The Labor Movement in 2018
September 3, 2018 6:57 AM   Subscribe

 
we want bread and roses too!

these teacher strikes are inspiring. one of the most encouraging signs about the potential future of a new, multiracial labor movement. the bosses will never learn but together we can still force their hand.
posted by dis_integration at 7:57 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


*sings* Do you want to join a union?
Come on let's go get fair pay!
I never see raises anymore.
Even though profits soar.
It's like we're worked live slaaaaaves!
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 8:32 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


I am amazed and impressed -- in horrified fascination -- that this holiday has been so completely stripped of its association with the organization of working people.

It's all picnics and flags now, and nothing about strikes or Pinkertons or lock-outs or wage theft.

(Yes, I am at work today: it's a college and the first day of classes, so we're here. *shrug* The show must go on, so that's fine. But I am at work on Labor Day!)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:48 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


It's all picnics and flags now, and nothing about strikes or Pinkertons or lock-outs or wage theft.

or the deaths!


I was hoping for a Labor Day post from The Whelk. Looking forward to reading these links today.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:54 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Not sure the Secretary of the Army really gets what the day is all about: https://twitter.com/SecArmy/status/1036598201531473920
posted by wenestvedt at 9:16 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I am amazed and impressed -- in horrified fascination -- that this holiday has been so completely stripped of its association with the organization of working people.
There's an *awesome* editorial in my local-ish paper that suggests that Labor Day is "outdated" and needs to be "updated" to equally recognize the contributions of business-owners, who are the people who allow workers to have jobs. He specifically mentions Wal-mart and Home Depot as employers that deserve a holiday celebrating them. So yeah.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:20 AM on September 3 [18 favorites]


In Toronto, the Canadian National Exhibition is winding up this weekend: the annual eighteen-day fair "consists of a mix of shopping areas, exhibits, live entertainment, agricultural displays, sports events, casino, and a large carnival midway with rides, games and food," sayeth Wikipedia. The Ex typically sees approximately 1.5 million visitors.

IATSE Local 58, representing the stagehands who work at the CNE, has been locked out by the fair's landlord (Exhibition Place) since July and have been replaced with non-union workers brought in from other provinces. IATSE members have been picketing the Ex since it opened. Attendance is down, Toronto's annual Labour Day parade is not ending at the Ex as it typically does, and negotiations were put on hold by Exhibition Place until after the Ex is over.

Many people have stated on social media that they skip it this year as they will not cross picket lines (or are afeared of Scabby the [giant inflatable] Rat). I have seen others declare in the last couple of days with no perceptible irony that they will make an extra effort to go (on Labour Day weekend).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:22 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


I mean, it would be calculatedly ironic if they connected the day off with unions, but I am sure 99.5% do not: they are declaring it to taste librul tears.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:26 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I was hoping for a Labor Day post from The Whelk. Looking forward to reading these links today.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:54 AM on September 4 [+] [!]


I didn't know I was hoping for it but damn. I'm feeling it.

There's an *awesome* editorial in my local-ish paper that suggests that Labor Day is "outdated" and needs to be "updated" to equally recognize the contributions of business-owners, who are the people who allow workers to have jobs. He specifically mentions Wal-mart and Home Depot as employers that deserve a holiday celebrating them. So yeah.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:20 AM on September 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


Sounds to me like a certain newspaper needs to get unionized.
posted by saysthis at 9:31 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


I’m embroiled in a unionization struggle (on the good side of course). More so than even voting, unionization is your last line of defense against the boot of capitalism stomping on your skull.

Are you employed doing work that makes someone else money? Do you have all access to all the things that society could provide to promote your safety, security, and freedom?

Or is it fear that motivates you to get up and go to work every day?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:11 AM on September 3 [17 favorites]


Seattle teachers voted (by a wide margin) to authorize a strike last week. Then on Friday, I got a text from the union saying the bargaining team had reached a tentative agreement on a contract and that classes would start this week on schedule, with a final vote on the contract to take place on Saturday the 8th. I don't know the contract details as I'm not really teaching anymore.

Washington State is a bit of a special case in all this. The state legislature finally ponied up money to satisfy a state supreme court decision from several years ago requiring a big boost in funding to meet the state constitution's mandates. That would be all great, but 1) the legislature pulled a lot of smoke and mirrors in this funding boost, and 2) district offices can be terrible. A lot of districts have seen salary boosts ranging in teens as percentages, but mileage can vary widely across the state.

One thing I would point out in all this, from experience: it's almost never solely about teacher salaries. Contract contention is also often about huge operational funding issues, racial and gender equity issues for students as well as faculty & staff, and even basic safety stuff. News media often runs straight to salaries as the sole issue because that's a simple binary and it drives a "both sides" divisiveness narrative. Also, again specific to Washington, this budget is running on a lot of legislative smoke and mirrors, and every contract negotiation and strike is going to be eyeing that problem while the media may not really pick up on it.

Another point to make: in Seattle, and quite often elsewhere, the non-teaching staff are tied to the teachers' union. They're often smaller in number than the teaching faculty and don't have the same bargaining power. One side can get left behind in a contract where the other makes gains, and then things can come down to predictable power dynamics and self-interest.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:12 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


Also, do we really need to be doing math after a meal at a restaurant? Unions could fix that too.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:13 AM on September 3 [10 favorites]


As far as I know, Columbia University STILL refuses to bargain with its enormous teaching and research assistant Union even after the NLRB told them they had to. Which is illegal. But they know that no one is going to make them. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a whole lot of noise at Columbia this year.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 10:29 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


It's all picnics and flags now, and nothing about strikes or Pinkertons or lock-outs or wage theft.
Wasn't Labor Day in September always about picnics, and a less-political alternative to May Day (which is why the government promoted it)?
posted by kickingtheground at 10:29 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


Speaking of solidarity, last Wednesday in the current catch-all thread 1970s Antihero linked to this New York Magazine post: "Oklahoma Teachers Just Purged the Statehouse of Their Enemies."
posted by LeLiLo at 1:13 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Yes, for God's sake, yes.

UFCW member here--they're OK, usual problems, but better than nothing. I never was pro-union, but, after a while in retail, I think unions serve a useful purpose.

Have not read through all the links, but I plan to.
posted by pjmoy at 2:17 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Happy Labor Day!

The local AFL-CIO sponsors a BIG Labor Day picnic every year at one of the big parks. I've tabled with my (public higher ed) professor & librarian faculty union for a few years. It was good to be out there - we are one of the unions that will definitely be affected by Janus but I am cautiously hoping this will renew our organizing efforts to increase dues-paying members. Our local DSA chapter also tabled for the first time, and it was fun to ask local politicians coming by glad-handing the crowds if they supported Medicare For All.

Also, the Iron Workers union always has THE BEST swag and if I entered a building trade I'd almost consider them just based on their giveaways alone.
posted by mostly vowels at 2:57 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


The "classic" unions are still on the job as well: USW calls for strike authorization vote after impasse with U.S. Steel
posted by shenderson at 3:48 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Things I've learned today: Labor Day social media posts are a good way to root out low-level liberatians in your feed. I've been disappointed at otherwise-reasonable acquaintances suddenly being all, "what have modern unions done for us" or "I think unions are outdated." WTF.
posted by TwoStride at 8:24 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.

As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

As we go marching, marching, we're standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:39 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Also, do we really need to be doing math after a meal at a restaurant?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:13 AM on September 3


#eponysterical
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:41 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]




Last week at new employee orientation our local union steward came in and did a rah rah union presentation (unnecessary for me, I come from a strong union family and union membership is non-negotiable).

I was tickled to death to see the membership brochure had a picture of happy union employees on top and a picture of Bad Scott Walker on the bottom with the caption WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE? between them. I drew horns on him while the union rep talked about what happened in Wisconsin and how we have to have a strong union to prevent it from happening here.

Personally I think my union could be better, but I'd rather it need improvement than not exist at all.

As usual, have some Good Scott Walker to cleanse your palate.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:20 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Toward a DSA Rank and File Strategy
This post was co-written by two members of NYC DSA’s Labor Branch, but represents their views alone.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on September 4


Also Labor Day Vs. May Day (the Nib)
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


10 Labor organizers to watch (City and State)
posted by The Whelk at 4:41 PM on September 4




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