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10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class

10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class

The middle class is the great engine of the American economy, but that engine is sputtering. Today, the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the AFL-CIO and more than a dozen other worker advocate and economic research organizations are proposing “10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class for Hard Working Americans: Making Work Pay in the 21st Century.”

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Who Stole the American Dream? A Q&A with Hedrick Smith

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Hedrick Smith joined us here today to discuss his new book, Who Stole the American Dream? Can We Get It Back? at an event sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

In Who Stole the American Dream? Smith deploys his formidable investigative skills to trace how we got to a point where U.S. economic policy overwhelmingly favors the rich—and looks at whether it's possible to undo the damage done to our working and middle class. Smith, known for his investigative journalism, is author of the national bestseller, The Power Game: How Washington Works. In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent for The New York Times, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. We asked Smith a few questions about what he found in researching his new book.

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Less Upward Mobility for U.S. Students Than for British

Britain has long had a reputation as rigidly divided by class, with little opportunity for people to move higher up the socio-economic ladder.

No more. There is now more upward mobility for students at British schools than in the United States, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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Community-Labor Partnerships 'TRADE-UP' to Create a Pipeline to Good Jobs in Atlanta

This is an excerpt from "Community-Labor Partnerships 'TRADE-UP' to Create a Pipeline to Good Jobs in Atlanta," by Deborah Scott, executive director, STAND-UP; founder, TRADE-UP. 

The Atlanta/North Georgia Building Trades Council and STAND-UP, a nonprofit "Think and Act Tank for working communities" have partnered to create Trade-Up, a pre-apprenticeship program. Trade-Up addresses a critical gap in the regional labor force. Despite the fact that unemployment in Atlanta building trades remains mired in double digits, the aging construction workforce is leading to shortages of workers in specific trades. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that through the remainder of this decade, employment openings will come mainly from the replacement of retiring workers on existing jobs, not from new jobs created by economic growth. Skills linked to apprenticeships and other forms of on-the-job training are expected to be among the fastest-growing categories of employment. Apprenticeships are an efficient way to address the paradoxical imbalance between increasing market demand for specialized trade skills in an environment otherwise plagued by high unemployment and declining labor force participation.

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Polls Show Chicago’s Parents Back Teachers

Chicago parents are siding with teachers.

While newspaper editorial boards, right-wing pundits and school privateers are criticizing Chicago’s 29,000 public school teachers and educational professionals who were forced out on strike, Chicagoans—especially parents—are backing the teachers. 

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We Gave 110% for Crystal Sugar

Former American Crystal Sugar retirees support locked out workers.

Despite waking up with the flu one morning this week, Bonnie Holter headed out to take part in a 6 a.m. vigil outside the home of a member of the American Crystal Sugar Co. board of directors in East Grand Forks, Minn. Tired and ready to head back to bed after returning home, she still exuded the resolve that, despite having retired from American Crystal Sugar this year, propels her to actively back the 1,300 locked-out workers.

“It’s important to support the workers,” says Holter, 60. “They were our family. I was proud to be a union member and I still want to help the union out.”

Holter and her husband, Jerome, who most people call Jay, spent decades working for the sugar beet processing company before management locked out workers in August 2011.

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AFL-CIO Now Daily Blog E-Mail Has New Look

AFL-CIO Now blog has a new look.

Today the AFL-CIO Now blog daily e-mail has a new look—streamlined and straightforward, with the top news stories of the day. Just click on the headlines to get the latest news for working families and union activists. Tell us what you think. Don't subscribe?  Sign up for the AFL-CIO Now blog e-mail

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The 'Three Gs' Con Job

Larry Sanderson/Photo by Berry Craig

Berry Craig, recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and a professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, is a former daily newspaper and Associated Press columnist and currently a member of AFT Local 1360. Craig sends us this.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the GOP are at it again, fishing for union votes with the same old social issues sucker bait.

Retired Plumbers and Pipe Fitters leader Larry Sanderson of Paducah, Ky., calls it “the three Gs con job,” as in “God, Guns and Gays.”

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Unions Necessary to Rebuild Middle Class

As union membership declines, so do middle class incomes.

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau today show that the middle class received the smallest share of the nation’s income since these data were first reported. The middle 60 percent of households received only 45.7 percent of the nation’s income in 2011, down from the historical peak of 53.2 percent in 1968. But writers David Madland and Nick Bunker at the Center for American Progress Action Fund say:

By advancing the interests of the middle class in the workplace and in our democracy, unions help build and strengthen the middle class.

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New Census Bureau Report: Working People Can't Get Ahead

Right-wing economic policies have failed working people.

Right-wing economic policies have failed working families. New U.S. Census Bureau figures show the share of income going to middle- and lower-middle-income households fell, while the share of income going to the top 5 percent went up 4.9 percent. The census report confirms the trend that the Economic Policy Institute shows in The State of Working America, 2012falling incomes and growing inequality. Instead of coddling the richest 1%, America needs to return to the principles of “prosperity economics” that have historically enabled economic security for all and a growing middle class. 

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