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For many, a new job comes at a cost: lower wages

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  • Even as a tentative economic recovery wheezes along, data show a disproportionate growth in low-paying jobs.
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  • U.S. Experiencing Worst Episode of Prolonged Unemployment Since Great Depression
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  • Jobless? Your leaders are at ease with that.
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Michael Luo, New York Times | NY

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Donna Ings took a lower-paying job as a home health aide after being out of work for over a year. Michele McDonald for the New York Times

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After being out of work for more than a year, Donna Ings, 47, finally landed a job in February as a home health aide with a company in Lexington, Mass., earning about $10 an hour.

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Chelsea Nelson, 21, started two weeks ago as a waitress at a truck stop in Mountainburg, Ark., making around $7 or $8 an hour, depending on tips, ending a lengthy job search that took her young family to California and back.

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Jobless? Your leaders are at ease with that, Paul Krugman, New York Times
None of them want to fix it -- so high unemployment might become a habit.
Punishing the Jobless

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Updated: U.S. Experiencing Worst Episode of Prolonged Unemployment Since Great Depression, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)<>

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  • Adjusting for demographic factors, current labor market downturn steeper than '82-'83 recession.
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  • The Horror Show
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  • The jobs emergency
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Section(s): 

Oil spill cleanup workers at risk!

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BP's record on worker safety is beyond pathetic.
Sign our petition: Any worker who wants safety equipment – like respirators – should get it, and BP should pick up the tab.

Manny Herrmann, American Rights at Work

Did you know that over 27,000 men and women are working to clean up BP's toxic mix of oil and chemicals without any breathing protection? Every day they go without respirators, their lungs – and ultimately, their lives – are put at risk.

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Just how dangerous is it to be exposed to oil and dispersants without proper breathing protection? Well, cleanup workers have already reported nausea, vomiting, nosebleeds, headaches, and chest pain.(1)

Sign our petition for BP to pay for proper safety equipment and respirators for cleanup workers.

Despite clear evidence that folks are getting sick from its toxic mix of oil and chemicals, BP won't provide respirators to the people cleaning up the Gulf Coast. In fact, there are even reports of BP threatening to fire workers who tried to use their own respirators. Why? For starters, BP is afraid that news footage of people wearing this critical safety equipment will show the public just how bad the spill is. The company is putting PR above workers' lives.(2,3)

Fortunately, we know that BP responds to public pressure. So we're joining with our friends at the leading progressive blog and advocacy group Firedoglake to launch a petition to BP. We're also delivering copies to the government agencies responsible for worker safety in the Gulf Coast, and Admiral Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government's cleanup efforts.

Our request is simple: Any worker who wants safety equipment – including a respirator – should get it, and BP should pick up the tab.

Demand respirators and other safety equipment for the workers who are cleaning up BP's toxic disaster in the Gulf Coast. Sign our petition now!

BP's oil disaster isn't the first time in recent history that workers responding to a hazardous emergency have had their lungs – and lives – put at risk. In the aftermath of 9/11, police, firefighters, and cleanup workers spent months in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, and many inhaled toxic ash. Over time, that ash has caused major health problems for tens of thousands of people, and even caused some people to lose their lives.(4)

The longer Gulf Coast cleanup workers go without respirators, the greater the danger. Don't let history repeat itself: Sign our petition to protect the men and women who are working to clean up BP's toxic disaster!

Eleven BP workers died when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up. And so far, over 100 people in the Gulf are reportedly sick. But that's only scratching the surface. Because right now, 27,000 men and women are working with their lungs totally unprotected. And many aren't speaking out because they're afraid they'll befired.(5,6)

Sign our petition to BP: speak out for the workers who are afraid to speak out for themselves!

Thanks for all you do to protect working men and women across America.

P.S. OSHA – the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which is responsible for overseeing worker safety – has been working non-stop to figure out which kinds of respirators are most effective against the specific toxins in the Gulf Coast. Because not just any generic respirator will protect workers well, this is critical work that needs to continue. But as the government figures out these important details, we can't lose sight of the big picture: oil cleanup workers must not be asked to work with their lungs totally unprotected. It's common sense! Sign our petition now!

1 http://www.propublica.org/documents/item/oil-spill-surveillance-summary-report
2 http://www.georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/06/bp-tells-cleanup-workers-theyll-be.html
3 http://www.racewire.org/archives/2010/06/bp_threatens_to_fire_cleanup_workers_who_use_their_own_safety_gear.html
4 http://workinprogress.firedoglake.com/2010/06/09/rep-maloney-address-health-of-gulf-cleanup-workers-now-before-they-lose-it/
5 http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0611/rfk-center-bp-discouraged-crews-respirators/
6 http://workinprogress.firedoglake.com/2010/06/18/bp-failing-to-report-workers-sick-from-pollutants/

Section(s): 

Jobs: Permanently Gone? How to Reverse the Trend?

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  • Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen  talk about the reality behind the recession, job losses and permanent low wages, and how to even out the economy with portions of a talk by Economist Dean Baker to the annual meeting of the JobsNow Coalition and a talk with local jobs and economic policy advocates.
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  • The jobs emergency
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Andy Driscoll, Truth to Tell, KFAI-FM

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Labor Day approaches - an ironic icon of the core human need to work, to produce, to contribute to one's wellbeing, one's family and one's community in a time of job scarcity. The nation's lingering economic mess is having mixed results in Minnesota with respect to jobs and the highly touted "recovery." Most economists are saying, "What recovery?" Job creation, not wealth creation, should be our main priority at every level of public and private sector business. But, where could they possibly come from?

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Economist Dean Baker reminds us that it's not simply pessimistic to believe joblessness will remain high through 2017, 2018; the facts ensure it. (Dean Baker's complete talk along the follow-up Q&A at the JobsNow Coalition's Annual Meeting will be heard on Labor Day. In it, Baker also suggests a revenue stream that seems so simple, it's being pooh-pooh-ed by Washington as an investment killer. Is it? Listen in on Labor Day.

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Archived: Click here

The jobs emergency, Robert Reich, Robert Reich

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  • Twelve thousand new jobs in July -- when 125,000 are needed monthly just to keep up with population growth, when more than 15 million Americans are out of work, and when more than a half-million more state and local jobs are on the chopping block.
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  • Predictably, Washington's latest rescue effort falls woefully short
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  • U.S. Experiencing Worst Episode of Prolonged Unemployment Since Great Depression
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  • An aid package to the states to prevent layoffs was funded by cutting the federal food stamp program.
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Section(s): 

Schooling Scholars on Classroom Success

Teachers are workers who, like the rest of us, need and deserve better working conditions and better pay. What’s good for teachers is good for the rest of us.

Moshe Adler, TruthDig

Beverly Wilson leads her kindergarten class through a song at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Albans, W. Va., in September 2007 AP / Jeff Gentner

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These days everyone seems to think teachers need improving—even people who uncover evidence to the contrary. A group of economists from Berkeley, Harvard and Northwestern recently made headlines when they published a study that was ostensibly about the relationship between teacher quality and student success as adults. The economists made three observations. The first is that when children are assigned to kindergarten classes randomly, test scores in some classes are higher than in others. The authors argue that these differences must be due to differences in teacher performance (as well as peer effects). The second observation is that children who attend high-score kindergarten classes earn more money in their adult life. Based on these two observations, the economists conclude that we should invest in raising the quality of teachers, and The New York Times goes a step further and argues that teachersshould be paid according to their performance.

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However, the economists also made a third observation that they dismissed as having no bearing on their conclusions: Children who attend high-score classes in kindergarten perform only negligibly better on standardized tests than other students in later years. Why? The authors claim this finding isn’t important. As Raj Chetty of Harvard, one of the economists who produced the study, told the New York Times, “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”

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Section(s): 

The air-conditioned Puritan

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  • Why Americans, and those who are employed to write about them, cannot enjoy holidays
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  • The scandal of "vacation deprivation."
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  • America: The Grim Truth
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The Economist

“Let's take a boat to Bermuda, Let's take a plane to St Paul, Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack, Let's get away from it all.” That may be all very well if you are not Lexington. For reasons only the flinty-hearted editor of this newspaper can explain, there will be no summer break this year for your columnist. True, Lexington has been allowed to saddle up his ultimate driving machine and motor north to join friends in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But get away from it all? No sir, this is a space that must be filled week in and week out this summer, come what may.

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In a way, of course, it is fitting that a Brit writing about America should not be allowed actual relaxation on a summer holiday. Having a complete break would make it harder to understand the natives. As all the world knows, Americans find taking time off, let alone filling that time with leisure, painfully hard. One travel website, expedia.com, believes (what a surprise) that “everyone deserves and needs a vacation.” Indeed, it has compiled comparative international data on the scandal of “vacation deprivation”. These show that in 2009 the average American adult received about 13 days of holiday, whereas the average Briton enjoyed a luxurious 26. The average “working” Frenchman, infuriatingly, had 38 days. Worse yet, more than a third of Americans do not even take all the days they are allowed. In 2009, harrumphs Expedia, Americans “gave back” a total of 436m vacation days. In fairness, America does indulge its children: their school year is one of the shortest in the world, as is their school day. But the indulgence ends with adulthood.
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America: The Grim Truth, Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

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  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
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  • These Empty Spaces
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  • America Goes Dark
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  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs
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Section(s): 

The air-conditioned Puritan

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  • Why Americans, and those who are employed to write about them, cannot enjoy holidays
  • \r\n

  • The scandal of "vacation deprivation."
  • \r\n

  • America: The Grim Truth
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The Economist

“Let's take a boat to Bermuda, Let's take a plane to St Paul, Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack, Let's get away from it all.” That may be all very well if you are not Lexington. For reasons only the flinty-hearted editor of this newspaper can explain, there will be no summer break this year for your columnist. True, Lexington has been allowed to saddle up his ultimate driving machine and motor north to join friends in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But get away from it all? No sir, this is a space that must be filled week in and week out this summer, come what may.

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In a way, of course, it is fitting that a Brit writing about America should not be allowed actual relaxation on a summer holiday. Having a complete break would make it harder to understand the natives. As all the world knows, Americans find taking time off, let alone filling that time with leisure, painfully hard. One travel website, expedia.com, believes (what a surprise) that “everyone deserves and needs a vacation.” Indeed, it has compiled comparative international data on the scandal of “vacation deprivation”. These show that in 2009 the average American adult received about 13 days of holiday, whereas the average Briton enjoyed a luxurious 26. The average “working” Frenchman, infuriatingly, had 38 days. Worse yet, more than a third of Americans do not even take all the days they are allowed. In 2009, harrumphs Expedia, Americans “gave back” a total of 436m vacation days. In fairness, America does indulge its children: their school year is one of the shortest in the world, as is their school day. But the indulgence ends with adulthood.
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Related:

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America: The Grim Truth, Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

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  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
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  • These Empty Spaces
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  • America Goes Dark
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  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs
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Section(s): 

Auto comeback celebrated, but there’s a cost

Right-wingers have no answer for today's problems in the auto industry, where the situation is far different from a year ago. The dust has settled but it came at a cost.

John Rummel, People's World

President Obama visited a General Motors in Hamtramck and a Chrysler plant in Detroit Friday (August 13) to celebrate the comeback of the two auto companies. But the comeback has come with a cost.

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The president received enthusiastic receptions from workers at both plants. Over a thousand at Chrysler's North Jefferson plant gathered to hear him.

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At GM's Hamtramck plant, where the new electric Chevy Volt is being made, Obama told cheering workers, "It's estimated that we would have lost another million jobs if we had not stepped in."

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Warehouse workers suffer while Wal-Mart rakes in cash

"Major companies are making millions of dollars, like Wal-Mart, and they're far from broke. In fact they treat their workers bad in order to increase their profits while some guy working at a warehouse can't feed his kids. It's just wrong."

Pepe Lozano, People's World

Tory Moore of Warehouse Workers for Justice.

Tory Moore, 37, from Kankakee, Ill., worked as a temp warehouse worker in the southwest suburbs of Chicago for six years before he was fired in December 2009, after standing up for his rights.

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Moore said he asked for a pay raise each year and noticed that his paychecks were consistently short. So naturally he complained.

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"That's why I got fired," he said.

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