Rebekah Friend is a Mesa resident and executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO. Contact her at email@example.com.
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Rebekah… I sympathize with your position on job loss around the country and especially here in Arizona. I disagree with your solution. Migration of jobs is a natural result of industrial evolution. Our country prospered as we evolved from an agricultural to an industrial economy. We have spent the last four decades squandering that prosperity by believing we are special. Had we the foresight to realize that we are moving into the information age and a global economy, perhaps we would have better prepared. Instead we artificially raised our standard of living by boosting wages through borrowing and looting of the middle class. We failed to invest in education and infrastructure that would keep us competitive. Now you propose that we punish corporations for moving to countries that did make those investments, that provide corporate incentives and are turning out a generation of well educated job ready workers. Changing the tax structure will only detour companies that are not already globally positioned. If you want unions to contribute, I suggest you find a way to make them useful. They could contribute to educational scholarships and guarantee skilled worker availability at levels above the “trades.” As an engineer in a sophisticated technical field I have only found unions to be self serving and obstructing. Today union labor breeds mediocrity and counteracts innovation. These characteristics are counterproductive to those things that have made America great: a greatness that is on the threshold of collapse. Arizona can’t compete at the bottom of the educational scale in a country that is 25th in the world in STEM education.
An economy that works for all doesn't include paying people small fortunes to retire in their early 50's.
The AFL-CIO is stuck in past thinking that we're a US economy when companies today have global competition. And I got a real laugh out of the 'economic policies are stacked in favor of corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent rather than the 99 percent of working families.' When you consider that only half of the country pay NO TAX and out of the remaining half the top 20% pay 70% of the total tax revenue - at what point is it enough?
I've got a better solution. Rather than paying people lifelong pensions & healthcare benefits to retire in their early 50's - adapt the labor union model to private sector wages & pensions. Businesses can't pay outlandish wages & be competitive. They're accountable to their shareholders that require a return. When you pay 3-4 times the going hourly rate for union wages, it's not hard to see why businesses look elsewhere to keep their costs low.
hmmm, nothing about unions giving up anything? Nothing about unions driving jobs overseas?
Yep, lets punish those American companies for living in a global economy. Apple would be a good start, then GE.....then abolish the DOE which gave money to Fiskar and other foreign companies to ship jobs overseas.
Nice letter union lady-how long did it take you to write? Did you cut and paste from your union website?
You, I and Rebekah agree. You and I have expressed ourselves on this issue before. But Rebekah's point, stated more bluntly is:
Let's stop shooting ourselves in the foot with tax incentives that help move jobs overseas. Rebekah's point is irrefutable. The point she failed to make, a follow-up point is:
Since Citizens United, and with the hands of our elected representatives planted firmly in the pockets of those companies and 1%ers who do benefit from these incentives, it ain't going to happen. This Jobs Bill will fail. Let's not elect a president who is a part of the 1%ers.
All Citizens United did was give businesses the same clout to support elected officials as the labor unions do and we both know that rigid thinking,
The problem is not using the tax code yet again for another social referendum. The solution is recognizing we're in a GLOBAL economy.
Dial back those windfalls that labor union employees get to realistic versions and you'll see the jobs come back.
Mnjcpa, I've heard too many times now from you and others about the 50% who pay no taxes. And every time it raises a question in my mind that perhaps you, in your line of work, might be able to answer.
Who exactly are these people who pay no taxes? and what taxes exactly does this refer to?Certainly anyone who spends a buck pays sales tax.
Would this include my 87 year old Mother who has no income per se? She most certainly pays property taxes, though where she lives seniors get a discount. I am certain she pays taxes on dividend and investment earnings as well.
Would this include my disabled cousin? She is in her 40's now with the mental capacity of a 5 year old and has never held a job.
Would this also include my 25 year old son, still a student, who works only part time and is refunded most of the taxes he pays?
The 50% figure is very alarming and is good material for stirring up the masses but I feel the need to dig a bit deeper. Can you help me?
Your snotty comments create a flimsy smoke screen and are a poor disguise for not knowing much about the subject matter.
Let me attempt to educate you a bit:
1) Unions have been giving back for YEARS. Companies have been crying 'poor' for just as many years. Any union contract worth it's paper will contain an article acknowledging that it is in the best interests of all involved parties, that is, the union, it's members, the company and the public, that the company remain financially healthy. It is upon the foundation of that one article that negotiations proceed.
2) Looking at the case of Wisconsin public employees the union membership agreed to EACH and EVERY concession their Governor Walker asked for. He still proceeded to move forward with banning them altogether which likely was his aim all along.
3) There is no sane reason that I can imagine for US taxpayers to PAY companies to ship jobs out of the country which, as the writer states, is what is happening.
4) with companies like Nike paying foreign sweatshop workers the average of 19 CENTS per hour there is no way any American worker can compete. Would you suggest that we should? By the way, some, not all, New Balance shoes are American made and they cost less than your average Nike. The difference here is not the cost of labor, it's the profit margin aka greed!
Great questions fae4now. I honestly don't know the `who` of your question and I'm not referring to sales or property tax. What I try to convey is the `big picture` view of the tax system because it's not what liberals want you to believe. That 1% rubbish is another faux war that the left has created along with entitlement.
20% of 50% of the population pay almost 70% of the income tax. I find that appalling when Obama wants everyone to think the 1% nonsense. Close to 50% of the population pay nothing at all. So I would ask myself, how much more can you take from the people that do pay tax before they say enough?
Hope that answers your questions.
JOBS WOULDN'T BE SHIPPED OVERSEAS IF THERE WERE NO UNIONS PUSHING $20 PER HOUR STARTING SALARIES......AUTOMATIC COST-OF-LIVING INCREASES YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT....TIME AND A HALF AFTER 8HRS....DOUBLE TIME AND TRIPLE TIME FOR HOLIDAYS.
MANY COMPANIES REQUIRE THEIR WORKERS 24/7...52WEEKS A YEAR. WHY SHOULD WORKERS BE PAID DOUBLE TIME FOR CHRISTMAS EVE AND TRIPLE TIME FOR CHRISTMAS DAY....PUSHING UP A COMPANY HAVING TO PAY WORKERS $60 AN HOUR FOR THE SAME JOB THAT THE DID AT $20 AN HOUR..........DO CHINESE WORKERS GET DOUBLE AND TRIPLE TIME....DO INDONESIA WORKERS GET DOUBLE AND TRIPLE TIME.........HECK NO THEY DONT' = SO THAT'S WHY COMPANIES GO OVERSEAS FOR..............NON-UNION WORKERS.
AMERICANS CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.CHEAP GOODS AND SKY-HIGH SALARIES AT THE SAME TIME.
AMERICANS WANT......"WAL-MART" PRICES....WELL THAT'S WHY COMPANIES HAVE TO PAY..............."WAL-MART" SALARIES....AND "WAL-MART" SALARIES AND UNIONS ARE LIKE OIL AND WATER = THEY DON'T MIX.
I worked at the parts counter for a company in Bell Gardens, CA that made air conditioners and furnaces. It was a closed shop so factory workers had to belong to the union. A fork-lift driver was caught sleeping on the job 6 times. He received the mandatory three verbal warnings, one with the shop steward present, then two written warnings. The sixth time he was fired. After three months they had to hire him back because he wasn’t fired for a crime. At the same factory, because only union members could fetch parts from stock, it cost the company $8 to sell a $5 part. Also the union had negotiated that workers at a power supply assembly line were only required to build 4 power supplies per worker, per day. The workers could actually build about one an hour so they just sat and knitted, read books or played cards for the four hours after lunch. The company eventually closed its doors in California. Over 600 jobs were lost because of the economic burden caused by the union. I didn’t have to belong to the union as a salesman. When we put up a sign that said “The Mistletoe Hath Slain The Oak Tree” the union filed a grievance against us for slander!
JOBS WOULDN'T BE SHIPPED OVERSEAS IF THERE WERE NO UNIONS PUSHING $20 PER HOUR STARTING SALARIESlike the textile jobs from a right to work state like north carolina. your argument does not hold water. the jobs went to china then vietnam and who knows where next, bangledesh? the cost of the goods, including production have gone down. has the price of the goods gone down? i asked mnjcpa a question and got a long narrative but not an answer to the question. mnjcpa must be a budding politician. never answering a question, always changing the subject. it is okay to the words" i don't know". what will the corporations do when nobody can afford to buy their products?
apologies wdgnas....don't see your question??
I wonder Leon, did YOU work 24/7, 52 weeks of the year at minimum wage or less? Did YOU work holidays without a premium? Did YOU sacrifice family and personal time to 'give all' to your company so it could earn fat profits from YOUR sweat and give nothing back to YOU? What's good for the goose.... So do tell us. DID YOU? And please Include only private sector, for profit experience. I eagerly await your response.
Mnjcpa, Thanks for your response above. Not sure that it cleared anything up for me. I still want to know who this 50% is.
Just for the sake of friendly discussion, if I were a stay at home Mom, I earn no income, therefore pay no income tax, right? Does that make me part of the evil 50%?
Or, if I file jointly with my spouse, from whose income all appropriate payroll taxes are deducted, am I then NOT a member of the evil 50?
See fae4now the problem is the liberals have put this context in to the tax narrative of who is good and who is bad. That's the problem in and of itself.
My point is there isn't a 1% - it's nonsense. It's a ginned up platform that the Democrats base their rally cry. My advice is to use common sense when you hear that statement. When 70% of the tax revenue taken in is only comprised of 20% of 50% of the population - my question is how much longer can you take from these people before they take their wealth elsewhere?
Ok Sockratties, this is interesting. Now I do not wish to get heated or take on a deep debate or even take a side. Let's just pour a fresh cup of coffee and chat.
I spent 10 years working in a closed shop, phone company, IBEW - electrical workers union. Five of those years I also served as a Chief Steward representing numerous grievances. These days I work in management in a non union shop. So I have a little experience on both sides and I will say that in most cases there is as much right as there is wrong in the position of either side.
Let's talk about your fork lift driver. He indeed committed a crime - payroll theft. He was being paid for working, not sleeping. The company could have upheld that position provided they could document that there was any work to be done. But what if there wasn't? Let's say this guys job (since I don't know the specifics) was to operate the forklift to load trucks and there were no trucks to load. Responsibility would now fall on his supervisor to assign him another task, say sweep a floor or help elsewhere. If the supervisor failed to supervise so the guy took a nap he is no longer stealing payroll. You'd have to prove that he failed to do his job. Now, my midwestern work ethic would never condone sleeping on the job but I could argue either side. It is the companies responsibility to create or assign work and to supervise it's employees. It is the responsibility of the employee to perform work as assigned or defined by the employer.
The presence of a union simply provides a forum for the discussion to take place. It is possible that the grievance process can be used by the company as a tool to improve it's processes. Sounds twisted, huh?
I guess it may also sound twisted that the company would promote union stewards into management, which is perceived by the union members as selling out or being in the pocket of the company. Which is why I left the phone co. Heavy pressure to promote at a time that, for personal reasons, was not right for me.
Here's a real world case. Now, I am white and do not consider myself racist (lol- no one does!) but here's what happened - A cute young African American female in our shop had begun to regularly wear a t-shirt boldly emblazoned with the phrase "Black by popular demand", a little play on words.
A young white male in the shop took offense and wanted to file a grievance. He felt the shirt was racist.No big deal I told him. There's no dress code so she can wear the shirt. His response, " Fine. I' m going to go print an identical shirt that says "White by popular demand" which surely would have stirred some folks up.
I probably don't need to mention that this was not a contract dispute but we were obliged to represent our members in anything they brought. How can the union steward ask the company to approach an employee regarding dress where there is no dress code?
I leave this to you to ponder a resolution..
Fae - the presence of a union is much more than a forum of discussion.They put operating costs at often inoperable levels due to the wages and pensions that companies are required to pay. It's why GM was bailed out, and why manufacturing facilities move off-shore or to right to work states. Businesses can't afford it.
IF YOU WANT ME TO REPLY TO A COMMENT....THEN USE YOU REAL NAME AND QUIT HIDDING BEHIND SOME "WUSSIE" COMPUTER NAME. EVEN IF YOU ARE A DEMOCRAT OR A LIBERAL OR A PROGRESSIVE....THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS TO TRY AND...."ACT"....LIKE A MAN.
FAE4NOW--- I worked in construction in CA after I got out of the service. The union did nothing except collect dues. They worked everyone so hard the turn-over was horrendous. Later I worked in a cannery during summer while I was in college. Closed shop in CA. Employees had to pay for leather gloves and aprons, which we could only buy at the company store. No union help there. After I graduated and worked as an engineer I didn't have to join the union. When the union went on strike at the huge American corporation where I worked, the union bullied those who crossed the picket line even if not union members and also did a couple of million dollars worth of damage to a super-computer that was being manufactured. Sorry, fae, but my opinion is that although they had a place in the past they haven't found a way to fit into this century. Statistics may indicate some help with wage levels and unions may be a defense against return of corporate employee abuse, but I think that once an acceptable wage and working conditions have been provided, strikes are just blackmail driven by greed.
psst: leon... you DID reply[tongue]
Allow me to introduce myself. Though not my real name, fae is a nickname by which I have been known to friends and family for over 45 years. I don't permit most people to use my nickname. You should consider yourself special.
I shall not even attempt to "try and act like a man" . I am a woman, always have been, always will be. Should that make me a "Wussie" (?), so be it.
Now, your turn to 'MAN UP' and answer the lady's question.
Sockratties, Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I truly appreciate and respect your position. Best I can say is as with anything there are good and bad. But I do disagree with the 'unions are outmoded' view. The "return of corporate employee abuse" that you mention is as real today as ever. In these difficult economic times the company I work for continues to slash payroll, has downgraded titles and wages, increased workload and responsibilities and has pushed our teams to embarrassing levels. High unemployment levels invite a 'people are a dime a dozen' attitude. Treat 'em however you like, there are lots more people out there who'd be happy to take that job. I have college grads working for me for a hair above minimum wage. They're stuck living with parents while paying off student loans. No better for us managers. Four years ago there were 3 of us doing my job.I'm still a dozen years away from retiring but if I could I'd walk out today.
Mnjcpa, Let me clarify my 'union as forum for discussion' comment. The presence of a legally binding labor agreement requires the parties to converse. It gives a voice to the worker who would otherwise not have one. Win some, lose some.
Btw, I contend that the 1% are every bit as real as the 50%. But I understand your 'enough is enough' stance on taxes. I would expand that to include not only added taxes but rising prices and shrinking wages!
You're right fae on rising prices and shrinking wages. I just want everyone to understand that when close to 50% of the population pay nothing in tax, that someone else is picking up that tab.
Fae & mnjcpa – What you say has merit, but let’s put things in perspective. Compare with after WWII. I was a kid then and I remember that bread was about 15 cents a loaf and a pair of shoes was someplace south of $10. A gallon of gas was sometimes 20 cents and you got a free glass tumbler or poster with a fill up. A quart of (on tap) motor oil was a quarter.
Today a loaf of generic bread is around $2, a good pair of shoes runs just under a hundred dollars and gas is about $3.50 with 40 cents tax included.
In those days an unskilled worker with some experience made about $1.50 an hour and a person with a trade made about $5 an hour. My dad was a heavy equipment mechanic and brought home about $200 a week.
Today a high school graduate, working at a relatively unskilled job will be lucky to make $10 an hour and a mechanic who works by the hour will make twice that. The unskilled and blue collar worker does find a shrinking wage but still works a similar number of minutes for a loaf of bread, a pair of shoes or per mile of travel.
The work force we don’t have enough of is technical; engineers, mathematicians, programmers, technicians, designers and such. Those who are slipping in buying power are slipping on the slide of technology, losing the race of education and qualification. The old mantra “college isn’t for everybody” is true but neither is mediocrity. We are even loosing the infrastructure we need to educate the STEM courses because quality educators are being driven out of the curriculum.
Those who feel real income decreasing and outgo increasing while their discretionary income evaporates, need only to look at where the demand is. It has moved to where the supply of skilled workers is.Those countries have seen the writing on the wall and, in contrast to our leaders, they can read it. Unions have done nothing to stem the flow.
Sockratties, I cannot disagree with any part of your post above. The need to revamp our educational priorities is clear.
While unskilled and blue collar workers were first to feel the losses I suspect there are plenty of degreed professionals out there also out of work.
I know a few IT pros who fear for their jobs being outsourced to India as many have been.
Then there's the man with a masters in engineering, he's Lebanese and earned his degree studying in Paris. He works in retail these days. I have never been comfortable enough to ask him why. Perhaps the degree doesn't translate?
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