UCubed News

The Equal Rights Amendment

October 21, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

What ever happen to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the one that guarantees men and women equality under the law?

It’s in limbo. Thirty-five states ratified the ERA Amendment in the 1970s. Supporters needed to convince three more states to ratify it. But that never happened. Time ran out, interest waned.

Today a young actress, Kamala Lopez, is awakening a new generation to the fact that they don’t have equal rights. Most young women (and men) think otherwise. So, her ERA Education Project has developed a series of videos that are as imaginative as they are instructive.

What are the economic costs of sexual discrimination?

On average, women make 22 to 41 percent less than men; their pension benefits are half as large; and their health care insurance costs more. Over a lifetime, such economic inequality can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income.

But sexual discrimination in the workplace is not new. Neither is discrimination in state and federal statutes. In fact, state-sponsored discrimination in probate law, domestic relations, adoptions and custody, insurance, finance, health care and education produces some of the most egregious examples of unequal treatment that can be found.

Those discriminatory practices can be ended by embedding the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.  All it takes is three more states.

After 225 years of being second-class citizens, don’t you think our mothers, sisters and daughters deserve equality under the law?

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

Coup d’Etat

October 16, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leaders:

A small group of disgruntled leaders order their followers to shut down government offices, take over the television and radio stations, and surround the presidential residence. Then they initiate talks to see if the crisis can be ended – but only on their terms.

Sound familiar? It should. It happened in Egypt on July 3rd.

It is called a coup d’etat. And until now, there has only been one coup in the United States.

In Wilmington, NC, voters elected a biracial government on November 8, 1898. Two days later white supremacists burned the offices of the Daily Record, an African-American newspaper, marched into Brooklyn, a majority-black neighborhood, and began killing indiscriminately.

Led by Alfred Moore Waddell, a former Member of Congress and losing Democratic candidate for governor, the mob then “forced the white Republican Mayor Silas P. Wright and other members of the city government (both black and white) to resign.” According to the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission Report, a self-installed city council selected Waddell as mayor.

The coup d’etat in Wilmington is a cautionary tale at many levels. Racial hatred, partisan politics and overweening ambition all played a part. But the lightning speed of the descent from incendiary rhetoric to mob rule should be lost on no one.

Not now. Not ever.

On October 5th, the New York Times reported that “shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy.”

They produced a “little-noticed blueprint to defunding Obamacare… [that] articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy… [that] could derail the health care overhaul if conservative leaders were willing to push fellow Republicans – including their cautious leaders – into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.”

That blueprint was endorsed by 46 of the biggest names in the Tea Party-wing of the Republican Party. And, for the last eight months, they worked under the radar screens to turn that blueprint into reality. They have shut down government offices, filled the airwaves with incendiary rhetoric, encircled the Nation’s capital with truck convoys, stacked barricades around the White House and demanded that this crisis end – but only on their terms.

The Tea Party may call it a blueprint. I would call it an attempted coup d’etat.

Will it succeed?  In some ways, it already has. But how it plays out over the next few months really depends on you.

If you love your country and revere our Experiment in Democracy, let your President, Vice President, Senators and Member of Congress know. Tell them you believe in majority rule – always have, always will.

Click here to tell them to end this manufactured crisis by repudiating the Tea Party and V-O-T-I-N-G to reopen the government, raise the debt ceiling and start dealing with the real crisis our country faces, the jobs crisis.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

What Do We Get?

October 8, 2013 in Hire Us America, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

Few negotiations succeed if only one side comes to the table with a list of demands. When that happens, the dominant side says “no, no, no.” And the submissive side ends up negotiating with themselves, putting ever smaller demands forward and, essentially, begging for a face-saving resolution.

Sound familiar? It should. That’s the position the Congressional Republicans find themselves in. They’ve gone out on strike and partially shut down the government. The White House refuses to negotiate. So, McConnell’s Navy keeps tossing proposals on the table – defund Obamacare, pay government employees, fund NIH and Veterans Affairs – as if real negotiations were happening.

But it is all a kabuki dance. By now Mitch, John Boehner and Eric Cantor know this is all for show. Even their threat to prevent a vote on a clean debt ceiling is an exit strategy.

The bravado of the “strike vote” is ebbing away and a harsh reality is setting in. They’ll have to let the government reopen and accept, even grudgingly, whatever language the White House hands them – a six month continuing resolution, a half-trillion dollar increase in the debt ceiling and a few other gems.

If this was a labor dispute and management had the upper hand, then the “new contract” would contain language to keep peace on the shop floor. Management would tuck in a few objectives that it never openly disclosed. To get to this so-called win-win scenario, management would need labor’s votes. Often they would toss in a signing bonus or adjustments to the work rules as “sweeteners.”

So, in this instance, what do we get?

Cleaning up the mess McConnell’s Navy created will take Democratic votes. The leaders of the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses – Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – should have a few “sweeteners” ready to jam down GOP throats.

At a minimum, those “sweeteners” should include a commitment to allow floor votes on President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act and Congressman John Conyers’ Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act. Perhaps then, we would get the second stimulus America’s jobless so desperately need.

In unity – strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

GOP-LED CARTOON CONGRESS

October 3, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

Last April the Union of Unemployed started poking fun at McConnell’s Navy. Our cartoons placed Mitch, John Boehner and Eric Cantor in the conning tower of the U-6, a World War II submarine.

That double metaphor – U-6 as the widest measure of unemployment and U-6 as the remorseless killing machine stalking our economy – may have been lost on some.

Not… any… more.

Now McConnell’s Navy is the laughing stock of the nation. Its cast of characters offers the perfect foils for late night comedians.

You want WHAT, Mitch? Delay Obamacare for a year as the exchanges open! Say WHAT, Eric? Write off the 65.9 million Americans who voted for President Obama! Are you NUTS, John? Shut down the government AND stop paying its bills!

But McConnell’s Navy isn’t joking. If they don’t get what they want, they threaten to torpedo our economy.  And that means the unemployed and underemployed will remain so until 2017 or longer.

So please share our cartoons with your friends. With our 44.2 million “friends of fans” on Facebook, UCubed could put this GOP-led cartoon Congress on notice that no incumbent is safe from our wrath.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

UCubed’s Winners Circle

September 20, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Check out the candidates who speak out for the jobless, see their pain and make plans for them to work again. Then help us get out the vote. Visit UCubed’s Facebook page  and LIKE and SHARE!

 

 

 

Thank You, Sherrod

September 20, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

Earlier this week, Larry Summers withdrew his name as a possible replacement for Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. That move was due in large part to opposition from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

And Sherrod deserves our deepest gratitude for his leadership on this issue.

Policy changes by the Federal Reserve take years to gain traction. Its decisions to raise or lower interest rates – or expand or taper economic stimulus measures – are seldom felt immediately by the jobless or even working and middle-class Americans.

The basis pointers on Wall Street, however, react to every whiff of a new policy. They price in the changes and move on. But the builders working on Main Street won’t see their local economies grow or contract until long after the new policy is put in place. That lag time leaves the Federal Reserve almost entirely unaccountable for its actions.

And that lack of accountability would have disastrous consequences had Summers been nominated and confirmed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

As Secretary of the Treasury, as President of Harvard and as Chairman of the National Economic Council in the White House, Summers failed grievously whenever he lacked strong public oversight and strict accountability. His Mensa-driven mentality prevented him from admitting that he could be dead wrong. More often than not, he was. But he could wrap each fallacy in the tissue paper of sophistry to appeal to his base – the basis pointers that paid him millions when he was not serving in government.

Unfortunately, from opposing regulations on the derivatives that ultimately triggered the Great Recession to touting the “green shoots” of a still unraveling economy, Larry Summers has been the architect of America’s jobs crisis. To reward him for such dismal failures in judgment by handing him the power to control interest rates and our money supply would have been nothing less than a travesty.

Fortunately, Sherrod Brown with help from his fellow Democratic Senators on the Banking Committee forced Summers to withdraw his name from consideration. Now, at least, the Federal Reserve and its next Chairwoman (hopefully) will have a chance to pursue its twin obligations: low inflation and full employment.

Thank you, Sherrod. Thank you!

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

P.S. Full Disclosure: Sherrod and I shared a house in Columbus when he was in the Ohio General Assembly and I was in law school. Our paths seldom crossed in the intervening four decades.

 

 

 

Real Unemployment Numbers – August 2013

September 9, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Joyce Sheppard

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published their unemployment numbers for August 2013.  They define the official unemployment rate as declining to 7.3% from July’s 7.4% and state that as of August 31st that there are 11.3 million unemployed persons.

However, as we not each month, thies BLS figures do NOT reflect real unemployment, because they do not include:

  • Marginally attached workers are workers who “while wanting and available for jobs, have not searched for work in the past four weeks but have searched for work in the past twelve months.”  Currently included among them are 0.9 million discouraged workers who did not look for work specifically because “they believe there are no jobs available or none for which they would qualify.”
  • Underemployed workers cannot find full-time jobs or have had their hours cut back.

With marginally-attached workers and underemployed workers included, the number of Real Unemployed Persons decreased by 604,000 to 21.6 million. This number includes the 11.3 million unemployed persons the BLS identified plus the 10.3 million workers who are either marginally attached or part-time-of necessity (underemployed). And, the Real Unemployment Rated decreased by 0.35% to 13.7%.

 

 

Gulliver’s Travails

September 5, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leaders:

The image of Gulliver pinned to the ground by thousands of threads captures the current state of America’s labor movement.

From 1973 to 2013, the population of the United States grew from 214 to 315 million. In those 40 years, union membership shrank from 26 to 11 million.

That’s 101 million more versus 15 million less… clearly, the Lilliputians are winning. While Gulliver naps, they keep hammering their stakes and weaving their nets.

The politicians who treat labor unions like ATMs, the vendors who slyly increase their gross margins, the lawyers who advise against aggressive action, the bureaucrats who green-shade every expense, and even the staffers who do just enough to get by – all claim they are doing “what’s best for the members.”

The governments and corporations who seek our extinction also claim to know “what’s best for our members.” They, too, have bound us down with laws, regulations, rules, restrictions, precedents and orders. If they could, they’d accuse us of treason and try to blind us just as the King and Court of Lilliput sought to blind Gulliver.

And still there we lie.

Isn’t it time to break the bonds that restrict our movement? Isn’t it time to send those Lilliputians flying in all directions?

Gulliver’s travails – massive unemployment, shrinking hours and paychecks, harsher working conditions, vanishing pensions and benefits, inadequate schools, subpar housing, longer commutes, higher food prices and electricity rates, consumer rip offs, racial injustice and corporate corruption – cannot be solved by osmosis.

Next week, as the AFL-CIO comes together in its quadrennial convention, perhaps its leaders and delegates will awaken the giant that is the American labor movement. For Gulliver, serving as a metaphor for their members, has work to do and wrongs to right.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

Builders Versus Basis Pointers

Dear UCubed Leader:

From the corner offices with the billion dollar views to the cubicles with multiple computer screens, the pressure to produce profits is intense. So frenzied is their appetite for profits that piranhas are sedate by comparison. And yet, decisions driven by a basis point – 1/100 of one percent – can determine our fates.

It is no longer Wall Street versus Main Street. That’s too trite. The Basis Pointers have gone global. No continent is immune. No community can escape. No one’s job is safe.

The irony of ironies is that Basis Pointers revel in Creative Destruction, a concept borrowed from Karl Marx and popularized by Joseph Schumpeter after WWII. In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter wrote that “the same process of industrial mutation… that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”

The cycle of destruction is endless.

Wal-Mart buys so much product that they dictate pricing to suppliers, driving down the suppliers’ profits, and putting other suppliers out of business. All along their supply chain, workers end up out on the street… over a few basis points difference in unit costs.

Goldman Sachs buys and stores aluminum ingots, then moves tons of them from one warehouse to another. By doing so, they drive up the price of soft drinks and beer cans by a few basis points… adding up to more than a billion dollars in profits a year.

Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction is speculative. For a few basis points here or there, capital will flow… except to all those who seek to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Builders – those who make things and make things happen – find that Creative Destruction is aimed at their jobs, their plants, offices and stores and their communities. They fear the Basis Pointers. They know that, with a click of a mouse, the Basis Pointers can wreak havoc on a global economy.

And yet, the Basis Pointers are not gods. They, too, put their pants or pant suits on one leg at a time. They, too, err. They loathe the algorithms that dictate their lives. And what they fear most are the Builders, who easily outnumber them.

In our Democracy, numbers count. In the municipal, special and gubernatorial elections this year, few Basis Pointers will bother to vote. But the Builders will. And their votes will be decisive.

Who represents the Builders? Who shills for the Basis Pointers?

From Boston to Los Angeles, from Richmond to Rahway, from Staten Island to Harlem, the test is the same. Ask which candidate is collecting mega-bucks from the banks, brokerages and hedge funds.

The answer won’t come as much of a surprise.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President

 

 

 

Thanks, Mr. President

August 12, 2013 in From the Director, Homepage by Rick Sloan

Dear UCubed Leader:

The President of the United States endorsed the idea of a 21st Century Works Progress Administration. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week, President Obama kept nodding his head in affirmation as the comedian described what the WPA did in the 1930s.

The President then talked about the WPA building the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam, discussed the impact of Interstate Highway System and cautioned that Congress needs the political will to put folks back to work.

See the exchange here.

UCubed has been calling for a WPA 2.0 since its launch. During most of 2011, our Facebook ads asked, “Where’s a job for me, Mr. President?” And we explained how the WPA put today’s equivalent of 8 million Americans back to work in a single year. Our tag line was “We did it once. We can do it again.”

And we can.

But both we – and President Obama – need a Congress with the political will to follow his lead.

In Unity — Strength,

Rick

Rick Sloan
UCubed President