Remember when Amazon announced they would increase the minimum wage of their workers to $15 an hour in order to head off multiple union drives and undermine the popularity of the Stop BEZOS Act? Well, Amazon’s uncharacteristic fit of forced humanity is officially over. Amazon owned Whole Foods recently announced that all part-time workers will lose their healthcare.
No capitalist ever willing gave their workers anything without taking something of equal or greater value back.
In Harlan County, Kentucky the BlackJewel coal company went bankrupt without warning this past summer leaving a lot of unemployment and black lung in its wake. BlackJewel’s CEO, and one of Kentucky’s biggest sociopaths, Jeff Hoops was too busy building a $30 million resort in West Virginia to pay the $3 million in back wages he owed to his workers. In response, the miners blockaded the last train out of the mine, which was loaded with almost $1.5 million in coal. Wobblies were on the spot offering supplies and support. You can read more about that here: https://industrialworker.iww.org/?p=739
After two months, and what is so far a partial victory for the miners, the blockade has been lifted. Some of them have already received their back wages, and the bankruptcy judge in the case has said for now, the train ain’t moving.
The fed repo market is where banks make overnight loans to each other. Like any other loan, the less likely a bank thinks it is to be paid back, the higher interest rate they’re going to charge. Something funny happened recently. The interest rates on the loans in the repo market spiked, reaching over 10%. The Federal Reserve then dutifully swung into action. They poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the repo market, which ended up causing the lending rate to fall to below 2%. They did this because our economy, and the banks that have an outsized influence on it, are incredibly fragile. So fragile in fact, that forcing the largest financial institutions in the country to pay more than 2% interest might cause them to imploded and, once again, drag us all into a recession.
The large banks are some of the largest and most powerful, for-profit institutions in the world, and they are governed by some of the wealthiest, allegedly brilliant people alive. But they would wither and fail if they had to pay interest on a loan for a single day with rates that you and I would not only consider manageable but generous. And if they do fail, it’s going to be all of us picking up the pieces all over again because they lack the ability to do it themselves.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you the oligarchs that run our economy are smarter, stronger, or more capable than you. Orangutans using an Erector Set could build a more resilient economy than those buffoons.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, since early 2018, there are more job openings than there are people looking for work in the United States. Currently, there are about 7.4 million job openings, and 6 million people looking for work. Neoliberal capitalist theory, which is mainstream economic theory in the U.S., tells us that when unemployment gets this low, businesses will start raising wages in order to attract workers. Neoliberalism is a lie. In the past year inflation adjusted wages are up only 1.6%. The stock market is up over 15% year to date.
Give them as much as you want in tax cuts and benefits, the capitalists still won’t give you more than a 1.6% pay raise. No matter how much wealth they hold, you won’t get a single penny from them without prying it from their greedy claws. 1.6% a year is the best your going to get from them voluntarily. It’s only going to get worse when the unemployment rate rises again. If you want a raise, you’re going to have to get organized and take one.
An investigation by Sludge and the Guardian revealed that over half the senators in the U.S. senate, including both Republicans and Democrats, hold a combined total of $96 million in stock in various corporations. In many cases, they found senators held shares in companies they regulated, which is the kind of corruption that makes Bernie Madoff seem upstanding.
Possibly the most striking thing about the findings is where the investigators got the data. Most of it was scraped from Senate financial disclosure forms. That means that the ethics of our senators are so far out of whack they don’t even think this level of unbridled corruption is bad enough to bother trying to conceal.
I wouldn’t feel safe sitting next to these maniacs on a public bus. It’s terrifying to think we are counting on them to keep the capitalists in line.
The UAW has been on strike against General Motors for weeks, and GM is playing dirty. Without warning, GM stripped employees of their healthcare benefits early. In response, a group of strikers blocked a road to prevent trucks from entering or leaving GMs Spring Hill plant in Tennessee. The end result? The nine strikers blocking the road were arrested for risking GM’s ability to make money, and no government action was taken against any GM boss for risking the lives and wellbeing of the strikers or their families. The strange thing is, it seems to occur to almost no one in the media that capitalists risking lives shouldn’t be illegal but interfering with commerce should. It’s yet another example of how labor and management are treated differently in our country.
One group of drivers the UAW doesn’t have to worry about are the Teamsters. The Teamsters announced at the start of the UAW strike that their members would honor all UAW picket lines. They’ll be no Teamsters hauling dirty cars.
Between 2007 and 2017 over 4,600 people in Oklahoma were killed by the opioid crisis. A judge recently ruled that Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest dealers of raw opium in the country, was on the hook to pay $572 million. It sounds like a large sum until one learns that Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter estimates it will cost $17.5 billion dollars over 30 years to fully repair the damage done by the opioid crisis to Oklahoma alone.
In economics they call the opioid crisis an externality. In corporate boardrooms they call it the cost of doing business. In the IWW we call it murder.
At least A.G. Hunter seems to have finally learned how capitalism works. He recently tweeted: “…corporate greed got in the way of responsible practices by Johnson & Johnson.” Someone just needs to tell him he can replace “Johnson & Johnson” with any major corporation on earth, and his statement would be just as true.
Gallup released their annual labor union approval poll, which found support for unions at 64%. Labor unions have always been popular in the United States. Only once has the poll registered less than 50% support. In recent years approval of unions has been growing. It is now at the highest level in decades, and, except for a brief period of national insanity after the terrorist attacks of 2001, is higher than congress’s approval rating has ever been. The American people are smart and getting smarter.
Employees of Wayfair furniture in Boston gave a demonstration of labor solidarity that we need to see more of. They walked out in protest after discovering Wayfair was selling hundreds of thousands of dollars in furniture to ICE facilities that imprison children. They circulated a letter signed by hundreds of employees which read in part, “We believe that the current actions of the United States and their contractors at the southern border do not represent an ethical business partnership Wayfair should choose to be a part of.”
I think it’s safe to say the Wayfair workers, in addition to being awesome, are also masters of understatement.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill making it legal under federal law for banks to provide banking services to marijuana companies in states where marijuana is legal. They did not pass anything making it legal under federal law for individuals to have anything to do with marijuana whatsoever in any state. If the bill gets signed into law it will mean that under federal law, banks can make money off marijuana, but you and I can’t.
There is no such thing as a free market. Markets are created by capitalists for capitalists.
Noble House Hotels & Resorts, the owner of Seattle’s Edgewater hotel, state on their website, “the guest experience would not be complete without our passionate front-line personnel, who are guided and inspired by the talent and expertise of the Noble House corporate team.” If that’s true, guests should get ready for an incomplete experience because Edgewater employees, who are organized with UNITE HERE Local 8, have voted 93% to authorize a strike with over 93% voting in favor. They have already picketed the hotel (with some local Wobblies lending a hand). The reason? Noble’s management has decided Edgewater employees don’t need healthcare in the offseason, because who gets sick in winter, and what do their guests care if the person preparing their meal is contagious?
A torrent of organizing has been sweeping over digital media. So far this year workers at Ars Technica, Buzzfeed, Fast Company, Fortune, Gimlet Media, Hartford Courant, Morning Call, New York Magazine, Pitchfork, Refinery29, Talking Points Memo, ThinkProgress, Time, Vice Media, Vox, and Wirecutter have either gotten organized or won contracts.
What are you waiting for?