Tag Archive: Workers

After a petition: Hurricane Sandy diaster relief workers get health coverage

Do you think the first responders who came to our aid when Hurricane Sandy hit should have health protection if they get sick or injured taking care of us?

Well, they’re going to get it, thanks to some on line activism;  a Change.org petition posted by Dena Patrick of Wishadoo!, the “Craigslist of Compassion” which connects people in need with people who want to help through a Wishlist posted there. This info comes via ThinkProgress.

Patrick’s petition picked up 112,000 signatures in days. And yesterday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) responded, reversing a longstanding policy, and finally giving “certain employees who work on intermittent schedules” – like those who came for Sandy – their permanent enrollment in a Federal Employee Health Benefits plan. It applies to thousands of disaster relief workers whose schedules – responding to crises as needed – are part-time or intermittent.

About 70% of the FEMA workforce serves on a part-time basis through the Reservist Program, and they didn’t qualify for employer-based health coverage. That’s despite the dangerous nature of what they do for us, and the long hours of physical work, in sometimes unstable and miserable conditions.

We saw so many of the people who rushed in after the World Trade Center collapse later get sick and struggle to cover their health expenses. That should never happen again. I like that people are looking out for the people who show up to help us out. And I like that OPM, an independent agency of the federal government, can be informed and persuaded by something like an online petition. It’s good news.  

Anatomy of Christie-Era Unemployment: Clean Energy

Yesterday, we had the first installment of “Anatomy of Christie-Era Unemployment” in response to the Star Ledger Editorial saying not to blame Christie.

Following yesterday’s focus on the jobs that the Star Ledger themselves say would have been created from the ARC tunnel project Christie canceled, today we move onto clean energy.  Flashback to this editorial from the Star Ledger on Feb 26, 2012: (Emphasis Mine)

He has proposed grabbing $210 million from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, strangling a program that is devoted mostly to conservation efforts.

This money comes from electricity consumers who pay a surcharge on their bills each month. It pays for green workers to install insulation at hospitals and town halls across the state. It helps subsidize retrofits to homes. Some of it helps subsidize green-energy projects.

Cutting money for workers to actually have a job and additional money for projects that would put people to work. That sounds like Christie had a pretty direct impact on unemployment. The editorial continued: (Emphasis mine)

So let’s summarize: Christie’s money grab would increase energy costs, kill green jobs and lead to more air pollution.

And then Deciminyan noted in a previous diary that Christie’s Inaction has cost thousands jobs in South Jersey:

Governor Christie’s refusal to move forward the process for wind energy has cost several thousand jobs in South Jersey while maintaining further dependence on dirty energy. So those 2,000 people can blame the governor.

Just more examples of Christie era unemployment, but again how is he not to blame for unemployment?

Anatomy of Christie-Era Unemployment: Transportation

The Star Ledger ran an editorial yesterday with this screaming headline:

Editorial: Don’t blame Gov. Christie for N.J. unemployment

With all due respect, after 3 years in office how can you not hold him responsible on some level and go with that headline? Then there was this beauty of a paragraph following the headline:

Time for a reality check: Attacking a governor over his ability to create jobs over the short term is silly – because, truth be told, there’s not much he can do.

Hmm, not much he can do to create jobs.  Accepting funds for the ARC tunnel, which could have produced could have helped.  Lets see what the Star Ledger’s own Bob Braun had to say about that at the the time: (emphasis mine)

Ignored in all of this is what many people thought the ARC tunnel could have done for New Jersey. According to studies cited by the GAO, “During construction, the ARC project would have provided about 59,900 jobs directly onsite and total additional employment in the region of about 98,300 jobs.” A decade after completion of the project, one study estimated, the region would gain 44,000 new jobs.

The project could have “produced $9 billion in business activity during construction and $120 million per year in business activity over the long term,” the GAO reported.

“Studies also indicated that increased tax revenues would have resulted from the increases in economic activity from the ARC Project. The environmental study estimated that during construction, $1.5 billion in federal, state, and local taxes would have been generated.”

According to estimates, Christie canceled over 144,000 jobs and billions of dollars in business activity that could have created even more jobs. Their own columnists have pointed it out. New Jersey’s unemployment rate has gone from 9.0 to 9.9 percent in the last 5 months, a 35-year high three years into the Christie governorship. Yet given all of this information, the Star Ledger says don’t blame Christie and there’s nothing a little ole Governor could to help. Really? It’s pretty clear that what he’s done has hurt.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

The Courier Post took on the alternate universe that is the world according to Christie when it comes to the Jersey Blowback that has seen unemployment rise to nearly 10%:

At carnivals they have those rides with names like the “Scrambler” and the “Gravitron” that spin you around so much that when you step off the ride, left is right and up is down.

That’s the level of spin coming out of Trenton right now about the latest unemployment numbers. The number that matters most – the overall official unemployment rate in New Jersey – rose yet again in August to 9.9 percent. That’s the highest New Jersey has seen in three decades and a clear sign that things are not well here.

The Courier then took the release announcing the numbers to task:

The press release from Gov. Chris Christie’s state Department of Labor and Workforce Development reads like it was spit out of a tone-deaf, corporate public relations machine. It oozes positivity in the face of what is, at best, a mixed bag of economic news and at worst, a troubling sign of economic backsliding.

The release reads like it was spit out of a tone deaf, corporate public relations machine because it was, but it’s still good for the Courier to point it out. The editorial summed things up and closed with this:

With official unemployment at 9.9 percent and unofficial unemployment surely much higher, it really is time for the governor to be honest and put away his “Jersey comeback” concept, at least until the scoreboard actually shows our state catching up.

That’s right Governor, it’s time to be honest. More of this from the media please. You get the same theme from the Democratic Governor’s Association in this video about Christie’s failed results not matching his soaring rhetoric:

Christie 2009 evaluates Christie 2012 on Unemployment

The unemployment rate ticked up yesterday to nearly 10%, the highest since the 1970’s:

The unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent last month, up slightly from 9.8 percent in July and nearly two percentage points higher than the national average of 8.1 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate has been climbing since January, when Gov. Chris Christie began boasting of a “Jersey Comeback,” and is at its highest level in three decades. Only California, Nevada and Rhode Island have rates above 10 percent.

Interesting timing on when that climb started, but then again he got rid of the banner just in time too. The Star Ledger includes this great quote from Candidate Christie in 2009 when criticizing then Governor Corzine on an unemployment rate lower than New Jersey currently has:

“Look, unemployment is up again this month,” Christie told The Star-Ledger at the time. “I don’t know how when unemployment continues to go up that you can say that’s a success. That shows the low standards the governor has set for economic success in the state.”

In fact, the unemployment rate in New Jersey is now the 4th highest in the nation. Christie isn’t even bothering to try and spin it as success, he’s just attacking the numbers and messengers themselves.  It appears his standards are even lower now than they were 3 years ago.

The Happy Results of the Inkstop Lawsuit

In October, 2009, I wrote a diary about what happened to me and to the nearly 500 employees of Inkstop, a small ink and toner retail chain.  They closed their doors on October1 and didn’t pay us the three weeks wages to which we were entitled.

I helped organize the employees (located in about 15 states) using social networking and the press.  We hired a lawyer and filed suit 3 days after the lay-off.

Yesterday, our attorney told us that a settlement had been reached!!  We will get about 80% of what we’re owed (that already excludes legal fees, etc).

So, although the Board of Directors will not see the inside of a jail cell for the fraud they committed, at least we have a judgment against them and will get back wages.

Helping the unemployed: a tremendous contrast

The thing about the Governor’s race is that one side is actually talking about issues and accomplishments (other than prosecuting Democrats um, “corruption wherever it is” unless they can make me and my friends profit or unless they are my friends or family), and the other side is only talking about not talking about issues.

And the more that Chris Christie talks about not talking enough about issues, Governor Corzine has been talking about issues and accomplishments.  It would be nice if anyone actually listened.

Take jobs and unemployment – 2 issues on nearly everyone’s mind.  Just last week, Corzine urged Congress to act on a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for thousands of New Jerseyans that are about to expire.  This is the latest in a long line of initiatives that Corzine has undertaken to stem the tide of those losing jobs, as well as help those who have lost their job and bring new jobs to NJ.  

And while the picture is still rough in the state, it is starting to turn here while still sinking elsewhere.   In July, 13,000 new private sector jobs were added, and there have been successes in drawing new jobs to the state over NY.  

But that isn’t all.  Corzine not only reversed the policy of raiding the unemployment reserve fund (something going on since the Whitman administration), but actually beefed up the fund – which would save ALL employers hundreds of millions of dollars collectively.  

What has Christie offered up over this time to help employers, workers and the unemployed?  

Nothing.  

Actually, that isn’t true.  

While Corzine was creating his own stimulus plan, helping reduce the pain to NJ’s economy, and working with President Obama on the federal stimulus bill to expand unemployment benefits in families’ time of need, pushing green jobs and calling for extension of unemployment benefits, Christie was doing the following:

Once again, the contrast is clear.  Corzine is trying to help working and struggling families.  Christie talks about how nobody is talking about helping working and struggling families while he quietly lets leak how he would crush them, all while hurting businesses and the state deficit in the process.

Rutgers study says workers falling farther behind

As we honor the working men and women this Labor Day, a new study confirms that they are struggling in the current economy:

In its first national labor scorecard, the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations said more than 10 percent of Americans are unemployed, discouraged from seeking work or underemployed. That is a nearly 25-percent increase from one year earlier.

Here are some more statistics on the state of our workforce:

— About 530,000 were subject to mass layoffs in the last year, growth of nearly 5 percent, but a lower rate than five and 10 years ago.

— The median weekly earnings for American workers have not grown in real terms over the last eight years.

— At $6.55, the federal minimum wage is worth 40 cents less per hour, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was a decade ago.

— While employer-assisted childcare and employee wellness programs have grown quickly over the last decade, they still cover less than one quarter of American workers.

— Roughly 4 percent of the workforce wants to work full-time, but is working part time because they can’t find full-time work.

You can view the whole study and the press release from Rutgers.  Just a few more facts that fly in the face of the “economy is basically strong argument” being made by George Bush, John McCain and Chris Myers. At what point do they have to acknowledge reality, if ever?