Bringing Labor Back:

Labor-management partnerships will not revive the union movement.

By Chris Maisano. Reposted from Jacobin Magazine.

[ed.note- we encourage responses to this piece and the prior post, First Stop the Self Flagellation]

Workers occupy a factory in the 1937 Flint Sit Down Strike. Library of Congeress

Workers occupy a factory in the 1937 Flint Sit Down Strike. Library of Congress

As late as 2008, it was not unreasonable to think that the stars were aligning for a long-awaited revitalization of the US labor movement. The financial crisis focused popular anger on the Wall Street financiers whose speculative activities brought the global economy to the brink of collapse. The election of Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress raised labor’s hopes for the passage of an economic recovery program and long-sought labor law reforms.

And it seemed as if workers themselves were finally willing to take action against the decades-long trend of increasing corporate power and inequality. The occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago by a militant United Electrical Workers local — an action that drew approving notice from the president-elect and much of the public — electrified labor’s ranks and seemed to echo President Franklin Roosevelt’s support for unionization and collective bargaining during the New Deal.

This appeared to be the most favorable set of circumstances for the US labor movement in decades, and the first significant hope for revitalization since the successful Teamsters strike against UPS in 1997.

It didn’t happen. Labor law reform was sidelined in favor of health care reform, and the Republicans rolled up big electoral wins at all levels in 2010 and 2014. Despite widespread popular anger at the multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts, the financial sector has come out of the crisis stronger, and corporate profits are at record levels. Economic inequality has continued its upward path.

Fast food and retail workers have shown a new willingness to protest and engage in collective action, and their efforts have spurred minimum-wage increases in a number of states and cities. Still, private-sector unionization continues to move toward total collapse. And in the public sector, the labor movement’s last stronghold, state-level attacks on collective-bargaining rights and anti-union cases in the judicial system have set the stage for a decisive offensive against organized working-class power.

The writing is on the wall: unions as we have known them since the 1930s are in their terminal stage, and likely have only a short time left as a social institution of any major political significance. The private sector is essentially union-free, and public-sector unions don’t have the capacity to defend themselves against legislative and judicial assaults, even in states that are supposedly union strongholds (see Wisconsin and Michigan). Continue reading

If Labor Dies- What is Next ?

David Rolf. SEIU.

[if you see Tefere Gebre either watch the entire panel or  go to the playlist tab, and click on video 3. I have been unable to change this]

The American Labor Movement at a Crossroads. – Session 1

Co sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, the AFT, the Hillman Foundation and others.

The American labor movement is at a critical juncture. After three decades of declining union density in the private sector and years of all-out political assaults on public sector unions, America’s unions now face what can only be described as existential threats. Strategies and tactics that may have worked in a different era are no longer adequate to today’s challenges. The need for different approaches to the fundamentals of union work in areas such as organizing, collective bargaining and political action is clear. The purpose of this conference is to examine new thinking and new  initiatives, viewing them critically in the light of ongoing union imperatives of cultivating member activism and involvement, fostering democratic self-governance and building the collective power of working people. Jan.15, 2015.

Continue reading

Growing Trade Deficit with China Costs 3.2 Million U.S. Jobs

English: USA deficit, China surplus, 2000-2014...

English: USA deficit, China surplus, 2000-2014, World Economic Outlook, IMF (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December , 2014

Growth in the U.S. goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 eliminated or displaced 3.2 million U.S. jobs, according to China Trade, Outsourcing and Jobs, a new study from EPI Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research Robert E. Scott and research assistant Will Kimball. Trade with China has caused job loss in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including all but one congressional district. About two-thirds of jobs lost, or 2.4 million, were in manufacturing.

“Growing trade deficits with China have hurt American workers and decimated U.S. manufacturing,” said Scott. “If policymakers are serious about supporting manufacturing jobs, we must work to put an end to China’s unfair trade policies.”

Continue reading

Stand with Fast Food Workers – Dec 4

Stand with fast food, home care and airport workers fighting for $15/hr

seiuNo matter who you are or where you’re from, if you work hard, you should be able to make enough to live a good life and provide a better one for your kids. That’s the key to getting our economy and our families back on track – and it’s worth fighting for.

That’s why fast food, home care and airport workers are coming together to fight for $15 an hour and the right to stick together in a union.

Thousands of fast food workers in more than 150 cities across the country have voted to go on strike on December 4. Home care and airport workers will be on the picket lines alongside them in solidarity.

reposted from SEIU.org

Immigration information for workers

image (14)Thanks to the President’s  announcement that he will take administrative action on immigration, I have real hope. The president’s action will provide millions of working people and families with the opportunity to come out of the shadows and into the light of our economy and society without fear.

Those who can benefit from this administrative action should use iAmerica.org – a new resource offering informational tools and interactive opportunities to become full participants of our nation’s democracy.

Visit iAmerica and share it with a friend now ➞ iAmerica.org. (There’s no application process that exists yet, but once there is, this will be a trusted resource to receive accurate information).

Go to www.iAmerica.org

Linking Trade, Work, and Migration

Globalization and NAFTA Caused Migration from Mexico

By David Bacon, Political Research Associates

Immigrant Oaxacan Farm Worker and Weaver, and her Family

Rufino Domínguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, who now heads the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, estimates that there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S., 300,000 in California alone.1 [1]

In Oaxaca, some towns have become depopulated, or are now made up of only communities of the very old and very young, where most working-age people have left to work in the north. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are now uprooting and displacing these Mexicans in the country’s most remote areas, where people still speak languages (such as Mixteco, Zapoteco and Triqui) that were old [2] when Columbus arrived from Spain.2 [3] “There are no jobs, and NAFTA forced the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez says. “We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.” Continue reading

We Need the Representative Democracy of Unions

By Leo Casey on October 9, 2014 8:45 AM

LeoCaseyLeo Casey of the Albert Shanker Institute replies to Deborah Meier again today.

Deb: To practice genuine democracy in our schools, our unions, and our communities, we need a different understanding of what it means to be political.

When I taught at Bard High School Early College in New York City, one of my favorite questions on my mid-year exam was: What did Aristotle mean when he wrote that “man is a political animal?”

For most Americans, the term “political animal” would invoke the worst of American political culture: the paranoid ranting of talk radio, the political television shows modeled after wrestling entertainment, the election campaigns dominated by negative attack ads, and the gridlock of a Congress where narrow partisan advantage is everything. No wonder so many Americans run in the opposite direction when they hear “political.” Continue reading

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