Organizing In The New Gilded Age
May 11, 2018 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Unemployment is down! The stock market is up! So ...why doesn’t it feel like that’s happening? The gig economy, a dearth of full-time work, bidding wars, vanishing stability and benefits (The Daily Dot) As Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s lawmakers took divergent paths, so did their economies, supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, and taxing the rich all included as factors in Minnesota’s stronger recovery. (Economic Policy Institute ) Update the 1935 National Labor Relations Act to reflect the new economy? (Slate) Progressive wing Democrats lean into labor issues as strikes across the country continue and expand. (Economic Update Podcast)
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Suck it, Scott Walker. Turns out your faux-populist, voodoo economics are worthless.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:49 AM on May 11 [13 favorites]

Oh also one of the largest unions in the country, UPS, are in negotiations right now with a strike authorization vote on the table as of
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]

The amount of labor unrest is remarkable. I'm hoping this indicates stomach for a general strike as the GOP tightens the clamps on ordinary people in its ever ongoing attempt to squeeze as much money upward as possible. I've resigned myself to the inevitability, because I believe that whatever Mueller's team finds, it will just be icing on the cake of what we already know, and that knowledge is too little to get our politicians to act on our behalf. So, it will come to pass that we have to decide whether to meekly acquiesce or throw monkey wrenches into the machine.

Edited for a minor omission.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:11 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]

The Workplace Democracy Act - which aims to strengthen unions and make it easier to be a union member - has been spearheaded by Bernie Sanders and co-sponsored by, among others, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. #electwomen #electsocialists

I'm down with Unions For All along with Medicare For All and Jobs For All. Yes, the old-time unions were often racist and sexist as hell, but others, like teachers' unions and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, are not. Unions were to Democrats what churches are to Republicans - a way to organize and motivate the base. It would be great to see a resurgence.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:17 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]

So, I've been doing a bit of labor organizing as part of my anti-Nazi efforts lately, and one of the things I've found is that even the existing laws on the books would be better than what's currently happening today, if they were enforced and the rules were widely known.

So even if the proposed NLRA was good, it's not going to do any more than the current one unless the NRLB got some serious teeth - far more than they currently have. In the current union I'm working with, the company is stacking up ULPs (Unfair Labor Practices) like they're going out of style. Will they ever suffer any consequences for it? Who knows! It's a mystery!

However, the new NLRA proposed is actually a problem for some unions - it's good for the established unions, like the AFL-CIO, but bad for the IWW, whose model of paying dues is explicitly and by design voluntary.

If I were proposing an improved NLRA, I would say that labor unions need to be treated like criminal defendants and automatically assigned a pro bono attorney to help them negotiate the process - because there is already a financial imbalance between the employer, who usually keeps attorneys on staff, and unions, who must rely on dues paid from the wages of the workers which are by definition less than the company can provide.
posted by corb at 8:19 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]

In Minnesota, there is some unfortunate internecine Union beef taking shape right now, with a proposed constitutional amendment to earmark some sales taxes beyond just gasoline taxes for road maintenance. It's bad timing, to say the least.
posted by dbx at 8:21 AM on May 11

Yeah it feels like a lot of labor laws are like renter protection laws or wage theft laws in NYC, totally not bad actually but never enforced or enforced minimally, with potentially millions of dollars in fines left on the table.

expanding the idea of the public defender system to housing, worker complaints, and unions, establishing the fundamental right to a competent lawyer or legal team for everyone cause of the immense, inequal power balance between workers and owners or landlord and tenant. I’m sure there are enough people out there not getting the most out of thier legal degree and would pefer a nice middle class salary and city benefits for defending the workers.

(Or, if only the current public defender system was well funded! You hear horror stories from city courthouses and lawyers having literal seconds per case. My mom worked for years in the NJ state justice dept and had to take work home every night. She says there where always cases she could’ve helped get thrown out but there was never any time and they where so chronically understaffed - which of course has been part of the playbook to starve the state since forever)
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on May 11 [13 favorites]

they where so chronically understaffed - which of course has been part of the playbook to starve the state since forever

How about you have to hire one fulltime public/community defender attorney for every police officer you hire? If we're speaking of real solutions, I mean.
posted by corb at 8:43 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]

So ...why doesn’t it feel like that’s happening?

Because salaries and pay rates haven't kept up with rising costs, and only ever get cut, never increased when things get better. When I started as staff at the university I work at in 1996, $21,000 was entry-level for office staff. Over 20 years later, this institution is still offering less than $30,000 for jobs advertised to in-house employees (so, not entry level) with BS degrees and multiple years of experience. But in 1996, a fucking sandwich didn't cost $9.79.

The stock market doesn't mean shit to most people and there's no spending power to the terrible pay for the jobs on offer.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:36 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]

How about you have to hire one fulltime public/community defender attorney for every police officer you hire? If we're speaking of real solutions, I mean

It probably makes more sense to scale them based on the number of prosecutorial staff and/or judges in the district; with at least one per prosecutor. More if their scope is expanded to certain civil and administrative matters, like what The Whelk was proposing.

Though, I've always kinda liked the idea of having a parallel defense-focused detective force, who's job it was to go out to investigate and collect evidence for the defense.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 11:34 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]

Suck it, Scott Walker. Turns out your faux-populist, voodoo economics are worthless.

Of course. Walker has know that all along. That was never the point from the Koch brother’s favorite puppet.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:33 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]

Well, Ahem reading NO SHORTCUTS, should be required for anyone who works for living
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 PM on May 11

Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 225 - Radical labor history in Pennsylvania; the Sanders bill to make unionizing easier. Notable discussion, the first state police force was created to put down labor movements and actions and in Pennsylvania coal country.
posted by The Whelk at 5:53 AM on May 21

I'm genuinely and thoroughly glad to see unions voting to strike. However, I wonder a lot where we would be if the big unions, instead of spending their war chests on politicians that have given them very little bang for their buck, instead had funded strike funds or solidarity funds to enable union members to strike with less worrying about the roof over their head, as an example of labor power.
posted by corb at 9:37 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

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