The rich hate unions. Do you wonder why?

Corporations and the rich spend millions of dollars to try to get rid of unions:

In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike.

“To put it simply,” the document concluded, “becoming a fair-share payer means you will have more freedom.”

The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

Despite the fact that this hurts Democrats:

A recent paper by Mr. Hertel-Fernandez and two colleagues may foretell what Democrats can expect if Mr. Uihlein and his fellow philanthropists succeed. It found that the Democratic share of the presidential vote dropped by an average of 3.5 percentage points after the passage of so-called right-to-work laws allowing employees to avoid paying union fees. That is larger than Democrats’ margin of defeat in several states that could have reversed their last three presidential losses.

Democrats don’t seem to think that’s a big deal.

And if you think ‘liberal’ papers like the Boston Globe support unions look at the first paragraph of an article about Charter Schools trying to form a union:

Throughout Massachusetts, independently run charter schools have operated without unionized teachers, an intentional move that operators say gives them the flexibility to hire or dismiss teachers of their choosing and allows them to make other changes quickly without negotiating.

But that will likely end at two Boston charter schools.

This is not an opinion piece, it’s straight news. Notice the assumption that it’s the leaders who know what’s necessary, teachers will just obstruct that given the chance.

And the same is true of ‘liberal’ universities such as Tufts or Harvard. The graduate students at Harvard have been trying to form a union for a few years now, but have been stymied by Harvard. And they just decided on their next President, Lawrence Bacow, who vehemently worked against unions while at Tufts–against grad students:

Following a 2000 decision by the National Labor Relations Board to recognize graduate students as statutory employees, in 2002, graduate students at Tufts unsuccessfully attempted to unionize in conjunction with the United Automobile Workers.

“I believe it would be a mistake for graduate students to unionize,” Bacow wrote at the time. “The relationship between faculty member to graduate student is not one of employer to employee.”

They did not succeed until after he left. And he also worked against a union for administrative, technical, and clerical employees.

The Boston Globe has written several stories about Bacow, such as this one but none of them think this is important.

Unions are in almost as much danger as going extinct as right whales.

Trump administration admits it cares more about Payday lenders than people

I assume the next step will be to rename the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

The Trump administration has stripped enforcement powers from the leaders of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unit responsible for pursuing discrimination cases, part of a broader effort to reshape an agency it criticized as acting too aggressively.

In 2013, it led the CFPB case that resulted in Ally Financial, one of the nation’s largest automobile lenders, paying $98 million to settle charges that it systematically allowed minorities to be charged more for car loans than whites. Ally was accused of discriminating by charging 235,000 minority borrowers higher rates. On average, black, Hispanic and Asian American customers paid between $200 and just over $300 more for auto loans than whites who were equally creditworthy, federal officials charged.

By the way, conservatives think that was a bad result.

In another sign of the CFPB’s light touch under the Trump administration, the agency has recently taken several steps to dial back pressure on payday lenders — one of the chief targets of the CFPB during the Obama administration. Mulvaney has called for a review of wide-ranging rules finalized by the CFPB last year targeting the billions of dollars in fees collected by payday lenders. The agency also called off a four-year investigation into World Acceptance, a South Carolina-based lender that targets subprime borrowers, and dropped a lawsuit against a group of four online payday lenders associated with an American Indian tribe.

Payday lenders are among the worst of the worst:

Without explanation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has dropped a lawsuit in Kansas it had filed a year ago against four payday lending companies.

The agency had alleged in its lawsuit that the four companies charged interest rates of 440 percent to 950 percent, beyond what several states allow for consumer loans.

Mulvaney definitely wants to change the name:

‘‘We are government employees,’’ he wrote. ‘‘We don’t just work for the government, we work for the people: those who use credit cards and those who provide them.’’

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works for those who provide credit cards?

Trump supports businesses over workers

Since a law was passed by the Obama administration, the Trump administration is trying to get rid of it (via here):

The proposal rescinds a 2011 rule that asserted tips are the property of workers who earn them. That revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act covered scenarios in which restaurants and other employers supplemented tipped workers’ earnings by paying at least the full minimum wage.
Since the rule’s release in December, worker advocacy groups and Obama administration officials have vehemently opposed it. They point to language that permits companies to keep gratuities for themselves, provided they pay workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and don’t apply a tip credit that allows them to pay as little as $2.13 per hour, depending on the state.

What is the Trump argument?

The department has previously defended criticism of the proposal by saying the move would lead to higher pay for some low-wage workers who don’t traditionally earn tips, such as dishwashers. The DOL has also argued that managers would be dissuaded from stealing tips, out of fear of employee turnover and decreased morale. The department further noted that it included in the proposal a qualitative analysis, which doesn’t include dollar figures.

The department decided to study this and found:

Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.

There’s your typical PC action by the Trump administration: they don’t like what something says so they pretend it doesn’t exist. After all Donald Trump says he helps workers so anything that says otherwise must be wrong. Trump cares much more about the perception than the reality, so down the memory hole goes the report.

This might be a reason to vote for Democrats

There have been many articles over the past year wondering how Democrats can get the working class to vote for them. It’s a puzzle:

They thought they were the lucky ones — truck drivers and warehouse workers who counted themselves among the dwindling number of Americans still guaranteed a private pension.

But that promise of a monthly check, once considered ironclad, is now in doubt for more than a million retirees and older workers nationwide, including tens of thousands in Massachusetts and neighboring states. Their underfunded pension plans are creeping toward insolvency, putting benefits they earned over the course of a career at risk of being cut or even eliminated.

A bill to shore up floundering multiemployer plans through federally guaranteed bonds — filed in November by Representative Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat, and Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat — is being pushed by congressional Democrats and is likely to be part of the wrangling over permanent funding of the federal government.

“It’s a bailout,” said Andy Roth, vice president at the Club for Growth, a group favoring free-market policies and limited government. “Whether it’s a loan or a loan guarantee, you’re putting pressure on the taxpayers to deliver.” Roth said lawmakers should recognize “pensions are an archaic device that should be heading with the dinosaurs into extinction” and not stick taxpayers with the bill.

I wonder how many of those workers voted for Trump?

Who needs evidence?

Well, this is surprising if by surprising you mean completely expected:

The Trump administration has abruptly halted work on a highly regarded program to help physicians, families, state and local government agencies, and others separate effective “evidence-based” treatments for substance abuse and behavioral health problems from worthless interventions.

The program, called the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, was launched in 1997 and is run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Its website lists 453 programs in behavioral health — aimed at everything from addiction and parenting to HIV prevention, teen depression, and suicide-hotline training — that have been shown, by rigorous outcomes measures, to be effective and not quackery. The most recent were added last September.

It seems there were problems with registry:

In fact, a recent paper in the International Journal of Drug Policy found the registry contained programs with limited studies evaluating them or studies with very small sample sizes to accurately measure their success.

So there was a good reason to look at it and try to make it better, but this is the Trump administration:

However, no specific details regarding when the new program will begin and when results will be made public were provided. The current registry will remain online as of now, but will not be updated.

SAMHSA’s statement was the first public response it had provided since the email it sent out two weeks ago announcing the registry would be frozen. That announcement took mental health advocates by surprise. “It came with such a blinding speed,” said Richard Yep, CEO of the American Counseling Association. “People were initially really shocked by the whole thing.”
Without any additional information from SAMSHA, Yep said mental health professionals were left to speculate what was next and why the registry had stopped.
Yep admits that the program wasn’t flawless but said “it has stood the test of time.” He questioned why a replacement wasn’t up and running to take over the work and called the decision to freeze the registry short-sighted. “Why didn’t you start that system up and compare it side-by-side? Instead, to just cut it off, it makes no sense professionally.”
The Trump administration is, by its nature, sloppy and that’s what you get here.

Trump’s EPA

Here’s how the EPA works under President Trump:

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, appointed a political supporter from his home state with no experience in pollution cleanups to lead the group.
The task force in June issued a nearly three dozen-page report containing 42 detailed recommendations, all of which Pruitt immediately adopted.

Now, nearly six months after the task force released its report, a lawyer for EPA has written PEER to say that the task force had no agenda for its meetings, kept no minutes and used no reference materials.
Further, there were no written criteria for selecting the 107 EPA employees the agency says served on the task force or background materials distributed to them during the deliberative process for creating the recommendations.
According to EPA, the task force also created no work product other than its final report.

In some ways I can believe this, Pruitt has a history of having industry write stuff for him:

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

“Outstanding!” William F. Whitsitt, who at the time directed government relations at the company, said in a note to Mr. Pruitt’s office. The attorney general’s staff had taken Devon’s draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature.

Trump administration talks tough on crime, unless

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions like to talk about getting tough on crime (while lying about the actual crime statistics), so let’s look at a big crime:

After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in US history.

The team, based at the DEA’s Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation’s largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla.

and what happened?

Instead, top attorneys at the DEA and the Justice Department struck a deal earlier this year with the corporation and its powerful lawyers, an agreement that was far more lenient than the field division wanted, according to interviews and internal government documents.

Although the agents and investigators said they had plenty of evidence and wanted criminal charges, they were unable to convince the US attorney in Denver that they had enough to bring a case.

Discussions about charges never became part of the negotiations between the government lawyers in Washington and the company.

And this is the way of things: there’s the law for the rich and powerful and the law for the rest of us. The actions of McKesson Corp. might have lead to thousands of deaths but no one will go to jail. Try that if you’re not rich or powerful.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: