White House Reviewing Plan by ‘Deregulatory Zealots’ to Relax Child Labor Laws

(We are well on our way to going back to the good old days of Charles Dickens. Back when there were no regulations keeping our glorious captains of industry from making a buck any damn way they could. Now they are going after child labor laws. Remarkable. What’s next? Openly supporting the institution of slavery?)

from Common Dreams

As part of its broad and relentless effort to roll back longstanding workplace safety regulations that have drastically reduced on-the-job injuries and deaths over the past several decades, President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor (DOL) has officially sent the White House a proposal to allow teenagers to “spend full days operating chainsaws and meat slicers and working in other dangerous occupations.”

With the department’s plan now before the White House’s regulatory review office, the proposal to loosen child labor restrictions—which has been denounced by workers’ rights advocates, lawmakers, and former DOL officials—is “one procedural hurdle from public release,” reports Ben Penn of Bloomberg Law.

“The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will now review the proposal and send it back to the DOL for final edits before it can be published for public comment,” Penn adds. “This regulation would call for relaxing current rules—known as Hazardous Occupations Orders or HOs—that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs. That includes roofing work, as well as operating chainsaws, and various other power-driven machines that federal law recognizes as too dangerous for those younger than 18.”…

[read more here]

Worker wages drop while companies spend billions to boost stocks

from MoneyWatch

Six months after the Tax Cut and Jobs Act became law, there’s still little evidence that the average job holder is feeling the benefit.

Worker pay in the second quarter dropped nearly one percent below its first-quarter level, according to the PayScale Index, one measure of worker pay. When accounting for inflation, the drop is even steeper. Year-over-year, rising prices have eaten up still-modest pay gains for many workers, with the result that real wages fell 1.4 percent from the prior year, according to PayScale. The drop was broad, with 80 percent of industries and two-thirds of metro areas affected.

“Now, economic confidence has been good, we’re in a strong economy, GDP is growing, but the question has been, where’s the paycheck?” said Katie Bardaro, vice president of data analytics at PayScale.

The answer is, largely, in the companies’ coffers. Businesses are spending nearly $700 billion on repurchasing their own stock so far this year, according to research from TrimTabs. Corporations set a record in Q2, announcing $433 billion worth of buybacks — nearly doubling the previous record, which was set in Q1.

When a company buys back some of its outstanding shares, the effect is usually to boost the value of the rest of its stock, sometimes making the company appear more valuable on paper. Because many senior executives are paid in company shares, buybacks temporarily boost their pay (as well as other shareholders’ portfolios), sometimes at the expense of investments in infrastructure or workers.

The popularity of stock buybacks in the wake of the corporate tax cuts has drawn lawmakers’ attention. A group of senators wrote to the SEC late last month, asking the agency to review the rules around buybacks. “The explosion of stock buybacks has funneled corporate profits to wealthy shareholders and corporate executives instead of workers and long-term investments that spur sustained economic growth,” they wrote…

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Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy

Neoliberalism explained (Stuart Bass video)

Trump and the GOP Drop the Neoliberal Brick on America

In 1973 Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys dropped the “economic brick” on the people of Chile in the form of a purely neoliberal restructuring of their government and domestic spending policies. It crippled the nation sending millions into abject poverty while it enriched a handful of Big Business oligarchs.

This week several announcements from both the GOP and the White House show us that they have every intention of doing the exact same thing to us here in the States.

This is pure unadulterated neoliberalism and it must be opposed.

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Noam Chomsky Talk from 1997 on Neoliberalism & the Global Order

This is the complete talk (excluding the Q&A) of Noam Chomsky speaking at Yale University on February 25, 1997.

US Supreme Court eliminates workers’ right to collectively sue corporations

by Eric London from WSWS

The United States Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis eliminates the right of tens of millions of workers to bring class action lawsuits against their employers. With the bang of a gavel, the Supreme Court has effectively stripped workers of their legal rights and guaranteed the flow of even greater fortunes to the corporate and financial oligarchy, which controls America’s legal and political system.

The majority opinion, written by Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch, upholds the legality of mandatory arbitration clauses that bar workers from filing lawsuits. This locks the courtroom doors for coal miners suffering from black lung, construction workers with mesothelioma, fast food workers cheated of overtime pay, farmworkers denied the minimum wage, waitresses sexually harassed by their bosses, and countless other workers suffering forms of workplace abuse and exploitation. It announces “open season” for intensified corporate exploitation at tens of thousands of workplaces across the country.

The decision revives the legal doctrine of the Gilded Age elaborated by the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision Lochner v. New York, which overturned a state law limiting the workday to 10 hours on the absurd grounds that the regulations violated workers’ “right” to work as long as they want. In reality, that ruling safeguarded the power of corporations to exploit workers without recourse.

Today’s Supreme Court followed a similar logic, justifying its decision to eliminate workers’ right to sue with the lie that workers are always free to negotiate better contracts with their corporate bosses.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly 60 million workers—56 percent of all private-sector nonunion workers—now no longer have access to the courts. Arbitration is a sham process set up by the corporations to deprive workers of even the minimal protections afforded by the courts and to spare businesses the cost of litigation.

Arbitration forces workers to take their grievances to a private tribunal. Sixty percent of all arbitrators are lawyers who formerly represented corporations. Arbitrators develop corrupt relationships with corporate lawyers who regularly appear before their tribunals and almost always rule against workers. Due process is severely limited as the rules of the arbitration are written by the corporations themselves.

According to a 2015 study, workers prevail in only 20 percent of all claims brought to arbitration and win an average of just $23,548. By comparison, workers win 57 percent of cases in state court, with an average compensation of $328,008…

[read more here]