November/December 2014

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69 NOV-DEC 14 / CINEMONTAGE FEDEX BUSINESS MODEL UNRAVELED Organized labor has long argued that workers classified as "independent contractors" are unfairly denied overtime pay. In August, a panel of federal judges ruled that FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery drivers are employees of the company, rather than "independent contractors," as FedEx characterizes them. One judge on the panel wrote that the decision "substantially unravels FedEx's business model," writes Dave Jamieson in The Huffington Post. FedEx is a non-union employer. The decision by the panel for the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals determined that FedEx had misclassified 2,300 drivers in California and Oregon as contractors, exposing the company to hundreds of millions of dollars in wage claims. The ruling reversed a decision by a lower court that had stopped other lawsuits from moving forward. Judge Stephen Trott, concurring with his colleagues, used a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln to argue that employees are still employees even if a company wants to call them contractors. Trott was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. "Abraham Lincoln reportedly asked, 'If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?'" wrote Trott. "His answer was 'Four. Calling a dog's tail a leg does not make it a leg.'" Corporations claim the contractor system gives drivers flexibility and strong incentives as "small businesses." Critics say it's merely a way to shift the costs of employment onto workers and to avoid payroll taxes and workers compensation costs. MINIMUM WAGE LEADS TO FASCISM? In an audio recording obtained by The Undercurrent, a man identified as a top Koch Industries strategist warned that an increased minimum wage could turn the United States into a fascist state. An economist by training, Koch Industries executive vice president Richard Fink explained the dangers of raising the minimum wage by comparing its appeal to that of totalitarianism, writes Lauren Windsor in The Huffington Post. Fink spoke at a political strategy conference, hosted by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch in June. Fink was introduced as the Koch's "grand strategist" by conference emcee Kevin Gentry. Fink sits on the boards of several of the Koch's organizations. "Psychology shows that is the main recruiting ground for totalitarianism, for fascism, for conformism — when people feel like they're victims," said Fink. "So the big danger of the minimum wage isn't the fact that some people are being paid more than their value... But it's the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of the minimum wage." The half-million figure refers to the estimated number of jobs lost if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10, which appeared in a February 2014 study by the Congressional Budget Office. Fink neglects to mention that the same study estimated 16.5 million employees would benefit from the increase in the minimum wage. "We're taking these 500,000 people that would've had a job, and making them unemployed, making them dependent on government programs, and destroying their opportunity for earned success. And so we see this is a very big part of recruitment in Germany in the 1920s. "If you look at the Third Reich, you can see that," Fink continued. "And what happens is a fascist comes in and offers them an opportunity, finds the victim — Jews or the West — and offers them meaning for their life, okay?" Fink cited the historical examples of Nazi Germany and Communist CALIFORNIA, HERE JOBS COME… California Governor Jerry Brown signs into law California Assembly Bill AB1839, the Expanded Film and Television Job Creation Act, in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on September 18. Governor Brown is accompanied by, from left, California Labor Federation Executive Art Pulaski, propmaker Armando "Grande" Gonzalez, California State Senator Kevin de Leon, California State Assemblymen and bill authors Raul Bocanegra and Mike Gatto, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and property master Renata Ray. The legislation more than triples the state's tax credit to $330 million a year for films and TV shows produced in California. Also influential in getting the law passed were IATSE Vice President Thom Davis, Editors Guild Western Executive Director Cathy Repola and 16 other IA Hollywood locals. Photo by Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

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