During the White House's Summit On Worker Voice on Wednesday, Joe Biden had a clear message for labor unions—that Hillary Clinton might not be a reliable ally, but he would be. His speech focused on his sympathies for the labor movement, his friendship with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and the like. He also hit Clinton, saying, "if I don't move... I'll be demoted to Secretary of State or something like that. [laughter from audience] THAT'S A JOKE." The statement also suggests he's seriously considering running against Clinton, and that he'd be a better ally for the labor movement than Clinton.
Here's the broader context:
"But in the meantime, while this is happening, the fight we have is we can't—we can't—let the average American out of benefitting from this deal. That's why we need organized labor. That's why we need collective bargaining. That's why we need more protection for workers' rights.
Because it's coming, this resurgence. The question is—it shouldn't all be, figuratively speaking, meeting income workers with the minimum wage, even if it's a good minimum wage.
So we're counting on you. We need your help. We need your suggestions. We need your muscle. We need to move. And, if I don't move... I'll be demoted to Secretary of State or something like that. [laughter from audience] THAT'S A JOKE."
Say what you want about the merits of her campaign, Hillary Clinton knows exactly who she has to pander to in order to raise the exorbitant sums needed to run for president. Unions have spent over $400 million in each of the last two presidential election cycles, almost exclusively on Democratic campaigns. Naturally, Hillary Clinton’s latest major policy proposal is little more than an attempt to line the pockets of unions.
As inconvenient as it may be, the forces of supply and demand are difficult to counteract—especially in labor markets. The Obama administration has exerted much effort attempting to do so over the last seven years, and it has yet to succeed.
Two weekends ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual monetary conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The left flew in hundreds of protesters donning green T-shirts that demanded “Higher Wages for America” and chanting, “We’re Fed Up.” The crowd was an assortment of college kids on their summer break, disgruntled middle-aged teachers, senior citizens, and blue-collar union members. Think Occupy Wall Street.
According to Gallup, only 7 percent of Americans want immigration levels to increase, while 86 percent either want them to remain at current levels (47 percent) or decrease (39 percent). With most current and prospective Republican presidential candidates tripping over each other to vie for that 7 percent, it would seem to be good politics for a candidate to break from the pack and speak for the other 86 percent essentially unopposed. That’s more of less what Scott Walker has done over the past week.
Sometimes -- not often, but sometimes -- anecdote is more revealing than data. Especially when the data are subject to major revisions, which is the case with most monthly economic data. This is one of those times. Last week’s jobs report -- 295,00 new nonfarm jobs in February -- was a bit more robust than most experts had expected, and the unemployment rate ticked down from 5.7% to 5.5%.
The same day the White House renewed a push to increase the federal minimum wage, an announcement appeared on the White House blog for the Summer 2015 White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders [AAPI] Internship Program -- all unpaid positions.
Politico recently hired Timothy Noah to be the publication’s labor and employment editor. Noah is a former Slate and New Republic columnist known for being liberal. Of course, most reporters on the labor beat are pro-union, so you’re probably wondering what the news is here. Well, that would be Noah’s hiring, in turn, of Mike Elk, formerly of Huffington Post and In These Times, to help him cover the beat.
Until Eve’s encounter with the serpent, Adam did not spend a lot of time looking for work. Didn’t have to. Expelled from Eden and cursed with the necessity of earning his bread “in the sweat of his face,” he found work. Had to. Therein lies a partial, but only partial, explanation for one of the strange developments in America’s labor markets.