Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How to Talk to Your Conservative "Uncle Bob"

via Robert Reich's Facebook page

"Uncle Bob" has bought into all the anti-government, pro-free enterprise,"Hey You're Own Your Own, Buddy" arguments of today's Conservative Movement. Come to Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice and UAW Region 1A Retirees Council's "Make Government Work" Forum #3, Feb. 6, at U of M-Dearborn for more progressive perspectives like Robert Reich's to use while engaging with your conservative brother-in-law, cynical co-worker and neighbor who's stopped voting altogether. More details to come.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Make Government Work

Tips on "How to Talk With Conservatives," click on:



"What's the 'Big Deal' About the New Deal?”
PowerPoint Presentation

Slide: “Limits to the New Deal”

Okay, let's pretend all of you are members of Congress in 1935 about to vote on the newly introduced Social Security Bill. All those in favor, please raise you hand. (Show of hands)
Just what I would have expected.
So how would you feel if I were to say, you just voted for an old age benefits bill that excluded 75% of all African-Americans and more than ½ of all women?
Real bummer, eh?
So how did that happen?
Despite the 1930s being a period of huge mass movements for social change and economic justice, that was the deal President Roosevelt was forced to cut in order to get the support of Southern Democrats, then known as Dixiecrats, now known as Republicans.
This major flaw in FDR's premier piece of his New Deal was not to be fixed until 15 years later.
So one of the severest limits of the New Deal was its failure to take on and overcome the institutional and structural racism that existed then and still exists today.
This accommodation to segregationists hurt poor whites as well as Blacks. It appeared again and again, in the CCC camps which were mostly segregated, government relief programs where local officials denied equal benefits to Black families and the GI Bill, passed in 1944, to repay our World War II veterans for their sacrifice and show our nation's appreciation for their service.
In the original Social Security bill Blacks and women were excluded not by name, but by category, specifically. the exclusion of all those who work as domestic or agricultural workers, meaning sharecroppers.
In the GI Bill, no such open racist language appeared either, but when Black veterans tried to purchase new homes in the suburbs where the government was approving mortgages, structural racism in the form of housing discrimination ended up denying them the GI Bill benefits they were entitled to.
The lesson for today? When progressives talk about addressing the inequality of wealth in America, we need to make sure the benefits of that social change are shared equally with all.
                                                              Sam Stark, Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice


The Make Government Work Project, Forum #3

What’s the 'Big Deal' About the New Deal?”

One of the goals of this “Make Government Work” forum series is to re-claim the political debate in the United States on behalf of workers and lower- and middle-income people.
   This is especially needed in the arena of discussing the role of government in people’s lives.
    From the 1930s until the middle 1970s, there was a general consensus among Americans that government plays a constructive role in the way people live their lives and deal with their political, economic and social problems.
    This understanding of a government that serves the General Welfare has been reversed.
U.S. corporations and Wall Street, through New Right Conservative think tanks and mass media, have been pushing the idea: "That government is best which governs least," a philosophy of government that serves moneyed interests best.
    In 1981, Conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan put that philosopy into words that caught on and have been repeated in the media and most voters ever since:
People talk about government as the solution to our problems.
Government is not the solution. GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM.”
    One hundred and fifty years ago, another Republican President Abraham Lincoln had offered a totally different philosophy of government: “The purpose of government is to do for the people those things which the people cannot do for themselves.”
    However, Lincoln's Republican successors went entirely in the other direction. By the mid-1920s, President Calvin Coolidge said: “The business of government is business.”
    So when the Great Depression hit in 1929, President Herbert Hoover failed to address massive unemployment or inspire desperate Americans with his “Limited Government,” “Free Market,” and “Personal Responsbility” conservative philosphy of government.
    In 1932, candidate Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed he would provide a “New Deal” for the American people. The comparison was to a game of cards, where the people were
stuck with a losing hand and would continue to be stuck until the cards were dealt again. Most people saw this idea of government as the constructive response to a terrible economic crisis.
    The idea caught hold. Roosevelt was elected with a supportive Congress, and a succession of new laws were passed and new programs put into effect. Despite Wall Street's determined effort to defeat Roosevelt and destroy the New Deal four years later, millions of new voters rose up to his support. These new voters included millions of industrial workers who became union members due to the rise of the CIO – Congress of Industrial Organizations.
    The new laws and programs became known as the New Deal. Individually they were called: the CCC, AAA, NLRA/Wagner Act, Social Security, Wage and Hour Law, WPA, PWA, TVA, REA, Glass-Steagall, G.I. Bill and others. They did great things for people. They became known as “alphabet soup,” with affection by their supporters and with venom by their detractors. Wall Street and corporate America set out immediately to try to repeal them and continue to do so.
    Today, Reagan’s message has taken hold over public discourse: “Government is the problem.” The end result is that 75% of Americans now distrust government. We need to reverse this, or we won't be able to make social and economic progress on any front.
    But now a new, tragic failure of government operating like a business (without democracy and focused only on The Bottom Line) has hit all Americans: the poisoning of Flint.
    To restore people's faith that government can work and once again become the tool we use to build the kind of society we want is the goal of these “Make Government Work” forums.
    We have our work cut out for us.
By Mike Kerwin, UAW Local 174, retiree

 What Progressives Can Learn from Conservatives
 Lesson No. 1: They meet with each other 

Every Wednesday since 1993, Grover Norquist, a central mover and shaker of the Conservative Movement, has chaired meetings of more than 120 elected officials, political activists and movement leaders, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, American Conservative Union, National Rifle Association, bloggers, writers, religious leaders and others. President George W. Bush sent his own representative.

As the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist drafted the anti-government, anti-tax “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” in 1986, signed by 95% of members of Congress, all but one of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates and most of the Michigan State Legislature.

Norquist describes his “Wednesday Meetings” as “the physical representation of how the Leave Us Alone Coalition (Ed. Note - as he labelled it) works to build and organize the center-right.”
Similar meetings are held in 48 states.

Whadda ya think? Good idea for Progressives, too?

If you're ready, contact semjwj2@gmail.com 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Fight for $15 scores a win in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mayor Peduto executive order requires $15-an-hour minimum wage for city workers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mayor Peduto executive order requires $15-an-hour minimum wage for city workers

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, to coincide with the national "Fight for $15" strikes and marches today, issued an executive order that will require city employees to be paid at least $15 an hour.
The order, which will be phased in over five years, will affect about 300 city employees, ranging from laborers to clerical workers, the city said today in a news release. That's about 10 percent of the city workforce. Most city employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements.
"This city was built by working people," the mayor said, flanked by several dozen fast-food and other service workers at a news conference. "Nobody who puts in 40 hours should have to live in poverty."
Read the full article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Click on "Online Action"button on Front Page


Friday, October 30, 2015

Help Build the Unity Between
the Labor and LGBTQ Communities

Please join the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO Civil Rights Committee and Affirmations in viewing the movie, Pride, a story of solidarity between Welsh mine workers and London-based gays and lesbians.

Click on above link for movie trailer.

Realizing that they share common foes in Margaret Thatcher, the police and the conservative press, London-based gays and lesbians lend their support to striking coal miners in 1984 Wales.

November 11, @ Affirmations: 290 W. 9 Mile, Ferndale MI 48220

5:30: Light Refreshments
6:00: Movie Showing
8:00: Discussion about how unions and LGBT groups can work together to better the lives of all people.

The Event is FREE and Everyone is Welcome!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

News about Labor and Community Struggles for Social and Economic Justice

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) reminds us that the "Fight for $15" isn't just an economics issue.
It's a moral issue, too.

An important message from Rev. Ed Rowe:

I am writing to tell you that the Detroit Metro Interfaith Center For Worker Justice is sponsoring an amazing event on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Activity Building, 1000 Eliot St, Detroit (near Eastern Market). With the help of Bishop Tom Gumbelton and a panel of leaders in the faith and labor communities, we will revisit the words of Pope Francis on disparity between the super wealthy and the super poor and the exploitation of low-wage workers in our communities and in our congregations.

Many of you will remember that several years ago Bishop Jesse Dewitt brought the vision of the Interfaith Center For Worker Justice from Chicago to Detroit. IWJ has become an important national advocate for worker justice. After an all-too-long pause in our work in the Detroit Metro area IWJ is back. This event is one of several designed to gather the people of faith across all borders to make a difference in the struggle of low-wage workers for justice and to re-energize the vision Bishop Dewitt began here years ago.

At the Oct. 28 event, Bishop Gumbelton will talk about the meaning of the Pope's messages on economic injustice and help us relate that message to the plight of low-wage workers in our communities and congregations. Then an powerful panel of leaders from the faith and labor communities will respond before fielding questions from the community.

The condemnation of economic exploitation in words is only meaningful if it results in actions that can make a difference for workers. Many low-wage workers in our communities and in our congregations are holding down two and three jobs and still have to depend on food stamps and other government assistance to simply survive. While they struggle to simply survive, the companies they work for are making billions of dollars. This must be a critical concern of people of faith. The sacred texts of all faiths condemn the exploitation of workers. Coming together across all borders of faith, we can have a voice and the spirit led power to make a difference like no other.

I realize that this message is coming to you just a few days before the event but I am bold to ask you to do all that you can to help us get the information to those who might not otherwise know. spread the word. Thank you for your support

God's Grace, Peace and Power be with you,


Make Government Work Tool Kit #4 - Page 1 of 2

Check out page 2 of 2 here

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Make Government Work Tool Kit #4 - Page 2 of 2

Check out Page 1 of 2 here

What's "Make Government Work" All About?

With 75% of Americans distrusting the federal government, any progressive issue which depends on governmental action is faced with an uphill battle. In the midst of the progressive era of politics, for comparison, only 22% of Americans distrusted the federal government in 1964.

The heyday for America’s workers generally is considered to be from 1945 to 1976. That's when the American Dream became reality for tens of millions of working-class Americans, except for those in inner cities, Appalachia, the Deep South and corporate agricultural fields.

Two factors contributed most for this broad prosperity when many workers on a 40-hour work week could support a family of four, send their kids to college and provide for a secure retirement.They are (1) Strong unions and (2) A government that worked for the 99%, not just the 1%.

So what might explain why the lives of our working-class has declined since 1976? Mainly, (1) the decline of union membership, and (2) the shift to conservative government policies.

The conservatives' model for success - free markets, small government and pursuit of individual self-interest – had its chance to work for the 99%, but it's failed miserably. So what keeps them in power?

Conservatives have offered a powerful narrative explaining what's wrong with America that millions of white working-class voters have accepted. For 40 years, Americans have received a steady diet of right-wing messaging of how government is incompetent, wastes tax dollars, threatens freedom and,in the end, makes no difference in people's lives. So why vote if it's a waste of time? And why vote for progressives who want to give that bad government more power?

Progressives are long overdue in offering our narrative for what happened to the American Dream, sharing our vision for America, and showing how progressive values, as expressed by the New Deal ad Great Society, are American values.

Find out more about Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice's "Make Government Work" Project by emailing us at:  makegovernmentwork2016@gmail.com

Monday, October 12, 2015

The 2016 Election and the 42 Percent

As we gear up for the 2016 presidential race, there are some new political players in town. Across party lines and regional divides, these Americans are leading the call for an economy that works for working families again. They see raising wages and rebuilding the middle class as top priorities for the country today -- and they're ready to make their voices heard at the ballot box. It's not hard to understand why: These men and women make up the astonishing 42 percent of all workers in America who are now paid less than $15 an hour.

But while presidential candidates, economists and commentators debate how to address America's low-wage crisis, one important question has been overlooked: What do the tens of millions of Americans paid less than $15 an hour -- the "42 percent" -- think about how to rebuild America's economy?

Now, for the first time, their voices are heard through findings released by the National Employment Law Project, from a survey asking Americans paid less than $15 an hour a wide range of questions about the economy and how to create good jobs. These Americans responded with a clear set of ideas for a better future.

Most notably, 72 percent of workers paid less than $15 an hour say they support unions -- higher than any level of support ever recorded among the general population. And it's not hard to see why. These workers -- those hit hardest by declining wages and weakened workplace protections -- struggle simply to keep food on the table and a roof over their families' heads. In the absence of fair pay and a voice at work, they will be left to rely on public assistance just to cover the basics. A study earlier this year by The University of California-Berkeley showed that working families receive $154 billion a year in public assistance.

It's not surprising that these workers are looking for commonsense solutions, and many believe that joining with their coworkers is their best chance at a brighter future. Seventy-two percent believe unions can make a real difference in whether or not workers like themselves get raises. Sixty-six percent say they would have a better chance of making $15 an hour and being able to support their families if they could join a union.

This outpouring of support for a voice on the job from underpaid workers across the economy is the latest sign that workers across the economy are ready to join together in unions to address the most important problems on the job. From reporters at digital outlets like Gawker, Salon and Al Jazeera to pharmacists at a Brooklyn Target to cooks and cashiers at McDonald's, workers across the economy are demanding a seat at the table and a say at work. And they're not alone. Economic experts like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers have weighed in as well, declaring unions a critical pathway to rebuilding the middle class.

Minimum wage increases are great, but not enough. Workers shouldn't have to rely on sporadic and incremental raises dependent on the good will of politicians. They need an ongoing vehicle for making sure their wages rise with profitability, productivity and economic growth.

The U.S. is the one of the only major nations without meaningful worker representation through unions or other vehicles. In Europe and throughout the world, workers have real vehicles for collecting bargaining and participating in wage decisions by sector. The absence of worker voice in the US compared with other nations is a factor in the significantly greater imbalances here than elsewhere in what workers are paid versus the compensation for corporate executives.
McDonald's and other major corporations with wages so low their employees must rely on public assistance to get by can lead the way in answering the call of the tens of millions of underpaid Americans demanding a living wage and a voice on the job.

And looking ahead to 2016, the survey shows "the 42 percent" are poised to become a potent political force whose priorities will continue to change the climate for unions in the country.

Sixty-nine percent of unregistered respondents in the just-released survey say they would register to vote if there were a presidential candidate who supported raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and making it easier for workers to join a union. Among registered respondents, 65 percent say they are more likely to vote if a candidate supports a $15 minimum wage and a union for all workers.

The "42 percent" have made themselves clear: Raise wages so that we can support our families, or lose our support at the polls.

Christine Owens is executive director of the National Employment Law Project.

via Huffington Post

Take Action in the fight for a Living Wage for All Workers, Click on: