Posted on December 31, 2011 by paulgarver
by Paul Garver
As part of our ongoing series on Labor and Occupy, we are cross-posting items we found important in discussing the relationship between the Occupy and Labor movements. Although the letter from the port truck drivers speaks for itself, we note that tens of millions of exploited American workers like the port truck drivers find it very difficult to achieve dignified terms of employment and union recognition through the NLRB. Though the Teamsters are supporting their cause, such vulnerable members of the 99% need all the help the Occupy movement can give them.
December 12, 2011
We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.
We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.
We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Labor and Occupy, Organizing, Solidarity, Uncategorized | Tagged: occupy, Occupy the Ports, Port Truck Drivers, Teamsters | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 31, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Posted on December 30, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Two months after KPFA’s union discovered that the station’s parent corporation Pacifica was illegally raiding the 403b pension funds of its union members for as long as 18 months, the network has finally admitted to workers that “during the past few years employee contributions . . . were not deposited into your accounts on a timely basis.”
The pension contributions come from employees’ own earnings. Pacifica had been deducting money from paychecks but not always depositing it in individuals’ 403b accounts, a violation of federal law and a form of wage theft.
Filed under: Organizing | Tagged: CWA Local 9415, KPFA, KPFA Worker, Pacifica, wage theft | 3 Comments »
Posted on December 28, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
We have added a new “Labor and Occupy” page with links to Talking Union blog posts on the occupy movement, its relationships with labor unions, and related matters. Click on the above tab. We invite your comments and suggestions for other articles.
There is no more important topic to discuss as we work to create a vibrant movement in 2012 and beyond. Talking Union will be posting articles by its editors and its favorite bloggers on Labor and Occupy. We will also be cross-posting the best articles we discover on other blog sites. An excellent example is an Alternet interview of Stephen Lerner by Sarah Jaffe, How We Can Mobilize to be the Greedy 1%s Worst Nightmare .
In the first of this Labor and Occupy series John Jacobsen analyzes the work of the Seattle Solidarity Network. This post originally appeared on the Trial by Fire website as a follow-up to this earlier post. The same publication carries an article on an exemplary action where Occupy Atlanta joined with anti-foreclosure activists to save the home of an Iraq war veteran.
by John Jacobsen
Over the past month, Occupy Wall Street has chalked up a large number of bold actions against both government and private authorities; it has led an attempted general strike, raucous marches, occupations of banks and abandoned buildings, disruptions of political speeches and press events, and a massive West Coast shut down of major port terminals partly to aid longshore workers in their fights against their employers.
The actions, moreover, have already achieved limited successes – besides having created space for Americans to come together outside of the established political system, they have rightly been credited with having stopped fee increases amongst the largest banks in the country, as well as having widely validated the American public’s fury over increasing inequality, generating massive media exposure. Largely, however, the only real material victory of Occupy so far – its having stopped increased bank fees – has been incidental, and was in no way a conscious objective of the Occupy Movement.
Filed under: Labor and Occupy | Tagged: occupy, Seattle Solidarity Network | 3 Comments »
Posted on December 27, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Jack Metzgar
The recent firestorm of debate stirred by Thomas Edsall’s New York Times report of a behind-the-scenes plan by “Democratic operatives” to “explicitly abandon the white working class”reveals more about the degraded state of political journalism than it does about either Democratic operatives or the working class.
Edsall is a highly respected member of the political punditry who has made a good living covering and analyzing American politics for more than 30 years. So you’d think he’d know that three items in his lead paragraph are spectacularly false:
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: John Halpin, Path to 270, Ruy Teixeira | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 27, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Michael Yates
Review of Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers (New York: Verso), 742pp, hardcover, $54.95.*
Frank Bardacke labored over this book for fifteen years. We can be grateful that he didn’t give up. This is the best history ever written of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and Cesar Chavez. It explains better than any other book how the UFW under Chavez’s leadership became in the 1960s and 1970s one of the most remarkable and successful unions in U.S. history but then crashed and burned so breathtakingly fast that by the end of the 1980s it had pretty much disappeared from the fields. Bardacke relies on primary sources—letters, interviews, personal papers, archives, newspaper accounts, court and police records, his own considerable experiences as a farm laborer (He spent six seasons in the fields between 1971 and 1979. A minor political conflict with the union during the 1979 lettuce strike led to his blacklisting by both the growers and the union, and this forced him to take up other employment). In the main, he lets the record speak for itself, avoiding the apologetics or the rancor we typically find in books, articles, and reviews about the UFW and Chavez.
Several things set Bardacke’s history apart from everything that preceded it. First, he pays attention to the farm workers themselves, to their organizing history, the nature of their work, and the changes that have taken place in their industry. His descriptions of the skilled, difficult, and body-destroying work of harvesting lettuce, celery, broccoli, asparagus, and lemons are among the most moving and beautifully written parts of the book. They help to foreground the author’s demonstration that the organization of farm workers did not spring suddenly from the will of Cesar Chavez. As Bardacke shows with scores of examples, agricultural workers have been doing battle with their employers for nearly one hundred years. Their skills, the short time the growers have to get crops harvested, and the self-organization of the workers, especially those who toiled as part of tightly-knit teams, all combined to create a sense of potential power, power that became reality when conditions were propitious.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Labor History, Low wage workers | Tagged: Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, UFW, United Farmworkers | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 27, 2011 by dcampbell1
Cesar Chavez and Duane Campbell -1972
Trampling Out the Vintage ?
by Duane Campbell
A dissident’s view of the rise and the fall of the United Farm Workers union.
Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. (2011, Verso). is the view of a well- informed observer who worked in the lettuce fields near Salinas for six seasons, then spent another 25 years teaching English to farm workers in the Watsonville, Cal. area. His views on the growth and decline of the United Farm Workers union – some of which I do not share– offer important points of history and reflection for unionists today, particularly those working with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Trampling Out the Vintage, provides several insights not previously developed in well informed books on the UFW including important differences between grape workers and workers in row crops such as lettuce; the length of time workers were in the UFW, the more settled family nature of grape workers, the strength of each type of ranch committees, the leadership of ranch crews ( and thus the potential differences in creating democratic accountability), and the differing histories of worker militancy in different crops. The author correctly argues that each of these led to somewhat different organizing environment in building the union. He also details problems of administrative mismanagement in the hiring halls in the grape areas and alleged mismanagement of organizing within the union sponsored health care insurance and clinic systems .
Based upon his own experiences and the histories of workers in the Salinas valley, Bardacke makes the case that farm workers- not Cesar Chavez – created the union. They built their union on a long history of previous collective work stoppages and strikes. The union was created on the ground in Delano, Salinas, Watsonville, and surrounding towns- not in the union headquarters of La Paz. The author reveals his strong viewpoint in the title apparently referring to Chavez “Trampling out the Vintage” where a union had been created. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Immigrant Workers, Labor History | Tagged: California, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Fred Ross, Randy Shaw, Steve Early, UFW, United Farm Workers | 5 Comments »
Posted on December 24, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
As families around the world prepare to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday season, the International Labor Rights Forum has released this year’s Working for Scrooge, a report profiling the worst multinational corporations for union organizing. The companies that made our Scrooge list this year are Dole, Hershey’s, Philippine Airlines, and Wal-Mart.
Filed under: Fair Trade, Solidarity | Tagged: Dole, Hershey's, International Labor Rights Forum, Philippine Airlines, Wal-Mart, Working for Scrooge | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 23, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Leo Gerard
Leo Geard, USW President
Amid prolonged, painfully high unemployment, ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer for the past year tirelessly advocated a simple solution– buy American-made products. She clearly explained the reasoning: every American dollar spent on an American-made product helps create an American job.
Defying Sawyer’s admonition to search for “Made in America” tags, California set a record for using government money to create jobs in China. The Golden State awarded a contract for the new Bay Bridge that created 3,000 jobs in China for five years – a period during which the state’s unemployment rate persisted at two percentage points above the nation’s already high average.
Filed under: Economy | Tagged: Invest in American Jobs Act, Made in America | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 23, 2011 by dcampbell1
I have a a problem with the Country Wide and the WaMU settlements.
We have to consider the externalities of the fraud. While a $337 million dollar fine may be sufficient for the individuals defrauded by Country Wide, the cost to the nation and the state was much greater. These could be called externalities or collateral damage. And the costs are truly astronomic.
Remember what caused this crisis – it wasn’t the government. First came the housing bubble and the selling of near fraudulent home mortgages by corporations such as Country Wide and WaMU– thus the settlements. To make a profit major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown.
Now we have cuts in parks, in universities, in nurses, libraries. School children did not create this crisis.
The major bankers, finance capitalists in the U.S. robbed the bank last year – and the federal treasury. They took hundreds of billions of dollars – Goldman Sachs alone took $10 Billion.
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
For example, Ken Lewis of Bank of America received an $ 81 million dollar pension. They have not even been punished. One thing we should do is arrest the top 100 executives and CEO’s of these companies, give them a fair trial, and throw them in jail. Until we arrest some people there will be no real changes.
Note: House Concurrent Resolution 85. Dec. 2011.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that any action taken by the Department of Justice should be consistent with the following goals:
(1) The mortgage servicers who engaged in fraudulent behavior should not be granted criminal or civil immunity for potential wrongdoing related to illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices. Continue reading
Filed under: Economy, Politics, The enemy | Tagged: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, United States, Washington Mutual | Leave a comment »