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Archives by Tag 'labor'
Nike Blackmails Oregon
BEN SCHREINER
At the behest of Nike, Oregon hastily convened a special one-day legislative session on Friday in order to ensure the global behemoth retains its preferential tax status in the state. The spectacle of an emergency legislative session to pass a tax break for a singl...
The Crisis for American Labor
ROB URIE
American labor is in crisis. This is no news to people who have been paying attention—the passage of Michigan’s ‘right to work’ bill last week makes it the ...
What Michigan Can Learn from Wisconsin
KEN KLIPPENSTEIN
The parallels between the assault on unions in Wisconsin and that of Michigan are striking: both were met with spontaneous protests in their state capitols, which were in turn met with large police responses; both were passed hastily by governors who did not campaign on c...
Observations on Work
DOUG ENAA GREENE
With the election cycle over, President Obama has promised to create one million manufacturing jobs. Obama has also promised to cut taxes for small businesses in order to spur job creation. Considering the depths of the recession, the call for the creation of jobs is on t...
Defeating “Right-to-Work”
MARK VORPAHL
The passage in Michigan of the anti-worker legislation grotesquely misnamed “Right to Work” (RTW) should be putting the entire nation on red alert. The downward pressure on the standard of living such bills unleash on the vast majority extend well beyond the u...
Losing Michigan
DAVID MACARAY
When you examine the history of organized labor—the birth, growth, trajectory—you have to be shocked and mortified by what just happened to the great state of Michigan.  They went from being one of the strongest, most celebrated union bastions in the country (the UAW...
Who’s to Blame for Michigan’s Right-to-Work Debacle?
JANE SLAUGHTER
Union protesters in front of the Michigan Capitol today knocked down an enormous tent erected by Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-brothers-funded group that helped bring right to work to the state. State troopers arriving on horseback were helpless, br...
Krugman Discovers Marx…and Misses the Point
ANN ROBERTSON and BILL LEUMER
In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, Princeton professor and regular columni...
The U.S. Jobs Crisis and the Reserve Army of Labor
BEN SCHREINER
The U.S. unemployment situation—despite Washington’s indifference—remains rather abysmal.  The November ...
What the Longshore Union Strike Was All About
DAVID MACARAY
When the story first broke, when those 800 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63 Office Clerical Unit walked off their jobs and effectively shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, it was treated by the media as your stereoty...
The New Business Model
DAVID MACARAY
There are several ways to look at prison labor.  We can view it the way guards and wardens do, as having a salutary effect on inmates who would otherwise be doing nothing or, worse, getting into mischief; we can view it the way sociologists do, as providing inmates with ...
Monetizing Japan
MIKE WHITNEY
“If possible, I’d like to see the Bank of Japan purchase all of the construction bonds that we need to issue to cover the cost.” Shinzo Abe, President of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Japan’s next prime minister has a plan for en...
Wal-Mart’s Downward Wage Spiral
JOHN LOGAN
The retail giant’s low wages and poor working conditions drive down standards throughout a sector that is increasingly important to the entire US economy. On Black Friday, workers and their community allies protested for “consistent hours, better pay, and simpl...
Livable Labor
JOHN GRONBECK-TEDESCO
Austin, Texas is the latest U.S. city to pass a groundbreaking measure that, if upheld, would require companies looking for tax incentives in Travis County to pay its employees $11/hour. This is particularly big news for the area’s large construction sector that has...
Austerity — the Battle Cry of the 1%
MARK VORPAHL
Whether we are left with the Fiscal Cliff or a Grand Bargain, workers in the U.S. face massive cuts to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Food Stamp assistance and other needed social safety nets. This is an example of “aus...
As Bangladesh Burns
DAVID MACARAY
One very important reason why more than 100 workers (mainly women) died November 25 in the fire that engulfed Tarzeen Fashions, a textile plant outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, is because management chose not to spend the necessary money to prevent such a tragedy from occurring...
We Used to Make the Rich Poorer and the Poor Richer
DAVID SWANSON
Many of us have heard the current period referred to as a second gilded age.  Or we’ve seen the current inequality in wealth in the United States compared to that of 1929.  But we have not all given sufficient thought to what ended the first gilded age, what creat...
The Fate of Keynesian Faith in Joseph’s Countercyclical Moral
DOUGLAS GROTE
Into the fifth year of the Great Recession our nation’s scarcity of jobs continues to condemn tens of millions of us to suffer a hard life of involuntary unemployment, underemployment, and insufficient wages. One would hope that any future political agreements made to m...
Will Worker Justice Take Flight at Chicago Airports?
BOB SIMPSON
Will worker justice take flight at Chicago airports? by Bob Simpson  “I make $10.50 an hour, which is not a living wage here in Chicago, but due to the new victory which we won…in a year I’ll be making a living wage. Th...
Bus Tokens and Welfare Queens
NORMAN BALL
“The president’s campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift.” –Mitt Romney If I will? Actually I’d rather not, Mitt. There’s an old saying I’ve never heard before that goes something like this: Never beat ...
Was Obama’s Win Really a Victory for Unions?
BRIAN TIERNEY
After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio , delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed ca...
The Strange Case of Wal-Mart and the National Labor Relations Board
JOHN LOGAN
For the first time in its half-century history, Wal-Mart is facing the prospect of significant labor strife. Wal-Mart workers throughout the country have been participating in short strikes and other workplace actions for the past two months. They are demanding higher wag...
Labor Union Unfairly Blamed for the Hostess Meltdown
DAVID MACARAY
“Ignored or left to languish, even the strongest brands can decline or die.”—Charles Sullivan, Hostess CEO, 2000 (Source:  Mid-American Journal of Business, Spring, 2000) “If you over-lever a business, and you don’t invest back i...
Back to the Future
VIVUDS BALDAVS and JEFFREY SOMMERS
We have arrived at a historical moment of economic crisis where no exit appears visible. The limits of financialization and the “service” economy have been reached.  The way forward is through a return to developing the real economy. However, we are also at the limit...
The State of the Unions
MICHAEL D. YATES
The AFL-CIO and most member unions went all-out for Obama, doing their usual get-out-the-vote phone banking, canvassing, and radio advertising. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) put 100,000 volunteers in the field the last few days of the campaign. Labor’...
Labor Relations, Hollywood Style
DAVID MACARAY
Going all the way back to the Industrial Revolution, the Us vs. Them dynamic that defines labor-management relations has remained remarkably intact. And that’s a good thing. Yes, the relationship is tense and adversarial, and yes, it hasn’t always been productive, and...
Labor’s Big Test
MARK VORPAHL
For some time now, Labor has been punched into a corner when it comes to state legislation. Over the last two years legislation has been passed in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan that has attempted to gut largely public workers of their union rights. In addi...
Longshore Union Faces the Grain Monopolies
JACK HEYMAN
The Oregonian has reported grain talks between the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers’ Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are heating up.  An “epic showdown” is looming because workers in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and Vanc...
Caring for America
STEVE EARLY
America’s growing workforce of home-based care-givers has provided the labor movement with its main source of recent  membership growth, in a period of overall union decline. Some of these gains were rolled back last year in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Mic...
How the Marikana Movement Stunned Neoliberal South Africa
PATRICK BOND
How long can the amazing upsurge of class struggle in South Africa go on? Living here 22 years, I’ve never witnessed such a period of vibrant, explosive, but uncoordinated worker militancy. The latest news from the labour front is that 12 000 workers were fired on Octob...
Indian Children of the Migration
PRADEEP BAISAKH
Khageswar Benya and Panchami Benya from Muribahal block of Balangir district of Odisha, an Indian state, are the children of regularly migrating parents. For last five years they have been accompanying their parents almost regularly who have migrated to w...
The Walmart Strikes
BARRY EIDLIN
For the past two decades, retail giant Walmart has served as a model for corporate America to emulate. Now, by forcing unions to break out of old habits, its workers might be showing the way forward for labor. Walmart stores and critical parts of its distribution c...
They’re Called “Scabs” for a Reason
DAVID MACARAY
Legendary political satirist Mort Sahl (whom I’ve interviewed) used to tell this joke:  “If President Nixon saw a drowning man 20-feet from shore, he would throw him a 15-foot rope.  Then Henry Kissinger would go on television and solemnly announce that the presiden...
Debunking the Myth of the “Union Boss”
DAVID MACARAY
Among the many myths and outright lies being circulated about labor unions (e.g., union members can’t be fired, they are inferior workers, it was union wages that forced companies to relocate overseas, etc.), one of the most annoying and downright offensive is the Myth ...
China Scare
DAN La BOTZ
To call this feature-length film xenophobic, fear-mongering and hysterical almost understates the case. The whole thing is so over-the-top that, like a bad horror movie where you can see the strings moving the monster, it leaves us numbed and bored or perhaps laughing. Ye...
Labor on the Ropes
DAVID MACARAY
There are plenty of notable labor events occurring at the moment.  And by “notable,” of course, we mean hideous and horribly depressing.  Clearly, management people all over the world believe the stars are in perfect alignment and that they now have a decided advant...
Chicago: the Strike is On
RICH GIBSON
The Chicago school workers’ strike is on. It is a real class war that must be won. Enrolling about 400,000 students, with about 22,000 school workers, Chicago is the third largest district in the country, segregated as it may be. Chicago schools are the centripet...
My Organized Labor Fantasy
DAVID MACARAY
Most of us have spent time fanaticizing about stuff.  Like what we would do if we hit the $100 million lottery, or what we would do differently if we could go back to high school, or what it would be like being Mick Jagger for a weekend.  Call me uninspired or boring, b...
How Unions Could Do Much Better
ANN ROBERTSON and BILL LEUMER
The International Association of Machinists just succeeded in negotiating a humiliating defeat with Caterpillar after a 15-week strike. Workers lost considerable money by striking, and then lost even more with the new contract, accepting almost every concession the ...
Longview Redux
CAL WINSLOW
I was happy to learn that the longshoremen of Longview Washington, members of International Longshore and Warehousemen Union (ILWU), Local 21, were awarded the Mother Jones prize by the Washington State Labor Council at its August convention. The longshoremen of lo...
From Labor Boon to Embarrassment?
STEVE EARLY
One sign, among many, of labor’s current travails is the stalled union growth strategy known as “Bargain to Organize.” More than a decade ago, there was no bigger buzzword in union organizing circles. When John Sweeney was elected AFL-CIO presiden...
When Workers Take Control
MARK VORPAHL
Many of today’s social expectations and political outlooks of the Labor Movement, and workers in general, were formed in the post World War II economic expansion. While the economy was expanding and there were steady jobs to be had, it appeared to be enough for many peo...
The Caterpillar Strike as Metaphor
DAVID MACARAY
Not that anyone—least of all American factory workers over the last three decades—needs to be reminded that corporations have very little respect for working people, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) strike against the Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Illi...
Working (and Organizing) at the Weapons Plant
STEVE EARLY
In the 1970s, when thousands of recently radicalized Sixties’ activists “colonized” industrial workplaces under the direction of various left-wing groups, there was no tougher nut to crack than military contractors. Not only were the working condit...
The Labor Law Reform We Need
RAND WILSON
When the next opportunity for labor law reform arrives, union membership will be smaller and our political clout even more diminished. If we are to succeed, future reform proposals must be wrapped in a broader mantle that will appeal to all workers. The four-year d...
Why Voting for Democrats Doesn’t Help Working People
SHAMUS COOKE
Just when the Obama campaign couldn’t appear any less inspiring, Paul Ryan was put forth as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Suddenly team Obama was supplied with enough political munitions to scare every last American over the possible destruction of Me...
The ILWU Longshore Struggle in Longview and Beyond
JACK HEYMAN
Labor historian, Cal Winslow, imparts his “wisdom” from above in his CounterPunch article (7/25/12), “Victory in Longview, A Year On: ...
NAFTA on Steroids
MANU PEREZ-ROCHA and STUART TREW
The United States recently announced that Canada and Mexico will join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a secretive U.S.-led multinational ...
Inside the Houston Janitors Strike
MARK VORPAHL
Echoing the story of David vs. Goliath, janitors in Houston are on strike and taking on such corporate giants as JPMorgan, Chase and Exxon Mobile in an effort to pressure the janitorial companies they employ to agree to the workers’ modest demands. It is these big b...