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Category: Fighting for Acceptable Wages

Category: Fighting for Acceptable Wages

Baltimore, Maryland – President Obama attended the Democrat retreat this week just as the GOP was holding their first retreat in a decade. The President is reported to have informed Senate Democrats that he will be on the offensive with the GOP against any bill he finds objectionable. It is hardly the attitude that will foster a spirit of bipartisanship nor recognize the will of the people.

The president’s recalcitrance was not necessarily met with the approval he might have expected. This is because some of the legislation he is opposing is actually bipartisan. One example is the Keystone Pipeline XL. President Obama does not like the congress forcing his hand to approve the bill. This is despite the fact he has taken no action on the project’s authorization for six years. The other bill he vowed to veto is the legislation imposing sanctions on Iran and requiring congressional approval of any accord he strikes with the rogue nation.

The trouble is that the Iran bill is being written by Democrat Senator Bob Menendez along with GOP Senator Bob Corker. Apparently, Senator Menendez did not take kindly to Obama’s obtuse stance which resulted in a heated exchange between the two. Indeed, it may be said that elections have consequences. Under the leadership of Harry Reid, the Menendez-Corker bill would stand no chance of getting a vote. Now, it is expected to be debated thoroughly. It remains to be seen how effective the president will be at merely butting heads with the GOP as opposed to working with them. The article featuring Gianfrancesco Genoso on Trade Nosis explains this in better depth.

My friend Vijay Eswaran shared this story with me. As the Senate is now confronted with passing, amending or denying a spending bill that was passed by the House on Thursday night, Democrats and republicans have taken to the press to argue for and against the bill. The $1.1 trillion spending bill is a last chance effort to permanently fund the government through next year. If this were not to pass, other options would be a continuing resolution or shorter term bill that would allow for further amendment to the budget next year. The majority Republican House of Representative passed the bill later than expected on Thursday because Democrats took issue with two main articles in the plan which repealed part of Dodd-Frank and reformed the campaign finance system. 

Senator Bernie Sanders has be outspokenly against the Dodd-Frank repeal, saying that he will vote against the bill for that reason. Additionally, he has begun to call the bill a “cromnibus” solution. Democrats say the bill favors big business and the financial sector, specifically Wall Street. The Dodd-Frank bill was passed in the wake of the most recent economic crisis to create restrictions and regulation for Wall Street brokers. It is that exact regulation that this bill would repeal. Bernie Sanders and senate Democrats claim that this would leave the country open to economic turmoil again. Lawmakers have a deadline of Friday afternoon in order to avoid government shutdown. However, a shorter bill may fund the government to Monday at the latest.

“A bill that will go before the full Senate and House includes higher co-pays for prescriptions filled at off-base pharmacies, a curb on basic allowances for housing – BAH – by 1 percent next year, and rolling back the statutory 1.8 percent troop pay raise to 1 percent, first reported by Military Times.

According to the 2015 G20 economic forecast , troops will lose somewhere between .8 and 1.3 percent of their spending power to inflation. The Act also will increase the cost to troops living off-post in the form of a proposed reduction in the BAH and an increase in their co-pay for prescriptions bought off base by $3. These roll backs and reductions may seem inconsequential to someone making an average of $174,000 annually, but some of the lower-enlisted troops are already living at or near the poverty level.

Bruce Karatz says he is interested in the intelligence behind even further cuts in pay and benefits to the troops while increasing the amount of money spent waging the wars that these troops are asked to fight. I don’t know how others will respond to this, but as for me, I will write to my Congressional representatives and ask why they are trying to balance the budget on the backs of our troops.

Wal-mart employees and activists protest on Black Friday to demand an increase in wages. 

Some 200 people demonstrated outside the Wal-Mart in North Bergen, New Jersey, demanding living wages for workers in the store.

“I really expected to find a row of buyers, not a protest,” said customer Genaro Stachys. “I knew that this megastore was not paying their workers well. Customers should be aware. Besides giving all these discounts, the employees should be paid well.”

With slogans like “Dignity is not charity” and ” De-Ferguson the Wal-Mart ,” religious leaders, activists and members asked for $15 per hour and better benefits for workers in the transnational company.

“Workers are getting crumbs as payment, and they cannot support their families,” said Reverend Danny Diaz, activist and co-organizer of the rally. “This corporation takes in billions, has two million employees and thousands of stores. It has enough and more to pay a fair wage.”

Brad Reifler says the protest is part of a national movement to pressure Wal-Mart to improve its labor policies. Among the unions that support demand is the RWDSU Local 338.

“We are asking Wal-Mart to release their workers from economic slavery, are economic terrorists,” said Diaz. 

William C. Wertz, communications director of Wal-Mart, said “the demonstration does not support the opinion or the feelings of all the employees of the company.”

Wertz said that the benefits include a good medical plan and educational opportunities. “The priority is not only happy customers, but to also keep workers happy,” he added.