Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Trade Negotiations Require a Steel Spine

President Donald Trump dealt himself a strong hand before negotiating with China.

He held three aces. He’d placed tariffs on imported aluminum and steel in response to unrelenting Chinese overproduction. He’d threatened tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese imports in retaliation for theft and forced transfer of American intellectual property. And for trade violations, he’d forbidden U.S. companies to sell parts to Chinese cell phone giant ZTE, forcing it out of business.

And then, inexplicably, his lead negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, quickly folded in talks in Washington, D.C.,  last week. He left two days of negotiations with top Chinese officials with what amounts of an unenforceable letter of intent. The “joint statement” says the Chinese will buy some more American made stuff, improve its protections for American intellectual property and patents, and remove some barriers preventing U.S. companies from operating in China. But there’s no specifics and no enforcement.

In exchange for vague promises, Mnuchin suspended the tariffs. In addition, on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States and China had reached a tentative deal to save ZTE, despite the fact that ZTE failed to honor an earlier agreement made after it violated trade embargos against Iran and North Korea.  

Now China holds all the aces. It is bragging that it trounced the United States in trade talks. The stock market shot up 350 points Monday on Mnuchin’s assertion that he’d stopped a trade war between China and the United States. And maybe certainty for investors was all Mnuchin, a former Wall Street banker, wanted. But steel stocks slumped Monday. And that’s not what President Trump promised on the campaign trail.  It’s not what tough negotiators would have achieved for the United States when it had the upper hand. No potent negotiator would have surrendered that hand for vague promises, especially considering China’s long history of disregarding its trade pledges. 

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Headed Outdoors This Summer? Check Out These 10 Made in USA Companies

Graham Turner Intern, AAM

Memorial Day Weekend is almost upon us, and as the weather warms up, people across the country are gearing up for some outdoor fun. Whether it’s summiting the nearest peak or simply relaxing at the park, here are some outdoor products to kickstart your summer, all made by companies that support local manufacturing and job creation.

New York's Nalgene is a maker of iconic water bottles that have a strong connection to adventure and the outdoors. These bottles come in many shapes and colors, and are billed as indestructible. So, no worries if you drop one down off the face of a cliff — it should be good as new once you get back to ground level.

Allegiance Footwear crafts incredibly durable boots for field, farm, and fashion. Proudly made in Mountain City, Tenn., all the company's products are labeled as Made in USA.

If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop online store, check out Cascade Designs. This brand is based in Seattle, born out of the ashes of Boeing’s massive worker layoff in 1971. They’re now a parent to a handful of outdoor-focused companies, including the mega-outfitter MSR.

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Religious leaders arrested in Capitol while demanding restoration of Voting Rights Act

Kira Lerner Political Reporter, Think Progress

Revs. Jesse Jackson, William Barber, and other prominent religious leaders were arrested for demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol on Monday, demanding the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and the end of racial gerrymandering.

Dozens of others were also arrested across the country as part of the second week of protests organized by the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement that originated in 1968 with Martin Luther King Jr. at the helm. The campaign, a coalition of progressives and faith-based organizations, plans to hold demonstrations and risk arrest every Monday for six weeks.

At a rally ahead of the demonstration in the Capitol Rotunda, Barber drew a connection between systemic racism and policies that suppress voters of color.

“America’s democracy was under attack long before the 2016 election by racist voter suppression and gerrymandering, which are tools of white supremacy designed to perpetuate systemic racism,” he said. “These laws target people of color but hurt Americans of all races by allowing politicians to get elected who block living wages, deny union rights, roll back Medicaid, attack immigrants, and underfund public education.”

Throughout the six weeks, Barber and the other organizers hope to draw attention to the policies and laws that keep 140 million Americans trapped in poverty. On Monday, voting advocates highlighted how racial gerrymandering, voter ID laws, an other suppressive voting measures keep people of color from gaining political power.

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How vicious is the GOP’s war on the poor?

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Generals plan wars, but battlefield commanders do the bloody work.

So, meet HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, a quiet but bloodstained commandante in General Trump’s relentless war against poverty-stricken Americans. Carson is loyally serving the extreme right-wing’s ideological crusade to destroy the very idea of housing subsidies for poor families. He has taken a budget ax to the program that enforces our society’s fair housing laws, and he even stripped the words “free from discrimination” out of HUD’s mission statement.

Such sneak attacks, however, were deemed too subtle by Trump’s political base of hardcore haters of poverty programs, so the commander-in-chief demanded a frontal assault on the poorest of the poor. Carson delivered, dutifully, proposing legislation to triple the monthly rent that the most impoverished of public housing families would pay – including increased rents for the elderly and disabled. To add cruelty to this nastiness, Carson also called for eliminating child-care and medical deductions that public housing families can subtract from their rent payments.

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Executive Paywatch 2018: The Gap Between CEO and Worker Compensation Continues to Grow

CEO pay for major companies in the United States rose nearly 6% in the past year, as income inequality and the outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased. According to the new AFL-CIO Executive Paywatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 Index company made $13.94 million in 2017—361 times more money than the average U.S. rank-and-file worker. The Executive Paywatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking CEO pay, showed that in 2017, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned about $38,613 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for more than 50 years.

"This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis," said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. "Too many working people are struggling to get by, to afford the basics, to save for college, to retire with dignity while CEOs are paying themselves more and more. Our economy works best when consumers have money to spend. That means raising wages for workers and reining in out of control executive pay."

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Union Matters

CEOs Pay Themselves What?

From the AFL-CIO

CEO pay soars to 361 times that of the average U.S. rank-and-file worker, according to the AFL-CIO’s new Executive Paywatch released this week.

The Executive Paywatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking CEO pay. For the first time, thanks to new disclosure rules fought for and won by the labor movement, Paywatch now includes company-specific pay ratio data.

The AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch provides startling new data on CEO pay and the inequality that persists in America:

  • The CEO-to-worker pay ratio grew from 347 to 1 in 2016 to 361 to 1 in 2017.
  • CEO pay at S&P 500 Index companies is up 6.4%, to a total of $13.94 million in 2017.
  • The average S&P 500 CEO in the retail industry made 791 times that of the average median pay of their employees last year.
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Check the Facts on Trade

Check the Facts on Trade