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Pennsylvania Joblessness

JobsPennsylvania’s economic rollercoaster continued in August as more workers found themselves without a job.

The Department of Labor & Industry reported today that the commonwealth’s unemployment rate increased to 5.8 percent as it counted 6,000 more former workers. The rate was 5.7 percent in July.

The greatest percentage of people who lost jobs worked in the construction industry (1.2 percent or 3,000 workers) while mining and logging laborers added the second-most suddenly jobless to the UC lines (0.5 percent or 200 workers).

“Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the number of people working or looking for work – declined by 28,000 to 6,344,000 due to a decline in resident employment (-35,000). Unemployment, despite increasing by 6,000 from July, was down 113,000 from August 2013,” L&I said.

While the overall trend in unemployment continues to be downward, the uneasiness of this economy continues, as the numbers indicate.

FDRFDR & The Minimum Wage

Watching PBS’ documentary this week about the Roosevelts, naturally, got me thinking about our continued fight to increase the minimum wage. I feel equally sad and encouraged in my thoughts about this.

It was FDR who fought to start a minimum wage – at 25 cents, or slightly less earning power than today’s $7.25 an hour. But during his time, and during every one of the nine times the U.S. has worked to increased the minimum, the opposition has raised the same foolish arguments.

Need someone else to verify that besides me? Check out The New Yorker this week. Highlighting a report by scholars on the subject, who call themselves the “Cry Wolf Project,” reporter William Finnegan wrote that the echo of unfulfilled scaremongering has been consistent and hardly new.

“Raising the minimum wage is not, by any stretch, a poverty panacea. Its knock-on economic effects are in fact complex, its redistributive aim less well targeted at the working poor than, say, the earned-income tax credit. But opponents who insist that a raised minimum wage only hurts low-wage earners by eliminating entry-level jobs—a popular conservative position today—often have a weak grasp of the lives of the people involved,” Finnegan said.

It’s a well-thought out piece, and I ask that you give it a read.

Finnegan, unsurprisingly, mentions FDR in his writing. Coupled with this week’s documentary, I did some research to see how FDR handled the naysayers and came upon an editorial in The New York Times.

It’s like there are talking points chiseled in stone entitled: “Just Say No to Minimum Wage Increases.”

“Objection: Raising the minimum wage will hurt business and reduce employment.
(FDR): ‘No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.’ (1933 statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

“Objection: The minimum wage is a government mandate that interferes with the free market.
(FDR): ‘All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor.’ (1937 message to Congress upon introduction of the Fair Labor Standards Act)”

The droning, unproven statements against raising the minimum wage have never come true and there is no reason to think they will come true now. So, as I have said countless times before, let’s give our front-line workers the raise they need now.

Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander: Union Busters?

NLRBThe Republican obsession with trying to destroy unions appears to have taken a wicked step with the introduction of a bill in Washington D.C. by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee).

As reported today, the GOP stall warts (pun intended) have proposed a bill that, if passed, would disable the National Labor Relations Board.

“When the NLRB is faced with an issue that divides its members along partisan lines, the three members in the majority can out-vote the two members in dissent, thus ensuring that the business of the Board continues. McConnell and Alexander’s bill would change this by adding an additional seat to the Board, which would be controlled by the opposition party. Thus, either party would be able to veto any action the Board wanted to take, because neither party would control a majority of the Board’s seats,” Ian Millhiser posted this morning.

The good news is this bill does not have a good chance of becoming law. The bad news is the GOP membership remains obsessed with things that exist that better promise fairness and a shield against greed.

Made in America

HouseWith children returning home during college breaks, friends and family stopping by to share vacation stories and holiday festivities requiring planning during the next few months, it will soon be time to put away the lawn products and move your efforts indoors.

To help you welcome the upcoming seasons (and everything they may entail) with a smile, consider beginning your interior preparations with a thorough housecleaning.  Below is a list of union-made cleaning products that will restore the beauty to your home and make your housework a little more enjoyable. 

UFCW Products
Ajax Dishwashing Liquid
Ajax Cleaning Powder
ALL Laundry Detergent
Bowl Fresh Toilet Bowl Sanitizer
Clorox Bleach Tab
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Dynamo Laundry Detergent
Fab Laundry Detergent
Fiberguard Carpet Cleaners
Fresh Start Laundry Detergent
HiLex Bleach
Love My Carpet
Mini Safe Scour
Mop & Glo
Mountain Pine
Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid
Spic N’ Span Clean Wipes
Soft Scrub
Tide Soap

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Products
Rigid Wet/Dry Vacs

International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Products
Electrolux Vacuum