Why I’m Marching with Bill McKibben to Protest the Keystone Pipeline

by Joe Uehlein

Sometimes a decision forces you to think deeply about what you believe in
and how you act on those beliefs. It was like that when the climate protection
leader Bill McKibben asked me to sign a letter calling for civil disobedience to block the building of a pipeline designed to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Opposing the pipeline might strain ties with unions that I’ve worked with and been part of for my whole adult life. And yet the pipeline might be a tipping point that could hurtle us into ever more desperate acceleration of climate change. Amid these conflicting pulls, what should I do? Having lived at the confluence of trade unionism and environmentalism, what’s the right course of action – what has my life’s work meant?
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This Labor Day We Need Protest Marches Rather than Parades

by Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Labor Day is traditionally a time for picnics and parades. But this year is no picnic for American workers, and a protest march would be more appropriate than a parade.

Not only are 25 million unemployed or underemployed, but American companies continue to cut wages and benefits. The median wage is still dropping, adjusted for inflation. High unemployment has given employers extra bargaining leverage to wring out wage concessions.

All told, it’s been the worst decade for American workers in a century. According to Commerce Department data, private-sector wage gains over the last decade have even lagged behind wage gains during the decade of the Great Depression (4 percent over the last ten years, adjusted for inflation, versus 5 percent from 1929 to 1939).

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Jobs, Justice and the American Dream

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 25: Martin Luther King...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Watch a replay of a live webcast of the AFL-CIO and Martin Luther King Jr. Center symposium on Jobs, Justice and the American Dream.

Click here to watch

Martin Luther King III, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other civil rights activists, worker advocates, scholars and more took part in two panels:

Jobs and the American Dream

Justice and the American Dream

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CREDO Mobile, Warren Buffett, and the Limits of Progressive Business

by Josh Eidelson

Josh Eidelson

Two web petitions showed up in progressive inboxes last week. One, organized by Daily Kos in support of striking Verizon workers, was blasted out by “alternative” cell service provider CREDO Mobile. The second, organized by MoveOn, was a call for taxing the rich, piggybacking on a recent op-ed by billionaire Warren Buffett. Though neither petition itself is objectionable, together they illustrate a harsh reality: It’s easier to get the wealthy to share their money than their power.

CREDO offers customers wireless service with an added appeal: a small fraction of each phone bill gets donated to progressive organizations. The company gives customers the chance to vote on which liberal group gets a cut of their check and employs a campaign manager who emails customers with e-activism alerts, like the one promoting the Verizon strike. CREDO runs an aggressive media campaign calling out its competitors’ right-wing donations. What it doesn’t advertise is who gets the rest of your check. CREDO re-sells mobile service from Sprint, which is as right-wing as AT&T or Verizon and viciously anti-union when it comes to its own employees. There are no Sprint union members on strike right now, because there are no Sprint union members at all.

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Abuse of Power: Congressman Issa’s Attacks on the NLRB

Congressman Darrell Issa

Image via Wikipedia

by Dmitri Iglitzin & Robert Lavitt

In a truly unprecedented attack on federal law enforcement agents at the National Labor Relations Board, California Representative Darrell Issa and his Republican allies in the House of Representatives are doing the bidding of corporate elites in an effort to suppress the collective bargaining rights of private sector workers.

In June of this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) commenced an enforcement action against Boeing based on a claim by IAM District 751, part of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, that Boeing broke worker protection laws when it told its unionized workers in Everett, Wash. it would transfer airplane assembly to its newly non-union facility in Charleston, South Carolina due to their past and possible future union activity.
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Poisoned Chinese Workers Demand Action from Apple CEO Successor

Five Poisoned Wintek Workers Demand Action of Apple CEO

by Debby Chan

The poisoned workers at Wintek, an Apple supplier in Suzhou, China, have been awaiting a response from Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple. Regrettably, he had not responded before his resignation. The poisoned workers hope the new Apple CEO, Tim Cook, will live up to its claim of corporate social responsibility and provide them remedies.

Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) supports the cause of the victims and calls on Tim Cook to address the grievances of the poisoned workers and provide remedies for them.

The massive poisoning at Wintek is a serious breach of the labour law and Apple’s code of conduct. Corporate social responsibility is no more than rhetoric if there is no remedy to the workers for the code infringement. SACOM demands Apple under the leadership of Tim Cook has dialogue with the workers as soon as possible.
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Join Nurses’ Demos to Tax Wall Street to Help Main Street

by Paul Garver

National Nurses United, the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses with members in every state, is hosting 60 events across the country as a national day of action on Sept. 1, 2011. RNs across the U.S. are calling on Wall Street to pay for the damage they caused on Main Street. Our communities need healthcare, jobs, education,and housing.

The NNU’s proposal: A Wall Street transaction tax on major trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, futures, the speculative activity that caused the economic crash in 2008 and harmed so many families.

This tax would target major banks and investment firms and not ordinary investors.

From Maine to California, nurses, joined by others fed up with the ongoing economic crisis, will call on Congress members – both Republicans and Democrats alike – in their local district offices September 1 to support a tax on Wall Street financial speculation to pay for healing the nation. Supporting organizations include the Progressive Democrats of America PDA) and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), among others.

This is part of the nurses’ campaign for a Main Street Contract for the American People.

To find a Sept. 1 event near you.

Contribute to Help Student Workers Exploited by Hershey

by Paul Garver

Four hundred foreign students from many countries paid $6000 for a visa program that placed them performing hard physical labor for $8 at a Palmyra PA warehouse working for the global chocolate giant Hershey. They have gone on strike to demand they be made whole for their fradulent visa fees and that the work at the warehouse be performed by union workers. This work used to be done by much better paid workers belonging to the Bakery, Confectionery and Grain Millers Workers Union before Hershey sub-contracted it.

SEIU’s PA Healthcare President was arrested along with the State AFL-CIO President in solidarity with the strikers. SEIU has sent out an appeal for funds to support the students, and arranged for contributions through the Justice for Hershey Solidarity Fund administered by the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice. You’ll receive an email receipt for your contribution and the students will get every dime of your donation.

We can show the student workers from around the world that many Americans do not toe the neoliberal corporate line and oppose the expoitation of all workers.

Remembering Steve Jobs’ Record on Workers’ Rights

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...

Image via Wikipedia

by Mike Elk

Yesterday, Twitter was abuzz with reactions to Steve Jobs’ resignation as CEO of Apple, among reports that his health is in bad condition. Progressives and conservatives alike praised Jobs as someone who had revolutionized industry with Apple’s innovative computer designs. “Thanks Steve for pushing for designs that have humans at the center,” blogger Ario Jafarzadeh tweeted.

While Jobs’ designs for computers may have put humans at their center, working conditions for Apple’s workers put profits at their center. Jobs did indeed revolutionize the computer industry, but in a way that was negative for American workers, who for decades have seen manufacturing job prospects dwindle as jobs go to workers overseas, who in turn often labor in brutal sweatshop conditions.

Many people may find it distasteful to critique the life’s work of a man in poor health, but I think it’s necessary to critique Job’s labor practices: I’m certain most profiles of Jobs’ tenure will completely avoid mentioning systematic labor rights violations that occur at Apple.

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Turning up the heat on Paul Ryan

by Andrew Cole

Paul Ryan's constituents wait in his Kenosha, Wis., office to meet with the congressman (Photo by Heather Kleinberg)

Shanon Molina wants answers. “I’m tired of struggling to support my family,” she says. “I’m tired of not having a decent job that provides benefits, and I’m tired of being ignored by my congressman.”

Shanon requested a meeting with her congressman, Rep. Paul Ryan, who represents a district in Southeastern Wisconsin, to voice her concerns alongside several other unemployed and underemployed constituents. Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and the chief architect of the new Republican majority’s right-wing proposals on economic policy.

After repeatedly being denied a face-to-face meeting with her representative, Shanon and six others–now known as the Ryan Seven–sat down in his office to wait. And they won’t leave until they speak with Ryan personally.

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