Louisiana’s unemployment rate doesn’t paint accurate picture

A new federal jobs report shows Louisiana’s employment growth in August was negligible despite an outsized drop in the state’s unemployment rate.

“Although Louisiana’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.6 to 6.2 (percent), the reason for this decrease was not because people were finding jobs. Instead, the decrease was driven by people giving up and leaving the labor market all together,” said Eric Peterson, a policy director at the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute. “For every 10 people returning to work in Louisiana, seven have left the labor market.”

Similar to many states, Louisiana has struggled to reach pre-pandemic employment levels. Hurricanes and the COVID-19 delta variant surge have played a role, as have direct payment stimulus checks, expanded federal programs such as the Child Tax Credit expansion and unemployment insurance increases.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Louisiana’s civilian labor force decreased by 3,436 people in August and by 30,000 people since August 2020 – a sign the state’s labor market is different than what the official unemployment rate represents.

The civilian labor force is defined as people age 16 and older who are not active duty military members, incarcerated individuals or those living in elder care, health care or institutional facilities.

Louisiana’s employment data comes as the country underperformed as a whole. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 235,000 jobs were added to the economy in August, despite expectations of 720,000 new jobs.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) said the state remains about 122,000 jobs behind the March 2020 pre-pandemic figure of 1.97 million jobs. With Hurricane Ida disrupting private sector employment since the storm’s Aug. 29 landfall, September figures could be worse.

Weekly unemployment claims have skyrocketed in the wake of Ida. The LWC reported 13,782 new claims for the week ending Sept. 11, the most-recent data available. The agency reported 2,080 new claims for the week before the Category 4 storm.

“These numbers don’t reflect the reality of the situation we find ourselves in today,” LWC Secretary Ava Cates said upon the release of Louisiana’s new jobs data. “People are still suffering after Hurricane Ida, and we are in the middle of hurricane season. We have a lot of work to do to make sure people can still find work in our state and have the money they need to get them through difficult times.”

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Labor Dept Reports 30,000 More Jobless Claims Than Expected

Filings reach highest point since August

People on a Kentucky unemployment line in 2020 / Getty Images

Cole Carnick • September 23, 2021 1:40 pm

Initial jobless claims hit their highest point since August, tallying tens of thousands of more filings than expected, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

First-time claims climbed up to a seasonally adjusted 351,000 last week, up from 335,000 the week before and above the Dow Jones estimate of 320,000. Claims are at their highest point since the week that ended Aug. 21, when 354,000 Americans applied for initial jobless benefits. Continued jobless claims are at 2.8 million, above the pre-pandemic count of 1.7 million.

The uptick in claims comes amid growing concerns about the country’s inflation surge and lagging job growth. Inflation has increased by 5.3 percent over the last year, hitting a 13-year high last month, the Labor Department reported last week. Job growth also recorded a seven-month low, the department reported. The modest numbers have led some economists to warn about the return of “stagflation,” which hampered the U.S. economy in the 1970s.

“Now one can make a case that ‘mild’ stagflation is already underway,” New York University economist Nouriel Roubini wrote last month. “Inflation is rising in the United States and many advanced economies, and growth is slowing sharply, despite massive monetary, credit, and fiscal stimulus.”

President Joe Biden is pushing for trillions of dollars in record spending, even as some Democratic lawmakers, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), warn it will worsen the economy’s inflation problems. The White House also faced criticism for its enhanced employment benefits, which expired this month, with some economists saying the additional jobless benefits kept thousands of Americans out of the workforce. Job openings reached a record 10.9 million in July while millions of Americans remained unemployed, the Labor Department reported last month.

While businesses confront worker shortages, the Biden administration has ordered COVID-related restrictions on employment. Biden announced earlier this month that employees of federal agencies and businesses with more than 100 workers are required to receive coronavirus vaccines.

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The Labor Shortage Isn’t Just Closing Businesses, But Shattering Entire Retirement Plans

Gary and Judi Eubanks are one of a kind. Both in their 60s, Judi is a skilled pianist and Gary can often be found playing pick-up basketball with the young people he used to coach. They have two sons and a handful of grandkids, and they’re heavily involved in their local church, where Judi is one of the piano players and Gary is almost always either leading worship or fixing the heating or air conditioning.

That’s because the duo also owns All Temperature Systems, a heating, cooling, and refrigeration business situated about halfway between the Chain O’Lakes and Parfreyville in the 6,000-resident town of Waupaca, Wisconsin. Though this couple is unique, a big part of their story is all too commonplace: They’re victims of the debilitating worker shortage.

Courtesy of All Temperature Systems

The Eubankses have been running the business since 1985, but back then it was called Omits Refrigeration Service. Just after their first son Joe was born, Gary and Judi were living in Houston and realized they didn’t want to raise kids in a city. So they moved up to Waupaca, the small town where Judi was born and raised, and took over Omits Refrigeration on April 1 that year so that its owner could retire. They acquired another heating and cooling business 15 years later in 2000 and became All Temperature Systems.

Though Gary was the only worker during those early years, the company now has eight employees aside from Gary and Judi, who are now about ready to sell the business and retire. But that’s easier said than done.

Federal COVID ‘Solutions’ Worsened the Worker Shortage

They know another person in the industry who had been trying to purchase a different business similar to theirs, but that endeavor was complicated by the fact that the business he wanted to buy had taken Paycheck Protection Program funds during the pandemic to keep its workers on payroll — something Gary and Judi also had to do.

“Last year when the pandemic hit, it just died as far as business. Restaurants were shutting, I mean, you know, government was shutting businesses down. We were an essential business because we keep people’s heat going during winter, so we had to keep going. But as it slowed down, we would have normally started laying guys off. Now, that’s a double-edged sword because if you lay guys off, well, somebody else is looking for a skilled worker, so they go find another job,” Gary said, his voice still dripping with Texas despite having left the Lone Star State more than three decades ago. “That was the reason for the PPP, so that you could still give your guys a 40-hour paycheck, and you don’t have to lay them off.”

The Eubankses said this other man in the industry hasn’t been able to buy a heating and cooling company despite his efforts since it’s been almost impossible to get a loan. That’s because banks look at some of the businesses that accepted PPP funds and are skeptical that they would have survived without the government — the same one that jeopardized their businesses in the first place with lockdowns — then bailing them out. Would they have been solvent if they hadn’t taken taxpayer funds? Banks speculate on this question and then might deny a loan.

Because Gary and Judi accepted PPP funds to retain their own workers when the government shuttered the types of businesses they would typically be servicing, they’re afraid a potential buyer won’t be able to get the funds to purchase All Temperature Systems, and that after more than 36 years of pouring into the business, they could be hung out to dry as they try to retire.

Courtesy of All Temperature Systems

“You know, the PPP, we wouldn’t be in business last year without it, or we would have had to get a loan. So it benefited us,” Judi said, telling The Federalist that during the April, May, and June 2020 quarter when government lockdowns were in full swing, their revenue dropped by 28 percent. “But could it possibly come to hurt us at our age trying to retire?”

Recruitment Is Hard, Retention Is Impossible

It isn’t just about PPP funds though. For years, Gary and Judi have been on the hunt for a hard worker they could train to take over the business when they retire, which has been difficult amid the huge push for higher education and massive student loan forgiveness. They’re prepared to teach somebody the trade.

About four years ago, they found somebody from a different part of the state who had graduated from a tech school and just needed a little field training. They paid to move this man and his family to Waupaca, helped them get set up in a house, and employed and trained him for a year and three months — before he moved away.

“And so we train them, and then they’re gone,” Gary said.

The Eubankses then decided it would be better to invest in somebody from Waupaca who wanted to stay there. They called up all the high schools in the surrounding areas — “Wild Rose, Iola, Waupaca, Weyauwega,” Gary listed them off — asking the teachers from the industrial arts departments to contact them if they had any students who were mechanically inclined and wanted to learn a trade instead of going to college.

“We got zero calls from four schools,” Gary said.

Nobody Wants to Work

Courtesy of All Temperature Systems

Aside from not being able to find someone to take over the business, Gary and Judi can’t even find people willing to work, period. Two years ago, they put a sign out in front of their business, which sits along a busy state road, advertising “Now Hiring. We Will Train” for three and a half months.

“Two guys stopped in to get applications. Neither one of them brought them back,” Gary said. “We’re willing to train you into a skill, I mean, into a trade here … And my wonder was, how many guys in their 20s went by delivering pizzas that summer, saw that banner, and never even came in?”

“People don’t want the responsibility,” Judi added. “They don’t want the headaches. Basically, most people don’t want to work today.”

The Eubankses have witnessed this problem for years, but now it’s far worse, with the coronavirus and subsequent government response exacerbating the worker shortage. Not only has the PPP come back to bite business owners like Gary and Judi, but increased unemployment handouts, taxpayer-funded stimulus checks, and the boom of remote jobs have wildly disincentivized would-be workers. And thanks to an ever-rising minimum wage, these trade businesses are now competing for workers with low-skill, low-responsibility jobs as well.

“I’m in restaurants working all the time,” said Gary, who often services commercial refrigerators. “I’ll be talking with young guys that are in there, chopping up onions in the kitchen, whatever. And I’ll ask them, ‘Have you thought about something else different? Trades?’ ‘Oh, no, I like my schedule here. I get to work kind of when I want to.’ And they’re not interested in a full-time job.”

“And now what the situation we’re finding is that people don’t want to start at the low end of the totem pole when they can go to Dairy Queen and make $19 an hour,” Judi chimed in.

Since it’s a skilled labor job, All Temperature Systems has to invest thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars to train a worker who doesn’t know the trade, but that same person can go to the local fast-food restaurant, make about as much as heating and cooling employees — if not more because Dairy Queen doesn’t provide benefits to those workers — and work the 20-30 hours a week that they want to.

“We’re a service industry. So it’s not like it’s 8 to 5 — there’s a lot of days, you get to go home early even. But when it’s cold, or when it’s really hot, you may be working till 7 or 8 at night, or even longer. Nobody wants to work that way anymore,” Gary said, blaming in part the COVID-era shift to remote work. “The pandemic has really changed the dynamics of trying to recruit people.”

You Can’t Compete with the Government

Beyond competing with minimum-wage jobs, Gary and Judi have also competed with government jobs and their cushy, taxpayer-funded benefits.

Several years ago, one employee who’d been with them for 16 years left to go work for lower wages at the county jail, where All Temperature Systems had long serviced the refrigeration equipment. So not only did the business lose an employee; it also lost an account because now the jail had in-house talent to work on its refrigerators. Another one of their employees left to work at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home, a branch of Veteran’s Affairs.

“You’re not only trying to compete against other people with wages and stuff, but nobody, no private corporation out there, can compete with government benefits. I’m talking county, state, federal — it doesn’t matter. We can’t touch it,” Gary said. “That’s my tax dollars at work there.”

“I provide better insurance that I can’t even get for my employees, but they can go to the government and I still pay for it,” Judi said.

A Journey of Faith

It’s been a rough road at times for this couple, and though they’re humans who worry like the rest, they’ll tell you their journey is an exercise in faith and that they trust God with the outcome. As Gary says, “It’s all faith-based. God put us here. So we figured when God’s ready for us to be out, we’ll be out.”

“I think that hearing some of these other stories about people’s situations puts us in kind of a precarious position where we want to trust God, but we don’t know what obstacles we’re going to have to overcome,” Judi said.

“I tell you, there’s been plenty of times where it looked pretty, pretty, pretty bad. And I look back at my books, and I look back at our path … I look back at some of those years, and I don’t know how we did it,” she added. “The only way we put it is that it’s in God’s hands.”

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New Hampshire jobless claims continue to drop

First-time unemployment claims in New Hampshire declined again last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report.

There were 360 new applications for state jobless benefits filed for the week that ended Sept. 11 – 69 fewer claims than the previous week , the federal agency reported on Thursday.

The state reported 15 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last week, the same as in the previous week, according to the report.

Meanwhile, continuing state unemployment claims – which lag behind a week – totalled 3,551 in the week ending Sept. 4, a decrease of 1,077 over the previous week.

PUA and other federal unemployment programs ended officially on Sept. 6, after Congress declined to renew the pandemic jobless assistance.

New Hampshire is one of 25 states that prematurely ended its participation in the programs, which prompted a lawsuit by a group of jobless workers who have asked a judge to reinstate the PUA program for those eligible and provide payments dating back to mid-June, when the state ended its participation. The outcome of that case is still pending.

The state has distributed more than $1.8 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits to workers since March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

New Hampshire’s jobless rate went up slightly to 3% in August – but is still one of the lowest rates in the nation, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security,

Nationally, there were 332,000 new claims filed in the week that ended Sept. 11, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Continuing unemployment claims, which lag behind a week, dropped by 187,000 to more than 2.66 million nationally for the week that ended Sept. 4, the agency said.

Overall, an estimated 12.1 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending Aug. 28, the agency reported.

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Maine jobless claims continue to recede

New claims for unemployment benefits in Maine continued to recede last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report.

There were 557 new applications for state unemployment benefits filed for the week that ended Sept. 11 – down by 123 from the previous week , the federal agency reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, continuing state unemployment claims – which lag behind a week – totalled 5,687 in the week ending Sept. 4, a drop of 1,086 over the previous week.

There were 104 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program created to provide benefits for those who didn’t qualify for state unemployment. That’s 32 fewer than the previous week, according to the report.

PUA and other federal unemployment programs created by Congress in response to the pandemic – including a $300 per week enhanced benefit – expired on Sept. 4.

Maine has distributed more than $2.4 billion in state and federal jobless benefits to nearly 400,000 jobless workers during the pandemic, according to state data.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment system is still under attack by fraudsters and international criminal gangs who continue to file bogus jobless claims.

During the week ending Sept. 11, the state Labor Department said it rejected at least 61 initial jobless claims that were suspected to be fraudulent.

The state’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9% in July, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

That’s down from a high of 9.1% last April but still higher than the state’s average 3% unemployment rate throughout 2019.

Nationally, there were 332,000 new claims filed in the week that ended Sept. 11, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Continuing unemployment claims, which lag behind a week, dropped by 187,000 to more than 2.66 million nationally for the week that ended Sept. 4, the agency said.

Overall, an estimated 12.1 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending Aug. 28, the agency reported.

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Washington state adds jobs but unemployment remains constant

Jobs added in Washington reached five figures for the sixth month this year, according to August numbers released by the state’s Employment Security Department.

The unemployment rate for August, however, remained unchanged from July at 5.1%.

Employers added 16,800 non-farm jobs last month, roughly two-thirds of the growth in June and July, which saw 25,600 and 24,300 new jobs, respectively.

“August’s job gain numbers were relatively solid in the face of renewed health concerns,” Paul Turek, an economist with the WSD, said in a press release. “But the uncertainty around the delta variant is likely to result in an uneven labor market recovery.”

Washington’s unemployment rate of 5.1% matches the national unemployment rate, putting it tied for No. 28 with Florida among the 50 states.

Of the new jobs added in August, 13,000 were in the private sector while 3,800 were in government employment.

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits decreased from 199,200 in July to 198,800 in August.

The Employment Security Department in early July reinstated a requirement that people receiving unemployment must provide three approved examples of job search efforts each week. Job seekers might also be more active now that additional weekly money in the form of federal pandemic unemployment benefits has expired.

At least 25 states, primarily run by Republican governors, had decided to opt out of the federal program ahead of the Sept. 6 deadline, citing concerns from business owners that the extra money was a disincentive for people to find work.

Washington did not opt out early, but Gov. Jay Inslee over the summer said state money would not be used to replace the additional checks. When the program initially faced expiration in December before being renewed by Congress, Inslee authorized a one-time payment of $550 for recipients.

The sector with the largest growth last month was leisure and hospitality, which added 8,500 jobs. That area was hit hard across the country in 2020 and well into 2021 due to various travel bans and lockdowns.

Professional and business service added 3,400 jobs in August, while manufacturing added 2,000. Construction, however reported a loss of 1,600 jobs.

In looking at year-over-year numbers, Washington added 30,100 jobs in August 2020 and the unemployment rate dipped below double figures for the first time in four months to 9.1%. That was more than double, however, compared to August 2019 when the unemployment rate was 4.1%.

The state’s unemployment rate had spiked to 16.3% in April 2020, just as the pandemic hit, as Washington lost 388,000 jobs that month.

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House Panel Democrats Turn Back GOP Anti-Forced Labor Amendment

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee defeated a Republican amendment Tuesday that would have barred the use of federal funds to purchase any critical mineral needed for renewable energy products like electric vehicle (EV) batteries that were mined with forced labor.

Introduced on the second day of the panel’s markup of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending program, the amendment by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) would make it illegal to import or pay for products made with critical minerals mined by or assembled with forced labor.

The most frequently mentioned country during the ensuing debate was China due to its use of forced labor by millions of Muslim Uyghurs in the production of a long list of consumer products exported to the United States.

Also frequently mentioned was the Congo, which has most of the world’s cobalt, which is required for batteries used in EVs that the Biden plan seeks to encourage U.S. consumers to buy instead of traditional internal combustion-powered cars and trucks.

China controls most of the cobalt mining in the Congo, as well as that of lithium, which is also required for EV batteries. Approval of the amendment would have erected a major obstacle to achieving Biden’s goal of half of all U.S. new vehicle purchases to be of EVs by 2030.

Debate on the amendment—which was defeated on a party-line vote of 32–26—became heated as Republicans decried African children being forced to dig cobalt with their bare hands and Uyghurs held in Chinese labor camps, and Democrats angrily replied that the United States already has such laws and thus doesn’t need another one with the passage of the Walberg amendment.

“My Democratic friends have included hundreds of billions of dollars in order to transform our [electric] grid and make us reliant on renewables and electric vehicles,” Walberg said in defending his amendment.

“Not only will this lead to trillions more in taxes and debt, drive up [electricity and energy] rates, and undermine wages, it will further entrench our nation in total and complete reliance on communist China,” Walberg continued.

“Communist China produces 90 percent of the silicon wafers that are the key building blocks for solar panels and 80 percent of rare earth minerals that go into magnets essential for wind turbines and EV motors. China also now controls almost 80 percent of the world’s battery capacity and 60 percent of the world’s battery component manufacturing,” Walberg said.

“This is not just a national security issue, it’s also a human rights imperative, and this is where it goes to our soul. If we’re going to build our domestic renewable energy industry, we need to have an honest conversation about where we are sourcing these materials,” he added.

Walberg noted that China detains millions of mostly Muslim Uyghurs in more than 100 forced labor camps in that country’s coal-rich northeastern section. There is an estimated 21 million square feet of factory space in which the Uyghurs are forced to work, often making products for U.S. firms that export them back to this country.

“So I ask my colleagues, where are the critical minerals required for carbon-free electricity by 2035 going to come from? Other than vague promises, we’ve seen very little action by Democrats and the Biden administration to ensure domestic sourcing and mining of raw materials required to make the batteries that power EVs,” Walberg added.

He noted that a similar amendment was adopted last week on a bipartisan vote by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

In response, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) said, “The Biden administration has already taken crucial steps to halt the import of critical minerals from regions that rely on forced labor and lax environmental protections.”

The administration’s actions send “a clear, decisive message that the United States does not tolerate forced labor” and that importing critical minerals “produced using forced labor may constitute a violation of U.S. law.”

Walberg’s amendment “ignores the important efforts that are already underway to end forced labor and is a distraction from the legislation we’re here to consider,” Castor said.

Walberg said he was encouraged that the Biden administration has taken some actions on the issue, and then asked Castor, “What would be the problem with the Congress taking the same steps by putting it into this bill that you intend to pass and putting the sense of Congress, as it were, lining up with the administration if that’s what they truly believe and work for?” Castor did not respond.

A clearly irritated Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told the committee that U.S. law since 1930 has barred the importation of products made using forced labor, and she said, “We have these laws. They are on the books. Perhaps they need to be more enforced, and so this amendment is really not necessary.”

Mark Tapscott

Congressional Correspondent

HillFaith Founding Editor, Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times, FOIA Hall of Fame, Reaganaut, Okie/Texan.

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Labor union tells pilots not to comply with Canadian airline’s vaccine mandate

It’s official: Joe Biden has announced that his Administration will be forcing COVID vaccinations on nearly 1/3rd of American citizens, blatantly disregarding the personal objections of millions of people and moving America ever closer towards a medical dictatorship.

We cannot stand for this unprecedented overreach, and we will not submit to Biden’s tyrannical public coercion efforts.

Please SIGN this urgent petition informing the President that you will NOT comply with these unconstitutional vaccine mandate orders issued by the Biden Administration, and that elected officials should act in their capacity to block these intrusive demands.

On Thursday, September 9th, Joe Biden announced the latest round of federal orders meant to further coerce large swaths of the public into getting the COVID vaccine — many against their will.

While the legal standing of these measures is, at best, dubious, the Biden Administration appears more ready than ever to gut our individual rights and practically erase medical autonomy in our country.

This latest escalation in overreach was announced via a televised speech in which Biden outlined a new “six-point plan” that includes far more than just six avenues to achieve mass medical compliance.

Among the most egregious new federal mandates are the following:

  • A requirement that all private businesses employing more than 100 people mandate their workers get the Covid-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing (to be implemented by way of a new Department of Labor rule)
  • A requirement that all federal employees and federal contractors get the COVID vaccine
  • A requirement that all healthcare workers in facilities that receive reimbursement from Medicare and/or Medicaid (an estimated 17 million) get the Covid-19 vaccine without an alternative testing option
  • A requirement that all Head Start teachers get the COVID vaccine
  • A federal effort to lobby states to implement vaccine mandates for all school employees, and require regular testing of all students and school staff
  • A federal effort to lobby entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing in order to grant entry to the public
  • A continuation of mask mandates on all federal properties and during interstate travel (i.e. planes, trains, buses)

All in all, these new vaccine mandates, which will go into effect within the coming weeks, will affect an estimated 100 million American workers — 2/3rds of the entire workforce!

And, according to an administration official, violations of these unconstitutional requirements could result in fines of up to $14,000.

While this is clearly a political ploy on the part of the Joe Biden and his team of power-hungry Washington insiders to shift the focus from their disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the American public knows better: After nearly a year and a half’s worth of arbitrary, ever-changing, and unconstitutional government mandates in response to the COVID outbreak, it was always a given that the Biden Administration would ramp things up even further when it behooved them.

And now, it would seem that time has officially come.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden uttered in his remarks, confirming his administration’s blatant dismissal of all Americans’ right(s) to accept or decline the experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

This is a stunning reversal from Biden’s declaration last December that “I don’t think [the vaccine] should be mandatory, I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory.”

In fact, Biden even confirmed his intention to flout states’ rights in the process, warning that “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.”

These are not the words of an “empathetic” leader; these are the words of an aspiring dictator. And, for the time being, the only way to stop Joe Biden’s tyranny is through mass noncompliance.

As we’ve said from the beginning, science, basic logic, and common sense should dictate policy regarding COVID and the Delta variant.

But Joe Biden and the federal government have long abandoned those principles throughout this crisis, culminating into this disturbing yet inevitable flurry of intrusive vaccine mandates that use people’s jobs, individual autonomy, and livelihood as leverage.

This assault on our individual rights, private businesses, and American workers cannot be tolerated, and the easiest way to combat these unlawful orders is to just say NO.

Please SIGN and SHARE this most important petition letting Joe Biden know that you will NOT comply with the unconstitutional medical demands being made by this administration, and that action should be taken to block any intrusive action against working Americans and private employers.

Thank you!


‘Biden announces vaccine requirements for private businesses, impacting tens of millions of Americans’: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-biden-announces-vaccine-requirements-for-private-businesses-impacting-tens-of-millions-of-workers/

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AP reveals Biden White House consulted with labor unions before issuing vaccine mandate

Big Labor’s ties to the Democratic Party have been documented from time immemorial.

And everyone knows that President Joe Biden has close ties to labor unions. Having served in the federal government as an elected official for nearly the last half-century as a loyal Democrat, Biden has had union allies by his side for literally decades.

So it likely comes as no surprise that Biden would be extremely hesitant to cross his labor pals. But he’s doing more than just being careful not to cross them — he’s consulting with them in the creation of national policy.

The Associated Press revealed the most recent labor-union collusion with the White House in a report on how unions appear split over Biden’s new vaccine mandate.

What happened?

Most readers will remember the reports last May exposing that the White House was caught allowing the American Federation of Teachers to play a role in school reopening policies. The AFT successfully lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to recommend earlier last school year that schools could fully reopen.

Last week, according to the AP, the Biden White House actively reached out to Big Labor for consultation on vaccine mandates before the president issued his declaration Thursday.

And not only did the administration proactively contact labor unions, the AP said, it vowed to keep checking in with them on the mandate.

From the AP (emphasis added):

The labor movement is torn over vaccine requirements — much like the country as a whole — wanting to both support its political ally in Biden and protect its members against infection but also not wanting to trample their workers’ rights.

“Labor unions are a microcosm of the society we live in,” said Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of Cornell University’s The Worker Institute. “The same political divide we have right now exists within the rank and file of unions.”

That divide complicates matters for Biden as he tries to get the delta variant under control. Unions are a key part of the Democratic Party, and Biden has embraced them to burnish his blue-collar, middle-class image. Dissent in Biden’s own coalition may make it especially hard for him to implement new vaccination requirements. Some unions representing federal workers already objected to his push for inoculation among the U.S. government workforce, saying such matters involving new workplace requirements and discipline need to be negotiated at the bargaining table.

In a sign of the importance of the issue to the Biden administration, the White House reached out to union presidents before Biden announced his new policy Thursday and will continue to check in with labor leaders, said an administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss forthcoming plans.

Despite national unions’ apparent acquiescence to Biden’s push for vaccine mandates, local unions — particularly police unions — have opposed moves to require jabs.

For example, just last month, the Chicago police union sent a message to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s command that all cops get the shots: “Hell, no,” they said. “We’ll see you in court.”

(H/T: HotAir)

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Norwegian Pension Fund Boycotts Israel While Investing in Companies Linked to Chinese Slave Labor 

A Norwegian pension fund that recently announced it planned to blacklist Israeli companies in the West Bank has poured hundreds of millions into Chinese companies linked to slave labor and Russian entities on the U.S. sanctions list.

Norges Bank’s Government Pension Fund Global, Norway’s largest pension fund, placed several Israeli companies in the West Bank on its “excluded companies” list earlier this month, citing “serious infringements of the rights of the individual in situations of war or conflict in connection with the construction of roads linked to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

At the same time, Norges held over $150 million in investments in at least seven companies that operated in or are suspected of using forced labor from the Xinjiang province of China, where Uyghur Muslims face human rights abuses, according to the fund’s most recent financial disclosures from last December. And the fund also held $1.8 billion in shares in at least six Russian energy companies and banks that are under U.S. financial restrictions or sanctions.

The fund’s investments raise questions about its decision-making process for divestments. While Norges Bank cut ties with Israeli companies, it has yet to bar controversial Russian and Chinese companies from future investments. Anti-Israel boycotts are growing more common in progressive circles. Earlier this year, Ben & Jerry’s announced it was ending its operations in the West Bank, prompting a wave of public backlash and the threat of financial penalties against the ice cream company from several U.S. states.

“The decisions made by the Executive Board of Norges Bank, announced last week, were made based on recommendations from the Council on Ethics,” said Line Aaltvedt, a spokesman for Norges Bank. “The Ministry of Finance has established the independent Council on Ethics to evaluate whether or not the fund’s investments in specified companies is consistent with its Ethical Guidelines.”

Norges Bank did not indicate whether it still holds shares in Chinese companies linked to slave labor or Russian firms under U.S. sanctions. The fund said last year that it would be reviewing its investments in companies that are linked to forced labor in Xinjiang, but the entities are not included on the fund’s list of “excluded companies,” which was updated earlier this month.

The list is overseen and approved by the fund’s executive board, which acts based on formal recommendations from the Council on Ethics. Such recommendations are kept private until the bank unloads its shares.

According to Norges Bank’s most recent investment disclosure from last December, the pension fund held $28 million in investments in Daqo New Energy Corp., whose Xinjiang subsidiary was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce this summer for “accepting or utilizing forced labor in the implementation of the People’s Republic of China’s campaign of repression against Muslim minority groups.” The fund also held a $35 million stake in JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd., a solar panel company that is supplied by Daqo—over 1 percent of JinkoSolar’s shares.

The Government Pension Fund Global listed a $30 million investment in GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd., a company that was also designated by the Commerce Department.

In addition, it held stakes in several Xinjiang-based manufacturers, including Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, which has been accused of supporting forced Uyghur labor and has come under scrutiny for its work with Apple.

Other Government Pension Fund Global investments have been subject to U.S. sanctions. This includes a subsidiary of China’s state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which produces military aircraft and was placed on an investment blacklist by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The fund also disclosed stakes in subsidiaries of Russia’s Lukoil, Novatek, Surgutneftegas, Sberbank, and Gazprom, which have been sanctioned by the Treasury Department related to their work in the Russian energy sector and oil production.

Johan H. Andresen, chair of the fund’s Council on Ethics, told Reuters in March that he was “concerned that some of our companies in the fund may make use of this [forced] labour” in Xinjiang.

“If we were to make a recommendation [to exclude these companies from investments] it would be in the first half of this year,” Andresen told Reuters.

The Chinese foreign ministry denied that it persecutes Uyghurs and urged Norway to “respect the facts” and avoid “politicizing economic trade and cooperation,” according to Reuters.

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