Iran: Union leaders sentenced to prison – call for global campaign of solidarity

by Eric Lee/LabourStart

In a drive to destroy the independent union at the giant Haft Tapeh plantation/refining sugar complex in southern Iran, a court on October 12 sentenced six union leaders to prison on charges of “endangering national security.”

Their only crime was to lead a strike.

Haft Tapeh workers have repeatedly had to resort to strikes and other actions to claim huge wage arrears and protest deteriorating working conditions.

“The regime is clearly determined to crush the union by putting its entire leadership behind bars,” writes the IUF, the global union federation for food workers.

They’ve launched an online campaign of protest. Please take a moment and send off your messages:

To learn more about the case, read this:

There’s full coverage of Iranian labour news on LabourStart here.

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What a “Jobless” Recovery Means for Young Workers

by Alexandra Early

I’m glad to hear on the news that the economy is doing better. But, frankly, my own household doesn’t feel it. My under-30 partner and I don’t own any stocks, so we’re not benefiting from Wall Street’s recovery. We’re both still jobless and searching for full-time work—in my case for four months now and, in his case, for much longer. We’re almost on the verge of leaving the country. At least in a less developed nation, the cost of living would be lower and we might be able to put our past job experience, bachelor degrees, and foreign language skills to better use.

In California, where unemployment reached a 70-year high in August, I have more advantages than many jobseekers. I am a U.S. citizen, able to speak both English and Spanish fluently. I have a computer with Internet access, so I can spend all day searching Craigslist and checking emails from various job search listserves. Yet, I have applied, unsuccessfully, for nearly fifty jobs so far—not even reaching the interview stage in most of them. I have filled out applications and sent in my resume to become a community organizer, after-school teacher, administrative assistant, personal assistant, baker’s assistant, nanny, women’s shelter desk clerk, coffee shop cashier/barista, and dog walker.

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American Prospect Special Report

The October issue of The American Prospect has a special report on “Decent Work, Living Wages…and Government’s Hidden Leverage.”

They introduce it this way:

Today the country’s primary labor market–regular jobs with reliable wages, benefits, and terms of employment is being drained by a rise in temporary and contract work with no security. By using its power as a contractor and by enforcing laws already ont he books, government can turn millions of bad jobs into good jobs.

If you don’t yet subscribe, links to the articles after the break.

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Steelworkers Form Collaboration with MONDRAGON, the World’s Largest Worker-Owned Cooperative

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Pittsburgh (Oct. 27, 2009)—The United Steelworkers (USW) and MONDRAGON Internacional, S.A. today announced a framework agreement for collaboration in establishing MONDRAGON cooperatives in the manufacturing sector within the United States and Canada. The USW and MONDRAGON will work to establish manufacturing cooperatives that adapt collective bargaining principles to the MONDRAGON worker ownership model of “one worker, one vote.”

“We see today’s agreement as a historic first step towards making union co-ops a viable business model that can create good jobs, empower workers, and support communities in the United States and Canada,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”
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San Francisco Readies for a Major Labor Dispute

By Carl Finamore

carl_finamoreThe Law of Momentum, one of the most powerful postulates of physics, describes a collision “where the momentum gained by one object is equal to the momentum lost by the other object.” Physics is of course one of the “hard” sciences, but the same formula can perhaps be aptly applied to the “softer” social sciences as well, where opposing economic forces collide and jockey for position.  We are seeing such a clash in San Francisco.

Contract negotiations for 9000 hotel workers have not yet reached the three-month mark. Yet, there have already been over 100 arrests, several downtown protests of over 1000, a planned extended hotel “SIEGE” that “drives the cheap bosses nuts” and now an overwhelmingly conclusive strike vote.

It seems clear that another major street fight is shaping up between the powerful Local 2, UNITE-HERE, AFL-CIO, hotel workers union and two dozen of the city’s largest and most prominent hotels. Big names like Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont and InterContinental are all locked in a battle with the union over shifting more healthcare costs to employees and on increasing workloads.

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Lessons of 1989 NYNEX strike for today’s health care debates

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Paloma McGregor, who...
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Steve Early and Rand Wilson give us a valuable history lesson with lots of lessons for today in a Nation article marking the 1989 strike of 60,000 workers against NYNEX, the forerunner of Veriz0n. Early and Wilson were both involved in NYNEX strike support work in New England in 1989.

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National Jobs Conference

If you are not participating in the DSA Conference in Evanston 13-15 November, you might want to attend the National Jobs Conference in New York City on 13-14 November.

The two-day conference (Friday 13 November at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive, NYC; Sat. 14 November at AFSCME Dist. Council 37, 125 Barclay St, NYC) addresses the current crisis of unemployment and underemployment, while discussing strategies to create good jobs for all and to meet human needs in an environmentally sustainable economy. The conference is sponsored by the National Jobs for All Coalition (NJFAC) and endorsed by numerous religious social justice organizations and labor unions.

A conference brochure and registration information is available on NJFAC’s website or call them at 212-972-9879.