Today's Fair Shots - June 2, 2017
1-Trumka Says Pulling Out of Climate Accord Abandons Clean Energy Jobs of the Future
2-Irony of Ironies: Chinese Factory Labor Gets Too Expensive in Some Quarters
3-Economic Anxiety Stemming More and More From Volatility Within Jobs, New Study Suggests
4-Catholic Labor Network Notes Opposition to SB 4 and Texas AFL-CIO's Role in Opposing 'Show Me Your Papers' Measure
5-Abbott Signs Supposed 'Voter ID' Fix, Sending Measure On Speedy Path to Courthouse
1) AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka today called President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord "a failure of American leadership."
Trumka said the move will harm jobs of the future in clean energy while making the global economy less hospitable to working families:
Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is a decision to abandon a cleaner future powered by good jobs. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has given dangerous advice around these issues. Following Pruitt's lead is a failure of American leadership.
A deteriorating environment is not the only thing at stake here. When our leaders isolate America from the rest of the world, it hurts our ability to raise incomes for working families and achieve fairness in the global economy. The U.S. labor movement will continue to urge the United States to stay in agreement so we can achieve the best outcomes for America's workers.
The New York Times posted a "what you need to know" article, including links to more in-depth coverage, about today's momentous decision, which immediately spawned resistance alliances among California, New York and Washington, as well as Italy, France and Germany. Note to all: Voters will get a timely say on pulling out of the accord:
Under the terms of the agreement, the United States cannot exit until Nov. 4, 2020 - the day after the next presidential election. That could make climate change a future campaign issue.
Read more: http://nyti.ms/2qGOW0O
2) It had to happen sooner or later in the "race to the bottom." Now, Chinese factories are off-shoring jobs because their labor has become "too expensive," The New York Times reports.
A popular venue for the new lowball operations is Africa:
The Chinese factory workers who make shoes for Ivanka Trump and other designers gather at 7:40 every morning to sing songs.
Sometimes, they extol worker solidarity. Usually, they trumpet ties between China and Africa, the theme of their employer's corporate anthem.
That's no accident. With many workers here complaining about excessive hours and seeking higher pay, the factory owner wants to send their jobs to Ethiopia.
The employer, Huajian International, now faces scrutiny from labor activists for how it treats workers. Chinese authorities this week detained an activist who went undercover in the company's factory here for a labor rights group. Two other activists who worked at Huajian are missing; it's unclear whether they were detained.
The activists' focus on Huajian's factories points to changing labor conditions in China as manufacturers try to get more work out of an increasingly expensive labor pool...
Today, Chinese workers are less cheap and less willing. More young people are going to college and want office jobs. The blue-collar work force is aging. Long workdays in a factory no longer appeal to those older workers, even with the promise of overtime pay.
In interviews in December and again on Sunday and Monday outside Huajian's vast industrial complex in this southern Chinese factory city, numerous workers interviewed by The New York Times complained about 14-hour days. While many liked the overtime pay, they said the days were too long, especially since they often included up to three hours of unpaid breaks for lunch and dinner. The workers insisted on anonymity for fear of retaliation by management...
The Ivanka Trump brand declined to comment on the labor conditions or the activists. In terms of bringing jobs back to the United States, the company said, it was "looking forward to being a part of the conversation."
Such tensions are fueling the drive of Huajian's founder, Mr. Zhang, to move work to Ethiopia. A former drill sergeant in the Chinese military who sometimes leads his workers on parade-ground drills, Mr. Zhang says work like making shoes will never return to the United States and is increasingly difficult in China as well.
Read more: http://nyti.ms/2qKkyxM
3) In a time of relatively low official unemployment numbers, new studies suggest volatility within jobs is responsible for economic anxiety, The New York Times reports.
Employer practices that include varying part-time hours, little notice of changes in hours and declining to pay traditional benefits are behind instability in family incomes, The Times states.
In this blog we do not need to dwell on declining union membership as a key factor that enables this employer behavior:
Mirella Casares has what used to be considered the keystone of economic security: a job. But even a reliable paycheck no longer delivers a reliable income.
Like Ms. Casares, who works at a Victoria's Secret store in Ocala, Fla., more and more employees across a growing range of industries find the number of hours they work is swinging giddily from week to week - bringing chaos not only to family scheduling, but also to family finances.
And a new wave of research shows that the main culprit is not the so-called gig economy, but shifting pay within the same job.
This volatility helps unravel a persistent puzzle: why a below-average jobless rate - 4.4 percent in April - is still producing an above-average level of economic anxiety. Turbulence has replaced the traditional American narrative of steady financial progress over a lifetime.
"Since the 1970s, steady work that pays a predictable and living wage has become increasingly difficult to find," said Jonathan Morduch, a director of the U.S. Financial Diaries project, an in-depth study of 235 low- and moderate-income households. "This shift has left many more families vulnerable to income volatility."
Ever-changing schedules at Victoria's Secret, for example, make it difficult for Ms. Casares, 27, to find care for her 2-year-old and 6-year-old and to cover the bills. "The lowest hours I've gotten is 15 and the highest I've gotten is 39," said Ms. Casares, who started in October, earning $10 an hour. The schedule is usually posted a month in advance, she said, but there are frequently last-minute changes.
Stability is worth a lot to workers. On average, employees are willing to give up a fifth of their weekly wage to avoid a schedule set by an employer on a week's notice, according to a field experiment where workers were offered a range of alternative hours at different pay levels.
"That is totally the story," said Mr. Morduch, who watched household incomes in his study rise and fall. "And that instability and insecurity are increasingly a part of middle-class life, too."
Read more: http://nyti.ms/2rY7LN5
4) A news item on SB 4 by the Catholic Labor Network cites the Texas AFL-CIO's joint opposition to the "sanctuary cities" law and tips a hat to Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick:
In the wake of a headline-making scuffle between legislators, the whole nation has learned about "SB4," the Texas legislation targeting "sanctuary cities." But the Texas Catholic Conference and the Texas AFL-CIO have been fighting the proposal for months. SB4 would prohibit "sanctuary" policies adopted by police departments in cities across the Lone Star State to win trust and cooperation in immigrant communities. They assured even the undocumented that the police were there to fight crime, not enforce federal immigration laws.
Both the Church and the labor movement vocally opposed SB4. Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin testified that
We reject the premise that persons who are merely suspected of being undocumented immigrants should be rounded up by state and local police agents.... The overwhelming majority of immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, are not criminals. They simply need a job or need to flee from desperate situations. God has brought them before us - perhaps not in the way that you or I would have preferred for them to be brought before us - but they are before us now and we need to care for them.
Many legislators, however, remained unmoved. The bill passed, and on May 7 Governor Greg Abbott signed SB4 into law. Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick (a Catholic Labor Network member) explained why the measurewas a mistake in a statement posted on the national AFL-CIO blog.
Read more: http://catholiclabor.org/2017/05/texas-targets-sanctuary-cities-over-labor-church-objections/
Also today, the AFL-CIO posted the Texas AFL-CIO's SB 4 video on its national blog. See: https://aflcio.org/2017/6/1/texas-sb-4-attack-all-working-people
5) Late news arrives today that Gov. Greg Abbott has signed SB 5, the purported "voter ID" fix, into law.
Also today, Comptroller Glenn Hegar Jr. certified that SB 1, the two-year state budget, meets the standards of the Texas Constitution. That is a necessary ingredient in moving forward on funding state operations.
SB 5 arrives after a federal judge ruled the "voter ID" law intentionally discriminates against minority voters. The new law makes some changes, but has its own issues, including a potential state jail felony charge against legitimate voters who use the wrong form of ID. From the Austin American-Statesman review of SB 5:
Senate Bill 5 will allow registered voters who lack a photo ID to cast a ballot after showing documents that list their name and address, including a voter registration certificate, utility bill, bank statement, government check or work paycheck.
Such voters would have to sign a "declaration of reasonable impediment" stating that they could not acquire a photo ID due to a lack of transportation, lack of a birth certificate, work schedule, disability, illness, family responsibility, or lost or stolen ID.
Voters who lie on the declaration could be prosecuted for a state jail felony, with a maximum of two years in jail.
Read more: https://atxne.ws/2qGXGUS