LABOR ISSUES AND THE ECONOMY : UNITY IN NEW YORK

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^ center left pact ? unity in New York as Bill Clinton swears in mayor Bill deBlasio

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By asking Bill Clinton to swear him in as New York City’s new Mayor, Bill deBlasio has already made history. On this one move, deBlasio has assured that the Democratic Party will not split between wings “Labor’ and “Centrist.”

This is good news for all Americans who want to see economic progress come to their lives, not just the very favored top earners. Many Americans — myself included — are pushing legislation and referenda to relieve the huge rush of money to the top, money away from everybody else. These moves cannot take the field as an opposition movement within the only political party placed to bring them about. Bill deBlasio and Bill Clinton have signalled that they understand this and will move forward as Democrats together. The initiatives the two men agree on could not be more vital :

1.raise the Federal minimum wage to $ 10.10 n hour and index it to inflation.
2.protect unemployment benefits for long-term unemployed, many of whom have been without work so long that they already require job retraining in order to maintain skills currency
3.commit all the Federal spending needed to repair and improve America’s infrastructure
4.maintain the Federal food stamp program, do not cut funding for it

To which I could add the following :

1.fully staff the National labor relations baord (NLRB) to monitor and protect the organizing and bargaining rights of workers in organizable industries
2.make it an unfair labor practice to (a) reduce workers’ hours to part-time levels so as to avoid paying benefits or providing health insurance (b) make such workers “independent contractors” rather than W-2 employees
3.extend the “earned income” credit to incomes up to 150 % of Federally defined “poverty” level.
4.pass a comprehensive immigration bill that provides all undocumented immigrants other than those with a felony criminal record a pathway to citizenship, and immediately grant social security numbers, access to drivers’ licenses, and access to health care to all such immigrants.

The initiatives that deBlasio and Bill Clinton jointly advocate, and those that I have added to the list, purpose to do the right thing by many millions of our neighbors; they will grow the economy strongly. Did we need Jeb Bush –a Republican — to point out, as he did at last year’s CPAC Conference, that undocumented immigrants are a boon to the economy, in the work that they do and, yes, the taxes that they pay ? That by their young demographic, they help rescue the Social Security fund ? Jeb Bush said that. Why it needed saying, I’ll never understand. It’s common sense ! The economy is ALL of us. If millions cannot participate in it except at the margins, the economy suffers. Time and again I have editorialized that consumer spending = two thirds of our ENTIRE economy. You want jobs created ? Consumer spending creates them. businesses do not hire people because taxes drop. They hire people because demand increases for their products and services.

Why can’t the funders of today’s Republican party get this ? The businesses that have pushed most current Republicans to fight every move that puts more money into more people’s budgets are blind to their own interests. Any business exec with half a brain knows that his or her employees are the strongest asset, that employee turnover is a huge and largely unnecessary expense; that prosperous and loyal employees buy what they make or the services they provide; that they spread the company’s good reputation by word of mouth to everyone they talk to.

May I add, as I’ve said before, that if the Republican-funding business execs don’t like unions, don’t make your workers organize one in order to get paid what they deserve ? Otherwise, expect a union and all the hassle, drama, and — unhappily — oppression and even intimidation that comes with union organizing and job actions.

Granted that almost all of the new job descriptions being formed in the technology world are not union work. They’re as individualistic as innovation in the raw always is. New economy jobs also pay well. There’s no lack of venture funding for innovation work. I also note that many, maybe most, innovation venturists work with the Democratic party now. They’re not the breed of CEO that funds self-defeating money PACs.

In Boston, in our Mayor election, these innovation capitalists and the start-up world that they fund split with union and union-organizing interest groups about which man to support. Nor do we have available a Bill Clinton to swear in Marty Walsh and reunify our state’s Democratic party. But the issue that divided Boston’s Democrats in the mayoral election wasn’t part of the economic progress agenda that Bill Clinton and Mayor deBlasio have shaken hands on. Here the issue was the part that public worker unions should play in the City’s budget and what level of influence they should have on City policy governance. On the economic progress agenda, Walsh and John Connolly fully agreed.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

PS : many of the innovation venturists and execs who supported John Connolly were and are of a mind to support some Republican candidates, at least locally in Massachusetts; possibly even nationally. Why the current Republican consensus cannot connect to these innovation capitalists, I’ll never understand. It would help, of course, if the party could ditch the lifestyle bigotry and lose the opposition to women’s reproductive rights. Fortunately, those obstacles mine no ground in Massachusetts. Charlie Baker, if he hopes to be our Governor, is free to embrace innovation capitalism, discard Scrooge agendas, wave off the anti-immigrant talk, and embrace diversity, economic dispersion, and the future. He might just do that. His excellent plan to end homelessness in Massachusetts is a promising first step.

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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