Category Archives: Economy

How collectives are empowering people to understand the tricky financial side of life

Removing the taboo around talking about money, two collectives are helping people work toward securing their financial well-being.

Financial health is the elephant in the room that we avoid talking about in social situations, at work, and even with our loved ones, despite the fact that financial well-being has a profound effect on how we think and feel. A review of 32 studies conducted on the dynamics of financial well-being and mental health between 2001 and 2019 found that a person’s financial situation has a “significant impact” on their mental health, with financial hardship being frequently associated with increased stress, anxiety and depression. Yet, financial well-being remains a taboo subject. Continue reading

How young workers are unionizing Starbucks

Starbucks Workers United is racking up victorious union votes in one branch after another of the iconic American coffee chain. A young California-based worker-organizer explains why this organizing campaign is different.

At only 19 years old, Joe Thompson is one of the youngest lead organizers with Starbucks Workers United (SWU), the umbrella organization at the forefront of one of the most exciting labor successes of the last few years. Thompson, who started working at the coffee chain at age 16, told me in a recent interview, “Starbucks likes to claim it’s super-progressive, and a lot of workers there are, but we’re the ones actually holding Starbucks accountable to that standard.” Continue reading

Amazon Bessemer warehouse reflects danger on the job nationwide

BESSEMER, Ala.—Shoving merchandise around Amazon’s giant warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., isn’t easy, Isaiah Thomas says. It also isn’t safe. Continue reading

How America’s truckers got hijacked

Thanks to greedy corporate bosses, what was once a skilled, middle-class, union job is now a skilled poverty-wage job.

“Keep On Truckin’” was an iconic underground cartoon created in 1968 by comic master Robert Crumb. Continue reading

Jayapal demands vote on bill to expand Social Security by making the rich pay

One group argued passing legislation to boost the program's benefits would "make it clear to voters that Democrats are working to expand Social Security" while "Republicans want to destroy it."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, urged the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday to hold a vote on legislation that would expand Social Security benefits by making wealthy Americans contribute more to the beloved New Deal-era program. Continue reading

Amazon workers’ astounding win, and how corporate America is trying to take back power

On Friday, April 1, Amazon—America’s wealthiest, most powerful, and fiercest anti-union corporation, with the second-largest workforce in the nation (union-busting Walmart being the largest), lost out to a group of warehouse workers in New York who voted to form a union. Continue reading

The coming global financial revolution: Russia is following the American playbook

No country has successfully challenged the U.S. dollar’s global hegemony—until now. How did this happen and what will it mean?

Foreign critics have long chafed at the “exorbitant privilege” of the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency. The U.S. can issue this currency backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit of the United States.” Foreign governments, needing dollars, not only accept them in trade but buy U.S. securities with them, effectively funding the U.S. government and its foreign wars. But no government has been powerful enough to break that arrangement—until now. How did that happen and what will it mean for the U.S. and global economies? Continue reading

Corporations are suppressing wages—there’s an easy fix for that

Don’t believe the optimistic hype about wages “naturally” rising. About one-third of American workers are shockingly underpaid as a result of the federal government’s continued refusal to raise the minimum wage.

Amid all the good news about successful labor organizing and job growth in the United States is the stark reality that wages continue to remain inexcusably low even as inflation rises. A new government report by numerous agencies, including the U.S. Treasury Department, came to the stark conclusion that corporate power is suppressing wages. Continue reading

Digital tyranny: Beware of the government’s push for a digital currency

The government wants your money. Continue reading

The hidden link between corporate greed and inflation

Inflation! Inflation! Everyone’s talking about it, but ignoring one of its biggest causes: corporate concentration. Continue reading

Addressing racial inequality in paid leave policy

While efforts to secure paid leave benefits are stalled at the federal level, states and cities are moving forward. In the latest victory, the District of Columbia has granted hundreds of thousands of private-sector workers 12 weeks of paid time off, up from a maximum of eight weeks. Continue reading

There’s no sugarcoating Hershey’s abuse of workers and union-busting tactics

Hershey factory workers in Virginia are sick of company abuses and are voting to join a union. But their union-busting employer has other plans.

There is a bittersweet battle taking place in Stuarts Draft, Virginia. Workers at the Hershey Company’s second-largest factory, located in the small town of about 12,000, are seeking to unionize. In response, the nation’s largest candy manufacturer is throwing the full force of the standard corporate union-busting playbook at them. The Virginia Hershey manufacturing plant employs about 1,300 people, none of whom are sharing in the bounty of the company’s record profits reaped during a pandemic where Americans ate their weight in candy through numerous lockdowns. Continue reading

Rather than sink Main Street by raising interest rates, the Fed could save it

Inflation is plaguing consumer markets, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to tighten the money supply. But as Rex Nutting writes in a MarketWatch column titled “Why Interest Rates Aren’t Really the Right Tool to Control Inflation” . . . Continue reading

The Fed is about to shaft American workers—for no good reason

The January jobs report from the Labor Department is heightening fears that a so-called “tight” labor market is fueling inflation, and therefore the Fed must put on the brakes by raising interest rates. Continue reading

As cryptocurrency becomes mainstream, its carbon footprint can’t be ignored

As Bitcoin prices rise, so will the incentive to mine it, creating a feedback loop that spells trouble for the climate.

For advocates of cryptocurrency, the promise of an economic future that is managed by a blockchain (a decentralized database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network, as opposed to being held in a single location, such as a central bank) is compelling. For anyone paying attention, the rapid expansion of cryptocurrency has been stunning. In 2019, the global cryptocurrency market was approximately $793 million. It’s now expected to reach nearly $5.2 billion by 2026, according to a report by the market research organization Facts and Factors. In just one year—between July 2020 and June 2021—the global adoption of cryptocurrency surged by more than 880 percent. Continue reading

The real antidote to inflation: How to stoke the fire without burning down the barn

The Fed has options for countering the record inflation the U.S. is facing that are more productive and less risky than raising interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is caught between a rock and a hard place. Inflation grew by 6.8% in November, the fastest in 40 years, a trend the Fed has now acknowledged is not “transitory.” The conventional theory is that inflation is due to too much money chasing too few goods, so the Fed is under heavy pressure to “tighten” or shrink the money supply. Its conventional tools for this purpose are to reduce asset purchases and raise interest rates. But corporate debt has risen by $1.3 trillion just since early 2020; so if the Fed raises rates, a massive wave of defaults is likely to result. According to financial advisor Graham Summers in an article titled “The Fed Is About to Start Playing with Matches Next to a $30 Trillion Debt Bomb,” the stock market could collapse by as much as 50%. Continue reading

As job gains slow, the Fed and Congress apply the wrong medicine

Friday’s jobs report from the Department of Labor was a warning sign about the US economy. It should cause widespread concern about the Fed’s plans to raise interest rates to control inflation. And it should cause policymakers to rethink ending government supports such as extended unemployment insurance and the child tax credit. These will soon be needed to keep millions of families afloat. Continue reading

Psst: You want to know what’s really driving inflation? (Not what the Fed thinks it is.)

Last week, the Fed’s policy committee announced it would both end its bond-buying program and likely raise interest rates sooner than had been expected. “Inflation is more persistent and higher, and that the risk of it remaining higher for longer has grown,” Fed chair Jerome Powell explained. Continue reading

How a group of Starbucks workers emerged victorious in their union fight

It is hugely significant that even one café out of thousands in the iconic Starbucks coffee chain has beaten back the company’s union-busting tactics to choose collective power in the workplace.

The iconic American coffee chain, Starbucks, employs hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 9,000 cafés nationwide. And yet, the news that a handful of Starbucks employees at one café in Buffalo, New York, recently voted to join Workers United—an affiliate of SEIU—made headlines nationally. The New York Times called it a “big symbolic win for labor,” while the Washington Post hailed it as a “watershed union vote.” Social media feeds were replete with joyous posts celebrating the vote. The café, located on Elmwood Avenue, was the only one out of three union-voting Starbucks locations in Buffalo that successfully chose to unionize. Continue reading

Rare unionizing opportunity in big box and retail chains

This is the most opportune time for millions of workers in Big Box retail stores and fast-food outlets to form unions. McDonald’s, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and other giant chains are having trouble finding enough workers. Some of these companies are even paying signing bonuses and upping low pay. Continue reading

Rethinking work—and life

Americans are quitting bad jobs in record numbers because they’re rethinking what matters.

As a writer, I get stuck every so often straining for the right words to tell my story. Over the years, though, I’ve learned when to quit tying myself into mental knots over sentence construction. Instead, I step back and rethink where my story is going. Continue reading

Starbucks Workers United scores first-ever union win at big coffee chain

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Starbucks Workers United broke a significant barrier on December 9 with the first-ever worker win at the big retail coffee chain. Workers at the Elmwood store in Buffalo voted 19-8 to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, the National Labor Relations Board officer announced. The union also won 15-9 at a second store, but there are seven challenged ballots, and the NLRB will have to decide whether and how many of them to count. Continue reading

First Amazon, now Starbucks: Workers demanding unions at low-paying firms

BUFFALO —First it was—and still is—Amazon in Alabama. Now it’s Starbucks in Buffalo. Continue reading

How community schools are helping a hard-hit city dig out of tough times

Rocked by vanishing industries and charter school expansions, Erie public schools are fighting back with a “transformative” education approach.

Days after the GE Transportation plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, announced a round of crippling layoffs in 2013, an employee was found hanging from a crane in “Building 20,” according to the Erie Times-News. The image of a dead worker dangling from a crane in a dying factory seemed symbolic of a city going ever deeper into the depths of despair. Continue reading

Why Amazon is terrified of its U.S. workers unionizing

With a second union vote at its Alabama warehouse coming at a time of rising worker disaffection, Amazon is clearly worried that American workers will go the way of Europe: toward collective bargaining for their labor rights.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has just ruled that a historic union vote held earlier this year among Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) was not valid. The highly publicized vote, which took place over several weeks in February and March 2021, resulted in a resounding defeat for the union, with more than 70 percent of those voting choosing against union membership. Continue reading

Corporate greed the ‘real culprit behind rising prices,’ researchers say

"The more sway mega-corporations have over our economy, the more power they have to gouge customers, squeeze Main Street, and exploit workers."

Amid mounting data showing that people are paying more for food at grocery stores around the United States, a new analysis out Wednesday reveals how corporate power is “the real culprit behind rising prices at the checkout line.” Continue reading

Don’t blame government benefits for inflation—blame the modern economy

Headlines are screaming that inflation is here to stay. Consumer prices have risen by an average of 6.2 percent in the past year, the sharpest increase since 1991. Although Americans are supposedly—in the words of the New York Times—“flush with cash and jobs,” they are also deeply unhappy with the state of the economy. Continue reading

Why our climate isn’t jumping for joy after COP26

Two major gains took place at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland, which concluded on November 13: the first was that there would be another COP in 2022 in Egypt, and the second was that the world leaders expressed their aspiration to keep global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. These were, however, the only gains made at the end of COP26 to address the pressing issue of climate change. Continue reading

‘Build Back Better will worsen inflation’: Another lie about the Biden agenda

The drama over the Build Back Better Act has revealed the power of narrative in our political landscape. Continue reading

NYC taxi drivers took on predatory lenders—and won

This worker-driven organizing victory could pave the way for future debt relief.

After a two-week hunger strike and two months of sit-ins, dozens of taxi drivers in New York City hosted a long-awaited celebration outside City Hall on November 10. Continue reading

Rediscovering the power of unions

Better wages and health care may always face headwinds in Washington, but unions are striking to win them directly.

It was called “Striketober.” While politicians in Washington bickered over infrastructure, jobs, and the social safety net, unionized workers across the heartland went on strike to get their fair share directly. Continue reading

Don’t believe corporate America’s “labor shortage” bullshit

This is an unofficial general strike.

For the first time in years, American workers have enough bargaining leverage to demand better working conditions and higher wages—and are refusing to work until they get them. Continue reading