Are job incentive programs good for communities?

Jim Hightower

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


Governors and mayors insist that giving our tax dollars to corporations to lure them to move to our cities is good public policy, because the corporations create jobs, those workers pay taxes and – Voila – the corporate giveaway pays for itself! Really?

No. Good Jobs First tracked the 386 incentive deals since 1976 that gave at least $50 million to a corporation, then it tallied the number of jobs created. The average cost per job was $658,427. Each! That’s far more than cities and states can recover through sales, property, income and all other taxes those jobholders would pay in their lifetimes.

The rosy job-creation claims by incentive dealmakers also tend to be bogus, for they don’t subtract the number of jobs lost as a result of these deals. Amazon, for example, has leaned on officials in every major metro area to subsidize its creation of a nationwide network of warehouses, data centers, and other facilities. In a 2016 report titled Amazon’s Stranglehold, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that more than half of Amazon’s facilities had been built with government subsidies. And Good Jobs First found that since 2005, Amazon has received more than $1 billion from taxpayers to build their private business.

Each handout was made in the name of local workers, and, yes, Amazon does employ thousands. But the subsidies enable the retail giant to undercut local, unsubsidized competitors, driving them out of business and causing devastating job losses that greatly outnumber jobs gained. The Institute reports that at the end of 2015, Amazon did indeed employ 146,000 people in its US operations, but the taxpayer-supported giant had meanwhile eliminated some 295,000 US retail jobs.

Check out the report for yourself at ilsr.org/amazon-stranglehold.

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Reposted from the Hightower Lowdown

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!