Housekeepers Charge Hyatt Fired Them for Taking Down Their Own Photos

By Josh Eidelson

Becoming a pin-up without your permission: another downside of workplace autocracy

Passing through the halls one day in September, Martha Reyes stopped to see why a group of her Hyatt co-workers stood laughing in front of a bulletin board. Looking closer, she saw photos of her head, and those of other housekeeping employees, pasted onto bodies in swimsuits. “I got really angry,” says Reyes, seeing her face on a figure that looked “almost naked, and a very different body that wasn’t mine. I felt very humiliated and embarrassed.” Martha’s sister Lorena was also included in the beach-themed display, which Hyatt management had posted over the weekend as part of Housekeeping Appreciation Week.

Martha Reyes took down her picture and her sister’s. A month later, alleging they spent too long on their lunch break, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara fired both of them.
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SEIU-UHW’s Statewide Ballot Measures On Hospital Costs: Serious Proposals or Publicity Stunt?

Randy Shaw

Last week, SEIU-UHW filed two statewide initiatives for California’s 2012 ballot: the Charity Care Act, which sets a 5% minimum level for charity care payments for nonprofit hospitals, and the Fair Healthcare Pricing Act, which prohibits hospitals from charging more than 25% above the cost of patient care. The measures are part of UHW’s “Let’s Get Healthy California!” campaign, which joins UHW with “healthcare providers, leading nonprofits, businesses and others” to improve healthcare. But SEIU-UHW’s recent history raises doubts about its strategy. UHW has repeatedly aligned with Kaiser, Sutter and other health care giants against the more aggressively pro-worker approaches of NUHW and the California Nurses Association. And restraining hospital costs has not been a UHW priority. UHW’s proceeding with these initiatives without labor allies and while collaborating with hospitals raises questions as to the union’s real motives.

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Where is the Beef ? An open letter to Dan La Botz on DSA and the Democrats

Dear Dan,

What gives?

David Duhalde

As a member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), I am puzzled and disheartened by your criticisms of our organization in your article “Occupy the Democratic Party? No Way!”  This article, first published on New Politics, has gone viral on other blogs.  While we can speculate why it is so popular, certainly one reason can be your strength as a writer and another is the respect you command on the radical left.  Your arguments hold weight, so I believe it is important to engage you when you equate DSA’s activism with “gatekeeping” for the Democratic Party.  I know this to be false, as  I have been a DSA activist for nearly a decade and come out of electoral politics.

Obviously, the Democrats have shifted far to the right since the 1970s. You noted correctly that Nixon governed to the left of Barack Obama on domestic economic policies, though that had to do with the power of social movements and not any kindness on his part. I also agree that if the Occupy movement folds its efforts into the Democratic Party (which it probably won’t), all we’ve done so far might be for naught. I also know that getting an institutional left staff job does not necessarily make one an influential socialist, activist or even an effective do-gooder. Many DSAers, especially the younger activists in the organization, share these sentiments. Continue reading

Workers Increase Pressure for Climate Action As Negotiations Start in Durban


International Trade Union Confederation

South African mine workers, Japanese energy workers, Argentinian construction workers, and UK teachers will join more than 250 unionists from 100 countries to showcase national actions to tackle climate change and create jobs in the ‘World of Work’ pavilion at the UN Climate Change talks in Durban.

As governments prepare to embark on the latest round of negotiations for an international climate agreement, the largest gathering of workers and trade unions at a UN Climate Change conference demonstrates how workers have taken up the challenge to climate proof their jobs and communities through workplace policies and support for national and international action.

“Steelworkers, nurses, agriciultural and hospitality workers all see first-hand the impact of climate change in their communities and on their jobs.

“Workers are not sitting on the sidelines waiting for an international agreement; we are actively creating policies to enable a transition that will help people and the planet. The World of Work showcases how workers can be drivers for change,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC.

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Starbucks’ Crackpot Solution to Jobs Crisis: Donate and Wear a Wristband

By Josh Eidelson

This month Starbucks launched its Create Jobs for USA initiative, the coffee chain’s official response to America’s unemployment crisis. In a press release, CEO Howard Schultz says the program gives customers the chance to “take meaningful action to help create and sustain American jobs.” “We hope this a galvanizing moment as Americans come together to be catalysts for change,” Schultz continues.

The program will no doubt boost Starbucks’ image—and the density of red white and blue wristbands across America. But jobs? Not so much.

Starbucks’ plan to tackle the nation’s massive jobs crisis is for you to donate money to a loan fund for “community businesses.” The fund, managed by a nonprofit called the Opportunity Finance Network, will make loans to small businesses, nonprofits and commercial real estate companies with the hope that the extra credit will free them up to hire more people. Starbucks is chipping in $5 million to “seed the project,” not quite one two-thousandth of its record-setting revenue from the past year.

The rest is up to you—though a $5 donation earns you that tri-color wristband. And, in the words of Starbucks’ promotional pamphlet, “when you wear it you are stating that you have done your part, a big part, to help get this country back on its feet.” Starbucks employees are especially encouraged to donate – though an wristband will cost them most of an hour’s pay. “Nice work America,” adds the pamphlet, “getting ourselves back to work again and again.” (A Starbucks spokesperson declined to comment for this article.)

But don’t expect to see economist Dean Baker sporting Starbucks’ flag-colored “Indivisible” wristband. Baker isn’t buying what Starbucks is selling, starting with its diagnosis of the jobs problem: Starbucks’ literature pins U.S. unemployment on a lack of financing for small businesses.

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New Report Suggests National Politics are an Important Factor in National Unionization Rates

The national political environment, not globalization or technology, is the most important factor driving long-run changes in unionization rates in the United States and other rich economies, according to new research from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

The report, “Politics Matter: Changes in Unionization Rates in Rich Countries, 1960-2010,” reviews unionization data covering the last 5 decades for 21 rich economies. The researchers consider both union coverage (the share of workers whose terms of employment are covered by a collective bargaining agreement) and union membership (the share of workers who are members of a union) and find a wide range of trends in union membership and collective bargaining coverage in countries subject to roughly similar levels of globalization and technology.

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It’s the Tax Cuts, Stupid!: Supercommittee Post-Mortems”

by Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus

The collapse of the Supercommittee’s effort to produce a joint package of recommendations for deficit reduction proves conclusively that for Republicans and their corporate allies that deficit reduction is, and always has been, a secondary objective. The primary objective is to protect and expand the Bush tax cuts.

From reports now leaking out it is apparent that Democrats on the Supercommittee had offered massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid amounting to a minimum of $500 billion over the coming decade. Those cuts were in addition to the automatic $1.2 trillion automatic additional deficit cuts negotiated as part of last August’s Debt Ceiling Deal. That deal already had authorized $1 trillion in spending-only cuts. So the Democrats’ offer was the $1.2 trillion automatic deficit cuts—all spending about equally divided between defense and non-defense cuts—plus another $500 billion in Medicare-Medicaid matched by another roughly equal $500 billion in tax revenue increases.

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