Dow Chemical CEO Saying If You Are Against Trade You Are Against Jobs Is Wrong

Take the time to watch this video…

http://fortune.com/video/2016/08/01/dow-chemical-ceo-on-global-trade/

I think Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris is being somewhat disingenuous as he seems to be using a wide and broad stroke to say if you’re anti-trade you’re voting against your job.

I write this response based on my current position as the President of United Steelworkers Local 12075, which represents the bargained-for members of Dow Chemical-Michigan Operations Midland.  As a representative of organized labor, we have never been anti-trade.  Organized labor has been against “free” trade.  Organized labor advocates “fair” trade.  We understand that globalization is a fact of life; however, it does not mean that we have to just lie down and accept any trade agenda at any cost.

I am not an expert in economics but I believe the ideal of “free” trade is meant to eliminate unfair barriers to global commerce and raise the economy in developed and developing nations alike.  However; these so called “free” trade agreements create the environment in which we have to compete with the lowest common denominator and this has been defined as the “race to the bottom” for the American worker.

Without a doubt, economists, business leaders and politicians will all have some spin or theory on the issue based on what school of economic thought they subscribe to in order to create the argument for or against “free” trade. The same goes for arguing whether or not “free” trade has truly benefitted our Country, the United States.  There may be plenty of economic theory to support and advocate “free” trade but it seems there is plenty of evidence that “free” trade is definitely not “fair” trade.

The inescapable results of that are now clearly seen by the dramatic loss of the manufacturing base that made America great, the loss of family supporting manufacturing jobs, the residual effect on manufacturing supporting jobs , the devastating effect on communities and the erosion of the middle class.  It’s a domino effect that, I believe, we have yet to recover from.

It can all be very convoluted.  But back to the video…

Has Mr. Liveris actually come and told you, the “factory” worker, that if you are anti-trade you are anti-jobs? If so, I believe that it is an unmerited statement without a full discussion of the true trade agenda that multi-national corporations, such as Dow Chemical, promote and champion.

I believe that this borders on the farcical and highlights the problem we have with these trade agendas. He seems to be creating a picture that it is all or nothing.  This is far from the case.

Let’s narrow down the argument of “free” versus “fair” trade and discuss that. Let’s not paint the picture of an all or nothing trade agenda and especially don’t create a fear factor of job loss without discussing ALL of the issues involving trade and the terrible problems with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as current and prime examples.

Mr. Liveris details his thoughts on trade in his 2011 book titled “Make It in America.” It is clear he is a  “free” trade advocate.  However; the term “fair” trade is not mentioned.  His high level approach to trade seems to make sense but the devil is in the details of these trade agreements.  It is those details that are created to benefit the multinational corporations, the CEOs and the shareholder… not the worker and  the families they support.

So please don’t use the proverbial paint brush of anti-trade = anti-job on the employees to whitewash the so called “free” trade agreements without detailing or answering to the true effect on the workers that may be subject to those deals.

These trade agreements aren’t free and they certainly aren’t fair.

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The Lame Duck Push for Right to Work…

The Michigan State Legislature is currently in its “lame duck” session and instead of focusing on what is right for the state as a whole, it seems that they are primarily interested in pushing ahead with legislation for making Michigan a right to work state.

You can call it what you wish… retribution for Proposal 2; the last minute opportunity to squeeze it in without any one knowing or being able to do anything about it, etc. I call it wrong…

I suppose I could write a lengthy article on my thoughts on right to work but many other people have already written lengthy papers, essays, reports and articles regarding right to work. For the purposes of this blog, I am posting a number of links that you can click onto and read for yourself the truth about right to work and the detrimental effect it will have on this state and every worker in Michigan, regardless if you are union or non-union.

Right to Work 101:   http://www.epi.org/files/2012/RTW-101.pdf

Right to Work is the Wrong Answer for Michigan’s Economy:  http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-michigan-economy/

Right to Work Does Not Create Jobs:  http://www.epi.org/publication/bp300/  and http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work_law_did_not_help_oklahomas_labor_market/

Right to Work Numbers Don’t Add Up:  http://www.epi.org/publication/pm174/

Right to Work Means a Pay Cut and Will Hurt Your Pension:  http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-means-indiana-workers-pay-cut/ and http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-private-sector-pensions/

Right to Work:  Representation without Taxation:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-baker/right-to-work-representat_b_829180.html

Growth for States is Higher Before Right to Work: http://higginslabor.nd.edu/about/current-projects/

What’s Wrong With Right to Work:  http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/whats-wrong-with-right-to-work/#axzz2ECyIMozM

There is a lot of information here to review and digest but it is worth the time to read.  There are too many people out there, whether they are union or not, that really don’t understand what right to work really means and what it will do.  Those that are pushing right to work are counting on that…

Don’t take my word for it, research it yourself.  Then make a decision… do you think it’s right… or do you think it’s wrong?

Continue reading

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Unions and the Middle Class… You Need to Have One for the Other

I titled this particular blog as “Unions and the Middle Class… You Need to Have One for the Other…”

What I mean by that is that you need to have strong unions to have a strong middle class. As the numbers of union members have dwindled over the years, the gains organized labor have made over the years are eliminated and the attack on organized labor increases, likewise, the strength and number of the middle class in our country is diminishing.

I came across this interesting and very relevant report that I found important enough to share:  http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2011/04/unions_middle_class.html.

This report by David Madland, Karla Walter and Nick Bunker is a fascinating read and reinforces what I have felt to be so true.  Organized labor has provided the checks and balances to corporations and government.  Unions have been key to the gains that have extablished the middle class in this country. 

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think orgainzed labor is what is hurting the economy, it is the suppression of organized labor that is hurting the economy.  Without organized labor the middle class suffers and without the middle class the economy suffers.

Consequently, this tie in between organized labor and the middle class also affects those that don’t belong to a union.  This erosion of the middle class and orgainzed labor hurts us all and this parallel between both should be of great concern to ALL of us.

Take the time to read this report and make up your own mind.  I know I have…

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Turning The Clock Back 100 Years

100 years ago, New York’s deadlist industrial disaster at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory occurred. In that fire more than 100 workers, mostly young girls died… due to the fire or jumping to their deaths. The environment in which they worked consisted of very little pay, long hours and unsafe working conditions. 

As a result of that incident, it led to workplace and safety reform in New York and the United States .  The creation of these reforms were encouraged and advanced by organized labor.  Consequently, workers, union AND non-union, have these protections today.

However; the history that has established the protections in our country does not exist nor is it recognized in many countries across the globe.  Workers in many countries are subjected to the same or worse conditions that existed in 1911 in the United States.  Sweatshops where children make a variety of products for corporations such as Wal-Mart and The Gap.  Products that are shipped into our country… because it is cheaper to make elsewhere, the regulations don’t exist and the freedom to organize and bargain is suprressed.

In 2010 there was an eerily similar tragedy in Bangledesh.  Death and injury occurred to young workers in a fire… very analogous to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire 100 years ago.

This is what exists and what we have to compete against.

Look hard at what is going on in our own state of Michigan and around this country… the coordinated effort to eradicate collective bargaining and the freedom to organize, the erosion and elimination of workplace and safety regulations.  In what has been called “the race to the bottom” is occuring as we speak and what has been built up for the benefit and protection of all working men and women is quickly being taken away.

Take the time to view this affecting video by the United Steelworkers and the National Labor Committee:  http://usw.org/media_center/news_articles?id=0739

This video summarizes in great and poignant detail the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and its legacy, the current conditions workers across the globe are working under, the parallels of the past with the present, along with the effect and impending future workers in our country are facing.

It starts with education… without it, we may forget what it took to gain what have have today and without it, we may very well lose what we have today.

After watching the video, take the time to see what else is happening in this global economy by viewing the National Labor Committee web site:   http://www.globallabourrights.org/.

It is happening across the globe and it’s happening here…  100 years of history… what have we learned?  Will we move forward… or move back?

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The Wolf Loses The Sheep’s Clothing

With the recent underhanded action by the Wisconsin Senate to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees in that state; they, along with Gov. Scott Walker and the rest of their ilk, have finally shed the last remaining piece of sheep’s clothing they were wearing. Finally, they have truly exposed themselves for what most already knew…

The phrase, “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” goes back centuries and is something many of us have heard.  The connotation of this phrase is a cautionary one, reminding us that you need to be careful of one who may be playing a role that is contrary to their true nature.

I think this is a fitting association for Walker and his cohorts.

Never did Gov. Walker publicly use as a campaign platform that he wanted to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employees.  He espoused fiscal responsibility as his platform.  Shortly afer taking office, he continued his masquerade of fiscal responsibility with the introduction of his plan to deal with the theoretical budget shortfall.  Wrapped up in this plan was the elimination of collective bargaining and union rights for public sector employees.

The sheep’s clothing on this wolf was starting to shed.  The light was starting to shine on what his ultimate goal was.  Protestors flocked to Madison, rallies were staged across the state and the nation.  Senators fled the state in an attempt to stall this attack.  Polls from Wisconsin and across United States showed that the American people did not approve of such tactics. 

Once he was coming to the stark realization that his task was going to be more difficult than he realized, he then warned that he may have to lay off thousands of employees as a result of not insituting his plan.  Still more rallies and protests. Still more support from the public that his plan was wrong.

Then there was some small word floating that maybe he was willing to compromise in order to institue his plan… that didn’t last long…

Under the cover of night, without prior knowledge as required by law, the wolf shed his last piece of sheep’s clothing to truly unveil what most of us already knew.  The State Senate stripped the original plan of any fiscal reference and stripped it down to the true and original meaning of his plan… to eliminate the rights of public employees to collective bargain.  The wolf got what he ultimately wanted…

Now… the wolf is bare for all to see.  No longer is there any remnants of sheep’s clothing anywhere to be found.

Depending on which version of this age old story you might subscribe to the ending of the tale may vary but they all have a common close… in the end, the wolf ends up losing.

We need to take caution here in Michigan and across the country.  The same tale that is playing out in Wisconsin could very well happen here.  We all need to be on guard for that wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

Truly, the real story is just beginning in Wisconsin and elsewhere.  The ending of the story is up to us.

USW Local 12075 President Kent Holsing

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Working Families & Those That Represent Them Are Under Attack

If you haven’t heard or seen what is going on in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio… you either aren’t paying attention or don’t care. In either case, you really should!

What is going on in Wisconsin and Ohio is about as blantant of an attack on collective bargaining rights there is. Hiding under the self proclaimed banner of fiscal responsibility, they are using that as a cloak to go beyond working on their state’s budget. They are using it to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employees. That right to which they use to bargain not just wages and benefits, but health and safety, working conditions, the ability to represent themselves and much more.

They don’t want them to have any say, any voice, any involvement. It is as simple as that… but then again, is it?

Here in Michigan, these same rights are under attack. Although not as blatant and in your face as what is going on in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere… your rights are being whittled away as we speak. What is happening here in our state is that they are flying it low and under the radar.

There are over 30 pieces of legislation that have been or will be considered by Committee with the plan to be pushed through the Senate and House on the way to the Governor’s desk. (Follow this link to see what is being considered and its status: http://www.miaflcio.org/legislative-action/legislative-report.html)

Bit by bit, they are looking to take away your rights. Your right to belong to a union, your right to a have voice in your workplace, your right to a safe workplace, your right to grieve a wrong, your right to pursue fair and just wages and benefits.

What they are looking to accomplish to employees in public sector unions is what they are looking to do to employees in private sector unions.

You… we… cannot afford to not care what is happening around us.

In an effort to help you stay informed about what is happening, we are attempting to keep up to date information on our website. By clicking on this link: http://www.uswalocal12075.com/uswa_web_page_048.htm you will have a quick and easy access to information both general in nature and by each state.  I implore you to take the time to look around and see what is going on around us.

We have to be very concerned about what is coming down around us.  That concern needs to be translated to action.  We cannot wait because if we do… the attack that is so immiment will have passed us by and the rights we enjoy today will have been taken away.

USW Local 12075 President Kent Holsing

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Is Attacking Public Unions The Answer For Michigan Success?

If you have been keeping up on the news lately, you must have seen that the new Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, a number of legislators and other organizations are making it clear that unions representing public workers are going to be squeezed as it relates to their pensions, health care, wages and other benefits.

It is alleged that this is a key reason why the State of Michigan has such a deficit. It is said that this must be brought under control in order to balance our State’s budget and advance our State in order to compete and become successful once again.

While they sound the trumpets on this pending attack, is this really THE answer? Is this really the key to a successful State? Or is it an anti-union agenda?

Many public worker unions (representing teachers, law enforcement, fire fighters, various municipalities and other government employees) across the State have already made many concessions as it relates to their wages and benefits. We don’t seem to hear much about that.

I came across an interesting article from the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. In this article a policy group by the name of Policy Matters Ohio have said the nine states that don’t allow unions to negotiate wages and benefits for members have budget deficits averaging 16.5 percent of revenue. The 15 states that grant unions full collective-bargaining authority have deficits averaging 16.2 percent of revenue, the group said (emphasis added).

Link to article: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/12/31/group-curbing-public-unions-wont-fix-budget.html?sid=101

Although this is a group from the State of Ohio it is still interesting data…

So what is the ultimate agenda of those now in power in State government as it relates to public worker unions?  Is it to create a more competitive State… or is it an agenda to erase the collective bargaining rights of public employees?

USW Local 12075 represents 9 public employee units.  Without a doubt, these members will be dealing with this issue in the near future.

I fully understand the neccesity of being competitive… if you aren’t competitive you will not be successful.  But the need to be competitive and how you become competitive is not to decimate the collective bargaining rights of employees.  Nor is it to eliminate the ability of an employee to earn a decent wage and receive decent benefits for the job they do.

So… what will be the spin given by those seeking to address the public worker unions and their wages and benefits?  At what cost or what balance will there be to get the State where it needs to be?  Is it truly to make Michigan a successful and competitive state or just an opportunity to put it to organized labor?

Opinions will obviously vary… positions will obviously be different… but in the end, who would ultimately gain from what looks to be an imminent attack on unions?  How would you gain?

USW Local 12075 President Kent Holsing

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