June, 2012

Working women – still fighting to support their families

The internet has been buzzing this week about an Atlantic cover story called “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” penned by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first women to head policy planning in the State Department. Slaughter’s brave, thought-provoking article focuses on the pressures felt by highly successful professional women, and is a much-needed antidote to much of the conventional wisdom out there on the topic.

Today, from Katrina vandel Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation magazine, comes an important counterpoint, or perhaps complement to Slaughter’s piece. “Women who don’t have anything close to ‘it all’” focuses on the vast majority of working mothers in this country who – far from dreaming of having it all – are struggling to keep their families afloat at all.

As vanden Huevel reminds us, “More than 70 percent of all mothers and more than 60 percent of mothers with children under 3 are in the workforce. Two-thirds of them earn less than $30,000 a year. Nine of 10 less than $50,000. They work out of need, whether they want to or not. Half are their family’s primary breadwinner.” Click here to read the full article – you’ll be glad you did.


This is the stark reality facing most working women in America today – and the recent barrage of attacks on unions have made the problem even more severe.

The fact is, unionized women workers earn upwards of 11 percent more in wages or $2.00 more per hour than non-union women workers. Unionized women workers are also 19 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance than non-union women workers. The benefits don’t stop there. Click here to learn more about how unions help working women and mothers. And the next time you see an attack on unions, remember, it’s an attack on the very system that helps level the playing field for working women in this country. 

Supreme Disappointments

Harold Meyerson has written an excellent opinion piece in the Washington Post that calls into question the blatant ideological stances Justices Alito and Scalia have taken in recent rulings.


The Supreme Court isn’t supposed to be political. As Chief Justice John Roberts said in his confirmation hearings, “I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.” He viewed Supreme Court Justices to be similar to umpires in baseball. Their job is to make impartial, consistent rulings and not concern themselves with the political elements that a particular case may have. Their role is to observe from a distance and stay out of and above the fray. 


Republican appointed Supreme Court majority puts corporations above people.

Unfortunately, some members of the court don’t seem to share Chief Justice Roberts well accepted view of the Court and the role of its Justices. 


Take Justice Alito’s opinion in the recently decided Knox vs. SEIU, which was so expansive, he overturned long accepted practice and implied that unions should have to ask for nonmembers’ permission to collect political assessments and possibly any dues at all – an issue both sides in the case didn’t even remotely touch on. 


Harold Meyerson described why such an opinion was so appalling.


“Alito’s ruling struck at the heart of American unionism. By laying the groundwork for creating a right for nonmembers to avoid dues payments, he came close to nationalizing the right-to-work laws that 23 states have adopted (though 27 have not). As Sotomayor noted in a somewhat astonished dissent (Ginsburg and Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented on this point as well), this wasn’t the question before the court. Neither side had argued that issue in their briefs or oral presentations. “The majority announces its novel rule,” Sotomayor wrote, “without any analysis of potential countervailing arguments.” And it did so in defiance of the court’s own Rule 14, which states that “only the questions set out in the petition or fairly included therein will be considered by the Court.” 



Remarkably, Justice Alito’s unprecedented remarks don’t stand alone. In Arizona vs. United States, also decided this past week, Justice Scalia wrote an even more concerning opinion. 


“The club champion for double standards, however, is not Alito but Antonin Scalia. Dissenting from this week’s decision striking down major provisions in Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, he argued that Arizona has the sovereign rights of a nation in protecting its borders — a right he gleans through such a bizarre reading of the Constitution that not one of his fellow conservatives signed on to his dissent. Yet the same day, Scalia signed on to a Gang of Five decision declining to hear Montana’s case that its century-old law banning corporate contributions to political campaigns should take precedence over Citizens United. In the world according to Nino, Arizona has the rights of a nation-state, but Montana must submit to the Gang of Five. You’re sovereign when Scalia agrees with you; you’re nothing when he doesn’t.” 



The last few Supreme Court rulings have made it crystal clear that Justices Alito and Scalia are using their positions as Supreme Court Justices to promote personal ideology


From Citizens United to Knox vs SEIU to Arizona vs. United States, Justices Alito and Scalia are using the bench to bolster the interests of corporations at the expense of average Americans. The fact that it’s so easy to question the legitimacy of or motives behind Supreme Court decisions underscores the realization that this branch of government has lost its way


The nation’s confidence in the Supreme Court relies on the assumption that they are impartial guardians of the Constitution. That confidence is put in jeopardy every time conservative members of the court choose to invent rather than interpret the law.

HANSEN STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING AGAINST ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAW

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down most of Arizona’s immigration law.

“The Supreme Court has rightly struck down the majority of Arizona’s controversial immigration law. This decision is a repudiation of those advocating a patchwork of extreme state laws and reaffirms the federal government’s constitutional role in setting immigration policy. We are disappointed the law’s provision encouraging racial profiling survived and hope it will be overturned in the near future. It is time to move forward on this critical issue. President Obama started that process by issuing a common sense order to prevent the deportation of young immigrants who serve our nation. It is now time for Congress to get to work on comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who work hard and play by the rules. Only then can we truly fix our broken immigration system.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.