, and we'd like to do the same thing with the actors. There's a level of expectation that they have, that is just not realistic. And they are adding to the set of the challenges that this business is already facing that is, quite frankly, very disruptive."

Iger also stated that while he understands why unions want to "get as much as they possibly can in compensation for their people," they must "be realistic about the business environment, and what this business can deliver."

Iger added that the strike "will have a very, very damaging effect on the whole business, and unfortunately, there's huge collateral damage in the industry to people who are supportive services, and I could go on and on. It will affect the economy of different regions, even, because of the sheer size of the business. It's a shame, it is really a shame."

READ MORE: 'A quarter of a billion dollars: Comedian skewers CNN CEO over exorbitant compensation as writers strike

Iger's remarks were quickly — and harshly — rebuked on social media.

Columnist Wahajat Ali of The Daily Beast: "Good. Iger's comments today made it an easy choice."

Human rights attorney Qasim Rashid, Esquire: "Yes—that's how strikes work. That's why they're effective."

Vice-Chair of the Latinx Writers Committee of the Writers Guild of America West Jorge Rivera: "His salary alone would cover what we're asking to create a sustainable income for 10K writers."

Writer-producer Bryan Behar. "This kind of patronizing, anachronistic, blame the writers while making 46 million dollars in 2021 approach exactly frames everything we’re fighting against. May be time for Iger to send his tired talking points back to the '88 strike."

Actor-filmmaker Siddhant Adlakh: "Lost in all the talk of Iger calling strike demands unrealistic is his statement about workers being compensated based on the value they deliver—inadvertently the strongest argument for overhaul of the studios (and capitalism in general) because the CEOs aren't creating sh*t." Managing Editor Brooke Binkowski: "Won't somebody please think of the suits???"

Writer David Slack: "Dude demands $45 million a year plus a golden parachute in case he fucks it all up — and we're the ones being unrealistic? If studios making $30 billion in profit every year are really struggling, take a pay cut, Bob. Then #PayYourWriters."

Stunt man Derek Russo: "You make $27,000,000 PER YEAR. I was #6 on the callsheet for #Loki, and have grossed less than $1K in residuals."

Writer/producer Susan Hurwitz ArnesonSusan Hurwitz Arneson: "Love that this interview was given at the Sun Valley Conference of billionaires where they all flew in on their private jets. Yeah, we're the unreasonable ones for demanding fair compensation for our work."

Actor Chris Banks: "Greed is very disturbing."

READ MORE: TV writers flex their union power

Shafer's article is available at this link. Lang's is here. The New York Times' is here.

'The sky’s the limit': Conservative proposes ambitious agenda for Biden’s second term

While Donald Trump, according to polls, remains the double-digit frontrunner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, much of the Democratic establishment has been rallying around President Joe Biden's reelection campaign. It's possible that one of Trump's Republican challengers will pull ahead of him as the primary moves along, but so far, polls are showing that a Biden/Trump rematch is entirely possible.

Biden's supporters range from right-wing Never Trump conservatives to progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). AOC gave Biden an early July endorsement, saying he has "done quite well."

Veteran Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin, now in her early sixties, has voted GOP in most presidential elections since 1980. But the Never Trumper, a scathing critic of the MAGA movement, is rooting for Biden to win a second term. And she offers some policy suggestions in her July 10 column.

READ MORE: 'You've failed us': Conservatives clobber Kevin McCarthy for cooperating with President Joe Biden

"President Biden has plenty to crow about in his reelection campaign: 13 million jobs, a massive investment in infrastructure and green energy, a strengthened and expanded NATO, and the first real cost-control on prescription drugs, to name a few," Rubin argues. "But he can also hold out a vision for his second term that builds on his economic successes and secures our democracy. If Biden wins big, certainly, the sky’s the limit: D.C. statehood, expanding the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, child-care subsidies and mandatory paid sick leave."

Rubin adds that if Biden is reelected in 2024 and Democrats perform well in U.S. Senate and House races, the president's agenda can include "uniform early voting" and "same-day registration" as well as an expansion of "Bidenomics."

The Washington Post columnist recommends, "Biden could also make headway with tax simplification and tax fairness, which could be accomplished in a reconciliation package, requiring only 51 votes in the Senate…. It's worth taking another swing at raising the corporate tax rate…. Finally, in the best of all worlds, comprehensive immigration reform — which a large majority of Americans support — should be on the agenda. However, barring a Democratic blowout, Biden could pursue a more limited, attainable goal: fixing legal immigration."

READ MORE: How Joe Biden will increase his reelection chances by fixing these five everyday annoyances

Jennifer Rubin's full Washington Post column is available at this link (subscription required).

Solving homelessness is not that hard

Our economic priorities have created a serious housing crisis and fueled homelessness. Solving the problem simply requires us to change our priorities from profits to people.

California is home to Hollywood and Disneyland, sun and sand, and… nearly one-third of all unhoused people in the entire nation. Compare this to the fact that 12 percent of the nation resides in the Golden State and it becomes clear that there is a serious problem of housing that undercuts the Left Coast’s liberal reputation.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

An extensive study of the state’s struggle with homelessness by the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) paints a detailed picture of the problem, and it’s not pretty. Homelessness is thriving at the intersections of racism, sexual violence, overpolicing, and more. The report’s authors explain, it “occurs in conjunction with structural conditions that produce and reproduce inequalities.”

Contrary to the popular perception that good weather fuels voluntary homelessness and consists largely of transplants from out of the state, the report points out that 90 percent of the unhoused had been living in California when they lost access to housing. And, three-quarters continue to remain in the same county.

The problem also manifests in systemic racism, with Black and Indigenous people overrepresented among the unhoused compared to their populations. More than a quarter of all unhoused people in California are Black, and yet only 5 percent of the state’s overall population is Black.

Homelessness also fuels sexual violence that disproportionately impacts unhoused LGBTQ people and women. More than one-third of transgender and nonbinary people experiencing homelessness reported being victims of sexual violence, while 16 percent of cisgender women did so as well.

And, nearly half of all the study’s participants (47 percent) report being harassed by police. Law enforcement routinely subjects California’s unhoused population to violent police raids, dehumanizing searches and seizures of property, forced relocation, and incarceration. The unhoused are disproportionately criminalized by a system that pours a significant amount of tax dollars into policing rather than into affordable housing. Increasingly, cities are simply making it illegal to live outdoors, as if criminalizing homelessness will magically make the math of housing affordability work out.

The UCSF report is neither the first, nor will it be the last one to explore the extent of homelessness in California. And while it makes clear how serious the problem is, the main question remains: how to solve it?

There are several policy solutions put forward including rental assistance in the form of housing vouchers, an exploration of shared housing models, mental health treatment, and even a progressive-sounding monthly income program. But these are merely metaphorical band-aids being applied to a gaping, bleeding wound. None of them address the fundamental reason of why there are more than 171,000 people without housing in California.

Interestingly, the UCSF study’s main author, Dr. Margot Kushel, honed in on the core issue in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle when she said, “We have got to bring housing costs down, and we’ve got to bring incomes up… We need to solve the fundamental problem—the rent is just too high.”

This is a nationwide problem and California is merely on the front lines.

So, how to bring housing costs down? The federal government sees a shortage of homes as the problem, treating it as an issue of supply and demand: increase the supply and the price will fall. But there is no shortage of housing in the nation. There is a shortage of affordable housing and as long as moneyed interests keep buying up housing, building more won’t be a fix.

Since at least 2008, hedge funds have been buying up single-family homes and rental units in California, throwing a bottomless well of cash at a resource that individuals need for their survival and pushing house prices and rents out of reach for most ordinary people. This too is a nationwide phenomenon, one that was extensively outlined in a 2018 report produced by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Advocates.

That report makes it clear that Wall Street hedge funds see housing as the next frontier in profitable investing. Once these funds buy up homes and apartments to rent out, they cut the labor and material costs associated with maintenance, and routinely raise the rents.

And why wouldn’t they? Their bottom line is profits, not safe, clean, fair, affordable housing. In 2000, the average American renter spent just over 22 percent of their income on housing. Today that percentage has jumped to 30. Hedge fund landlords are likely celebrating their success at getting “consumers” to fork over a larger share of money for their “products.”

The only way to stop hedge funds from taking over the housing market is… [drumroll] to stop hedge funds from buying up homes. To that end, the ACCE report calls on local municipalities and state governments to offer tenants the first right of refusal in purchasing homes, along with appropriate supports, and then offer nonprofit institutions like community land trusts to have the second right of refusal to purchase. It also calls on the federal government to “not incentivize speculation, or act to favor Wall Street ownership of housing assets over other ownership structures.”

The other end of the problem is that incomes are too low. According to Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the federal minimum wage ought to be $21.50 an hour in order to keep up with the rise in productivity. But it’s not. It’s a horrifyingly low $7.25 an hour. And while nearly half of all states have pushed that wage floor far higher to about $15 an hour, it doesn’t come close to what’s needed. Even the few dozen cities that have forced the minimum wage past their state requirements don’t get to $21.50 an hour.

Yes, individual incomes are rising because of worker demands on employers, but they are not keeping up with inflation. And even though government officials admit that rising wages don’t fuel inflation, the Federal Reserve sees rising wages as the problem, countering them with higher interest rates.

Putting together these pieces of the puzzle, one can only conclude that our economy is designed to keep ordinary Americans living hand to mouth, running on an endless treadmill just to keep from falling into homelessness.

The rent is too damn high—to cite affordable housing activists—and wages are too damn low. That is the nutshell description of an economy that is simply not intended to center human needs.

Passing laws to prevent hedge funds and other large businesses from buying up homes and apartments and raising the minimum wage to at least $21.50 are hardly radical ideas, but they offer course corrections for an economy that is running roughshod over most of us. Rather than tinkering at the edges of the problem and putting forward complex-sounding solutions that don’t actually address the root of the issue, wouldn’t society be better served by redesigning our economy to make homelessness obsolete?

AUTHOR BIO: Sonali Kolhatkar is an award-winning multimedia journalist. She is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a weekly television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. Her most recent book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights Books, 2023). She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and the racial justice and civil liberties editor at Yes! Magazine. She serves as the co-director of the nonprofit solidarity organization the Afghan Women’s Mission and is a co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan. She also sits on the board of directors of Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization.

Why workers demand Julie Su’s confirmation as labor secretary

It wasn’t enough for owners of lucrative Southern California car washes to cheat their workers out of wages and overtime.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

They made workers pay for the towels they used to clean cars, denied them rest breaks, forced them to toil in filthy water that bred foot fungus, and even required the so-called “carwasheros” to hand-wash vehicles with skin-burning solvents.

Outraged members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 launched an effort to help these workers about a dozen years ago, just as the state’s new labor commissioner, Julie Su, kicked off her own battle against the state’s shadow economy.

In a one-two punch that still reverberates through the industry, the USW empowered carwasheros at the negotiating table while Su ramped up enforcement of labor laws, pursued millions in back wages, and filed criminal charges against unscrupulous bosses.

Given this and other fights Su waged on behalf of ordinary people, it’s no surprise that workers across the country are demanding her confirmation as the next U.S. secretary of labor. President Joe Biden nominated Su for the Cabinet post on February 28, but the Senate has yet to vote.

The labor secretary enforces workers’ rights along with federal wage, overtime, and child labor laws. The nation’s top labor cop also fights discrimination, oversees workplace safety agencies, administers pension security programs, and polices employer compliance with shutdown and layoff rules.

To truly make a difference, however, the secretary needs the ardor for working people and impatience for change that define Su’s career.

“It’s one thing to be a policy person. It’s another to connect with people on an emotional level,” said David Campbell, secretary-treasurer of Local 675, recalling not only the skill but the passion and tenacity that Su brought to the fight for car wash workers.

The multi-million industry preyed on recent immigrants, the homeless, and other vulnerable people, said Campbell, noting one “was paid with the privilege of sleeping in the car wash bathroom at night.”

“The car washes knew there was a special enforcement program going on with the labor commissioner. So that made them—at least some of them—more amenable to collective bargaining agreements,” which increased wages, improved working conditions, and gave workers a voice, explained Campbell, whose local worked with several community partners on the initiative.

Su tirelessly helps workers build better lives.

In the 1990s, as a 26-year-old attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Su helped 72 Thai workers start over after federal agents freed them from a garment sweatshop in El Monte, Calif., where they were imprisoned by barbed wire, watched by armed guards and paid by the cent.

Su won $4 million in back wages and legal protections for the workers. But she recalled being most gratified by how “the workers stood up, learned they had power, and, against all odds, defied the message they had heard their whole lives—that they should keep their heads down and know their place.”

After her appointment as California labor commissioner in 2011, Su fought not only for the carwasheros but for poorly paid workers who cleaned buildings, harvested crops, and performed other essential yet largely invisible tasks in the state’s underground economy.

She also stepped up to tackle other pressing issues, such as vigorously enforcing a California law requiring health care facilities to develop customized violence-prevention plans to protect workers like the thousands of USW members who work in hospitals and other medical settings.

And Su helped implement a law protecting workers whom unscrupulous employers deliberately misclassified as contractors so they could skimp on wages, benefits and workplace safety. That work spoke not only to Su’s drive to help workers but to her long-held conviction about the need to provide a “level playing field for honest employers to prosper and thrive.”

“Julie Su was able to greenlight important issues rather than let them founder in an uncaring bureaucracy,” observed Campbell, noting that low wages and poor working conditions for some workers drag everyone down in the long run.

“The obvious move is to raise the floor, and that’s what we should do,” noting that unions and labor enforcers have a “common interest” to protect workers and fuel the economy.

Biden tapped Su to be deputy labor secretary, the department’s No. 2 position in 2021, and then nominated her for the top role upon Secretary Marty Walsh’s departure last winter. The USW, along with dozens of unions, social justice groups, and other organizations, quickly sent senators a letter urging Su’s confirmation because of her record of accomplishments and ability to confront current challenges.

Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, she helped employers and dock workers negotiate a tentative contract that keeps West Coast seaports—and America’s economy—operating. Her work on that case drew praise from both union workers and the Pacific Maritime Association, a trade group.

Americans need Su to watch their backs more than ever, especially as a growing number of workers join unions on the heels of the pandemic and advocates push for a national version of the California law protecting health care workers.

“If she asked me to knock on doors for her, I’d be out there knocking,” said David Simmons, a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) from Pasadena, Calif., explaining his eagerness to build support for Su’s nomination.

Simmons, who worked on the car wash initiative, remembers not only Su’s commitment to the workers but how she galvanized her entire agency to a mission that previous labor commissioners neglected.

“I think she’d make a great secretary of labor,” he said.

AUTHOR BIO: Tom Conway is the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW).

The return of child labor is the latest sign of American decline

Steve Fraser, Return of the Repressed

Yes, as TomDispatch regular and historian Steve Fraser, author of Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion, points out today, child labor is making a grim comeback in this country — and immigrant children are leading the way. This brings to my mind a tale from my own past. My grandfather, born in what’s now Ukraine, fled home at age 14, spent two years all too literally working his way north to Hamburg, Germany, where he got a job as a “scribe” — he had beautiful handwriting — and then boarded a boat for America. As his daughter, my Aunt Hilda, wrote years ago, “A boy of 16, he arrived in New York from Europe in March 1888. It was during the famous blizzard and after a sea voyage of about 30 days. He had no money. He often said that he had a German 50-cent piece in his pocket when he landed. His trip had to be in the cheapest part of the ship — way down in steerage. Poor boy… and for the first few months in America I imagine he slept behind the stove in somebody’s kitchen.”

She hardly needed to add that, as immigrant labor, he went right to work. His wife, my grandmother Celia, was born into a poverty-stricken family — her parents had been immigrants — two years before he arrived and, as Hilda reported, she completed just one year of high school before she, too, had to go to work “as soon as possible… The last job she had was with the telephone company as an operator. She was with them for a year or two when she left to get married” at age 17.

And that is indeed ancient history, personal and otherwise. But how unbelievably eerie that such a distant tale should once again be so desperately of this moment. Let Fraser explain. Tom

Caution: Children at Work

The Return of Child Labor Is the Latest Sign of American Decline

An aged Native-American chieftain was visiting New York City for the first time in 1906. He was curious about the city and the city was curious about him. A magazine reporter asked the chief what most surprised him in his travels around town. “Little children working,” the visitor replied.

Child labor might have shocked that outsider, but it was all too commonplace then across urban, industrial America (and on farms where it had been customary for centuries). In more recent times, however, it’s become a far rarer sight. Law and custom, most of us assume, drove it to near extinction. And our reaction to seeing it reappear might resemble that chief’s — shock, disbelief.

But we better get used to it, since child labor is making a comeback with a vengeance. A striking number of lawmakers are undertaking concerted efforts to weaken or repeal statutes that have long prevented (or at least seriously inhibited) the possibility of exploiting children.

Take a breath and consider this: the number of kids at work in the U.S. increased by 37% between 2015 and 2022. During the last two years, 14 states have either introduced or enacted legislation rolling back regulations that governed the number of hours children can be employed, lowered the restrictions on dangerous work, and legalized subminimum wages for youths.

Iowa now allows those as young as 14 to work in industrial laundries. At age 16, they can take jobs in roofing, construction, excavation, and demolition and can operate power-driven machinery. Fourteen-year-olds can now even work night shifts and once they hit 15 can join assembly lines. All of this was, of course, prohibited not so long ago.

Legislators offer fatuous justifications for such incursions into long-settled practice. Working, they tell us, will get kids off their computers or video games or away from the TV. Or it will strip the government of the power to dictate what children can and can’t do, leaving parents in control — a claim already transformed into fantasy by efforts to strip away protective legislation and permit 14-year-old kids to work without formal parental permission.

In 2014, the Cato Institute, a right-wing think tank, published “A Case Against Child Labor Prohibitions,” arguing that such laws stifled opportunity for poor — and especially Black — children. The Foundation for Government Accountability, a think tank funded by a range of wealthy conservative donors including the DeVos family, has spearheaded efforts to weaken child-labor laws, and Americans for Prosperity, the billionaire Koch brothers’ foundation, has joined in.

Nor are these assaults confined to red states like Iowa or the South. California, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, as well as Georgia and Ohio, have been targeted, too. Even New Jersey passed a law in the pandemic years temporarily raising the permissible work hours for 16- to 18-year-olds.

The blunt truth of the matter is that child labor pays and is fast becoming remarkably ubiquitous. It’s an open secret that fast-food chains have employed underage kids for years and simply treat the occasional fines for doing so as part of the cost of doing business. Children as young as 10 have been toiling away in such pit stops in Kentucky and older ones working beyond the hourly limits prescribed by law. Roofers in Florida and Tennessee can now be as young as 12.

Recently, the Labor Department found more than 100 children between the ages of 13 and 17 working in meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses in Minnesota and Nebraska. And those were anything but fly-by-night operations. Companies like Tyson Foods and Packer Sanitation Services (owned by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm) were also on the list.

At this point, virtually the entire economy is remarkably open to child labor. Garment factories and auto parts manufacturers (supplying Ford and General Motors) employ immigrant kids, some for 12-hour days. Many are compelled to drop out of school just to keep up. In a similar fashion, Hyundai and Kia supply chains depend on children working in Alabama.

As the New York Timesreported last February, helping break the story of the new child labor market, underage kids, especially migrants, are working in cereal-packing plants and food-processing factories. In Vermont, “illegals” (because they’re too young to work) operate milking machines. Some children help make J. Crew shirts in Los Angeles, bake rolls for Walmart, or work producing Fruit of the Loom socks. Danger lurks. America is a notoriously unsafe place to work and the accident rate for child laborers is especially high, including a chilling inventory of shattered spines, amputations, poisonings, and disfiguring burns.

Journalist Hannah Dreier has called it “a new economy of exploitation,” especially when it comes to migrant children. A Grand Rapids, Michigan, schoolteacher, observing the same predicament, remarked: “You’re taking children from another country and putting them almost in industrial servitude.”

The Long Ago Now

Today, we may be as stunned by this deplorable spectacle as that chief was at the turn of the twentieth century. Our ancestors, however, would not have been. For them, child labor was taken for granted.

Hard work, moreover, had long been considered by those in the British upper classes who didn’t have to do so as a spiritual tonic that would rein in the unruly impulses of the lower orders. An Elizabethan law of 1575 provided public money to employ children as “a prophylactic against vagabonds and paupers.”

By the eighteenth century, the philosopher John Locke, then a celebrated champion of liberty, was arguing that three-year-olds should be included in the labor force. Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was happy that “children after four or five years of age could every one earn their own bread.” Later, Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism, would opt for four, since otherwise, society would suffer the loss of “precious years in which nothing is done! Nothing for Industry! Nothing for improvement, moral or intellectual.”

American “founding father” Alexander Hamilton’s 1791 Report on Manufacturing noted that children “who would otherwise be idle” could instead become a source of cheap labor. And such claims that working at an early age warded off the social dangers of “idleness and degeneracy” remained a fixture of elite ideology well into the modern era. Indeed, it evidently remains so today.

When industrialization began in earnest during the first half of the nineteenth century, observers noted that work in the new factories (especially textile mills) was “better done by little girls of 6-12 years old.” By 1820, children accounted for 40% of the mill workers in three New England states. In that same year, children under 15 made up 23% of the manufacturing labor force and as much as 50% of the production of cotton textiles.

And such numbers would only soar after the Civil War. In fact, the children of ex-slaves were effectively re-enslaved through onerous apprenticeship arrangements. Meanwhile, in New York City and other urban centers, Italian padrones expedited the exploitation of immigrant kids while treating them brutally. Even the then-brahmin-minded, anti-immigrant New York Times took offense: “The world has given up stealing men from the African coast, only to kidnap children from Italy.”

Between 1890 and 1910, 18% of all children between the ages of 10 and 15, about two million young people, worked, often 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Their jobs covered the waterfront — all too literally as, under the supervision of padrones, thousands of children shucked oysters and picked shrimp. Kids were also street messengers and newsies. They worked in offices and factories, banks and brothels. They were “breakers” and “trappers” in poorly ventilated coal mines, particularly dangerous and unhealthy jobs. In 1900, out of 100,000 workers in textile mills in the South, 20,000 were under the age of 12.

City orphans were shipped off to labor in the glassworks of the Midwest. Thousands of children stayed home and helped their families turn out clothing for sweatshop manufacturers. Others packed flowers in ill-ventilated tenements. One seven-year-old explained that “I like school better than home. I don’t like home. There are too many flowers.” And down on the farm, the situation was no less grim, as children as young as three worked hulling berries.

All in the Family

Clearly, well into the twentieth century, industrial capitalism depended on the exploitation of children who were cheaper to employ, less able to resist, and until the advent of more sophisticated technologies, well suited to deal with the relatively simple machinery then in place.

Moreover, the authority exercised by the boss was in keeping with that era’s patriarchal assumptions, whether in the family or even in the largest of the overwhelmingly family-owned new industrial firms of that time like Andrew Carnegie’s steelworks. And such family capitalism gave birth to a perverse alliance of boss and underling that transformed children into miniature wage-laborers.

Meanwhile, working-class families were so severely exploited that they desperately needed the income of their children. As a result, in Philadelphia around the turn of the century, the labor of children accounted for between 28% and 33% of the household income of native-born, two-parent families. For Irish and German immigrants, the figures were 46% and 35% respectively. Not surprisingly, then, working-class parents often opposed proposals for child labor laws. As noted by Karl Marx, the worker was no longer able to support himself, so “now he sells his wife and child. He becomes a slave dealer.”

Nonetheless, resistance began to mount. The sociologist and muckraking photographer Lewis Hine scandalized the country with heart-rending pictures of kids slaving away in factories and down in the pits of mines. (He got into such places by pretending to be a Bible salesman.) Mother Jones, the militant defender of labor organizing, led a “children’s crusade” in 1903 on behalf of 46,000 striking textile workers in Philadelphia. Two hundred child-worker delegates showed up at President Teddy Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay, Long Island, residence to protest, but the president simply passed the buck, claiming child labor was a state matter, not a federal one.

Here and there, kids tried running away. In response, owners began surrounding their factories with barbed wire or made the children work at night when their fear of the dark might keep them from fleeing. Some of the 146 women who died in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village — the owners of that garment factory had locked the doors, forcing the trapped workers to leap to their deaths from upper floor windows — were as young as 15. That tragedy only added to a growing furor over child labor.

A National Child Labor Committee was formed in 1904. For years, it lobbied states to outlaw, or at least rein in, the use of child labor. Victories, however, were often distinctly pyrrhic, as the laws enacted were invariably weak, included dozens of exemptions, and poorly enforced. Finally, in 1916, a federal law was passed that outlawed child labor everywhere. In 1918, however, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

In fact, only in the 1930s, after the Great Depression hit, did conditions begin improving. Given its economic devastation, you might assume that cheap child labor would have been at a premium. However, with jobs so scarce, adults — males especially — took precedence and began doing work once relegated to children. In those same years, industrial work began incorporating ever more complex machinery that proved too difficult for younger kids. Meanwhile, the age of compulsory schooling was steadily rising, limiting yet more the available pool of child laborers.

Most important of all, the tenor of the times changed. The insurgent labor movement of the 1930s loathed the very idea of child labor. Unionized plants and whole industries were no-go zones for capitalists looking to exploit children. And in 1938, with the support of organized labor, President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal administration finally passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which, at least in theory, put an end to child labor (although it exempted the agricultural sector in which such a workforce remained commonplace).

Moreover, Roosevelt’s New Deal transformed the national zeitgeist. A sense of economic egalitarianism, a newfound respect for the working class, and a bottomless suspicion of the corporate caste made child labor seem particularly repulsive. In addition, the New Deal ushered in a long era of prosperity, including rising standards of living for millions of working people who no longer needed the labor of their children to make ends meet.

Back to the Future

It’s all the more astonishing then to discover that a plague, once thought banished, lives again. American capitalism is a global system, its networks extend virtually everywhere. Today, there are an estimated 152 million children at work worldwide. Not all of them, of course, are employed directly or even indirectly by U.S. firms. But they should certainly be a reminder of how deeply retrogressive capitalism has once again become both here at home and elsewhere across the planet.

Boasts about the power and wealth of the American economy are part of our belief system and elite rhetoric. However, life expectancy in the U.S., a basal measure of social retrogression, has been relentlessly declining for years. Health care is not only unaffordable for millions, but its quality has become second-rate at best if you don’t belong to the top 1%. In a similar fashion, the country’s infrastructure has long been in decline, thanks to both its age and decades of neglect.

Think of the United States, then, as a “developed” country now in the throes of underdevelopment and, in that context, the return of child labor is deeply symptomatic. Even before the Great Recession that followed the financial implosion of 2008, standards of living had been falling, especially for millions of working people laid low by a decades-long tsunami of de-industrialization. That recession, which officially lasted until 2011, only further exacerbated the situation. It put added pressure on labor costs, while work became increasingly precarious, ever more stripped of benefits and ununionized. Given the circumstances, why not turn to yet another source of cheap labor — children?

The most vulnerable among them come from abroad, migrants from the Global South, escaping failing economies often traceable to American economic exploitation and domination. If this country is now experiencing a border crisis — and it is — its origins lie on this side of the border.

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-2022 created a brief labor shortage, which became a pretext for putting kids back to work (even if the return of child labor actually predated the disease). Consider such child workers in the twenty-first century as a distinct sign of social pathology. The United States may still bully parts of the world, while endlessly showing off its military might. At home, however, it is sick.

'The history of social change is also a history of disruption': experts

When two campaigners with the climate protest group Just Stop Oil threw confetti onto a tennis court at the Wimbledon championship in London on Wednesday, the action—like others by Just Stop Oil in recent months—sparked a renewed debate about the effectiveness of disruptive demonstrations.

"As always, Just Stop Oil's actions have done nothing to further their cause," claimed one public affairs consultant.

A new survey of 120 experts on social movements, however, found on Friday that nearly seven in 10 academics say disruptive protest tactics are "at least quite important" to the success of a movement, particularly if the protesters' demands—in the case of Just Stop Oil, climate action—already have widespread support.

Although interrupted tennis matches; stalled traffic caused by Just Stop Oil's "slow march" through London, which is now in its 12th week; and soup cans thrown at glass-covered art as in another high-profile protest by the group last year have befuddled and frustrated observers, the study by Apollo Surveys and the protest think tank Social Change Lab found that disruptive tactics do not, by and large, harm a group's ability to effect change.

"We were really struck by the contradiction between what the public and media say about disruptive protests and what academics said," James Özden, director of Social Change Lab, told The Guardian. "The experts who study social movements not only believe that strategic disruption can be an effective tactic, but that it is the most important tactical factor for a social movement's success."

A poll by YouGov in February—four months after Just Stop Oil garnered international attention, including outrage, for its soup can protest—found that 78% of British people believed disruptive demonstrations make it less likely that protesters will be successful in their cause.

The new survey of experts shows that "we shouldn't take people's first reactions as the indicator of an effective protest," Özden told The Guardian.

The experts were also asked about factors that harm protests movements. More than 70% said that internal conflicts and infighting can hinder a group's ability to achieve its goals, and 67% said a lack of clear political objectives can harm the movement.

Only 36% said that objectives deemed "too radical" are harmful to a group's success, and 44% said an unwillingness to compromise can stand in the way of protesters' agenda.

"Whether we like it or not, the history of social change is also a history of political contestation and disruption," said Bart Cammaerts, a professor of politics and communication at the London School of Economics, in response to the survey. "Disruption of everyday life is often the best way to receive media attention, generate visibility for a cause, and above all to push political and economic elites to compromise and accept change, if only to protect their own interests."

The results suggested that a multi-pronged effort to effect change—including letter-writing campaigns, legal protests that have the approval of law enforcement, and disruptive protests like those of Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion—are needed to push for climate action and other policy changes.

Both legal protests and disruptive actions were rated highly by the experts as tactics that have a positive effect on "movement-building" and sparking "higher salience in public discourse."

In response to the survey results, Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam recalled an interaction he had with an official at Kings College after he staged a disruptive protest to pressure the institution to divest from fossil fuels.

Others pointed out that highly-regarded, historic protest movements such as the fight for women's voting rights and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s had their own disruptive elements.

"There are two strands to civil resistance," James Skeet, a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil, toldThe Guardian. "One is disruption and the next is dialogue. Time and again, we see that public disruption is necessary to spark the conversations that result in much needed political pressure."

'Keeps on chugging': Unemployment down and wages up in 'strong' and record-setting June jobs report

Economists are calling the June jobs report “strong,” and “solid,” with 209,000 jobs added bringing unemployment down to a near-50-year low of 3.6%. 220,000 to 240,000 jobs were predicted, but experts say historically 200,000 jobs created in one month is still impressive.

The Washington Post calls it “a slow but steady gain,” and adds experts say the U.S. will mostly likely not fall into recession.

“Bloomberg Economics, which last fall forecast a 100 percent chance of a recession by October, now says the country will ‘narrowly dodge’ a downturn this year. Major banks including Goldman Sachs and Barclay’s are watering down recession predictions, in large part because of the job market’s resilience,” The Post reports.

And The New York Times adds, “with rising wages and low unemployment, the labor market remains resilient.”

“It’s a good solid straight down the middle, this little engine just keeps on chugging along payrolls report,” says University of Michigan professor of economics Justin Wolfers, who is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Job growth is definitely slowing,” he adds.

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“Bidenomics continued its underacknowledged winning streak in June,” is how The New Republic‘s Timothy Noah reported June’s jobs numbers.

“Everybody should calm the hell down,” he adds, after calling the 209,000 jobs created number “somewhat of a triumph” while noting interest rates will likely rise and the stock market dropped after the jobs data was released.

“What today’s job numbers show is that the Biden economy is proving much harder to push into recession than the Fed reckoned on. I’d like to tell you why, but I don’t know. Nobody does. But the bottom-line reality check: That is very good news.”

The June jobs report also brings some record-breaking results.

Thursday night former Biden White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein noted, “if tomorrow’s official unemployment rate is below 4%, we will have achieved the longest stretch of sub-4% unemployment on record.”

It is. We have.

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell notes women 25-54 working or seeking work has also just hit a record high, as has the rate of women having jobs.

The Council of Economic Advisers calls it “the highest rate since modern data began in 1948.”

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Wolfers notes the employment rate for people with a disability hit the highest rate ever recorded.

Democratic strategist, think tank founder, and political analyst Simon Rosenberg points out with these new numbers President Joe Biden has created seven times as many jobs as the last three Republican presidents combined.

He also says the average number of jobs created under GOP presidents was 10,000 per month.

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According to Rosenberg, under President Biden the U.S. has seen “the lowest peacetime unemployment rate since WWII,” “the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years,” “the lowest [health care] uninsured rate ever,” and “the lowest poverty rate ever.”

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson notes over the past few years, “real wages have surged for the low-income, wiping out a quarter of the 40-year increase in inequality.”

But the Washington Post also notes that “the Black unemployment rate, which had reached a record low in April at 4.7 percent, rose in May and June again, to 6 percent. A wide body of research shows that Black workers are the first to lose their jobs in economic downturns.”

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