Is There Blood on Your iPhone?

by Paul Garver

Please support the LabourStart campaign listed in the right hand column of this blog.  It demands that Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic products, including most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, reform working conditions that have led to the suicides of a dozen young workers between 18 and 24 years of age at its giant factory in Shenzhen.

This tragic wave of suicides has dramatically brought attention to the disastrous human consequences of China’s export-led manufacturing boom. Some 300,000 young (internal) migrant workers work long hours on huge assembly lines and are crammed into high-rise dormitories at Foxconn’s enormous factory complex near Shenzhen. Working excessive overtime to boost their meager wages, forbidden to converse with fellow workers on the assembly line, and lacking any effective union representation, the workers have no collective channels to address their problems. SACOM (Students & Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior) has released an excellent in-depth report on conditions at Foxconn. SACOM also staged a dramatic protest at Foxconn’s headquarters in Hong Kong, while families of suicide victims grieved in Shenzhen and pro- labor groups demonstrated at the headquarters of Foxconn’s parent company in Taiwan.
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Labor Campaigns Subject of Atlanta Workshop

by Milt Tambor, Metro Atlanta DSA

At Atlanta DSA’s all-day program, “May Day Summit: Toward an Economic Bill of Rights,” labor workshop panelists reported on key organizing drives taking place in the Atlanta area to about 25 progressive activists from a variety of backgrounds.

Ayketa Iverson, AFL-CIO Organizing Department, outlined the Atlanta Airport Solidarity Committee’s campaign to organize agents, baggage

Bethany Thomas, Ayketa Iverson, Milton Tambor

handlers, clerical workers, flight attendants and transportation security officers. Following the 2008 merger between Northwest and Delta airlines, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Association of Flight Attendants-Communication Workers of America (AFA-CWA) began marshaling their resources to preserve union representation for Northwest employees and extend union benefits to Delta workers. Since one third of the 50,000 potential members in both unions are based at Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport, Atlanta has become the linchpin of the nationwide organizing drive.
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Labor Unions May Have To Abandon Obama to Beat Corporate America

By Mike Elk

Mike Elk

As president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka is emerging as the voice of an increasingly irrelevant labor movement. As unionized work sinks to only 7 percent of the private sector, the labor movement is losing its influence within the Democratic Party. To revitalize labor, Trumka must not only challenge Democratic leaders, but wage political battles outside the bounds of party politics by bringing labor back to its working-class activist roots.

The failure of President Barack Obama to make a major push on the Employee Free Choice Act — let alone give even a single speech dedicated to the topic — is a telling sign of organized labor’s declining momentum inside the Beltway. As Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson noted in February, “For American labor, year one of Barack Obama’s presidency has been close to an unmitigated disaster.” Labor ranks so low on the president’s list of priorities that a new generation of Obama activists is now planning for a political environment altogether devoid of the labor movement.

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A Century+ of May Days: Labor and Social Struggles International Conference

by Bill Pelz

Conference participants at the Haymarket memorial

“May 1st is the only truly universal day of all humanity, the only day when all histories and all geographies, all languages and religions and cultures of the world coincide.” It was in describing a visit to the city of Chicago, where International Workers’ Day was born, that the Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano penned these words.

“How fitting, in this spirit, that trade unionists and labor historians, worker center organizers and journalists from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel/Palestine, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Scotland, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, Venezuela, and all over the United States converged on Chicago April 30-May 2 to participate in the conference A Century+ of May Days: Labor and Social Struggles convened by the Institute of Working Class History and hosted by the International Studies program at DePaul University.” — Danny Postel, conference participant.

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Bring America Home: Chicago’s 52nd Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner

Carl Rosen, Flint Taylor, Kim Bobo, and William Greider Photo by John Scott

by Bob Roman

Chicago DSA‘s 2010 Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner gathered together people representing Chicago’s legal, labor, liberal, and left communities to honor the People’s Law Office and the United Electrical Workers’ Western Regional President Carl Rosen. Author William Greider was our featured speaker. The event was held on Friday evening, May 7, at what is becoming its current home, the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, located at Madison and Halsted in Chicago.

Kim Bobo was our Master of Ceremonies. We have been so fortunate to have her help at our Dinners. In my opinion, she’s the best since Leon Despres. Continue reading

SEIU to “Create WWIII” to Drive NUHW Out of Hospitals

by Randy Shaw

Kaiser Security Confronts Dolores Huerta

According to published minutes from an April 10, 2010 SEIU-UHW meeting, SEIU plans to “Basically create WWIII” in order to drive NUHW organizers and supporters out of California hospitals. SEIU specifically intends to closely coordinate with Kaiser Security and Human Resources Department to “remove NUHW” from hospital cafeterias and other areas, and to act “as a GROUP” in making NUHW supporters – who are currently SEIU members – “uncomfortable.”

SEIU is aggressively carrying out this strategy. On May 10, SEIU’s Latasha Winslow-Beavers sent a fax to Kaiser Roseville HR Director Karen Martins alerting her to the planned visit of legendary UFW leader and NUHW supporter Dolores Huerta to Kaiser Modesto Medical Center on May 14. Martins forwarded the fliers to Henry Diaz, who heads Kaiser’s Northern California HR Dept. Diaz told NUHW the next day that Huerta’s planned visit was a “violation of our solicitation policy,” even though the event flier that SEIU faxed to him never mentioned Huerta would be “soliciting” workers for signatures. When Huerta appeared, met with workers and refused to leave hospital grounds, Kaiser called the police.

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A Fair Deal for Mexican Workers – Richard Trumka

When President Calderon of Mexico meets with President Obama and addresses a joint session of Congress this week, it’s unlikely anyone in this country will ask him about the human rights of the miners his government has persecuted. He will not stand before Congress and explain why Mexican police shot and killed two striking mineworkers and injured more than 100 others. He will not have to explain why the government has persecuted and exiled the miners’ union leader, Napoleon Gomez, despite multiple rulings in his favor by the Mexican courts. Neither will anyone ask why 44,000 members of the electrical workers’ union were summarily fired last October. He won’t be asked if Mexican workers have a real right to form a labor organization, or even how working people in Mexico are faring economically.

President Calderon won’t be asked because, as a nation, we have chosen not to give priority to workers and their families, but instead have favored the multinational corporations who fuel the global race to the bottom in living and working standards. Working men and women, in both Mexico and the United States, need good jobs and a fair economic deal, including the freedom to improve their lives through forming unions.

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Labor activists protest visit of Mexican President

by James Park

Some 160 members of the United Steelworkers (USW), union staff and supporters from around Washington, D.C., today protested Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to the nation’s capital and condemned his government’s repression of workers’ rights in Mexico.

The USW and the AFL-CIO have both denounced the Mexican government’s four-year long campaign to destroy the independent mineworkers’ union, Los Mineros.  Members of Los Mineros have been on strike since July 2007 at the Cananea mine in Northern Mexico over health and safety and other contract violations.

Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, told the crowd:

I am here to say that we in the labor movement fight equally for workers in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, in Mexico, and all across the globe. We will not let borders divide us and pit us against each other, and we’re serious when we say that an injury to one worker is an injury against all workers.

From the AFL-CIO blog.

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Union Reformers, Meet the Press

AUD (the Association for Union Democracy)  is bringing together four exceptional labor journalists for a discussion of unionism and union reform on May 25:

    Juan Gonzalez  (The Daily News, Democracy Now!)
    Tom Robbins  (The Village Voice)
    Mimi Rosenberg  (Building Bridges)
    Richard Steier  (The Chief Leader)

Location: Musicians Local 802 Club Room, 322 West 48th Street in Manhattan
May 25 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Speakers start at 7pm.    Come early to mingle with light refreshments and free drinks. Save by buying group tickets! Inquire about reduced price tickets (limited availability). Tickets: Single $50; Party of Four $180; Party of Five $200.

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Need to Respond to Right-Wing Populism is Theme of Detroit Douglas-Debs Dinner

Bill Fletcher, Jr. keynote speaker at 2010 Detroit Douglass-Debs dinner

Over 200 people attended the eleventh annual Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner at historic UAW Local 600 in Dearborn on Saturday, May 8th. Local 600 was the home local of the hunger marchers of the 1930s and is adjacent to the site of the “Battle of the Overpass” which launched Walter Reuther into national prominence.

The Douglass-Debs Dinner is the annual fundraising event for Detroit Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). This year’s honorees were UAW Vice President James Settles, Jr. and Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO President Saundra Williams. The dinner co-chairs were UAW Region 1A Director Rory Gamble and American Federation of Teachers-Michigan President David Hecker. In his acceptance speech, Settles promised that the new UAW leadership which is expected to be elected at their convention in June, would be more progressive in its political orientation.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., the Director of Field Services and Education for the American Federation of Government Employees and long time labor activist and writer, delivered the keynote address.

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