Saturday, May 30, 2020

EITC + min wage -- versus -- regularly scheduled union ballots

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.

The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs.  Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%.  Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%.  Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit!  Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants  -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
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If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter.  Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now.  Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa. 
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Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains.  How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect.  I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker.  FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about.  Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Could America be saved financially/socially even if not all medically by $1 a piece masks

Wouldn’t we be much less anxious about going about reopening consumer markets (department stores, computer repair, jewelry etc.) if ourselves and everyone else were wearing N95 masks?  Ttalking theoretically -- understand numbers unavailable.

Could the US corona transmission rate drop below 1 if we all could wear N95s all the time -- lock downs or no?

We would for sure feel safer (even safe?) on airliners if all aboard wore N95s.  Virologist and NBC contributor Joseph Fair opines he caught the bug on the airplane even though he was wearing the best breathing protection because the virus entered his eyes. Of course if his fellow passengers had all been wearing his (presumably N95) level of protection the viral load of the air in the passenger cabin should have been negligible.

"To get technical, airplanes deliver 10 to 12 air changes per hour. ... Airplanes also use the same air filter — a HEPA filter — recommended by the CDC for isolation rooms with recirculated air. Such filters capture 99.97 percent of airborne particles."

Could America be saved financially/socially even if not all medically by $1 a piece masks -- flattening the curve in most non-restaurant style businesses all by themselves?  Could the airline industry be saved for $1 a passenger.  If so, time to stop talking theory and start manufacturing tens of billions of N95 masks?

(See also)

PS. The model of N95 with an exhaust valve on the front does not protect others from our viruses.