Teamsters Take on Anti-Worker Trade Deals, Legislation
Corporations and anti-union forces are cannibalizing this country’s job base and the fight is happening on a number of fronts, from bad trade deals to right to work, and from misclassifying workers to stealing their wages.
There are very few politicians willing to go to bat for working families and the rights of workers because they fear upsetting the businesses and industries which fund their campaigns and have a stranglehold on government. That is why so much bad legislation is steamrolling its way through state legislatures and the federal government.
There are too many examples of bad legislative ideas to list here, but here’s a sampling: Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican House Majority Leader, wants to allow employers to skimp on overtime pay; the Koch brothers want to do away with the minimum wage; Republican politicians want to enact nationwide right-to-work laws, gut Social Security and privatize public industries.
There is only one group actively fighting for the rights of working families: labor unions. The Teamsters Union has been using every weapon in its arsenal to fight back these well-funded attacks on workers’ rights, wages and benefits.
“Corporations have money on their side, but we have the boots on the ground,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Those boots don’t mean a thing if they aren’t marching.”
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that seven of the top 10 jobs predicted to grow in the next decade are low-wage occupations.
More than half of those jobs, including workers in the fast food industry, meet the U.S. Census poverty threshold for a family of five.
The three other categories that pay a living wage are heavily unionized, including “Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers” which are on track to add 21 percent more jobs by 2020. Unlike unionized truck drivers, the current median wage of a full-time fast food worker is $17,950, low enough to qualify a full-time worker for government assistance.
A worker with this level of income cannot reasonably afford a two bedroom apartment in any state, according to National Low Income Housing Coalition statistics.
A study in April showed that 84 percent of fast food workers in New York City had experienced at least one form of wage theft—and almost half reported at least three different types of wage theft within the past year.
Fast food workers and those in other poverty-wage service jobs across America are currently protesting low wages and terrible working conditions, with the eventual goal of union representation.
“Before unions came along, factory jobs were the worst jobs to have,” Hoffa said. “Unions made those jobs better, safer, got workers higher wages and better benefits. But now most of our factory jobs have gone overseas because of bad trade deals. TPP, a trade deal currently being written, will make those matters worse.
“The Teamsters Union stands with our nonunion brothers and sisters who want to make their jobs better and lift the tide for all service workers,” he said. “By standing up for their rights and unionizing, they are taking a stand for all working families.”
America is losing too many good jobs and gaining too many low-wage jobs. This is a direct result of anti-worker legislation and terrible trade deals that don’t benefit working families.
Right to work, bad trade deals, employee misclassification and other issues are symptoms of corporate gluttony. They bring wages down for everyone and the problem is getting worse. Rightwing legislatures in states across the country have passed disastrous legislation that is depressing wages, sending jobs overseas and worsening conditions for all workers.
These lost jobs are good, middle-class jobs. Shipping them overseas and skimping on wages only benefits those who are already wealthy. Things like cross-border trucking, right to work and bad trade deals may not seem reprehensible on the surface, but legislation that harms working families contributes to the inequality that is already at historic levels.
A Department of Labor estimate states that up to 30 percent of businesses misclassify employees to avoid paying overtime, minimum wage and payroll taxes. Since 1968, the federal minimum wage has lost 30 percent of its real value and household income has become increasingly unequal.
“In 1909, tens of thousands of young, low-wage and immigrant workers in New York’s garment district mobilized to protest terrible working conditions and worse wages. Despite language barriers, anti-union thugs and hostile bosses, they marched in picket lines through the middle of winter because they were determined to have a better life,” Hoffa said. “Workers across the country are still fighting 104 years later. Many already understand the notion that corporate profits cannot and should not come at the expense of middle-class security, but the Teamsters and our members will continue to spread that message.”