Tula Connell is the managing editor at the AFL-CIO. Follow her on Twitter @TulaConnell.

Got a T-Shirt? Chances Are Child Labor Was Involved

Cotton production involves the most child labor and forced labor in the world, according to the 2014 “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

Overall, 126 goods are produced annually by child labor and 55 goods produced through forced labor. Most of the goods, like cotton, are found in common items like T-shirts or are among popular foods, such as melons and rice.

California Domestic Workers Celebrate Mother’s Day with Visit to Lawmakers

Mother's Day in California will be extra special this Sunday, as working families, students and elected officials honor mothers by recognizing the role of domestic workers in our households. The events coincide with the launch of video highlighting the work of domestic workers around the state and the need for the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Domestic workers and their supporters will gather in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Santa Rosa to celebrate working mothers and preview the video, by Brave New Foundation’s Cuéntame.

CEO Pay and the 99%

—which includes the most comprehensive data accessible on 2011 executive pay. All of the data available is searchable by industry, by state and by the top 100 highest-paid CEOs. Check it and help us share it widely.

CEO Pay and the 99% shows that a CEO of a company in the S&P 500 Index, on average, received $12.9 million in total compensation in 2011. That’s nearly a 14 percent raise over the previous year. And that’s on top of a 23 percent increase in 2010.

LA Unions Spur Needed Jobs

Waiting for a bus in the pre-dawn hours on his way to a construction job, Robbie Hunter would often stand frustrated as one, two and even three buses passed him by, too packed to stop as they plowed along Los Angeles’ congested streets.

“You couldn’t depend on getting to a job site on time,” Hunter recalls, adding that construction workers who are late twice are summarily fired. Nor did his commute improve when he moved to the suburbs. “If I wasn’t on the the freeway by 5 a.m., I couldn’t get to anywhere in downtown L.A. by 7 a.m.”

250,000 Sign Petition to Apple to End Slave Conditions at Its Suppliers

Outraged at the inhumane treatment of workers in China who make iPads, iPhones and other Apple products, protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world last week to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers.

According to Democracy Now!, “A demonstration at Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store in New York City drew a dozen people, who peacefully handed over a petition with 250,000 signatures to an Apple store manager. Shelby Knox, the director for Change.org, led the effort to collect the signatures.”

1 Million Signatures Submitted to Recall Wisconsin Gov. Walker

Wisconsin working people hit one right out of Miller Park: Moments ago, they submitted 1 million signatures supporting a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R), exceeding the total number of signatures required by 460,000. Walker last year pushed to abolish the rights of public employees to collectively bargain for a middle class life. Overall, Walker’s policies are killing 18,000 jobs a year in Wisconsin, according to a recent report.

Union members and allies also turned in 123 percent of the required signatures against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who was thought one of the more challenging recalls to pull off.

Right to Work: ‘Bad Economics and Cynical Politics’

hit the mark Sunday when it castigated Republican lawmakers for pushing so-called right to work (RTW) laws in states like Indiana and correctly connected this anti-worker agenda with a similar assault on voting rights. Both moves are financed by a little-known organization funded by extremists like the Koch brothers.

According to the editorial, “Many Republican leaders are adopting model legislation proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national corporate-financed conservative organization that is also assisting the Republican push to require voter identification cards to suppress the vote of minorities, young people and other constituencies that tend to favor the Democratic Party.”

Corporate Profits Soar 81 Percent but Few Jobs Created

On the eve of tomorrow’s unemployment report for April, we get this news from Fortune:

Profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations soar by 81 percent ($318 billion), the third largest percentage gain in list history…Wal-Mart holds the number one spot for the second year in a row…Exxon Mobil leads profits with $30 billion, for the eighth year in row.

The stunning leap in profits is so excessive even Fortune writers are writhing in their leather chairs:

We’ve rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans….The profits derived partly from productivity gains, including workforce reductions. And many 500 companies are growing faster overseas than in the U.S.

Here’s the full list of the top moneymakers: http://bit.ly/mnrPsI.

2011 PayWatch: Average CEO Salary— $11.4 Million

. Released today, data compiled at PayWatch also show CEOs have done little to create badly-needed jobs, instead sitting on a record $1.93 trillion in cash on their balance sheets.

The 2011 Executive PayWatch features the compensation of 299 S&P 500 company CEOs and provides direct comparisons between those CEOs and the median pay of nurses, teachers, firefighters and others. For instance, while a secretary makes a median annual salary of $29,980, someone like Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf rakes in $18,973,722 million—632 times the secretary’s salary. The pay gap between Wall Street and Main Street has widened egregiously—as recently as 1980, CEOs made 42 times that of blue-collar workers.

The Truth About Taxes

, Tamara Draut, vice president of Policy & Programs at Demos, gives us a quick list of the top 10 tax stats.

1. The government collected less in taxes in 2010 than it has in over three generations, and tax rates are at historic lows.

2. The Bush tax cuts added $1.7 trillion to the nation’s debt over 2001-2008, which is more than it would cost to send 24 million kids to four-year public universities.

3. Corporate income taxes totaled about 1 percent of GDP this year, 60 percent lower than 40 years ago.

4. General Electric, which reported $5 billion in U.S. profits, paid ZERO taxes this year. Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in history, paid ZERO federal taxes in 2009.

Unmasking the Billionaire’s Caucus

A handful of people with very deep pockets operate behind closed doors to attack the gains made by working people and advance their own selfish interests at the expense of our nation’s democracy. The Koch brothers are among them. This weekend, as billionaires David and Charles Koch convene a meeting of 200 massively wealthy business and conservative activists for the eighth straight year, the nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause, in conjuction with Courage Campaign, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, the California Labor Federation and more than two dozen other organizations, will be holding a series of counter events.

“Uncloaking the Kochs: The Billionaires’ Caucus and Its Threat to Our Democracy” will include a Jan. 30 panel disucussion followed by a rally outside the Rancho Las Palmas resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where the Kochs & Co. are meeting. The panel will be live streamed. To sign up for the rally, click here. To sign up for the live web stream, click here.

Chamber of Commerce Gets $$ from Big Offshoring Corps.

It’s long past time for the Chamber of Commerce to take ”U.S.” out of its formal name. Because calling itself the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce implies it backs the interests of job creation in the United States. And proof emerges again that it does not. 

While funding $75 million in political ads to attack the jobs record of lawmakers who support creating good jobs in this country, the Chamber is pushing to send jobs overseas to outsourcing companies that are funding its political attack ads.

Going Gaga Over Workers’ Rights

Lady Gaga recently made an unexpected appearance at the Westin Saint Francis hotel in San Francisco—in the form of a flash mob singing a pro-worker version of lyrics to her “Bad Romance.” Replete with tuba, trombone, snare drum and a couple dozen dancing activists, the group materialized in the hotel’s lobby to denounce the chain’s poor treatment of its employees and urge people to “Boycott, boycott,” this “bad, bad hotel.”

NUMMI Closing Highlights Need for U.S. Manufacturing Policy

Closing the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. automotive plant in California will eliminate 25,000 jobs in the state and cost taxpayers $2.3 billion to replace the jobs lost, according to a March 3 report by University of California professor Harley Shaiken.

Jobs lost. Lives destroyed. Communities weakened. Billions of dollars down the drain. All because companies can only improve their bottom line by going after the cheaper labor they can find in other countries, right? Not so, writes Ralph Gomory, president emeritus, at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and former IBM senior vice-president of science and technology.