Oxfam's latest report ahead of the World Economics Forum in Davos says that "by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%." [more inside]
From October 1950 to January 1952, the Mexican American miners at the Empire Zinc mine in Bayard, New Mexico were on strike, protesting the racial discrimination between them and their Anglo counterparts in pay, safety standards, and quality of life in company housing. Two events make this particular strike stand out from similar strikes at other mines are the involvement of the miners' wives in both requesting better living conditions and later in taking to the picket lines themselves, and after the strike was over, the feminist and pro-labor docudrama made by blacklisted Hollywood film makers, Salt of the Earth (YouTube; lower quality on Archive.org; Wikipedia). [more inside]
"Pride", a critically-acclaimed new film given a limited release in the US today, tells the true story of how a small group of LGBT activists became the biggest fundraiser for the year-long British coal miner's strike of 1984-85. The miners faced a pre-meditated, organized, thuggish, dishonest, deceptive, and illegal surveillance and smear campaign by the Thatcher government, which froze all mining union funds, cancelled their unemployment, and denied food and housing welfare to their wives and children, in an attempt to starve them out. For the first time, the British government trained Britain's police into a paramilitary force, bused in at great expense and in great numbers to overwhelm the protesters, using violent, repressive, and corrupt tactics against non-violent protesters, with prolonged police detentions and the indiscriminate arrest of over 11,000 British citizens. The government was supported by the rightwing tabloid media, who used sensationalist, crude headlines to shape public opinion. LGBT activists reclaimed one such headline as the name of their most successful benefit. Although the miner's strike was broken by the Thatcher government, the miners kept their promise to support the LGBT community, by marching alongside them at the front of London's 1985's Pride parade.. Later that year at the Labour Party conference, a motion was tabled that supported adding equal rights for gays and lesbians as part of the Party's platform. This motion was opposed by Labour's executive committee, but the motion went to a vote – and passed, thanks to the votes of the National Union of Mineworkers and their allies.
The other night I was on the train coming home and there was this young girl with three young children, and she had a container of milk, and I heard the middle child of the three ask, "Mom, can I have some milk?" and the mother said, "No, you know we need it for the baby." And I remembered feeling like that.
The Minimum Wage Worker Strikes Back - She notes that her hourly wage of $7.50 is less than a Wendy’s combo meal: “I make less than the Baconator.”
"nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors." (SLNYT) [more inside]
Northwestern Football Players Are Trying To Unionize. More coverage from Deadspin, ThinkProgress, and Bleacher Report. The NCAA's predictable response.
After a trade dispute, Grangemouth plant will remain open. Just another case of a greedy union almost driving a company out of business? Perhaps not. Robin McAlpine argues that this case underlines the broken nature of British industry and its relationship with the unions, as well as the media's ability to report on stories outside of London
"In 1961, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “right to work” a “fraud,” saying that it “provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ ...Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining." -- The Most Dishonest Words in American Politics: 'Right to Work'.
In what could be the largest strike of its kind, hundreds of fast food workers in Detroit walked off their jobs on Friday, echoing the rallying cry heard (or not?) across the country that the currently underpaid workers deserve $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Friday's strike in Detroit comes on the heels of similar actions in other cities—Wednesday and Thursday in St. Louis, and in Chicago and New York City last month.
Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Ms. Horowitz’s new mutualism is based on a simple premise: freelancers should band together to set up social-purpose institutions to serve their mutual needs. That, she says, would be far better than relying on corporations and private investors who might have different priorities, not to mention a desire for substantial profits. This idea, she acknowledges, is not new. But with the changing economy, the decline of organized labor, the end of paternalism among employers and the shrinking role of government, she says, the conditions are ripe for embracing mutual aid societies anew. “The social unionism of the 1920s had it right,” she says. “They said: ‘We serve workers 360 degrees. It’s not just about their work. It’s about their whole life.’ We view things the same way.”
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law two bills that will "will among other things, bar both public and private sector workers from being required to pay fees as a condition of their employment." [SLNYT] [more inside]
In 1962, fifty years ago this month, striking union printers shut down four New York City newspapers in resistance to computerized, automated technologies that were being introduced in newsrooms across the country. Five other area papers shut down voluntarily. The strike lasted 114 days and sounded the death knell for four newspapers. For a brief period, New York was a laboratory that demonstrated what can happen when newspapers vanish. Today, new technology is again shaking American newspapers as the Internet drains away more and more advertising revenue. Is this The Long Good Bye? [more inside]
"If at any time during my tenure here you find there’s a pattern of owners and owners’ officials singing my praises, you’d better fire me. I’m not kidding."
Years of labour peace between the government of Ontario and teachers came to an end this year. Like their colleagues in British Columbia, Ontario teachers and support staff are complaining of unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional legislation -- the Putting Students First Act, 2012 -- that gives the Education Minister, Laura Broten, unchallenged power to ban strikes, job actions, set compensation and benefits, and to take over local school boards who are non-compliant. Ontario school boards are unanimously opposed to the Act, which reduces their power, and so are teachers and support staff, who feel the government is manufacturing a crisis. Most see this as a cynical ploy to capture public support for two by-elections this week that could nudge the Liberal government into majority status. ETFO and OSSTF, two of the teacher unions involved, have repeatedly pointed out that "the school year is not in jeopardy", that they had already accepted a wage freeze, and that local bargaining is proceeding well. As legislation looms aheads, teachers, support staff, and labour activists are wondering: is this the end of collective bargaining for the public sector? [more inside]
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled for the first time that a civil union must be treated as equivalent to marriage. The full decision is here.
Red money, blue money: The making of the 2012 campaign. "More than 80 percent of giving to Super PACs so far has come from just 58 donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the latest data, which covers the first half of 2011." This Salon piece details who the (surprisingly small) number of large donors are, and the SuperPACs they donate to.
Justice at Hershey's students on a cultural exchange program say Hershey treated them like serfs. [more inside]
Boeing's new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina was found to be retaliation for union strikes by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency (On Point radio show). That's prompted Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to launch an all-out war on the NRLB according to Dahlia Lithwick. (Previously.)
After weeks of fake primaries, fraudulent mailers, special interest moneybombs, and last-minute attempts at voter suppression, Wisconsinites went to the polls yesterday in an unprecedented round of six recall elections targeted mainly at Republican state senators for their support of Governor Scott Walker's controversial union-busting agenda. Five of the six races were called by Tuesday evening, with Democrats taking two of the three they'd need to regain control of the state senate. The lone holdout? A dead heat between incumbent Alberta Darling and challenger Sandy Pasch in District 8 -- the very same district that saw suspicious vote-counting by conservative Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus unexpectedly tip the balance towards Walker ally David Prosser late in the crucial state supreme court race this past April. The protracted count and late-night shift toward Darling coupled with Nickolaus's questionable history soon prompted Democratic officials to make accusations of fraud (later retracted). Control of the senate now lies in the defense of two Democratic seats up for recall next week and the possible wooing of GOP Senator Dale Schultz, the only Republican to vote against Walker's bill. Walker himself will be eligible for recall next spring. [more inside]
David Mamet discusses free-market economists, studying Kaballah, Aristotle's conception of drama, Tennessee William's expensive habit, and his love for Sarah Palin. Oh, and his HBO movie about Phil Spector (whom he believes is innocent). Previously, previously, and previously.
On the same morning that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi struck down Wisconsin's infamous union-busting bill on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law (PDF of decision, previously), Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed America's first state-level single-payer legislation into law. [more inside]
Osborne to target workers' rights with review of employment law "Workers are set to receive less protection against redundancy, dismissal and workplace discrimination as the Chancellor George Osborne tears up sections of employment law so businesses can dispose of their staff more easily." More Here (Times.co. uk - no sub required (at least, not in the uk), and Here.
In over 35 years of friendship and conversation, Walter Michaels and I have disagreed on only two things, and one of them was faculty and graduate student unionization. He has always been for and I had always been against. I say “had” because I recently flipped and what flipped me, pure and simple, was Wisconsin. When I think about the reasons (too honorific a word) for my previous posture I become embarrassed. ... The big reason was the feeling — hardly thought through sufficiently to be called a conviction — that someone with an advanced degree and scholarly publications should not be in the same category as factory workers with lunch boxes and hard hats. Wisconsin has taught Stanley Fish that academics are workers too. Marc Bousquet (author of How the University Works) responds at the Chronicle of Higher Education with five lessons for academics from Wisconsin.
The Newspaper Guild is calling on unpaid writers of the Huffington Post to withhold their work in support of a strike launched by Visual Art Source in response to the company’s practice of using unpaid labor. In addition, we are asking that our members and all supporters of fair and equitable compensation for journalists join us in shining a light on the unprofessional and unethical practices of this company. [more inside]
WSJ bravely criticizes the "excessive power of collective bargaining." Robert M. Costrell of wsj.com explains how the governor's proposal to restrict collective bargaining...seems entirely reasonable. via twitter.com/ftrain
SEIU past leader speaks on Wisconsin The battle is for the future our our country, the middle class, and public ownership of public goods
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is refusing to talk to Senate Democrats in (or rather currently not in) his state. He is, however, apparently willing to talk to David Koch, because that's who The Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy pretended to be when he got on the phone with Walker and recorded a 20-minute conversation about breaking unions, tricking the Democrats into coming back to pass legislation, the hotness of Mika Brzezinski, and how Walker would love to be "shown a good time" next time he visits Koch in California. [more inside]
Protests have erupted in Madison, Wisconsin where the Republican-controlled state legislature seems poised to pass a bill championed by the newly elected Governor Scott Walker that would strip collective bargaining rights (that is, unions) from public employees in order to combat the state's 137 million dollar budget deficit. [more inside]
We Are Those Lions. Sepia Mutiny discusses the death of Jayaben Desai, trade unionist.
Wondering at the route US vs. German unemployment has taken, I found some clues here and there, but the overriding factor seems to be the German model and works councils. [more inside]
In coming months, The [Los Angeles] Times will publish a series of articles and a database analyzing individual teachers' effectiveness in the nation's second-largest school district — the first time, experts say, such information has been made public anywhere in the country. This article examines the performance of more than 6,000 third- through fifth-grade teachers for whom reliable data were available. [more inside]
Are teacher's unions the enemy of reform? DISCUSS The Teacher's Union's Last Stand. How President Obama’s Race to the Top could revolutionize public education.
“This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education,” Education Secretary Duncan said, “and when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action.” In response to a new federal mandate to fix under-performing schools, every teacher will be fired at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.
Last month the United Steelworkers entered into an agreement with the successful Spanish cooperative Mondragon to work toward establishing worker-owned manufacturing coops in the US. [more inside]
“…If you stand up straight, people can’t ride your back. And that’s what we did. We stood up straight.”
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, he was helping sanitation workers in Memphis form a union. In 1967, SCLC initiated the Poor People's Campaign to unify the African-American civil rights movement with working people's movements more generally. In MLK's words, "It must not be just black people, it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites." [more inside]
York University is no stranger to strikes (even breaking its own length record), and the latest is shaping up much like the previous - TA & Lecturers' union on the picket line, admin in the ugly concrete buildings, and undergrads looking cold and confused all around (YT). But since the last strike in 2001, a few things have changed. No, not the issues (same as always - living wages for TAs, job security for lecturers) or the effect (disruption of undergrad education) - but last time there were few discussion forums, no facebook groups or videos by the local newspaper, and definitely no (somewhat obvious, but still mildly entertaining) Apple ad parodies. [more inside]
Australian dock workers will stop work for a minute today to remember the Patrick stevedores dispute, an industrial dispute that involved the stevedoring corporation Patricks, the Howard government and the Maritime Union of Australia. A landmark event in Australian political and legal history, the dispute saw dock workers stand "in the first line against the Howard government and the Patrick corporation that was seeking to remove their legal rights, their right to go to work [and] the right to collective bargaining." In its wake, the event generated debate about the role of unions in Australia, an alleged conspiracy between Patricks and the former Howard Government and even spawned a controversial TV mini-series, Bastard Boys. For more history and analysis of the dispute, you can read about it from the view of the MUA or this account but for the definitive analysis see here.
The Mayor of San Diego has a change of heart. GOP Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego comes out in support of gay marriage.
Today is May 1st, also known as International Workers Day. International Workers Day began when 340,000 in Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities struck for the eight-hour day in 1886. Flash forward to today where for many workers in the I.T. industry, years of 60-hour weeks and taking classes on your own dime to keep up with technology leave you in the unemployment line, after being laid off with no notice. For years, people have been calling for the I.T. Workers of the world to unite and form a unified labor union. I.T. workers should form a union for the same reason that workers have always formed unions: together we have more power to improve the terms and conditions of our employment than we do as individuals. This is an announcement and a call to action to the world-wide IT worker community to become involved in the development of a new resource — The International I.T. Workers Union that will represent the interests of I.T. Workers around the world.
Employees of Miller turn to youtube to express their concerns about pension benefits. [link via Church of the Customer]
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