The People's Postal Service: No One Gets Left Off the List

Working-Class Christmas

Kathy M. Newman Carnegie Mellon University

During this Christmas season, there is a tweet making the rounds that shows the number of paid vacation days in thirteen different countries by law:

France             30

Denmark         25

Finland            25

Norway           25

Sweden           25

Russia             24

Cuba                22

Australia         20

New Zealand  20

Canada            10

Japan               10

Mexico            6

United States  0

Workers in the US are legally entitled to zero vacation days. Nada. Zilch.

I raise this now because I’ve been doing some research into the history of Christmas holiday traditions, looking at two histories of Christmas, Judith Flanders’s Christmas: A Biography, and Stephen Nussbaum’s The Battle for Christmas. After reading these histories here is what I have concluded: the working-class invented Christmas.

Many of the traditions that we associate with Christmas have their roots in the winter solstice and the agricultural off season that in Northern climates runs from the end of October through the end of February. In The Battle for Christmas, Nussbaum points out that, “December was the major ‘punctuation mark’ in the rhythmic cycle of work, a time when there was a minimum of work to be performed. The deep freeze of midwinter had not yet set in; the work of gathering the harvest and preparing it for winter was done; and there was plenty of newly fermented beer or wine as well as meat from freshly slaughtered animals— meat that had to be consumed before it spoiled.”

More ...

Are America’s Rich Getting Tired of Winning Yet?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

The obituaries for Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chair who died last Sunday at age 92, have been consistently echoing a truly heroic narrative. Between 1979 and 1987, as one prominent obit pronounced, Volcker’s bold and sweeping interest rate hikes shocked “the U.S. economy out of a cycle of inflation and malaise and so set the stage for a generation of prosperity.”

But prosperity for who?

Economist Gabriel Zucman has just delivered the most telling answer yet.

In a special analysis prepared for the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, the University of California at Berkeley scholar has compared current average American incomes — in six different income ranges — to average incomes at the start of every decade since 1970.

Zucman’s income figures take into account both the taxes Americans pay federal and state governments and the transfers — everything from Social Security checks to veteran assistance — that go from government to individual Americans. In other words, his new breakdown shows what Americans had left in their wallets after paying their taxes and pocketing their benefits.

Some Americans, the new numbers show, had much more left than others. Phenomenally more. For America’s richest, the past half-century could hardly have been more prosperous.

In 1970, the nation’s top 1 percent averaged $328,816, in today’s dollars. By 2018, that top 1 percent average had more than tripled, to $1,152,232.

But the most striking after-tax, after-transfer gains have gone to Americans even higher up in the economic pecking order. Average top 0.1 percent incomes have more than quintupled since 1970, from just over $1 million to over $5 million. Average top 0.01 incomes have jumped over six-fold, from $3.7 million in 1970 to $24.2 million in 2018.

In essence, America’s very richest — the top one-hundredth of our top 1 percent — have on average added about $427,000 to their incomes every year since 1970.

The bottom 50 percent of Americans have added to their incomes, too — all of an average $167 a year.

To read more, click here.

The "Sock Queen" Knits Tradition and Innovation Together

From the AAM

Dubbed the "Sock Queen" by The New York Times, Gina Locklear, founder of zkano organic socks, founded her company with the central mission of saving her parents' sock mill in Fort Payne, Ala. Ten years later, she's as determined as ever to restore her hometown's manufacturing legacy as the "Sock Capital of the World."

Reposted from AAM

U.S. employers are charged with violating federal law in 41.5% of all union election campaigns

From the EPI

This report provides a comprehensive analysis of employer conduct in union representation elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Using data obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, we find that unfair labor practice (ULP) charges were filed against employers in four out of ten union representation elections that took place in 2016 and 2017. In addition to the analysis of employer conduct in union representation elections, the report provides information on the “union avoidance” industry. Disclosures required under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) help to provide information on an industry that operates largely out of the public view. Finally, the report discusses policy recommendations aimed at combating employers’ aggressive efforts to dismantle unions and impede organizing efforts.

Our analysis of ULP charges2 filed with the NLRB shows the following:

  • Employers were charged with violating federal law in 41.5% of all NLRB-supervised union elections in 2016 and 2017, with at least one ULP charge filed in each case.
    • Firings. Under the most conservative measures, employers were charged with illegally firing workers in one-fifth (19.9%) of all elections. Using more comprehensive measures, employers were charged with illegally firing workers in nearly a third (29.6%) of all NLRB-supervised elections.
    • Coercion, threats, retaliation. In nearly a third (29.2%) of all elections, employers were charged with illegally coercing, threatening, or retaliating against workers for supporting a union.3
    • Discipline, firings, changes in work terms. In nearly a third (29.3%) of all elections, employers were charged with illegally disciplining workers for supporting a union.4
  • Employers were more likely to be charged with violating the law where there were larger bargaining units. More than half (54.4%) of employers in elections involving more than 60 employees (roughly 25% of elections) were charged with violating federal law.

In addition, we examine the degree to which employers enlist the help of “union avoidance” lawyers and consultants to help them prevent or disrupt union elections. To do so, we analyze publicly available reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). Based on our analysis, we estimate that employers spend nearly $340 million per year hiring union avoidance advisers to help them prevent employees from organizing.

More ...