In today's On the News segment: Doctors in the Pacific Northwest say that they're not going to take corporatized medicine anymore; the wealthy elite have $7.6 trillion stashed offshore; the National Labor Relations Board is standing up to Walmart; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. According to Sam Pizzigati from the Institute for Policy Studies, the millionaires at Davos can do a lot more than talk about global inequality. If the global business elites gathering in Switzerland really want to do something big, they should simply stop dodging their taxes. In a recent study released by Oxfam International, as of 2010, 388 of the richest billionaires on earth owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population. By last year, the top 62 billionaires matched the wealth of half the planet. Yes, you heard that right - 62 individuals own as much as 3.6 billion people. Together, our global top one percent has more net worth than the rest of the world combined. And, all those billionaires are hiding a heck of a lot of cash in offshore tax havens. According to Oxfam's researchers, the wealthy elite have $7.6 trillion stashed offshore, and the rich and powerful people meeting in Davos have the power to do something about that. But, Sam says, "Don't hold your breath." He knows that the people meeting in Davos who have the power to change the system are the same people who rigged the system to begin with. The only way to fight inequality is to force them to pay their fare share.
Doctors in the Pacific Northwest say that they're not going to take corporatized medicine any more. According to Yves Smith over at NakedCapitalism.com, that's why those doctors are working to unionize. Yves said, "This development is very important. Nurses' unions are effective and well respected. Doctors' unions should be even more so, particularly since their big grievance is corporatized medicine requiring them to spend less time with patients and reducing their autonomy." These doctors are at odds with management because management cares only about profit, while physicians must prioritize the quality of care. Here in the US, we have the most commercialized health care system among developed nations, and doctors are often only employees of large corporations. But those organizations are often managed like any other business, which leaves patients being treated as profit potential instead of human beings, and doctors are fed up. Yves explains that several different facilities are fighting to organize for better patient care, and for all our sakes, we hope that they succeed.
"Free trade" is the kiss of death for our economy. Patrick Kellen over at EconomyInCrisis.org says, "If an enemy was seeking to hire someone to destroy America he might have hired the political leaders who created [free trade agreements]." Mr. Kellen explained that trade organizations like the WTO and agreements like NAFTA, which promised to reduce trade barriers, have proven Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound" to be correct. And, "the pending unholy trinity of trade agreements - the TPP, TTIP and TISA" threatens whats left of our manufacturing base. These agreements kills jobs here at home, and they take international trade, banking and finance out of our control. If these three massive trade agreements are signed in to law, nearly every aspect of our economy will be controlled by foreigners. And, our lawmakers may soon vote on these agreements without even knowing what they contain. These trade agreements are considered top secret to us and our representatives, but corporate lobbyists have been given full access. These job killing "free trade" agreements have crippled US jobs and allowed corporations to move their companies to less regulated production facilities abroad. Call your representatives and tell them to say "no" to these trade agreements once and for all.
Car Wash workers in New York City are fighting for safer, fairer workplaces. At least 10 different shops in that city have won union contracts with higher pay and benefits, and they're working to expand union rights to more workers. That's because back in June of 2015, car wash workers won a landmark battle and helped pass a local law that regulated New York City car washes. It may seem like as easy job, but car washes are dangerous and exploitative workplaces, where employees typically have to deal with dangerous chemicals and often get charged for damage to vehicles. Thanks to the new law, the Car Wash Accountability Act, car wash owners must obtain a yearly license and prove that they provide workers comp benefits and unemployment insurance. That law also allows New York City to deny a license to any car wash owner found guilty of wage theft or improper disposal of chemicals. These requirements will help improve wages and benefits for car wash workers, and they will help protect customers and the environment. Unionization has given workers more protection and dignity and provided important regulations that will help everyone in New York City.
And finally ... The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is standing up to Walmart. Last week, that agency ruled that the corporate giant must rehire the 16 workers who were fired for trying to form a union. Back in 2013, those workers were targeted for participating in the so-called "Ride for Respect" plan, which was an effort to bring actual workers to speak at the company's yearly shareholder meeting. Walmart got wind of the meeting, monitored employees' social media accounts and fired those workers for taking part in the protest. Of course, attorneys for the retail giant argued that the workers were terminated for missing work, but the NLRB board members didn't buy that claim. The board ordered Walmart to rehire the workers, give them back pay dating to the time they were fired and hold open meetings at dozens of stores to explain that workers do have the right to organize. Despite Walmart's size and power, it is still illegal in this country to fire workers for unionizing. Let's just hope that our Supreme Court doesn't continue their fight to weaken those powerful protections.
And that's the way it is - for the week of January 25, 2016 - I'm Thom Hartmann - on the Economic and Labor News.