Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Marches For Jobs

As the state and national situation for working people grows dimmer and dimmer union members in Pennsylvania are rallying for jobs this Labor Day weekend.  The nation’s biggest deficit is in jobs and the people are angry and getting angrier as elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington keep eliminating jobs instead of creating them.

From the unions:

WASHINGTON — Unions in Pittsburgh are bringing a special focus on jobs and the unemployed to their Labor Day parade this year, dubbing the event a “March for Jobs.” Organizers expect more than 70,000 people to march in Monday’s event, but they’ve made clear to politicians perceived to be hostile to the labor movement that they will be turned away.

“This year we are inviting union and non-union, laid-off, unemployed and underemployed workers and their families to march with us on the eve of President Obama’s much anticipated announcement of a jobs program aimed at putting America back to work,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County (Pa.) Labor Council.

“We will be marching to show President Obama we are behind all serious efforts to create jobs and encourage him to pull out all the stops by putting the power of the federal government fully behind an aggressive jobs program,” Shea added.

Earlier this week, a group of union officials in Wisconsin made headlines for barring GOP politicians from marching in the Labor Day parade in Wausau, Wis. The labor council reversed its decision after Wausau’s mayor said the city would not co-sponsor an event that bans individuals based on party affiliation.

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO spokesman Marty Marks said that only friends of the labor movement, regardless of political party, are invited to march in the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade. The local labor council reimburses the city for parade-related expenses.

About six Republican politicians were invited to march this year, along with a larger number of Democratic officials. Invited guests include U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R), U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) and state Sen. John Pippe (R-Allegheny).

Two prominent GOP politicians who were not invited to march were U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett. When asked what the labor council would do if they said they wished to participate, Marks replied, “We would politely decline their participation.”

In fact, the Allegheny County Labor Council has already turned down Joshua Wander, the sole GOP candidate for Pittsburgh City Council. Shea told Wander that the parade was invitation-only and the council had already endorsed his opponent, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“Many candidates do march,” Wander told the newspaper. “I not only wanted to walk as a candidate, but I also wanted to walk for the Republican Party.”

In 2009, Vice President Joe Biden marched in the Pittsburgh parade.

Marks said that while the Labor Day event always features unemployed workers marching with their affiliated unions, this is the first year there will be a special place for the unemployed in the parade to emphasize the need for job creation.

“We represent workers, not just union workers. The work we do helps all workers, and we don’t want these people forgotten,” said Marks, addding, “We want to put the focus back where it needs to be. It needs to be on creating jobs, and helping these people we want to feature in our parade because they deserve it. They’re working Americans who want to work. America wants to work, Pennsylvania wants to work, and we want people to know it and not forget it.”

The Pittsburgh parade kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, preceded by a press conference with unemployed workers at 9:30 a.m.

The Jemez Mountains and Valle Calderas

I drove northwest of Santa Fe once again but took a slightly different route up NM Rt. 4.  This took me just to the south of Los Alamos National Laboratory and just north of Bandelier National Monument and on through the Jemez Mountains.  I circled south through Jemez Springs and Jemez Pueblo and on to Bernalillo before heading north back to Santa Fe.  On the way I stopped at Valle Calderas National Preserve which was formed 50,000 by a volcano.  The verdant valley was alive with prairie dogs and I was escorted into the gift shop and tour area by a flock of Rocky Mountain Bluebirds.

My primary motivation for this trip was to witness the effects of the giant Los Conchas wildfire which consumed much of the area last spring.  Entire areas and canyons were black and strewn with charred trees.  This is the Santa Fe national Forest and beautiful country.  It opens to the vast vista of Valle Calderas (elevation 8520 feet according to my gps) from which you could look just across the road and see burned trees.  More evidence of the fire was visible to the east.  Bandelier has been closed for the summer due to the fire and some sections are now re-opening.

More pictures are below the fold:

Los Conchas Fire damage


Valle Calderas National Preserve

Some of the scenery along the route

No New Jobs

The New Austerity is beginning to have its effect on the economy as no new jobs were created in August.  The net total of zero reflects job losses due to massive Republican (Tea Party) budget cuts across the country.  You cannot create jobs when you’re cutting them.

Meanwhile consumer confidence is declining along with the stock market.  The market collapses following the debt ceiling deal are hurting the overall economy as people see their investments disappear.  The lack of confidence in the future means businesses aren’t hiring.  We have been put into a downward spiral due to conservative radical ideology and signs point to another repeat of the fall 2008 collapse.

President Obama does not escape blame because he gave in to the demands for cuts.  Americans want JOBS but no one in Washington seems to be listening.

The State of Working Pennsylvania

Every September the Keystone Research Center issues its State of Working Pennsylvania.  They introduced it today via a conference call with media representatives and the data is alarming.  One of four Pennsylvania workers found less paid work last year than they desired.  43% of likely voters either were unemployed or knew someone unemployed.  There are 7 1/2 applicants for each job opening and even college graduates and those with advanced degrees have seen their unemployment rates double.

3400 Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs due to government budget cuts.  On average there are 513,500 unemployed workers in Pennsylvania every month and at some point last year 14.3% of all Pennsylvanians were out of work at some point.  That comes to 938,100.

Update:  A White House statement on jobs this morning says 20,000 local government jobs were lost in August and 398,000 since February.  Those are national numbers.  Budget cuts cost jobs.

Meanwhile CEO pay rose 23% while worker’s wages declined 3.1%.  Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast earned $31,000,000.  Wages rose only for the top 5% of wage earners in the Commonwealth.  Business profits now comprse 26% of all national income yet companies are not hiring.

There exists a serious shortage of demand, for workers, for products and for services.  As wages stagnate and jobs are cut to austerity budgets the ripple effect will send the economy into another recession.  Rural Pennsylvania will be hit especially hard as Social Security, food stamps and unemployment compensation runs out.  UE benefits expire at the end of this year.  Social Security and food stamps are on the chopping block in Washington.

Every dollar of government spending has a ripple effect through the economy.  My spending is your income and if I can’t spend you lose income.  Each dollar spent by government creates $1.42 in economic activity.  Yet Gov. Corbett is sitting on $1.5 billion in extra revenues the state could use to stimulate our economy.  This would have been enough to NOT cut any educational budgets.

We need a further round of vigorous stimulus spending including revenue sharing, something originated by President Nixon, infrastructure work to repair our failing systems and to produce good living wage jobs.  Contracting now is inexpensive and borrowing is attractive due to low interest rates.  We could begin building schools, roads, bridges, mass transit, water and sewage systems and the like at a substantial savings because contractors are underbidding to gain work.  Issuing bonds for the work would be cheap and we’d have the improvements for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately Gov. Corbett doesn’t see things this way.  Like many others in his Party he has become a fan of austerity.  These “leaders” want to roll back economics which actually work, regulations which actually work and monetary policies which actually work for a system which gave us a succession of boom and bust economies from 1857-1928.  During that era of non governmental interference in markets America was in recession 48% of the time.  Things were radically unstable and people lost their entire life savings regularly.

Since then our economy has been in recession only 18% of the time.  Why would we return to failed policies?  As the KRC says in its report “Advocates of austerity idolize a time when recessions were longer and more frequent.”  Vote Republican and this is what you’ll get.  Unfortunately for the red “T” of Pennsylvania this is what they voted for and they’re going to be hurt disproportionately.  I suppose you get what you deserve sometimes.

News & Notes September 1, 2011

It has been a bad week for Jane Orie.  First she’s accused of lying under oath at her first trial and she’s accused of forging documents submitted in it, then Superior Court decides retrying her isn’t double jeopardy.  I suppose a defendant shouldn’t be granted double jeopardy when they cause a mistrial by presenting forged documents at trial.

Former House Speaker John Perzel faces over 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a scheme which used $20 million in state funds to create a political database for his fellow State House members to win elections.

The fires in Texas and Oklahoma are burning more and more homes after a brutal summer which saw temperatures skyrocketing.  Do you believe in global warming yet?  You can’t pray it away folks, we have to do something!  Hurricane Irene was intensified by climate change as Atlantic Ocean temperatures keep rising.  

Stupid Eric Cantor opposes doing anything about climate change then starts bitching about how much it’s costing to clean up after all of the disasters it is causing.  The bills will only get higher if we continue doing nothing.  Cutting funds for first responders to pay for disaster aid is simply insane.   Cantor will spend $12 billion for firemen in Afghanistan but only $2 billion here.  How screwed up is that?

In Harrisburg City Council voted down Mayor Linda Thompson’s Act 47 plan and the state may take over our capital.

Remember how a Glock handgun was used by Jared Loughner to kill six people and wound Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords?  The Republican Party there is celebrating it by raffling off a Glock 23 to raise funds for GOTV.  Sick, just downright sick.

The gun culture here, and especially in the Southwest, is causing death and destruction beyond our border.  Mexican President Calderon condemned Americans’ appetite for both drugs and guns lamenting the effect they are having on his country.  This week a gun store here in New Mexico was raided for providing arms to Mexican drug cartels.  The infamous ATF program Fast and Furious was an insane attempt to track guns going across the border by putting small gps locaters in them.  Someone forgot to figure out how to maintain long enough battery life however so the ATF wound up supplying guns used to continue the carnage in Mexico.  Jason Altmire thinks the head of the ATF got a raw deal.

Once upon a time music moved a generation (mine).  Where is the soundtrack for peace and social justice today?

Obama Caves Yet Again

Our spineless President can’t even stand his ground on when he’ll address a joint session of Congress about jobs.  Following a dust up by the real President John Boehner, Obama caved and switched his speech to next Thursday so he doesn’t compete with those trying to take his job.

Did no one at the White House check schedules ar, if they did, turn so weak they couldn’t even stand up for themselves?  What a total debacle.  The American people saw who is really in charge in DC.

Out with Austerity Economics, In With a ‘Moral Economy’

A blog post from Stephen Herzenberg, originally published on Third and State.

We released our annual State of Working Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center today.

Bottom line: the report shows that the economy is limping along and our job market is broken. State and federal policies driven by austerity economics are increasing joblessness, sparking greater economic inequality and undercutting American values.

With working families still struggling in this weak economy, we make the case for an alternative approach that focuses directly on job creation and building a stronger economy. We’re calling this new direction a “moral economy” – one that is more competitive economically and supports American values.

Creating a “moral economy” isn’t that hard. It means establishing conditions in which our most dynamic companies can thrive and multiply and enforcing some basic rules (e.g., labor and environmental standards) so that companies can’t compete in ways that harm workers and communities. “Paving the high road and blocking the low road” is the key to unleashing American ingenuity on a larger scale, creating a stronger economy and a more robust middle class.

Some of the immediate steps we need to take to strengthen our economy include:

  • Continuing extended federal unemployment benefits through 2012 as families continue to struggle in this weak economy;
  • Providing more federal aid to state and local governments to prevent public-sector layoffs from undercutting a rebound in private employment;
  • Investing in infrastructure and school construction at a time when costs are low and we can get more bang for the buck; and
  • Modernizing our unemployment system to help out-of-work people strengthen their skills and better contribute to the economy.

We’ll have more to say about the State of Working Pennsylvania report next week. In the meantime, take it with you this weekend for a little Labor Day reading.

Painting a Fuller Picture of Gas Drilling in PA Economy

A blog post from Sharon Ward, originally published on Third and State.

The folks at the Penn State Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center, a collaboration of the university’s College of Technology and Agriculture Cooperative Extension service, took a look at the Marcellus Shale’s impact on Pennsylvania employment and income in 2009.

So what did they find? The Marcellus Shale is creating jobs, development and increased income, but at a much more modest level than predicted by industry studies. 

The report brings a more detached eye to the question of the economic impact of gas drilling than previous industry-funded reports. It offers a more realistic assessment of the economic effects and contemplates the uncompensated costs to paint a fuller picture of the role of gas drilling to the state’s economy.

The authors surveyed hundreds of businesses, landowners, and government officials; gathered gas industry spending data; and put the information in an economic model to estimate the statewide impact of the industry.

The report makes clear that gas drilling brings additional wealth to leaseholders but that it also brings additional headaches, and costs, to municipal officials struggling with gas-related impacts for which many receive no offsetting tax income.

The report finds that just a little more than one-quarter of businesses in drilling counties have an increase in sales relating to the gas boom. This is not a surprise: manufacturing is still a bigger industry and employs more people than the gas industry in many drilling communities. Many industries remain unaffected by gas extraction yet are vital to our state’s economy.

The reported employment numbers are also more consistent with actual numbers reported regularly by the state Department of Labor and Industry, less sensational than those touted by the industry.

Income and jobs from the Marcellus industry are important to these communities, but they still are a small share of the economy overall. Tax revenue and employment in non-Marcellus counties far exceed that of Marcellus counties, a point the Commonwealth should not overlook in shaping its policies. The economic impact identified by the report is $3.2 billion, which is 0.6% of the state’s total economic output of $547 billion in 2009.

A lack of direct revenue to local governments, plus human, health, and environment impacts alluded to in the report, make the case for a statewide drilling tax, such as that included in many bills before the General Assembly.

Finally, the report is very clear to point out what we don’t know. This includes things like the long-run implications of the development; how fairly benefits and costs are distributed; and the impact on our water, air, public health and quality of life. Only by measuring both the positive impacts and the costs incurred with shale gas drilling can the economic impacts be accurately evaluated.