Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walker's Assault On Workers Continues

Could Wisconsin's Scott Walker now abolish the weekend?
Legislators have introduced a bill to abolish employees' legal right to at least one day off per week.

State law currently allows factory or retail employees to work seven days or more in a row for a limited period, but they and their employer have to jointly petition the Department of Workforce Development for a waiver. These petitions apparently number a couple of hundred a year. The new proposal would allow workers to "voluntarily choose" to work without a day of rest. The state agency wouldn't have a say. 
It can't be a secret what "voluntarily" really means in this context. As Marquette University law professor Paul Secunda told the Nation, the measure "completely ignores the power dynamic in the workplace, where workers often have a proverbial gun to the head." Workers will know that if the boss demands it, they'll be volunteering or else.
Also from the article:
Walker would have a case to make to GOP voters if these policies yielded higher job growth. They haven't. Bloomberg economic analyst Christopher Flavelle wrote recently that as measured by improvement in "the living standards of the people he represents... Walker's tenure falls somewhere between lackluster and a failure." 
Since Walker took office, Wisconsin's economic performance has ranked a dismal 35th in Bloomberg's economic index of states. Private sector job growth lags behind such neighboring states as Minnesota and Michigan -- not to mention California, where labor and fiscal policies are at the opposite pole from Walker's. Bloomberg's index of share values for Wisconsin-based public companies shows they lag well behind Iowa, Minnesota and the median state. (See accompanying graphics package for details.) 
This week brought another dose of bad news for Walker: his state fell to 38th in the nation in job growth for the year ended Sept. 30, 2014, at 1.16%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (For comparison, California ranked seventh, at 3.1%.) 
Wisconsin's budget situation is dire, with state tax revenue increasing at a fraction of the rate of the median state--4% vs. 20%--in 2011-14. In February, the state announced it would delay a scheduled $108-million principal payment on its debt. Under Walker, Wisconsinites seem to be facing a double-whammy--lousy performance at the state level, and a continuing assault on their household income.

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