Jewish Labor Committee Blasts Puzder

The Jewish Labor Committee has asked the Senate to reject the confirmation of fast-food executive Andrew Puzder to be Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. Calling him a “rigid anti-worker ideologue,” the Committee observed:”It is unprecedented to appoint a corporate chief executive officer to this position, especially one who in his public positions, in the sexist advertising promoted by his company, and in his numerous writings has made clear he opposes most of the laws he will be sworn to enforce.”

The Committee pointed out that, under Puzder’s leadership, his company has been a conspicuous violator of the wage and hour rules whose enforcement is a major responsibility of the Labor Department. It noted that Puzder’s company has been cited 98 times for safety violations since he became CEO in 2000. 36 of these citations involved risk of life or grave physical harm to workers. Even the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission admit that it faces multiple class action law suits for wage and hour violations.

Further, the JLC called attention to his hostile attitude toward improving the conditions
of low-wage workers, including those in the notorious fast-food industry. Puzder, it said,
opposed expanding coverage of overtime rules and raising minimum wages. The JLC has been a
strong advocate of low-wage workers and the “fight for $15 and a union” movement.

Posted in Domestic Politics Economy Labor by Eldon Clingan. No Comments

Andrew Puzder: the Anti- Labor Secretary

Linda Greenhouse, the long-time Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times, has a vision
of the first meeting of the Trump cabinet: seated around the table are Cabinet officers who have been chosen because they oppose the missions or long-term policies of the agencies that they have been picked to run. She writes,” They will have been placed in their positions and handed the reins of power not to govern, but to destroy.”

The competition is difficult, but Andrew Puzder is certainly a top contender for the title of “Chief Agency Destroyer.” In an appointment that is absurd even by the low standards of Donald Trump, Puzder, a fast-food executive, has been selected to preside over the Department of Labor, a department whose mission is:” To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” Judging by his announced views, Puzder, whom AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka has called “a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people,” will not be a Secretary whose aspirations are guided by the Department’s mission statement. He will be the Anti-Labor Secretary.

Some of his positions are predictable. He is, of course, opposed to any serious increase in the minimum wage; the “$15 and a union” poverty-stricken fast food workers should not look to him for any sympathy, much less help. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says that his company is a regular violator of wage and hour laws, so don’t expect an aggressive enforcement of fair labor standards. On the other hand, do expect an early attack against the Obama Executive Order that requires Federal contractors to grant up to 7 days of paid sick leave in a year, an order that affects more than a million workers. Certain to draw his ire is the Executive Order that sets a ceiling of $47,476, below which salaried workers must be paid time and a half for overtime. This order, making an estimated 4.2 million workers eligible for overtime pay, is now being held up by a Texas court. To kill the order, Puzder need only stop the appeal from going forward.

Then there are his own eccentric, individual opinions. Like any respectable Trumpist, he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Beyond the usual arguments, however, he maintains that the high premiums of the ACA have created a restaurant recession because they have left people little money to dine out. His attitude toward workers is unique in the history of Labor Secretaries: on the whole, he prefers machines. He observes that they are never late for work, never take vacations and never sue because of age, sex or race discrimination. We could add that they never whine about poverty wages, need time off because of a sick child,
or want to join a union. They are, in short, the ideal workers by this Secretary’s lights.

Andrew Puzder will harm the working conditions of millions of laboring people; he will destroy the opportunities for a better life of millions. The Senate should protect America’s workers by refusing to confirm him.

Posted in Domestic Politics Economy Labor by Eldon Clingan. No Comments

Jewish Labor Committee Urges Friedman Rejection

Yesterday the Jewish Labor Committee urged the Senate to reject the nomination of David M. Friedman as the next Ambassador to Israel. In a statement, the JLC noted its opposition to new or expanded settlements in the West Bank territories and its support for a “…reasonably negotiated, fair and secure two-state solution for Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.” Declaring that it was essential for a United States Ambassador to be supportive of the two-state solution, the Committee said,”…Because Friedman is an active supporter of the West Bank settlement movement and because he does not believe in a two-state solution… he is not an
appropriate nominee for this crucial post.”

The JLC expressed its concern that the incoming Trump administration wishes to express its endorsement of Friedman’s views by his nomination. Such an endorsement, it said “…Will communicate to Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and the entire international community that the United States is no longer interested in using its good offices to promote a peaceful
resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Committee said that not only were Friedman’s views contrary to decades-old bi-partisan American policies but contrary to Israel’s long-term interests: ” Rejecting the two-state solution would doom Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Ameinu, the Labor Zionist organization, has similarly condemned Friedman’s nomination and has started a petition campaign to urge the Senate to reject it. The petition can be found at the group’s website, www.ameinu.net.

Posted in Foreign Affairs Labor by Eldon Clingan. 1 Comment

Labor Zionists Petition Senate Against Ambassador Confirmation

The Principles of SDUSA express strong support for the existence of the State of Israel within secure borders, while opposing settlements and advocating an independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel. We share these beliefs with the Labor and Socialist Zionist movements which largely led and fought for the creation of Israel, and we are comrades of the modern forms of those movements, the Israel Labor Party and the Meretz Party.

David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer and Donald Trump’s designated American Ambassador to Israel (related facts), is about as far from our principles as it is possible to be. He has been an outspoken supporter of settlements on the West Bank, has denigrated the idea of a Palestinian state and even suggested that President Obama is an anti-Semite. His extreme views are to the Right of even Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public positions. He has made despicable statements likening progressive American Jews to Jewish collaborators with Nazis in the death camps and denied that members of J Street, the progressive Jewish lobby, are even Jews.

Resistance to his confirmation has begun, with Ameinu, the Labor Zionist organization, beginning a petition asking the Senate to block his nomination. The petition and related statements can be found on Ameinu’s website, www.ameinu.net. You don’t have to be Jewish to sign– just a person who believes in a just, fair, peaceful solution to a very complicated problem!

Posted in Foreign Affairs by Eldon Clingan. 2 Comments

Labor Sec Perez in for DNC Chair

Highly regarded Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced yesterday his candidacy for Chair of the
Democratic National Committee. Perez is thought to have been encouraged in his bid by the Obama-Clinton forces in the Democratic Party who are unhappy with Keith Ellison, the other major candidate for the DNC post. The stage is now set for a contest between the centrist and progressive wings of the DP.

Perez is considered a friend by much of the labor movement, including the AFL- CIO which has endorsed Keith Ellison. The major fault found with Perez by the unions is his advocacy of the TransPacific Pact as an emissary of the Obama administration, and some labor leaders are said to be annoyed that he delayed his announcement until after they had committed to Ellison. The process, they say, has been going on for months, and Perez should have indicated his interest earlier.

In the opinion of progressives, the election of Perez would pose several problems in the rebuilding of the DP from its catastrophic defeat in November. First, it would mean that the rebuilding process would be in the hands of those who have had undisputed control of the party machinery for the last eight years and who led the DP to disaster. Their inability and even unwillingness to confront the Republicans over working class issues is seen as helping cause significant defections from the Democrats in November. The likelihood that they would change course is considered remote, but without changing course, the party is likely to face the same electoral defeats that it did in 2010, 2014 and 2016, defeats that have left the three branches of the Federal government in conservative control.

A Perez leadership of the party might well infuriate the Sanders-Warren wing that is solidly behind Ellison. Certainly the activists who came into the party through the Sanders campaign are unlikely to continue as foot soldiers in a DP dominated by the same old same old Obama- Clinton supporters. More probable is a continuation of the battle for control of the party extending for years.

For social democrats, the key question is, who will be more likely to take the DP in the direction it needs to go to become a social democratic/progressive party, a party that will be responsive to the needs of the people? It’s probably fair to say that Perez is the status quo candidate and that Keith Ellison is the agent of change. It was in the belief for the necessity of change that SDUSA endorsed Keith Ellison this week.

Posted in Domestic Politics Labor by Eldon Clingan. 6 Comments