Friday, October 3, 2014

Tens of Millions Now Employed In US At Sweatshops

Photograph taken in a 'sweatshop' c.1890
Photograph taken in a 'sweatshop' c.1890 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sweatshop Defined:  A place where people work long hours for low pay in poor conditions.

B:) A shop or factory in which employees work for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions.

From Wiki

More recently, the anti-globalization movement has arisen in opposition to corporate globalization, a process by which multinational corporations move their operations overseas in order to lower their costs and increase profits. The anti-sweatshop movement has much in common with the anti-globalization movement. Both consider sweatshops harmful, and both have accused many companies (such as the Walt Disney CompanyThe Gap, and Nike) of using sweatshops. Some in these movements charge that neo liberal globalization is similar to the sweating system, arguing that there tends to be a "race to the bottom", as multinationals leap from one low-wage country to another searching for lower production costs, in the same way that sweaters would have steered production to the lowest cost sub-contractor.

Today we see a new format emerging throughout the entire United States. With ObamaCare however, the hours are not long on a single job as corporations downsize how long they will allow workers to actually work during any given week.  The conditions in the work environment may be clean, but the wages are ridiculously low and not in the least bit a living wage.  More and more workers are depending on two, three and even four jobs just to try and scrape by anything that resembles a living and are still barely clinging on.

  McDonald's, Wal Mart, K-Mart, Sears, Burger King, Lowe's, Home Depot, and plenty of other places can now be considered modern day sweatshops as not one of them pay the majority of their workers anywhere close to a living wage.  Most of the workers in these locations are part time, little to no benefits, making barely above minimum wage which comes no where close to a living wage.

A living wage allows for a person to pay their rent or mortgage, car payment, insurance, medical expenses, clothing costs, food, utilities,  furniture expenses, and also allows for entertainment expenses and money left over to put into savings for a rainy day.  For a single person in the US today, the average income, outside of major metropolitan areas is around $45,000 per year and rising in order to be making a living wage.  Again, that is for one person.

Recent complaints in raising the minimum wage to anywhere between $10.00 or $12.00 per hour falls horribly short of coming close to making a living wage.  What difference does it make if you pay a person $25.00 per hour if all you are going to work them is 20 hours a week?  That is only $500.00 per week before taxes.  Rent in most areas throughout the US anymore is going to eat up half of the monthly wages leaving very little left for anyone to try and survive with.

The days of the 40 hour work week are for most, a buried memory, left in the dust of yesteryear.  Businesses are paying less and less of the benefits for employees and paying low wages to boot.  It's a mix that simply does not work.  That makes Wal Mart, Target, Subway, Chick-Fil-A and others the new modern sweatshops and tens of millions of people are stuck in the rut of these new deals.  
It's time for some new thinking about.....well.....every aspect of modern society.

English: Walmart Home Office, the headquarters...
English: Walmart Home Office, the headquarters of Wal-Mart - Bentonville, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Specialty Crop Grants for Virginia

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
~16 Projects Receive More Than $560,000 in USDA Funding; Grants Benefit Crops Including Apples, Grapes, Chestnuts, Christmas Trees, More~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced funding for sixteen agriculture-related projects aimed at promoting and enhancing the competitiveness of Virginia’s specialty crops and creating more economic opportunities.  The projects awarded grants resulted from a competitive process established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant funds.  Specialty crops including apples, wine grapes, sprouts, chestnuts, strawberries, Christmas trees, and more will benefit from the grants. Other grants focus on food safety, protecting honey bees, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) implementation on small farms, marketing and education programs, food safety education, cover crops, nutrient cycling, and more. Grants range from $20,000 to $50,000 per applicant.

“These federal grants represent more than a half-million dollar investment in Virginia’s economy and will boost agricultural development and job creation, especially in our rural communities,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The innovative projects awarded grants will help enhance agriculture’s position as the Commonwealth's largest industry as we work with our private sector partners to build a new Virginia economy. I congratulate these individuals, educational institutions, and organizations for pursuing concepts that will help growers add value and enhance marketing opportunities across Virginia.”

The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 authorized the USDA to provide funds to states to promote specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery crops. When considering grants for the USDA Specialty Crop Program, VDACS gave priority to projects that included the following activities:
·         Assisting farmers in transitioning into specialty, high-value agricultural initiatives that address the eligible specialty crops;
·         Increasing net farm income through high-value or value-added enterprises;
·         Finding new ways to market or to add value to specialty agricultural products; and
·         Developing pilot and demonstration programs in specialty agriculture that have the potential for transferability within rural Virginia.

“Today’s announcement is more good news for Virginia agriculture and helps bolster the Governor's efforts to keep agriculture and forestry at the forefront of his overall economic development strategic plans and his work to build a new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “The projects and more than $560,000 in grants being awarded also highlight Virginia's diversified agricultural interests and the potential opportunities those interests provide across a broad geographical footprint."

VDACS awarded grants totaling $564,828.97 for the following projects:
·         Advancing Organic Apple Production in Virginia - Virginia Tech, Winchester AREC, Winchester, VA
·         Beneficial Bacterial Endophytes Improve Grape Vine Growth and Cold Tolerance to Strengthen the Virginia Wine Industry - Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Danville, VA
·         Chestnut Production and Marketing Feasibility Study - Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (VA FAIRS), Richmond, VA
·         Cider Production from Virginia-grown Apples:  Development of Research-Based Fermentation Strategies - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
·         Commonwealth Quality Alliance Education - Virginia Wineries Association, Richmond, VA
·         Cover Crops and Nutrient Cycling for Vegetable Production in Virginia - Virginia Tech, Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC), Painter, VA
·         Developing Organic and Integrated Management Strategies for Pest Control in Annual Strawberry Production -  Virginia Tech, Hampton Roads ARECVirginia Beach, VA
·         Development of Commercial Shelf-Stable Recipes for Specialty Crops - Virginia Food Works, Charlottesville, VA
·         Development of Soybean Varieties for Sprouts as a Profitable Vegetable Crop - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
·         Enhancing Market Opportunities for Virginia’s Specialty Crops and Small to Mid-size Farms through a Ten Percent Marketing and Education Campaign - Virginia Food System Council, Richmond, VA
·         Genetically Improved Fraser Fir Seed Orchard - Mount Rogers Area Christmas Tree Growers AssociationWhitetop, VA
·         Increasing Capacity to Provide Comprehensive Fresh Produce Food Safety Education from Farm to Fork - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
·         Low Cost Protection from Pesticide Damage for Honey Bee Colonies - Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Richmond, VA
·         Making Food Safety Certification Available and Affordable for Virginia Farmers - Appalachian Sustainable Development, Abingdon, VA
·         Multi-tiered Quality Assurance and Cost-share Program to Advance GAP Implementation on Small Farms - Local Food Hub,Charlottesville, VA
·         Transitioning Farms to Sustainable Practices for Economic Viability and Environmental Health - Arcadia Food, Alexandria, VA

According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest industries with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually.  Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces over $17 billion.  The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. More information about the Weldon Cooper Center’s study can be found at

Governor McAuliffe Announces Federal Grant to Bolster Virginia’s Supports and Services for Residents with Dementia

Dementia (film)
Dementia (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the Commonwealth has secured a federal grant that will strengthen and expand services for Virginians experiencing dementia.
The $441,131, three-year grant from the federal Administration for Community Living will allow the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services to implement a caregiver intervention program in the greater Charlottesville and Williamsburg areas. Department leaders hope to expand the program into other areas of the Commonwealth in the future.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease in Virginia could jump 46 percent, from 130,000 in 2014 to 190,000 in 2025. Age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and as its population ages, Virginia must support sufficient training for care providers, first responders and family caregivers to adequately address this growing demand.

“Today’s population of older Virginians is expected to double by 2030, a trend that is likely to be accompanied by an increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This grant represents a timely and significant opportunity for the Commonwealth to expand services to people with dementia and their families,” said Governor McAuliffe.

Dementia presents a significant challenge for family members who are thrust into the role of caregiver. In 2013, an estimated 447,000 family caregivers provided 509 million hours of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in Virginia. The grant aims to help family or informal caregivers feel more confident in their role, increase satisfaction with their social and emotional support networks, reduce depression that can often hit caregivers, and help caregivers assess and comfortably respond to behaviors that can sometimes affect people with dementia.

Virginia is striving to address these intertwined issues. In response to the Dementia State Plan, the General Assembly created the position of state dementia services coordinator to review existing programs, identify gaps, reduce duplication and work with agencies to more effectively deliver services to Virginians with dementia.

“People with dementia and their caregivers don’t have to battle this cruel disease alone,” said Dr. William Hazel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources. “This grant will do much to reinforce social support networks and to offer crucial assistance to caregivers. The Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services is well prepared to make the most of this opportunity, thanks to the decision last year to hire a dementia services coordinator.”

Partnering with DARS’ Division for the Aging on the pilot program are the University of Virginia Memory and Aging Care Clinic; Jefferson Area Board for Aging; Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; Peninsula Agency on Aging; and theAlzheimer’s Association Central and Western Virginia Chapter andSoutheastern Virginia Chapter.

Governor McAuliffe Announces McKee Foods Corporation Expansion in Augusta County

McKee Foods - Little Debbie logo
McKee Foods - Little Debbie logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
~Company to invest $34 million and create 54 new jobs~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that McKee Foods Corporation will invest $34 million to expand production at its manufacturing facility in Stuarts Draft in Augusta County. Virginia successfully competed against Arkansas for the project, which will create 54 new jobs.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “We are proud that for 24 years Virginia has remained a part of the success story of an industry leader producing snacks that are household names across the country. McKee Foods is a vital contributor to the economy of Augusta County and the Commonwealth. The Stuarts Draft plant, one of the most modern facilities in the baking industry, currently employs more than 1,000 Virginians in the region, and with this outstanding project will add more than 50 new jobs. Outcompeting other states and countries for high-tech manufacturing projects is key to building a new Virginia economy. My administration stands ready to help McKee Foods continue to capitalize on Virginia’s outstanding business climate, our world class workforce and our unrivaled access to global markets.”

“McKee Foods’ manufacturing operation in Augusta County has thrived for 24 years, and with this tremendous investment and expansion will continue to produce new products and increase efficiency and productivity,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The company has continued to re-invest in its Stuarts Draft operation over the past decades, and this expansion is a great testament to McKee’s commitment and success in Augusta County and in the Commonwealth.”

McKee Foods, a family bakery with annual sales of about $1.2 billion, is a privately held company based in Collegedale, Tenn. The McKee Foods story began during the height of the Great Depression when founder O.D. McKee began selling 5-cent snack cakes from the back of his car. Soon after, he and his wife, Ruth, bought a small, failing bakery, using the family car as collateral. Today, the company employs more than 5,000 people in Collegedale, Tenn.; Gentry, Ark.; Stuarts Draft, Va.; and Kingman, Ariz. It creates and produces Little Debbie® Snacks, Drake’s® Cakes, Sunbelt Bakery® snacks and cereals, Heartland® and Fieldstone™ Bakery food products.

“McKee Foods has had a longstanding commitment to manufacturing in Virginia,” said Randy Smith, vice president of Stuarts Draft operations for McKee Foods. “The business climate in the Commonwealth is very favorable, and we have found Stuarts Draft to be geographically well-positioned to serve the markets for our brands. The Commonwealth is very business friendly, and there is a wonderful population of people to recruit to work with us. We are proud to be here and to be expanding our production capacity.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $300,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies. Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Creating jobs for the citizens of Augusta County remains one of our highest priorities," said Larry Wills, Chairman of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. “McKee has been a strong partner in both job creation and capital investment since 1990, and we are proud to be a part of the company's ongoing success," Wills added.

Carolyn Bragg, Board of Supervisors representative for the South River District where the plant is located, said, "McKee Foods is one of the largest employers in Augusta County and continuously gives back to the community in multiple ways, such as its annual contribution to the Governor's Food Bowl. We are excited to announce this expansion in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia."

U.S. Department of Labor Awards Nearly $14 Million to Support Job Training Programs at Virginia’s Colleges

Virginia State University
Virginia State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because Colleges No Longer Prepare The Students:

~ Grant to help colleges expand capacity to provide training programs ~ 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia State University and four of Virginia’s community colleges will expand their capacity to provide innovative training programs in partnership with employers, thanks to a nearly $14 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (US DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative. 

In Virginia, the  funding will  support the priorities of  Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 23, the “New Virginia Economy” Workforce Initiative, to increase STEM-H postsecondary education and workforce credentials, secure employment for veterans, align education with the needs of businesses, and diversify the economy.

“These five new grant awards will drive industry driven STEM-H credentials, apprenticeships and on the job training to help build the skilled, high tech workforce for Virginia businesses and industry sectors”said Governor McAuliffe.  “This is another step forward towards my vision of a new Virginia economy, and I congratulate each of the colleges on their success.” 

“The success of Virginia State University and our community colleges in securing these awards suggests the strength of regional public-private partnerships,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “It’s encouraging to see our universities and community colleges working with employers, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and other partners to stand up new models of education and training that work for industry, job seekers, and for the Commonwealth’s economic development.” 

Virginia State University received $3,249,817 to provide training in the wireless industry for veterans, dislocated and underemployed workers, which includes the Warriors4Wireless program, one of only two such programs in the U.S.  The college will work to accelerate credential completion, implement new instruction models, bolster online and technology-enabled learning, implement apprenticeships, and offer Wireless Technician certificates and associate and baccalaureate degrees

Lord Fairfax Community College received $3,250,000 to create Knowledge to Work, a new type of educational search engine and online portal designed to help workers find free and low-cost learning resources tied to competencies and credentials, including badges, certificates, and degrees. These low-cost credentials will be targeted to high demand industries that align with the Governor’s STEM-H goals in healthcare, information technology and advanced manufacturing.

Danville Community College received $2.5 million to incorporate workplace experiential learning in advanced manufacturing in an educational setting. The new program, Retooling America, focuses on realistic, fully integrated training experiences in a full-scale manufacturing faciltiy , which will be housed at the college’s project partner, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

Southwest Virginia Community College received $2.5 million to provide training in advanced manufacturing and carpentry industries through the college’s PluggedIn VA.  PluggedIn VA is a program, which provides expedited paths through a GED, postsecondary education and job training to a high demand job.

Thomas Nelson Community College received $2,476,840 to work with regional employers and workforce organizations to develop and implement an education and training system to produce multi-skilled technicians in advanced manufacturing.

“VSU is honored that the Department of Labor has entrusted us with federal assistance to develop this wireless infrastructure career training program,” said VSU President Keith T. Miller.   “The market demand for wireless network workers remains strong in our region and throughout the country.  This grant will help VSU stay at the forefront of helping to build Virginia’s economic and technological future.”

“Community colleges are at their best when they are bringing together employers and career-seekers from across the community, and that’s exactly what this grant will help us do,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Virginia earned the largest amount of funding awarded to any state.  We take that to be a vote of confidence in the quality of our work and a challenge to go even further. We’re grateful for the opportunities this creates in helping us serve people across Virginia.”

A full list of grantees including project descriptions is available online at

Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring Announce Agenda for Virginia Heroin and Prescription Drug Summit

Police State 2- The Takeover
Police State 2- The Takeover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beware The Coming Police State:

Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring today released the full agenda for the Virginia Heroin and Prescription Drug Summit, to be held on October 2, 2014 in Charlottesville, and hosted by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Attorney General Mark Herring. The summit will include law enforcement representatives from the local, state, and federal levels, and will feature Michael Botticelli, the Acting Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the keynote speaker.

Director Botticelli has more than two decades of experience supporting Americans who have been affected by substance use disorders.  Prior to joining ONDCP, Mr. Botticelli served as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where he successfully expanded innovative and nationally recognized prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During the summit, Director Botticelli will discuss the federal government’s role in working with localities to reduce drug trafficking and abuse, and resources available to combat this issue.

The Virginia Heroin and Prescription Drug Summit is held by the Virginia Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Office of the Attorney General, with the goal of addressing the  growing and dangerous epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin abuse in the Commonwealth. Governor McAuliffe also recently signed Executive Order 29, establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse, co-chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. The order asked the task force to suggest strategies that will raise public awareness about the dangers of misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, train health care providers on best practices for pain management, identify treatment options and alternatives to incarceration for people with addiction, and promote the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs. The recommendations outlined and issues discussed in the Charlottesville summit will be factored into the overall recommendations by the task force.

The full agenda is below.

Virginia Heroin and Prescription Drug Summit

October 2, 2014

Charlottesville Doubletree Hotel


8:30 a.m.         Opening Remarks           

                        The Honorable Brian Moran
                        Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
            The Honorable Mark Herring
            Attorney General            

9:00 a.m.          Plenary Session
Personal Impact: Stories of Tragedy and Survival
Moderator:        Phillip Figura
Assistant Attorney General

Teresa Nelson, Stephens City, Virginia
Carolyn Weems, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Honesty Brackett Liller, Richmond, Virginia

10:30 a.m.       Plenary Session                                                                                               
Heroin by the Numbers: Data in Virginia
Moderator:        Victoria Cochran
Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security

William Gormley, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Examiner, Virginia Department of Health
Linda Jackson, Director, Virginia Department of Forensic Science
Jayne Thatcher, Ph.D., Toxicology Group SupervisorVirginia Department of Forensic Science
Mellie Randall, Director, Office of Substance Abuse Services, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services
Captain Gary Settle, Division Commander, Virginia State Police, Culpeper Field Office
Gregory Cherundolo, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration

12:15 p.m.        Keynote Speaker:           
The Honorable Michael Botticelli
Acting Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy
1:00 p.m.          Director Botticelli, Attorney General Herring, and Secretary Moran media availability

1:15 p.m.          Plenary Session
Policy and Legislation: Strategies for Virginia
Moderator:        Marc Birnbaum
Assistant Attorney General

The Honorable Timothy Heaphy, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Virginia
Tonya Vincent, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security  
The Honorable Nancy Parr, Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Chesapeake
Chief Timothy Longo, Sr., Charlottesville Police Department
The Honorable Timothy Carter, Sheriff, Shenandoah County and Chairman, Northwest Virginia Regional Drug/Gang Task Force

2:30 p.m.         Regional Breakout Sessions

4:00 p.m.         Regional Reports and Recommendations                                            
4:30 p.m.         Adjourn