Tag Archives | unions

May I Recommend a Documentary: ‘The Wobblies’

via chycho

If you want to hear some of the coolest stories that you’ve ever heard from some of the funniest elders that you’ve ever seen then “The Wobblies” is for you. There is so much goodness in this documentary that it’ll put a smile on your face.

The subject matter is the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, formed in 1905, it’s considered to be one of the most important labor movements in the history of the United States…

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The “Right to Work” for Lower Wages and Less Representation in Michigan

Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC)

The moneyed elites *ahem* engines of the economy are finally seeing success in Michigan, as a union-busting law effecting millions of workers is passed, kneecapping the fund-raising for union organizations by dividing workers against each other (Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks has a very thorough and accurate rundown). This is a boon to the “burden shifting” robber baron industrialists, as union membership in Michigan was finally starting to rise again, after a steady decline since 2007.

Contrary to all the paid advertising, several myths persist about how unions work. Nobody is ‘forced’ to pay union membership in Michigan. The law states they are only required to do so when the union provides a service such as contract negotiation and representation, but the new law would allow anyone to receive those services without contributing into the workers’ collective funds. Once again, the “Right to Work” has been misleadingly named and propagandized, and has also convinced some conservative workers that their hard-won unions are taking their dues and using them for some leftist political agenda.… Read the rest

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Riot Police Arrest Walmart Warehouse Workers On Strike Against Abysmal Working Conditions

Via Buzzfeed, activist Daneyvilla took an snapped photos as a veritable army of riot police cracked down on a demonstration by several hundred completely peaceful, largely middle-aged Walmart warehouse employees. From the workers’ website, the reason for the strike:

No one should come to work and endure extreme temperatures, inhale dust and chemical residue, and lift thousands of boxes weighing up to 250lbs with no support. Workers never know how long the work day will be- sometimes its two hours, sometimes its 16 hours. Injuries are common, as is discrimination against women and illegal retaliation against workers who speak up for better treatment.

Read the rest

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Target’s Anti-Union Propaganda PSA

Rounding out the the post-Labor-Day work week, here is Target’s informational video educating new employees on the dangers of unionization. The confusing logic seems to be, unions are unnecessary both because they are ineffective (they are just after your dues money), and they accompished so much in the past (ending child labor, et cetera) that all of workers’ problems have already been fixed:

New Target employees are forced to watch this video so that they are indoctrinated into fearing unions. If you’re a Target employee, please don’t be deceived by your bosses. Target Corporation made over 2.9 billion dollars last year. You deserve better wages, benefits, and working conditions, and your employer can afford to give them to you.

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Worker Unrest Grows Ever Stronger In China

Via Jacobin, Eli Friedman on low-wage Chinese workers fighting the machine:

Chinese workers are facing the same brutal competitive pressures as workers in the West, often at the hands of the same capitalists. Today, the Chinese working class is fighting.

China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.

More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation.

Read the rest

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Unions Promise Support As #OccupyWallStreet Enters Third Week

There had been rumor on Friday that the band Radiohead would be dropping by the #OccupyWallStreet encampment.

They had just been on the Colbert Report, and their fan base is huge among the very demographic of younger people drawn to the protests now beginning their third week.

And so more people came than organizers expected. Loads of people!  Except, alas, for Radio Head. The band had reportedly called to express support that led some to conclude that they were on the way.

This demonstrates again the power of celebrity to draw a crowd. What did impress the activists in Zuccotti Park in the financial district is that the Radiohead fans actually stuck around and took part in the activities and a march that went North to Police Headquarters protesting the pepper spraying of activists.

That police action actually persuaded the media that had convinced itself that this growing assembly was not worth covering to cover it.… Read the rest

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By The Top One Percent, For The Top One Percent

top-one-percentIn a fantastic piece for Vanity Fair, acclaimed economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses what America’s vast income inequality means for our future — in short, how it will corrode and distort every aspect of society:

Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy.

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Rise Of The Precariat: The New Working Class

British economist Guy Standing has coined the term “precariat” to refer to the fast-growing working-class caste of the 21st century. With labor markets now globalized and “flexiblized,” the risks and uncertainties of capitalism have been transferred almost completely away from capitalists and onto workers. Below, citizens discuss living and working in post-industrial England, where large numbers scrounge to obtain low-wage, unstable jobs.

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What If They Held A Civil War And The Military Didn’t Show Up?

Civil War And Military Didn't ComeI’m sure you’ve already heard the news:  Between roughtly 4:00pm and 6:30pm last night, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald stripped the union-busting provisions of Wisconsin’s notorious “Budget Repair Bill” into a stand-alone bill, which as an allegedly non-fiscal bill required a much smaller quorum to floor, and forcibly destroyed trade unionism in the state.

A vote in the assembly is scheduled for 11:00am local time today 10th March, but nobody seriously expects any significant defection within the heavy Republican majority.

Upon learning of the coup d’état, crowds rushed and occupied the capitol building in violation of Walker’s Department of Administration restrictions.  See video here.

Although exempted from the draconian provisions of the bill, it’s been clear for weeks that the police and their unions know that it is only a matter of time and opportunity until Walker attempts to destroy their political voice as well.

Clearly the next round of conflict will surround injunctions and constitutional challenges to this extraordinary bill, which surely will be legion.  But Republican Walker’s fantastic incompetence and three-week public relations fiasco has provided more than enough evidence to prove that the measures were never intended to address fiscal issues, but solely to destroy the historically Democrat unions ability to organize politically.… Read the rest

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Still Waters Run Deep: Phase 2 Of The Madison Uprising

The ScreamThe differences between Madison, Wisconsin and Tripoli, Libya should be obvious. The fact that Madison hasn’t floated away on a crimson tide of gore should be encouraging—horrors on that atavistic scale happen only where there exists not even the nominal right to redress majoritarian excesses through protest.

The contrast to America’s experience of 1968 is positive as well; I remind you that movement flamed out prematurely due to inexperience and lack of discipline. The image created in my mind by this phase of the Madison Uprising is more like that evoked by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—the silent edge of a rising shout.

The crowds in Madison seem to have leveled out at a steady 30,000-40,000 per day, according to most reports.  That is still a pretty freakin’ huge # when put into context of the relatively sparse population of this section of Wisconsin and personal commitments being made by protesters in order to attend, in terms of time and money.  All the more so when you consider the scanty number of counter-demonstrators that the dilettante Koch brothers have been able to scare up from out of state, even with literally billions of dollars at their disposal.… Read the rest

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