Archive for the ‘Labor’ Category

What to expect from Mitch Daniels’ State of the Union response

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

Popular Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight. Ideas about how best the government might respond to the limping economy and tackle the enormous federal budget deficit are sure to feature prominently in both speeches. Daniels comes to such a discussion with baggage, however, having headed the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, when the country’s projected budget surplus of $236 billion ran down a sink hole where it became a $400 billion deficit. (more…)

House GOP bill links payroll tax cut to oil pipeline approval, cuts to unemployment benefits

Posted on: December 13th, 2011 by The American Independent 1 Comment
A GOP bill that would cut payroll taxes for American workers and approve an oil pipeline also contains changes to federally funded unemployment compensation programs set to expire Dec. 31.

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Alabama immigration crackdown snags Mercedes Benz executive

Posted on: December 6th, 2011 by Scot Kersgaard No Comments

It’s well known by now that Alabama’s new immigration laws have proven once again that there are some jobs most Americans just won’t do, such as seasonal farm labor.

As immigrants flee the state and tomatoes rot on the vine, Republican politicians acknowledge that the law will take time to sort itself out. Farmers plea for help from political leaders to no avail.

When a Mercedes Benz executive was jailed on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant, the governor quickly came to his rescue.

From USA Today:

Some of the fallout is faintly comical. A Mercedes-Benz executive visiting from Germany was arrested in Tuscaloosa while driving without proper ID and taken to jail on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. He was eventually freed, but not before Alabama’s governor got involved because Mercedes is one of several automakers with Alabama plants crucial to the state’s economy.

Less amusing was what happened to a veteran who had just come home from Afghanistan and was trying to get license plates for his new truck. Because the new law doesn’t recognize military IDs, he was told he’d have to come back with his birth certificate. (You don’t have to be a citizen to serve.)

Ohio’s increasingly unpopular governor admits he doesn’t read newspapers, hates bad news

Posted on: November 28th, 2011 by David S. Lewis 4 Comments

In a speech delivered Monday at the Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio Gov. John Kasich reaffirmed his disdain for the press. “You should know, I don’t read newspapers in the state of Ohio,” he said. “Very rarely do I read a newspaper.” (more…)

Alabama immigration law panned by local and national media

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by Yana Kunichoff 1 Comment

With State Senator Russell Pearce’s dramatic recall in Arizona behind us, the nation’s immigration watchers turn their eyes to Alabama, now home to the nation’s fiercest immigration laws.

In Alabama, comparisons to the civil rights battles of the 1960s are hard to avoid. From local press to the New York Times and beyond, reporters and those they interview are connecting the dots, not generally in a way flattering to the state.

The New York Times was blistering in an editorial published Monday, all but calling Alabama and its lawmakers racist.

Alabama is far from alone in passing a law whose express aim is misery and panic. States are expanding their power to hasten racial exclusion and family disintegration, to make a particular ethnic group of poor people disappear. The new laws come cloaked in talk of law and order; the bigotry beneath them is never acknowledged.

But if there is any place where bigotry does not go unrecognized, it is Alabama.

“It is a fear of folks who are not like us,” said Judge U. W. Clemon, a former state senator and Alabama’s first black federal judge, now retired. “Although the Hispanic population of the state is less than 5 percent, the leaders of the state were hell-bent on removing as much of that 4 percent as possible. And I think they’ve been fairly successful in scaring them out of the state of Alabama.”

If it was just the big-city national media piling on, that would be one thing, bu the local press has more than held its own in this regard.

From al.com:

The nation’s harshest immigration law… is creating nothing short of a “humanitarian crisis” that mirrors the fear and racism felt during the Jim Crow era, opponents of the law said Thursday.

During an afternoon news conference about Alabama’s immigration law, lawyers, educators and children’s advocates said the effects of the law mirror the fear and racism felt during the Jim Crow era and have led to thousands of children being kept home from school, pregnant women being afraid to give birth in a hospital and families having their water supply cut off.

When Alabama’s law was enacted, the Southern Poverty Law Center established a hotline to hear people’s concerns and offer guidance. The SPLC, which has taken a leading role in fighting the law, received more than 2000 calls in the first week the line was open.

The Center for American Progress Monday released a number of lists attempting to quantify the effects of the law.

Among the Center’s findings are that if only 10,000 of Alabama’s 120,000 undocumented immigrants quit or were forced out of their jobs, it would cost the state $40 million in lost productivity. If the federal government was to deport all 120,000, the Center says it would cost taxpayers $2.8 billion.

The Center’s study concluded that undocumented immigrants paid $130 million in taxes last year.

It’s well documented that farmers and Alabama’s agriculture sector in general have struggled mightily since the law went into effect. As both undocumented and documented Alabamans of Hispanic descent or appearance have fled the state, leaving farmers with no one to harvest crops.

One tomato farmer told PBS he had lost $300,000 so far. He’s hired new people to do the work, but few of them have lasted, saying either that the work is too hard, or the pay is too low.

Where do all the immigrants fleeing places like Alabama and Arizona go? any head to the small towns of the Midwest. There is nothing new about this migration to the Midwest, apparently. As small towns in Kansas and Nebraska lose residents to more prosperous places, people of Hispanic descent move in, opening businesses and stabilizing local economies. Mostly, they are welcomed, reports The New York Times. In many cases, when Hispanic children grow up in these small towns, they end up staying to raise their own families instead of moving on in the grand American tradition.

From Monday’s New York Times:

For generations, the story of the small rural town of the Great Plains, including the dusty tabletop landscape of western Kansas, has been one of exodus — of businesses closing, classrooms shrinking and, year after year, communities withering as fewer people arrive than leave and as fewer are born than are buried. That flight continues, but another demographic trend has breathed new life into the region.

Hispanics are arriving in numbers large enough to offset or even exceed the decline in the white population in many places. In the process, these new residents are reopening shuttered storefronts with Mexican groceries, filling the schools with children whose first language is Spanish and, for now at least, extending the lives of communities that seemed to be staggering toward the grave.

That demographic shift, seen in the findings of the 2010 census, has not been uniformly welcomed in places where steadiness and tradition are seen as central charms of rural life. Some longtime residents of Ulysses, where the population of 6,161 is now about half Hispanic, grumble over the cultural differences and say they feel like strangers in their hometown. But the alternative, community leaders warn, is unacceptable.

There has long been a strong Hispanic presence throughout the region, which is rich with difficult work in meatpacking plants and on farms, feedlots and oil fields. But over the last decade, as their population in the rural Great Plains spiked by 54 percent — a figure comparable to gains in metro areas in the region — Hispanic residents have pushed from hubs like nearby Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal into ever smaller communities, buying property on the cheap, enticed, many say, by the opportunity to live quiet lives in communities more similar to those in which they were raised.

In the sparsely populated western half of Kansas, every county but one experienced a decline in the non-Hispanic white population, two-thirds of them by more than 10 percent.

At the same time, a vast majority experienced double-digit growth in Hispanic population, more than offsetting the declines in seven counties and many smaller cities and towns. Those places with the highest percentage of Hispanic residents tend to have the lowest average ages, the highest birth rates and the most stable school populations.

New Mexico fines prison company for inadequate staffing

Posted on: November 15th, 2011 by The American Independent 3 Comments

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The New Mexico Department of Corrections is fining GEO Group, a Florida-based private prison operator, $1.1 million for understaffing one of its prisons.GEO manages three of the four private prisons in the state, including Lea County Correctional Facility, where from September of 2010 to March of 2011 one out of every four jobs were vacant. (more…)

Chicago Fed President to his colleagues: Obey the law

Posted on: November 15th, 2011 by Nicolas Mendoza 1 Comment

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has unveiled a new webpage that explains the Federal Reserve System’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment while keeping prices stable, and shows key indicators of whether the Fed is actually fulfilling that mandate. (more…)

Herman Cain: With SB5, Ohio GOP ‘may have tried to get too much’

Posted on: November 14th, 2011 by David S. Lewis No Comments

After spending at least a month “right in the corner of (Wis.) Gov. Scott Walker 100 percent,” Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain told Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel today that Ohio’s Senate Bill 5, a wide-ranging anti-collective-bargaining bill that was trounced at the polls on Tuesday, may have been an overreach.

“[M]aybe they tried to get too much and as a result it failed,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

Cain added that he believed public employees had the right to collective bargaining but not “collective hijacking.”

“… If [public-employee unions] have gotten so much for so many years and it’s going to bankrupt the state,” he told the newspaper’s editorial board.  “I don’t think that’s good. It appears that in some instances, they really don’t care.”

Wisconsin passed its own collective-bargaining reform law, drawing tens of thousands of protesters to the state’s Capitol and sparking a movement to recall Governor Scott Walker and several state legislators.  Unlike Ohio’s law, however, Wisconsin’s excluded public safety unions, such as firefighters and police, from the measures; Ohio’s law, spearheaded by Governor John Kasich, did not.

Cain told the Journal Sentinel Ohio lawmakers “may have tried to get too much in one bill.”

Cain, formerly the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., also fielded questions about President Obama’s handling of the Libyan civil war; he said he would have handled it differently at the planning level, but didn’t provide details of how.