Tuesday, Aug. 7, was an election day in five states, mostly primaries or special elections. The most newsworthy vote, however, did not involve candidates for office.On that day, voters in Missouri overturned union-busting “right-to-work” (for less!) legislation by a 2-to-1 margin.Union membership skyrocketed during the labor upsurge of the 1930s. The post-World War II strike wave was the biggest in this country’s history. Unions won “union security” clauses in their contracts that made every worker they represented a dues-paying member. In order to weaken organized labor, the U.S. Congress passed the 1947 Taft-Hartley law that has allowed states to ban union shops.In the last six years, six states — Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin and, most recently, Missouri — have joined mostly Southern states in passing “right-to-work” legislation. Missouri became the 28th state in the country to take this union-busting approach when then-Gov. Eric Greitens signed the legislature’s bill into law in February 2017.By making union membership optional, these bills give unions less power at the bargaining table. As a result, RTW states have lower average wages, more uninsured workers and higher rates of on-the-job injuries and deaths.Under RTW, it is illegal to require an employee to be a member of a union, but perfectly legal to make low wages, mandatory overtime, lack of health benefits, supervisor abuse and a whole host of injustices a condition of employment. As the saying goes, “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.”A union army fights backUnions in Missouri fought back. An army of over 1,000 volunteers spread out across the state to collect the 100,000 minimum number of signatures needed to put RTW up for a statewide vote. Over 300,000 signatures were actually collected. After getting the issue on the ballot, union members continued their tireless efforts with phone banking and door knocking.The Missouri effort paralleled the successful defeat of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio in 2012. That bill would have banned collective bargaining for all public workers, going even further than a similar bill in Wisconsin that contained an exception for police and firefighters. In Ohio, union volunteers collected 1.2 million signatures — almost five times the legal requirement — and defeated SB5 handily. Ohio is still not a RTW state.Missouri’s Greitens, who resigned in June as governor after an extramarital affair in which he photographed a woman nude without her consent, nevertheless campaigned to keep RTW law through his shadowy group, A New Missouri. Right-wing, corporate-backed, anti-union organizations spent millions to convince workers that they would save a bundle of money by not having to pay union dues. But they were outspent by labor and were crushed at the polls.Of the state’s 114 counties, 100 voted down RTW. In St. Louis, the vote was 88 percent “no.” A majority of the city’s residents are people of color. When workers have unions, racist and sexist inequality is reduced. While all union workers, on the average, make more money than nonunion workers, the benefit is greatest for workers of color and women. Also, for LGBTQ workers, a union contract is often their only legal defense against discrimination in states where laws do not protect them.The pushback by the unions, involving members at the grassroots level, came shortly after the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. The high court ruled on June 27 that public sector unions could no longer require nonmembers, whom they are legally obligated to represent, to pay a “fair share fee” in lieu of union dues. This effectively made every state in the country “right-to-work” for public sector employees.After the Janus ruling, statements from various unions made it clear that they were not throwing in the towel and letting anti-union forces have their way without a fight. In Missouri, labor won this round.Union members must dump Trump and dump racismCommentators in the media are quick to point out that this union win happened in a state that went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. The vote was a setback for Trump, who is at war with the labor movement. His attitude was made clear most recently with a series of punishing executive orders aimed at unions such as the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents federal workers.Yet some workers who voted against RTW in Missouri are still supporting Trump. Reasons given reveal backward attitudes toward migrants and the Black Lives Matter movement. It was the rebellion in Ferguson, Mo., after the racist police killing of Mike Brown, that gave impetus to an upsurge in the BLM movement nationwide. (Washington Post, Aug. 10)Black Lives Matter is absolutely a union issue. Mike Brown’s mother Lezley McSpadden is a union activist in the Food and Commercial Workers union. Philando Castile, killed by cops in Minneapolis, was a Teamster. Jovan Fresco, killed by security guards in Rockford, Ill., was the son of a United Auto Workers’ Fiat Chrysler worker.Racism is the number one tool that the bosses use to divide the working class. If union members want to give real meaning to this victory in Missouri, they must dump Trump — and the systemic racism and bigotry he epitomizes — and work to build classwide solidarity.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has questioned why the European Union’s first-pillar pension systems are exempt from disclosure requirements that could be imposed on personal pensions.Justin Wray, the supervisor’s head of policy, noted that funded first-pillar systems (first pillar BIS), especially those established by Central and Eastern European (CEE) member states, essentially shared the same characteristics as third-pillar pensions.He told the European Association of Paritarian Institutions of Social Protection’s (AEIP) annual transatlantic conference in Frankfurt that it was “desirable” for more consistent consumer protection and action on personal pensions across Europe, but he fell short of calling for changes that would allow EIOPA to impose standards on the first pillar.Instead, Wray stressed that it was a political matter, as social and labour law governing the first-pillar system is currently solely a matter for individual member states. Asked by IPE to clarify, Wray added: “The question of a European approach to first-pillar BIS is essentially for the Commission. It is a question for the Commission to consider with the member states, a political decision.“What we do is note that there are similarities. We carefully define what we see as the characteristics of personal pensions, and we see that there are similarities with first-pillar BIS arrangements in many member states. We leave up to the political parties what should be done about that.“It is a ‘noting’, rather than saying ‘therefore, EIOPA will take action’ because it is not for us in the first instance.”Many of the funded CEE first-pillar systems were set up by diverting part of the pay-as-you-go contribution, resulting in budget pressures that saw significant changes to Poland’s open pension funds (OFEs).As part of the changes, the Polish state reclaimed all Polish government debt from the OFEs, transferring responsibility for payments of the associated benefits to the Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) and nearly cutting the system’s size in half.EIOPA first asked the industry if first-pillar BIS schemes should be subject to universal regulations when it last year launched a consultation on the creation of a Europe-wide personal pension product (PPP).In its subsequent report on the PPP market, published in February, it noted that, as the first-pillar systems were based around DC, its members could still be exposed to the same risks as members of PPPs.“First-pillar BIS members should be (made) aware of the effect of costs and could benefit from EU-wide disclosure rules, in the same way holders of regular PPPs do,” it said at the time.“Therefore, for the sake of consistency with PPPs, it seems to be feasible to have a similar standard for transparency and disclosure of information to members of first-pillar BIS schemes.”
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Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s calculative risk helped his pacers reduce West Indies to 51 for two at lunch on the final day of the second Test match chasing a victory target of 281 from 83 overs.Resuming at 229 for three, the Indians declared their second essay at 269 for six with VVS Laxman emerging as the top-scorer with 87 runs. He hit eight boundaries but was unlucky to miss out on another Test match hundred.Dhoni’s sporting declaration gave his bowlers enough chance to get 10 West Indies wickets.His new ball bowlers Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar responded nicely to their captain’s call removing Lendl Simons (14) and an out-of-form Ramnaresh Sarwan (8) during the opening session leaving the home team to score another 230 runs from 67 overs.The best part about Dhoni’s captaincy was the timing of declaration. The target is such that any team would be tempted to chase and especially West Indies who need to restore parity would like to have a go at it.Simmons pushed at a fuller delivery from Ishant offering a simple catch to Rahul Dravid in the first slip. Sarwan who is in danger of losing his Test spot hit a boundary but tried to cut a Praveen delivery when he wasn’t offered any room.The resultant slash was taken by Suresh Raina in the thrid slip reducing West Indies to 27 for two. Dwayne Bravo (5 batting) could have been the third one dismissed when he edged one from Abhimanyu Mithun but the ball fell short of Dravid.- With PTI inputsadvertisement