The National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that a range of
professionals, estimated at 8 million workers, are now deemed
"supervisors" and thus lose all protections under labor law. What this
means is that an estimated 8 million workers who say a positive thing
about unions can be fired at will by their bosses seeking to eliminate
unions. The AFL-CIO has more here on the legal details.
Let no one tell you that the problem America faces is that our workers
are treated to well. In addition to having the National Labor Relations
Board basically sign on to a union-busting agenda, the nation's largest
private sector employer offers more bad news for workers.
American families are under economic strain, but there is a rousing
debate among economists over whether workers and families are doing
better than a generation ago-- and what that means for shaping economic
and social policy. The American Prospect is hosting a lively debate online on the fate of the middle class and how progressives need to tailor their message accordingly. Stephen Rose of Third Way makes the case that the middle class is doing better than many progressives think, while Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute disagrees with Rose, highlighting the stagnation
of middle class families incomes in the last generation, even as wealth
at the top of the economic ladder exploded. Read the debate and the responses by other commentators.
It's now ten years since the 1996 welfare law promised to end "welfare
as we know it." That goal may have been accomplished, but the results
have been decidedly mixed, both for poor families and for state
lawmakers coping with changing federal mandates.
Complicated and confusing processes, threats of punishment for voter
registration volunteers, systematic purging of voter databases -- a
wholesale effort to use any means necessary to deny the right to vote
to wide swaths of Americans. This is what People for the American Way recently called The New Face of Jim Crow.
In the last few decades, there has been a massive shift from
traditional defined benefit retirement plans -- where workers are
guaranteed a yearly return in retirement -- to defined contribution
plans like 401(k)s where money may be contributed each year with no
guaranteed return. The numbers are stark:
of workers with pensions (which includes today only 60% of the
population), 83% had defined benefit plans in 1980, while only 39% had
a defined benefit plan by 2004.
That fragmentation of the health care system lies at the root of much
of the waste and fraud in our health care system. Each player tries
to pump up profits and often waste through excessive billing of third
parties. Each party avoids taking responsibility by shifting
the increased costs onto government or other third party providers.
Short-term profiteering means long term investments in preventive care
or technology gets shortchanged.