Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joel French discusses the need for Alberta to implement a more thorough and progressive tax system in order to ensure it has the revenue to support its residents. 

- Meagan Day highlights how Bernie Sanders' new labour bill would empower workers and enhance workplace democracy:
The bipartisan neoliberal attack on unions, which began in earnest in the 1970s, has been enormously effective in undermining the power of the United States labor movement. As a result, the percentage of US workers who currently belong to a union is about 10 percent, down from its peak of nearly 28 percent in 1970.

Again this problem is fundamentally political, stemming from the balance of power in our society and not from a natural or inevitable economic process. The solution, too, has to be political — and it’s in that spirit that Bernie Sanders has introduced a new bill called the Workplace Democracy Act, which aims to clear obstacles to the labor movement’s growth, and ultimately increase collective worker control over the economy. The chances of such a bill passing in a GOP-controlled legislature (or even in a Democrat-controlled legislature; a weaker bill was opposed by moderate Democrats during the Obama administration) are basically nil, but Sanders’s bill is a strong political move anyway. It signals an uncompromising commitment to unions and invites other politicians to support an ambitious vision of a revitalized movement for worker power — or oppose that vision at their own risk.

The Workplace Democracy Act makes three crucial interventions. First, it would overturn a provision in the 1947 Taft-Hartley law that replaced card check — a system where employers have to recognize a union if more than 50 percent of employees in a particular bargaining unit say they want one — with an elaborate secret-ballot election process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board...A national card check system would allow workers to unionize by simple majority, avoiding the messy electioneering process that’s tilted in favor of employers, who inevitably have more resources.

Second, Sanders’s bill would repeal so-called “right to work.” Also a legacy of the Taft-Hartley Act, right to work prevents unions from negotiating contracts with employers that require all employees to join or pay a bargaining fee to the union...

Third, according to some reports, Sanders will seek to increase financial penalties on employers who fire workers for union organizing, a practice that is illegal but ubiquitous, due in part to the lack of consequences. The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates that “one-in-five union organizers or activists can expect to be fired as a result of their activities in a union election campaign.” The share of union drives that saw illegal firings of workplace activists rose steadily from the the mid-seventies to the mid-2000s. The paper’s authors note that employers “are unlikely to fire workers randomly, or simply for expressing pro-union views. Employers maximize the return to illegal firing by focusing on union activists.” The result is a climate of fear and a chilling effect on union activism, especially organic leadership among the rank-and-file, who are the least likely to take risks regarding their job security. Corporations are not currently forced to pay penalties when they’re caught retaliating against labor activists — all they need to do is make up lost income, which is not sufficient to distance them from the practice.
- Paul Barrett writes that contrary to the trumped-up complaints of the bigoted right, the only real threat to free speech on campus is the precarious work environment which prevents far too many part-time instructions from speaking up. And PressProgress notes that right-wing astroturf operations are still flouting Canada's income tax laws by pretending not to be involved in political activity.

- Finally, Robert Bea notes that Canada's environmental assessment process has approved BP to conduct offshore drilling based on the same assertions which were rejected by Australia. And Rob Antle reports on Husky's attempt to suppress information about a near-miss incident off of the coast of Newfoundland.

No comments:

Post a Comment