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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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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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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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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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