"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity."

~ Viola Davis, 2015 Emmy acceptance speech for Best Actress in Dramatic Series

by Paul Breidenbach, pbreidenbach.c4ad@gmail.com

History buffs and people of a certain age will remember “freedom from want,” one of the Four Freedoms proposed by Franklin Roosevelt in his State of the Union message in January 1941, just after his second re-election and about a year before the US entered World War II.

Four FreedomsThe speech was a plea for continued US aid to England, the last major power left resisting the Nazi war machine.  Democracy would not be safe anywhere if all of Europe became fascist, FDR argued.  And why was democracy worth fighting for?  Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear, was his answer.

The freedoms of expression and worship are in the Bill of Rights. The freedoms from fear and want were derided by conservatives as “New Deal Freedoms,” not “American Freedoms.”

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AFL-CIO’s Labor Day Picnic: 10,000 at Coney Island

Working families came together at Coney Island Sep. 7 for Cincinnati AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day picnic. The event drew about 10,000 attendees, according to Jim Christmann with Coney Island.

An Explainer: Social Mobility

What are the chances of moving from the bottom to the top rungs of America’s economic ladder? If you are black? If you were raised by a single parent? If you don’t have a college education? The odds are not in your favor, as the Brookings Institution explains in this video. Income inequality limits upward mobility, and both jeopardize America’s basic bargain with its citizens.

Thomas Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management

As Labor Day approaches, we are likely to hear from a growing chorus of political, religious, academic, labor and business leaders who agree “America needs a raise” to reverse three decades of wage stagnation and rising income inequality.

But this consensus that something needs to be done has yet to produce a clear narrative or strategy for what to do. Getting there requires an agreement on what norms should guide wage growth, an understanding of the causes of wage stagnation and policies to address these causes in ways consistent with today’s economy and workforce.

It’s been 133 years since New York City celebrated the nation’s first Labor Day holiday in 1882 to acknowledge the role workers play in the economy. The federal government followed suit a dozen years later. As we review the suspected culprits behind wage stagnation, now is a good time to consider a new normal to ensure workers get their fair share of America’s prosperity.

"Forty-seven percent of (survey) respondents say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money."

~Federal Reserve, May 2015, Economic Well-being of U.S. Households

by Mike Brown, mbrown.c4ad@gmail.com

Though employees are protesting stagnant wages and deteriorating working conditions at the AdvancePierre Foods plant in West Chester, they want the company’s majority owner in Los Angeles, Oaktree Capital Management L.P., a private equity firm, to hear them.

Employees say Oaktree is pulling the strings at AdvancePierre and is looking to sell the company. Fearing they were not being heard, employees asked the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 75 in March to help unionize workers at the plant on Princeton-Glendale Road. Employees say the company has illegally obstructed those efforts.

As we all know, sometimes the best place to hide something is out in the open. And that applies to nail salons in New York City where mani-pedi’s were ridiculously cheap, but no one asked why…except Sarah Maslin Nir.

Nir found extensive wage theft hiding right under the nose of consumers, worker advocates, federal and state enforcement agencies and a state attorney general with a reputation for sniffing out and rigorously prosecuting violators.