Category Archives: Labor

House approves massive spending bill, moves to Senate to avert a government shutdown

The U.S. House of Representatives on a vote of 256-167 (proceeding under the TARGET Act) has approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert a government shutdown and to fund federal agencies through Sept. 30, sending the measure over to the Senate ahead of a midnight Friday deadline.

Arizona Delegation: YES McSally, O’Halleran, Sinema; NO Biggs, Gallego, Gosar, Grijalva, Schweikert.

The Senate is expected to vote late on Thursday or Friday, before current government funding expires at midnight on Friday. There could still be another brief Aqua Buddha shutdown from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) desperately seeking attention.

You can read the massive 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill to search for what is hidden in it.

Here are a few highlights of what is (and is not) in the spending bill compiled from several sources including the Washington Post, Politico, and


Defense spending generally favored by Republicans is set to rise $80 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel and $144 billion for Pentagon hardware.

Domestic spending generally favored by Democrats is set to rise by $63 billion over previously authorized budget sequester levels, including increases in funding for infrastructure, medical research, veterans programs and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Civilian federal employees get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

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February jobs report exceeds expectations

Steve Benen has the February jobs report. Job growth soars in February, exceeding expectations:

Headed into this morning, most economic observers expected the new jobs report to show steady growth, with roughly 200,000 new jobs. As it turns out, the projections weren’t nearly optimistic enough.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 313,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.


Just as encouraging, the revisions for the previous two months – December 2017 and January 2018 – were both up significantly, pointing to an additional 54,000 previously unreported jobs.

Before Donald Trump starts tweeting that these are record-breaking numbers, let’s note that while this is certainly the strongest report of his presidency, the nation topped 300,000 monthly jobs seven times in the Obama era: April 2011, January 2012, April 2014, June 2014, May 2015, and October 2015.

Also keep an eye on the Federal Reserve’s reaction to the new data. If the markets start to drop today, it’s probably because of fears of rising interest rates.

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West Virginia wildcat teacher strike succeeds, inspires other states to follow, including Arizona

West Virginia public school teachers decided “enough is enough” and staged a statewide strike. “Over 15,000 teachers and school support employees in all 55 West Virginia counties have been out on strike for [nine] days, as they and supporters from around the state [flooded] the capitol in Charleston, W.V., demanding higher pay and affordable healthcare.” West Virginia Teachers Are Now Out on a Wildcat Strike. The Labor Movement Should Follow Their Lead.:

Bucking a deal struck between the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) and the state government, school workers have defied both union leadership and state law, which affords them no right to strike and does not recognize their right to collectively bargain. These restrictions haven’t stopped West Virginia educators from leading what may be one of the most important labor actions in years.

With “right-to-work” laws spreading across the country, and a Janus Supreme Court decision that could decimate public-sector unions on the horizon, striking teachers are offering a blueprint for how to win when the odds are stacked against labor: Strike, win and then keep striking to win more—no matter what union leaders say.

The walkout in West Virginia has now become what’s known as a wildcat strike: A mass work action carried out by the rank-and-file and without the express consent of union leadership. [Last] Tuesday, after agreeing to a five percent raise for teachers and three percent raise for other public-sector workers, WVEA leaders declared victory. But the rank-and-file weren’t having it, breaking out into chants of “We are the union bosses!” and “Back to the table!”

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Plutocrats, free-riders, and the GOP war on organized labor (and the Democratic Party) in the Supreme Court today

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument today in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the third attempt by wealthy anti-labor interests to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements under the First Amendment.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog has the history and legal posture of this case in Argument preview: For the third time, justices take on union-fee issue:

In 1977, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that government employees like Janus who do not belong to a union can be required to pay a fee – often known as a “fair share” or “agency” fee – to cover the union’s costs to negotiate a contract that applies to all public employees, including those who are not union members. The justices reasoned then that allowing the fees would help to avoid both labor strife and the prospect that nonmembers could be “free-riders” who benefit from the union’s collective bargaining efforts without having to pay for them.

But in recent years, conservative think tanks proposing expansive (novel) interpretations of the First Amendment well beyond the original meaning and purpose intended by the Founding Fathers, financed by conservative billionaires, are using the First Amendment in much the same way they used “substantive due process” during the Lochner era (circa 1897–1937) to strike down minimum wage and labor laws to protect “freedom of contract.” While the Lochner era approach has long since been discredited and abandoned by the court, the right-wing keeps trying to bring it back and to revive it. See George Will, Why liberals fear the ‘Lochner’ decision (2011).

An example of this is the Illinois Policy Institute, one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors:

It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

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January jobs report holds steady, but trouble is on the horizon

The first jobs report of 2018 looks an awful lot like the jobs reports from the last several years. Steve Benen has the January jobs report, Job growth stays on course as 2018 gets underway:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 200,000 jobs in January, up a bit from December’s totals. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.

January Jobs

Perhaps the most notable development in the report was the increase in hourly wage growth. Expect a spirited debate over the possible explanations for this, including the inevitable result of low unemployment, the Republican tax cuts, and the minimum-wage hikes that recently kicked in across much of the country.

Also note, once a year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes revised month-to-month job data for the previous year, and that’s reflected in today’s report. We now know that in 2017, the U.S. economy generated 2.17 million jobs – which is a pretty healthy number, though it’s lower than what Americans have seen in recent years.

The economy added 2.3 million in 2013, 2.99 million in 2014, 2.71 million in 2015, and 2.24 million in 2016, making 2017 the worst for job growth since 2012, when the economy added 2.17 million jobs.

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Rep. Don ‘Tequila’ Shooter to be censured for sexual harassment? It should be expulsion (Updated)

A House investigation finally confirmed yesterday that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don “Tequila” Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol. Well no shit.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Rep. Shooter sexually harassed women, created hostile work environment, investigator finds:

A House investigation confirmed today that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol.

After the allegations against Shooter surfaced, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard suspended Shooter from his powerful position as the chairman of the House Appropriations committee.

Mesnard said today Shooter will be permanently removed from all committee assignments immediately. Mesnard also said he will seek to censure Shooter for his behavior.

Excuse me? I’m sorry, but the remedy here is one of only two options: Rep. Shooter can either voluntarily resign his seat, or the House should vote for expulsion of a member. A censure is merely a slap on the wrist with no serious consequences.

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