Temp agencies make job security tough for meatpacking workers

December 9, 2010 by Carlos Rich · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Food Justice 

Temporary work agencies have been popping up all over the country. I did a Google search for agencies in Iowa alone and came back with 53,000 results.  As I talk to workers, many of them say they are finding work, but that they must go through temp agencies first. Although this may seem like an innocuous path to permanent employment for many Americans, there are hidden drawbacks for low-wage workers.

Many meat-processing workers, especially immigrants, find themselves caught in hiring practices designed to keep them from gaining fair wages or job security.  Nine months ago, a worker I spoke to was unfairly fired from a plant where he was employed for almost five years. And two months ago he was hired back at the same plant, but for significantly less than he’d been making before. How did it happen? Recently, that particular employer outsourced all of its hiring to a temp agency. Read more

Cross-post: Wage Theft Epidemic Spurs Nationwide Protests

November 14, 2010 by Imagine 2050 Editors · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration 

In These Times originally published this article by Art Levine on November 12, 2010:

Activists in more than 30 cities, organized by Interfaith Worker Justice and backed by labor groups, are staging a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft on November 18. “As the crisis for working families in the economy has deepened, so too has the crisis of wage theft,” says Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) Executive Director Kim Bobo, perhaps the country’s leading reformer addressing the ongoing scandal.

As much as $19 billion is stolen from American workers annually in unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations and, in some cases, through the human trafficking of legal immigrant workers. The latest case to come to light involves alleged horrendous conditions for immigrant workers reportedly hoodwinked in Mexico by a food services contractor for the New York State Fair and kept in near-slavery conditions of $2 an hour. Read more

Economic Hardship Breeding Hate

September 17, 2010 by Charlotte Williams · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Politics 

Political and business pundits both agree that our country’s economy is spiraling out of control as millions of Americans engage in daily debates regarding the economy.  The truth is - the economy has been spiraling for quite some time.  As a result of political posturing, business kickbacks, repeated missteps, special interests, and greed, our economic landscape resembles an amusement park roller coaster ride.  In spite of the severity and implications of instability and rather than challenge the truly broken systems, racist hate groups are using this time of confusion, fear and pervasive sense of powerlessness to perpetuate evil and dissention.  For the select few who really control what goes on in this country - on many levels - not much has changed.

What has changed is that the gap between rich and poor has not only widened, but morphed into a major chasm.   And this country’s ability to distract itself (whether Tea Party, Democrat, Progressive, etc.) from the truth about the economics in this country, while “locked and loaded” against another group – impacted by the same dilemma – is truly amazing!  America has once again disproven its resilience during hard times by cultivating hate-mongers, including some who sincerely believe the economic strain can be traced to undocumented immigrants and the social programs that assist the poor.  Read more

End Poverty by Rebuilding Local Food Economies

September 12, 2010 by Imagine 2050 Editors · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Food Justice 

Cross-posted from the Food Chain Workers Alliance blog.

Call to Action for Oct. 10-17! Celebrate the Launch of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance!

Take Action!

Emerging out of the US Working Group on the Food Crisis (www.usfoodcrisisgroup.org), the US Food Sovereignty Alliance will be the first of its kind in the United States. To celebrate its launch, we encourage people fighting for food justice and sovereignty to take actions during the week of October 10-17.

In solidarity with people all over the world, we call on food justice groups to hold community events that educate, celebrate, and create affordable access to safe, healthy, and culturally appropriate food while turning our food systems into engines for local economic development. We call for actions to build food sovereignty in the US.

To continue reading and learn more visit www.foodchainworkers.org Read more

Labor Day in the Great Recession

September 7, 2010 by Jessica Acee · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

Despite the big dreams and even loftier promises of President Obama and his Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, little has been done to address unemployment, job safety, and job training- topics of utmost concern to American workers.

A steady decline in union membership has mirrored the decline in real wages, standard of living, job security, and social safety nets, not just for union members, but for the entire middle class. Today, only 12 percent of workers hold union cards. And if you discount union members who are public employees, barely 7 percent of private-sector workers are union members.

Companies like Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, and Swift have turned the clock back to the days of the 1880′s by using new tactics like legal action and the scapegoating of immigrants to bust unions and scare workers away from membership. Read more

Cross-Post: The 2010 Without Housing Update Has Arrived!

August 14, 2010 by Imagine 2050 Editors · Comments Off
Filed under: American Identity, Economy, Politics 

From WRAP’s (Western Regional Advocacy Project) blog:

We’re at a critical juncture for housing policy in this country: millions of Americans are homeless and tens of millions more are on the brink of economic collapse.

The 2010 Update focuses public attention back on the #1 reason for this housing mess: the Federal Government’s divestment in affordable housing programs and deregulation of the housing market. Most importantly, it helps people understand these complex issues and provides a framework for turning this situation around.

Download the update here! Read more

Senate hosts tea party: Black Farmers, Native Americans, Shirley Sherrod Not Invited

July 28, 2010 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf · Comments Off
Filed under: American Identity, Economy, Politics 

Even  as Shirley Sherrod captured the attention of the nation last week, Senate Republicans torpedoed appropriations due tens of thousands of Black farmers and Native Americans after years of litigation aimed at rectifying  federal discrimination and mismanagement.  Stripping the appropriations from a bill to fund the war—with the final bill passing by unanimous consent—the Senate tea party marked a new low in the chamber that fails consistently to address the persistent legacy of racism in America.

As a result, some sixty thousand Black farmers were denied $1.2 billion in settlement funds emerging from litigation with the Department of Agriculture; Native Americans were denied $3.4 billion appropriated to settle litigation with the Department of Interior, which long ago deemed them incompetent to own land and then took their money and squandered it in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Decades of discrimination and racism met head-on in the courts and redressed to some degree were, in minutes, rekindled by an all-white Senate concerned about deficit spending only when it applies to our neighbors of color, to our families and friends who are unemployed, or to those among us who are most destitute.

This, in short, is the agenda of tea partiers, who thread racial anxiety into the fabric of political discourse and whose primary aim is reduced government and maintenance of the dominant culture.  Senators seem to be in love with them. Read more

Hyatt Hotel Workers Fed Up, Ready to Protest

July 20, 2010 by Jill Garvey · Comments Off
Filed under: American Identity, Economy 

Thousands of workers are gearing up to protest Hyatt and its billionaire owners—Chicago’s own Pritzker family—on Thursday, July 22.

Workers in Chicago, Honolulu, San Francisco, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey, Boston, Vancouver, Toronto, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Santa Clara and San Diego are prepared to take part in non-violent civil disobedience actions with thousands of witnesses as part of a 15-city coordinated day of action.

According to UNITE HERE, whose members include dishwashers, housekeepers, bellmen and cooks, “Hotel workers across North America have endured staff cuts, reduced hours, and excessive injury rates. Hyatt wants to take more away and lock workers into recession contracts even as the economy rebounds.” Read more

Chinese Labor and American Immigration

July 20, 2010 by Carlos Rich · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

Rumor has it the end of cheap labor is coming to China. I really doubt that is true, but at least it is looking better for some Chinese workers in terms of receiving something similar to fair wages.

We know that corporations are always ahead of the game when it comes to figuring out where to go when labor strengthens beyond their comfort zone.  What will most likely happen in China is that we will see some internal migration to fill vacant jobs and some companies will move inland to continue exploiting poor people.   China will probably attract foreign immigrants to fill low wage jobs as well.  Some companies will most likely leave and settle elsewhere, so they don’t have to pay fair wages.  China’s government is taking these matters seriously - viewing the country’s wealth disparity as a bad thing. Even if the country’s infrastructure is not yet ready to handle all of its internal issues, it is reaching out to rural areas and looking for ways to progress. Read more

Cross-post: Jobless People Suffer, While the GOP Helps the Rich

July 18, 2010 by Imagine 2050 Editors · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Politics 

By Jim Hightower, posted on AlterNet July 15, 2010:

As personal economies keep shriveling, politicians are more interested in comforting the comfortable. The good news is that America’s economy continues to grow. The bad news is that most people’s personal economies continue to shrivel.

The June report on jobs glows with the happy news that America’s unemployment rate has fallen to 9.5 percent — the best we’ve had in a year! “We are headed in the right direction,” trumpeted President Obama.

Great … if true. However, the ballyhooed jobs statistic is a mirage. It looks good only because 650,000 more Americans became so frustrated with their fruitless search for work last month that they quit looking. In StatWorld, such “discouraged” seekers are — abracadabra! — no longer considered unemployed, even though they are. There are now 1.2 million Americans in this statistical purgatory. Read more

Immigration Reform Benefits American Economy

June 24, 2010 by Carlos Rich · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

Why would immigration reform make sense from an economic and labor point of view?  Many are saying that immigrants come here and are taking away jobs from lots of “Americans”.  That’s not entirely true for a couple of reasons. First, most jobs that immigrants hold here are low-skilled, hard and dangerous.  Second, these jobs are not being filled by Americans regardless of whether there are immigrants willing to take them.

For example, in the meat processing industry many of the workers are immigrants or refugees.  To solve many of the problems involving labor laws and workplace safety violations, wages need to be raised and employers held accountable for not complying with safety standards. Perhaps the government money currently used to pay border patrol agents would be more effective in upholding the rule of law if it was spent on OSHA and labor enforcement agents. Read more

The High Cost of Citizenship Goes Higher

June 14, 2010 by Jill Garvey · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

Skyrocketing immigration fees over the last three years are pricing immigrants out of a path to citizenship.

In 2007, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) raised citizenship fees by an average of 70%. In 2008, the agency tacked on a $375 fee for females aged 11-26 for an HPV vaccine - that amounted to an additional 25% increase for young women. Now the agency says it is raising the cost of obtaining a green card, business visa and other immigration benefits by a “weighted average” of 10%. The operative word here is weighted.

The disparity among fee increases is vast; the cost to apply for temporary residency shot up almost 250% for example, from $420 to $1030. The USCIS is not increasing the cost of applying for citizenship, which the agency stated was provided “special consideration given the unique nature of this benefit to the individual applicant.” What the agency isn’t saying is that most immigrants are required to spend a certain number of years as temporary or permanent residents before they can apply for naturalization. Read more

No One (White) is Responsible for Anything

June 2, 2010 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Ecopolitics, Immigration, Politics 

fingerThe recent finger-pointing show put on by the BP oil spill execs from the three primary companies involved in that disaster has provided yet another narrative for contemporary America: no white person is responsible for anything, especially when it comes to corporate or government in/action.  The blame-fixing political show still running in Arizona on SB1070 only confirms what the BP execs revealed—that white “leaders” only know how to use two fingers: the index to appoint blame and… well, you know, that big one in the middle to indicate how much they really care anyway.

On the economy, energy, race, or immigration white “leaders” are amazingly adept at shirking and ignoring their own culpability in creating and sustaining problems, at fomenting and taking advantage of crises, and, then, at shifting responsibility for those problems and crises to others.  For generations whites have followed this pattern on race, having created and sustained slavery, fomented a war over it, nurtured a century of Jim Crow, and then blamed African Americans for their own plight to this very day.  It worked so well on race that the pattern now seems to have application to countless other matters.  Most everything is similarly racialized. Read more

College Degrees Mean Less For Black Graduates

May 27, 2010 by Jessica Acee · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Politics 

Over the next couple weeks America’s colleges and universities will be graduating hundreds of thousands of students into a job market that is already flooded with job seekers. For black graduates the difficult job search is compounded by racial inequality.

Blacks who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher have a higher unemployment rate than whites who have only obtained a two-year college degree. And blacks with college degrees earn substantially less than white college graduates.

Surprisingly, the joblessness rate for Black college grads is more significant than for those without higher education, according to a recent New York Times article. “Education, it seems, does not level the playing field - in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven,” the article says. Read more

Beltway Elites Blame Immigrants for Teen Job Losses; Gulf Oil Spill Next?

May 19, 2010 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf · Comments Off
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

The recent data- and chart-packed report blaming immigrants for the loss of (U.S. born!) teenage summer jobs leaves one wondering just what planet those elites at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reside on.

That said, CIS is to be congratulated for its relentless waste of donor dollars in pursuit of utterly useless information and analysis posing as research that is of virtually no interest to anyone outside its own Beltway staff. For an outfit that loves to keep score of its own “media references” on its website, the coverage of this report must have been—to say the least—disappointing.

Do these people ever leave the Beltway?? Do they have any idea what really goes on in the rest of the country? Do they even know what goes on in “the rest of D.C.”—where hard-working people (including immigrants) clean hotel rooms, wash restaurant dishes, and do every other low-wage job that “U.S. born” teenagers don’t seem to aspire to? Read more

Tea Partiers Don’t Understand the Real Threats to America

April 26, 2010 by Jill Garvey · Comments Off
Filed under: American Identity, Culture, Economy, Immigration, Politics 

Tea Partiers are right. Threats to America are real, but they don’t have much to do with political parties or presidential administrations.

This is exceedingly clear when a severe anti-immigrant law is passed in Arizona that puts individual rights at risk, yet the most newsworthy tea party activity was eviscerating a Republican senator at a tea party rally in South Carolina.

Last week many around the country watched in horror as SB 1070, a bill that gives sweeping power to local law enforcement to racially profile Arizona communities, passed state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. The bill that Gov. Brewer just signed makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers to attempt to determine a person’s immigration status if they form a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is undocumented. In Arizona, residents, especially those of color, now live in fear of the police.

Read more

Cross-post: Violent Rhetoric At The 2nd Amendment Rally

April 24, 2010 by Imagine 2050 Editors · Comment
Filed under: Economy, Politics 

Media Matters put together this video portraying some of the violent rhetoric uttered by speakers and members of the crowd at the DC Second Amendment rally on April 19.

Speakers at the DC Second Amendment rally on April 19, 2010 continued to spread the violent rhetoric that has lately become synonymous with the Tea Party movement and the far right. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) joined Sheriff Richard Mack (AZ) and Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America in encouraging attendees to fight against the “socialists” in power.

Click here to view the original article. Read more

Tanton Network Uses E-verify to Terrorize Immigrant Communities

March 5, 2010 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

The John Tanton Network is more interested in terrorizing immigrant communities than helping employers.

Nothing else can explain its recent response to a comprehensive report on the failure of E-verify. Rather than accept the program’s failures and promote more effective ways to fix the immigration system, the network of anti-immigrant groups led by John Tanton is attacking the report and trying to discredit hard facts. The anti-immigrant trifecta of the Tanton Network - FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA - came out swinging against the report which effectively debunks their data on E-verify.

Mark Krikorian of Center for Immigration Studies said, “Nevertheless, it’s certainly true that E-Verify isn’t tight enough yet, but in a glass-half-full sense, this isn’t really bad news,” and “…we know perfectly well what the problems are, and they don’t have much to with with the E-Verify system itself.” Read more

White Nationalists Write for Mainstream Financial Publications

March 1, 2010 by Stephen Piggott · Comment
Filed under: Economy, Politics 

Ok, I’ll admit it; I have a subscription to Financial Times. I read the newspaper six times a week because it tells me what’s going on in the world without getting into too much detail and dragging it out. It also tells the news from a financial perspective, something that has always fascinated me.

Since the age of the internet, news about stocks and bonds has rapidly moved off the paper and onto the computer screen. One website that has taken full advantage of that is Marketwatch.com Marketwatch is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a billionaire conglomerate-owner who also runs the Wall Street Journal and Barrons.com. World famous websites like Barrons.com and The Wall Street Journal are well respected within the financial and political community and are the last place that people would expect white nationalists to exist. This, however, is sadly not the case. Read more

Anti-immigrant Movement Attacks American Property Owners

March 1, 2010 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Economy, Immigration, Politics 

The anti-immigrant movement wants private property owners to enforce immigration laws, and be punished when they don’t. It’s shocking the lengths some groups have gone to in order to pressure, intimidate or force ordinary citizens into complying with their anti-immigrant activities.

Leading this effort is Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the John Tanton Network. IRLI’s primary purpose is to push legal causes that unfairly target immigrant communities. IRLI works with extremist anti-immigrant groups and leaders to push anti-immigrant ordinances at the municipal level. In 1985, John Tanton launched IRLI, but made sure he kept it firmly under the control of Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has tried to portray itself as a mainstream organization despite its links to extremist groups, including white nationalists. Read more

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