Nov 21 2012

Laboring Under This Administration’s Anti-Labor Ties

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

And no, I’m not talking about the past anti-labor ties like former COS Rahm Emanuel who called labor unions “f-ing retarded” and condescendingly opined about “where are they going to go?” if they expect more from Democrats. No, I’m not talking about the NAFTA and China PNTR hatchet man that helped crush US industry before he became mayor of the President’s home town of Chicago attacking the teacher unions that helped elect this President. And I’m not talking the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and JP Morgan Executive that also worked with Rahm and the Clinton administration to pass NAFTA either.

Of course, there still are plenty of anti-labor ties to choose from such as Jeffrey “China! China! China!” Immelt who serves as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers while retaining his post as chairman of the board and CEO of the GE; the non tax paying conglomerate that outsourced its X-ray division from Wisconsin to China. Of course I don’t need to which brings me to the main point of this piece.

(h/t Rick Pearlstein)

In Leaked Docs, Honeywell Cites Obama Ties As Key to Anti-Union Strategy

An image of Obama from the leaked Honeywell document is captioned “HON has great relationships with Federal officials.”  

In These Times has exclusively obtained a leaked internal Honeywell document outlining an anti-union strategy that includes leveraging Obama administration connections. The documents suggest that the megacorporation is deeply concerned about recent union activity at its factories and the bad press that has resulted (one example cited is a Working In These Times op-ed).


“Honeywell is at significant risk of becoming the target of a national union corporate campaign and has no readiness plan in place to deal with this possibility,” warns the document. A graphic identifies a number of unions and workers’ organizations as potential sources of such a campaign, including SEIU, Warehouse Workers United, the AFL-CIO’s Change to Win, UNITE HERE! and the United Steelworkers. Honeywell notes in particular the dangers of negative publicity, citing as one example an August 4, 2011 Working In These Times op-ed by Metropolis Honeywell employee and USW Local 7-699 leader John Paul Smith titled “What the Honeywell Lockout Taught Me About International Labor Solidarity.”


The third section, on Government Relations (GR), reveals Honeywell’s hopes that its influence with the Obama administration can be leveraged to help combat union activity. Slide 18 of the confidential document states that Honeywell (HON) should “continue to grow positive relationships with elected officials, with federal agencies, focusing on local branches.” These relationships, the document explains, “can be directed at union activity, if needed.” The plan suggests that Honeywell’s Government Relations division can be used to “break up union cohesion across the country.” A picture of President Obama speaking at a Honeywell plant is included (see above), with a caption reading “HON has great relationships with Federal officials, focus is needed at the State and local levels.”

I’m starting to realize why perhaps no effort was made at all when it came to the Employee Free Choice Act by this administration despite its promise, and why hard fought union health plans had to be on the altar for taxation instead of a tax on millionaires during the health care negotiations now implemented into law. It also perhaps explains why there are more free trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea as well as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement looking to be fast tracked without the say of organized labor as well.

Organized labor doesn’t want a grand bargain either. However, it’s real which is why Senator Chuck Schumer and others have weighed in on it. As of now it’s still going full steam ahead without really looking at our real economic problems which truly amount to not enough of a deficit as we are living below our means instead of above our means. For instance, even with the touted increase of exports by this administration our trade deficit is still 41.5 billion dollars and with every rise in exports our rise in imports have correspondingly risen as well meaning no significant difference from back in September 2010. You see, unless exports can rise enough while imports fall we won’t close our trade balance.

We are being played for the fool when there’s all this talk about deficit reduction while we’re not even close to closing the trade deficit gap. You see, when there is a trade deficit(private sector), the government must, I repeat, MUST run a deficit to make up for the dollars we owe our trading partners who in turn put them into their reserves via capital flows. As I explained before, that is why public budget deficits are not dangerous and we need them to put dollars into private pockets in the private sector. However, we are a drastically unequal society so we also need unions in the private sector to help compress upper and lower incomes together in the private sector as it was during the post WWII period until 1979 on.

Even though the White House said it had no stomach for it, we still a guaranteed job for everyone who wants one directly from the government to shrink the supply of labor in order to raise wages in the private sector across the board. This will help to start to reduce income inequality for the past 33 years. We also need to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.66 an hour so incomes can keep up with inflation because they haven’t since 1979 on. The remaining labor movement in this country is not big enough to have the power it once had over raising wages anymore thanks to Taft Hartley, right to work laws, and leaders who break promises to organized labor after elections are over and they no longer need them.

One also wonders that since social security is tied to wages and productivity has been rising for years, why don’t we just raise the minimum wage a lot like James K. Galbraith said? That fix has an all around benefit to the entire economy and it benefits SS by transferring production from young to old as it is supposed to. But do we hear about that? No. We heard about the supposed need for another Greenspan Commission to cut benefits as the first Greenspan commission did raising the full retirement age to 67 where it is now when president Obama agreed with Mitt Romney on SS in the first debate. We either need to raise wages because it is a much needed fix all around or The White House just needs to shut up about Social Security which isn’t in trouble and cannot go insolvent because we can always pay our debts with instantly created currency.

We also need the Employee Free Choice Act is just a first step and a much needed one. No more free trade agreements or WTO pacts giving corporate welfare in the from of patents to Big Pharma as economist Dean Baker lays out in his free online book.

The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive (PDF)

Patents and copyrights are both explicit government policies to promote innovation and creative work. They reward inventors, musicians, writers and other creative workers with government-enforced monopolies for set periods of time, and these monopolies allow the holders to charge prices far above the free-market price. For example, the nation will spend close to $300 billion in 2011 on prescription drugs.2 In the absence of government-enforced patent monopolies, the same drugs would cost around $30 billion, an amount that implies a transfer to the pharmaceutical industry of close to $270 billion a year, or about 1.8 percent of gross domestic product. It is close to 15 times current federal spending on the main government welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and it dwarfs the money at stake from a main goal of progressives: eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (Figure 1-1).

It’s oddly not part of this whole grand bargain proceeding coming up which is pretty strange since lower prices for prescription drugs would be a boon to Americans’ in debt who would then spend money in the economy because of the 270 billion saved going towards better purposes than directly to big Pharma’s profits even though the deficit is a fake problem. These patents and the right for corporations to sue any government for enforcing labor or environmental standards are the real problems with all of these trade agreements. And when you’re being told as you are right now that the government doesn’t plan to run the needed deficits to make up for the capital flows flowing our of our private current and capital account can you honestly tell me that is good for labor or any working people in this country?

We know the truth about the rising exports being touted which cannot overtake rising imports along with it. We know that labor will eventually go somewhere else if the Democratic party mistreats, cheats, and abandons them. So we should all call on this administration reelected with organized labor’s work despite being treated poorly to shed its’ anti-labor and Wall St. ties in the treasury that would pay to keep labor down and their legislation dead on arrival.

This administration either needs to spend some time studying national accounting and why we need higher deficits to close the gap in our trade deficit or pursue a revolutionary change in global trade policy. We can have one or the other to support our industries but we can’t ignore both and make believe the balances add up. This administration needs to shed all its ties with those that want to further bust up the remaining unions in this country.

Tell the President to find those comfortable walking shoes he talked about in 2008 wherever they have been for these past 4 years and dance with the organizers that brung him  as Molly Ivins might have said instead of the anti-union lobby looking to keep the boot on the working man’s neck.

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