FROM Josh Eidelson
President Trump, organized labor and working Americans The President helped unveil Boeing's new Dreamliner today in South Carolina -- at a plant where workers just rejected unionization by a vote of three-to-one. In half of America's state capitals, Republicans are enacting so-called "right-to-work" laws crippling unions by allowing employees not to pay dues. Fifty years ago, organized labor was a powerful force in politics and the economy -- earning credit for creating the middle class. With the White House incumbent applauding efforts to reduce union clout, what about his promise to "make America great again" for millions of workers?
Trump's love affair with working Americans: Will it last? Organized labor was the foundation of America's middle class in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Recently, the unions have fallen on hard times. President-Elect Trump claims he's saved middle class jobs by threatening companies with plans to re-locate in Mexico, but even supporters say that's not a real policy. The President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, says he told Donald Trump he'll be willing to work with him — especially when it comes to NAFTA and other trade deals that have taken jobs overseas. But, for the moment, what matters are Trump's appointees to major positions, like the Secretary of Labor and members of the National Labor Relations Board. Do they represent the interests of the working class--or the latest version of "crony capitalism?"
Third parties: voting your conscience or wasting your vote? For millions of voters, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton present an agonizing choice between the lesser of two evils. Libertarian Gary Johnson offers an alternative for fiscal conservatives who won't vote for Trump but can't stand Hillary. The Green Party's Jill Stein speaks to disappointed and angry supporters of Bernie Sanders. But third-party candidates always pose a moral quandary: can they be anything but spoilers? Do they take votes away from the least of the perceived "evils" and help to elect the worst? We look at this year's competition for the Republicans and the Democrats.
Workers Rally Nationwide for Higher Wages Workers are striking today in New York City, chanting, "If we don't get it…shut it down." What they're demanding is $15 an hour for fast food workers and many others as well -- in New York and 270 other cities across the country. Josh Eidelson reports for Bloomberg BusinessWeek .
The City of Los Angeles Will Be Raising the Minimum Wage The vote was 14 to 1 today in the LA City Council -- almost unanimous on behalf of working people -- with just one vote for business. All the rest approved raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2020. Mike Bonin, who represents most of the Westside, called raising the wage to $15 “the least we can do. It is the very least we can do.” Los Angeles is not the only place where the minimum wage is changing. Today's near-unanimous vote in the City Council is the latest moment in a long process of political change. LA politics used to be the almost exclusive province of business. Not any more, say KCRW reporter Saul Gonzalez, who went inside City Hall.
Walmart, the Minimum Wage and the Working Poor Last week, Walmart stunned the world of retail by announcing that it will give half-million low-wage workers a raise in April to $9 an hour, with the promise of $10 an hour by February of next year. Low pay has created image problems for America's biggest private employer, while reduced unemployment means new competition for workers. But even $10 is hardly enough to support a family, and labor advocates are pushing for $15. As some cities and states increase the minimum wage, we hear what life is like at the lowest end of the pay scale.
What's Ahead for the Fight over Minimum Wage? 2014 was a big year for the battle over minimum wage. In November, voters in four states passed referendums to raise their state minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25 an hour. In December, Chicago became the latest city to set a higher minimum wage for workers, and next year, higher wages take effect in Hawaii, Maryland and West Virginia. Here to discuss this growing trend is reporter Josh Eidelson, who covers labor and politics for Bloomberg BusinessWeek .
Port Slowdown: Worrisome News for the Economy Since July, unionized dockworkers and shipping companies had been negotiating a new contract behind closed doors -- until a recent exchange of angry public accusations. Retailers, agricultural interests and others have warned President Obama about a slowdown at West Coast ports that could escalate into a strike or lockout, with tens of billions in economic losses. The Pacific Maritime Association says the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has orchestrated a slowdown at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Today, there’s an added problem of a strike against two of the 1000 trucking firms that serve the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Thanks to Sasa Woodruff for production assistance.
Should Fast Food Workers Get a ‘Living Wage?’ Seven dollars and twenty-five cents is the federal minimum wage and, this week, workers in 7 cities have gone to the streets demanding their pay be doubled to 15 dollars an hour. They hope to embarrass brands like McDonald’s—chains claiming their franchisees provide short-term, entry-level jobs while only making marginal profits.What would increased wages mean for the price of fast food? Is there likely to be any change?
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.