Tag Archives: salaries

Clinton vows to crack down on Wall Street excess

Laying out her agenda to help American workers, Hillary Rodham Clinton said on July 13 that if she is elected to the White House she will seek to build a “growth and fairness economy” that would rejuvenate wages that have remained stagnant since the Great Recession.

In her first major economic speech of her presidential campaign, Clinton vowed to crack down on Wall Street excess and warned that a large field of Republican White House hopefuls would promote tax cuts and a return to policies that would balloon the national debt. She singled out three GOP candidates by name, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whom she accused of failing to understand the plight of workers.

“You may have heard Gov. Bush say last week that Americans just need to work longer hours. Well, he must not have met very many American workers,” Clinton said at The New School in New York, urging Bush to speak to nurses, truckers or fast food workers. “They don’t need a lecture. They need a raise.”

Bush, during an event in Sioux City, Iowa, said Clinton believed that it didn’t matter that 6.5 million people were only able to work part-time instead of holding full-time jobs. “Hillary Clinton believes that 2 percent growth, apparently the new normal, is acceptable,” Bush said.

He told reporters that Clinton’s “policies are going to suppress wage growth. Her policies are a continuation of the Obama economics which has been a complete disaster.” Republicans note that under President Barack Obama, the workplace participation rate has declined to its lowest level since 1977.

In an agenda-setting address, Clinton sought to appeal to liberal voters within her party who have questioned her willingness to regulate Wall Street and have rallied behind her chief Democratic rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The message also appeared aimed at anxious voters who have seen little gains in their paychecks even as the nation moves past the Great Recession.

“As the shadow of crisis recedes and longer-term challenges come into focus, I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy,” Clinton said. “You can’t have one without the other.”

Clinton said she would propose more public investment in infrastructure projects, advance renewable energy and promote tax cuts for small business owners. She expressed support for an increase in the federal minimum wage, an overhaul to the tax code, and policy proposals related to child care and paid family leave.

Clinton, who maintained strong ties to Wall Street as a New York senator, pushed back against the industry, saying the largest financial institutions had too often focused on short-term profits instead of helping grow the economy.

She expressed outrage at accounts of money laundering and currency manipulation involving several major financial firms, calling them “shocking,” and promised criminal prosecutions of bad bankers. One of the firms she identified, HSBC, paid former President Bill Clinton $200,000 to speak at a Florida conference in 2011, an appearance that was cleared by the State Department despite an ongoing federal money-laundering probe that led HSBC to reach a 2012 settlement with prosecutors.

The former secretary of state said few rogue traders had faced consequences for malfeasance, a subtle swipe at the Obama administration, which took no action against the individual financial titans who pursued risky fiscal practices. “This is wrong, and on my watch it will change,” she said.

Clinton also vowed to expand the Dodd-Frank law passed by Congress in 2010, which tightened regulation of financial institutions, and said she would bolster government oversight of hedge funds and high-frequency traders.

The speech offered Clinton’s most extensive critique of Bush, a top contender for the GOP nomination.

Clinton said the nation’s economy should not be measured by “some arbitrary growth targets untethered to people’s lives and livelihoods.” That was a veiled reference to Bush, who has said he would set a goal of 4 percent economic growth, including 19 million jobs, if elected president.

She also lobbed criticism at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was launching his campaign on July 13. Rubio’s tax proposal is a “budget-busting giveaway to the super-wealthy,” Clinton said, and she called Walker an example of a GOP governor who had made his name “stomping on workers’ rights.”

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said Clinton wanted to “take us back to yesterday, but we cannot raise taxes like the 1990s or increase spending like the 2000s. Marco is proposing a 21st century tax plan that would benefit all Americans, especially middle-class families.”

Clinton, meanwhile, made no mention of Sanders, who has wooed Democrats by making economic inequality the central plank of his insurgent campaign.

Obama touts federal overtime rule in Wisconsin

President Barack Obama put a political edge on his push for more overtime pay for U.S. workers on July 2 by touting it in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker has made a name for himself by clashing with labor unions.

Walker, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination the week of July 13, greeted Air Force One as it landed in La Crosse.

They shook hands and chatted amiably on the tarmac.

But Walker has already criticized the overtime proposal Obama’s Labor Department made earlier this week.

The plan would make nearly 5 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay.

Early in his tenure as governor in 2011, Walker burnished his credentials with conservatives in his party by pushing for a law to limit the collective-bargaining rights of public sector employees. He survived a union-backed recall election in 2012.

Obama’s proposed overtime rule is widely opposed by businesses and could face legal challenges, but it was heralded by workers’ groups. Labor unions are a traditional ally of Obama, a Democrat, though that relationship was tested in June in Congress in a struggle over international trade.

Carrying the overtime-rule fight into Wisconsin gave Obama a chance to mend fences with unions, which last month unsuccessfully opposed his quest for “fast-track” power to craft a proposed 12-nation Pacific Rim trade treaty.

“The change in this overtime rule in a way that could potentially allow up to 5 million Americans to get a more fair paycheck, again, is an illustration that most of the time, when it comes to fighting for middle-class workers, the Obama administration and organized labor are on the same side,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on July 1.

Editor’s note: Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton.

Report: Unionization yields better pay, benefits for women workers

Women in unions see a substantial boost in pay and benefits relative to non-union counterparts, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“Women Workers and Unions” shows that unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts.

The research, released on Dec. 9, also shows that 36.8 of unionized women workers are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The research shows that unionization benefits women at every education level, but the largest effect is for women who have less formal education.

For a woman with a high school degree, joining a union is more likely to lead to her securing employee health care insurance or retirement benefits than earning a four-year college degree.

“Women are on track to become the majority of the union workforce in 10 years, but their rate of unionization is dropping, along with that of men,” said Nicole Woo, who co-wrote the paper for the center. “Considering the great boost to pay and benefits that unions bring, it’s important that anyone who cares about the well-being of women also care about unions.”

The release of the report coincided with the 50th anniversary of the release of “American Women: Report of the Commission on the Status of Women.” The commission was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt and was tasked with “developing recommendations for overcoming discriminations in government and private employment on the basis of sex.”

Eddie Long says church finances are down in advance of settlement

The church founded by the embattled anti-gay Bishop Eddie Long has laid off two full-time staffers and cut salaries by 10 percent. eddie_long

Long also told his congregation at Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on March 6 that he’d cut his and his wife’s salaries by 40 percent, which was confirmed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The revelations have led some observers to speculate that Long’s church has seen donations fall following lawsuits filed against him last year by four young men who say he coerced them into sexual relationships with trips and expensive gifts, including cars, jewelry and cash.

Other observers have charged that Long is maneuvering to make himself appear less affluent as he prepares to settle with his accusers. His first mediation session with his accusers was wrapping up as the announcements were made.

Long, however, insisted that the cuts were due to the impact of the economic recession on church operations.

In addition to Long, church is also named in the four lawsuits, and its LongFellows Youth Academy is named in three.

Long’s accusers, all of them fit, attractive young men, say they were enrolled in the academy when Long took them under his wing for mentoring. They were at least 16 years old, the age of consent in Georgia, before he initiated sex with them, they say.

In a copy of one lawsuit provided to The Associated Press, one of the young men said Long coerced him into a sexual relationship during a trip to Kenya, at one point telling him, “I will be your dad.”

Long denies the allegations.

“I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. That’s not me. That is not me,” he said from the pulpit shortly after the scandal broke in September 2010.

Peter Laberbera, president of the anti-gay Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, has called on Long to resign his position as a mega-church pastor.

“If it don’t fit, you must quit,” Laberbera said.

Long became one of the country’s most powerful independent church leaders over the last 20 years, turning a suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 into a 25,000-member powerhouse with a $50-million cathedral and a roster of parishioners that includes athletes, entertainers and politicians.

A father of four, Long has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, and his church has counseled gay members to become straight.