Tariffs Can Lift Up America

From the AFL-CIO

For years, America’s labor movement has called for targeted measures to counteract trade violations by China, which has used cybertheft, discriminatory policies and illegal government subsidies to systematically undermine U.S. technologies and intellectual property and gain unfair advantages in trade.

“Tariffs aren’t an end goal, but an important tool to end trade practices that kill American jobs and drive down American pay,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

America and our allies can and should employ tariffs to strategically target bad actions by trade partners when diplomacy fails.

China routinely has used cybertheft, discriminatory policies and illegal government subsidies to gain anti-competitive advantages that  harm America’s industries, including aerospace products, computer technologies, movies, steel and aluminum, as well as other critical technologies and intellectual property.

Tactics like these from America’s trading partners cause real and lasting harm to working families and our communities. Factories close. Parents find themselves unable to find jobs to support families. And tax revenues for local governments dry up.

Strategic tariffs, used in cooperation with our allies and as part of a wholesale rewrite of rigged trade rules, will bring tough pressure to bear on China to play fair and are an important step toward creating a level playing field for America’s businesses and workers.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder