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PORTSIDELABOR  January 2012, Week 4

PORTSIDELABOR January 2012, Week 4

Subject:

Not all jobs are equal A lower unemployment rate isn't enough.

From:

Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 22:43:43 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (99 lines)

Not all jobs are equal
A lower unemployment rate isn't enough.
Americans need work that pays the bills.
By Jonathan Tasini
Los Angeles Times
January 24, 2012
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-tasini-high-unemployment-is-just-part-of-the-20120124,0,4204870.story

Politicians bickering over private equity's impact on
jobs and how to bring down the high unemployment rate
are entirely missing the point about the crisis facing
working Americans. The predicament we face isn't simply
that there are too few jobs; it's also that an
increasing number of workers don't have the kind of job
that can pay the bills.

While productivity has grown by more than 80% over the
last 30 years, wages have effectively been flat for 80%
of Americans. So, although we're making stuff faster
and more efficiently, the benefits of that hard work
have not trickled into the pockets of the people who do
it.

Let's turn first to the intensifying debate over Mitt
Romney's role as a private equity manager. It's of
course ludicrous that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry --
two veteran advocates of a vehemently anti-union,
free-market agenda that laid the foundation for the
newly coined "vulture capitalism" -- condemned those
principles while campaigning in New Hampshire and South
Carolina.

But equally absurd is Romney's defense that, at the end
of the day, his company, Bain Capital, created more
jobs than it destroyed. Even if he's telling the truth
by some measures, the fact is that private equity
buyouts often enrich those who arrange them by sharp
cost-cutting, including dismantling pay and benefits
for most of the workers who remain or new hires who
join the more "efficient" enterprise. It's simple math:
To service the huge debt taken on in virtually every
buyout, workers take cuts. And the new jobs aren't
necessarily a path to the American dream.

Take Staples, which Romney trumpets as one of his
successes. The company certainly pays some of its
employees well: Staples Chairman and Chief Executive
Ronald L. Sargent received a total pay package of more
than $15 million in 2010. But jobs in retail -- one of
the fastest-growing job sectors in recent decades --
tend to pay poorly, and Staples jobs don't seem to be
an exception to that rule.

Although the company doesn't publish its wage scale,
the website glassdoor.com, which allows workers to post
their salaries anonymously to try to give a picture of
wages at a company, suggests that the average Staples
sales associate or EasyTech associate makes less than
$9 an hour. An employee working a 40-hour week, 52
weeks a year at that rate would make significantly less
than the 2010 federal poverty level threshold for a
family of four of $22,314. So, although Romney likes to
claim credit for creating jobs, he needs to be asked
how many of those jobs were ones that allowed employees
to make ends meet.

And even that question doesn't get at another issue:
the number of jobs that were lost as the growth of
Staples and similar companies drove mom-and-pop
stationery shops and office supply stores across the
country out of business.

Republicans, though, aren't alone in muddying the
waters. A few days ago, the president held a political
photo op, praising several companies for bringing back
jobs from overseas: so-called in-sourcing. But he did
not address two ugly truths -- and the uninformed, lazy
news media did not demand he do so.

(For the entirearticle go to http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-tasini-high-unemployment-is-just-part-of-the-20120124,0,4204870.story)

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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