Daily Archives: March 8, 2011

>Hug a Union Member Today in Remembrance of What Unions Have Meant to Every American

>Before people gang up on and bash those that are in unions, whether the union is a private sector or public sector union, remember what you have received because of their efforts.

In a column over at ThinkProgress, REPORT: Five Things Unions Have Done For All Americans, they list five things that have made a major difference in all American’s lives that many of us take for granted today, there are others not listed like the minimum wage and safe working environments, but you’ll get the point.
Take time today to hug a union member in remembrance for what they have given us, instead of bashing they for what you perceive they are trying to take away or cost us:

1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: Even the ultra-conservative Mises Institute notes that the relatively labor-free 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now. Yet in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, labor unions engaged in massive strikes in order to demand shorter workweeks so that Americans could be home with their loved ones instead of constantly toiling for their employers with no leisure time. By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.

2. Unions Gave Us Fair Wages And Relative Income Equality: As ThinkProgress reported earlier in the week, the relative decline of unions over the past 35 years has mirrored a decline in the middle class’s share of national income. It is also true that at the time when most Americans belonged to a union — a period of time between the 1940′s and 1950′s — income inequality in the U.S. was at its lowest point in the history of the country.

3. Unions Helped End Child Labor: “Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organization’s like the “National Consumers’ League” and the National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.

4. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930′s and 1940′s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering “fringe benefits” – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.”

5. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under AFL-CIO, health coverage, minimum wage, Think Progress, union bashing, union benefits

>Finally Some One Explains "Why employee pensions aren’t bankrupting states"

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It’s good to see that the news media is finally starting to wake up and tell it like it is when it comes to all the fall information being spread by the ubber-conservative wing-nuts who are insisting that public union employees and their pensions are bankrupting states all around the country.

The following article is from McClatchy Newspapers –

WASHINGTON — From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn’t match reality.

A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

Pension contributions from state and local employers aren’t blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.

Though there’s no direct comparison, state and local pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.

Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They’re underfunded, in large measure because — like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees — they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.

Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there’d still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.

“On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are able to pay annual benefits at their current level for another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that plans make no future pension contributions and there is no growth in assets,” said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a researcher specializing in state and local pensions for the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College….

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under bankrupting the states, health benefits and pension, McClatchy Newspapers, public employees, public unions