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September 02, 2002

Labor Day Monday

A special roundup of Labor Day "deepthink" articles, ongoing news, and resources for folks wanting to find out more about the union movement.

Labor Day Survey Stories

  • LaborNotes details how since 911 "national security is invoked to cover the anti-labor agenda of the Bush Administration and the employers."
  • A Denver Post story detailing how Americans are working a MONTH of extra work each year compared to 25 years ago.
  • A new poll of workers shows that 50% of non-union workers would join a union if they could; that only 10% of private employees are in a union shows you what kind of terrorism is used to keep them from doing so.
  • In the wake of the Enron scandal, the "yuppie" employees at Enron were surprised that it was the AFL-CIO which stepped into help, a lesson many of the workers will hopefully carry over to support union organizing at their next workplace.
  • As this Newsday survey notes, the rise of women within union leadership has changed not just the leadership but the kinds of issues routinely negotiated in contracts, from child care to elder care to equality in health care benefits.
  • This Washington Post article documents the hostility between the White House and the AFL-CIO, reportedly a level of antipathy higher than during the Reagan administration. It also highlights how Bush is trying to endrun around Sweeney by cultivating the Teamsters, promising to end government supervision of corruption in a quid pro quo for endorsement of his Presidency.
  • The Nation has a speech by Congressman Dennis Kusinich, dark-horse candidate for President, given to the Iowa AFL-CIO state convention. It's a good summary of the grievances and vision of labor-aligned leaders this Labor Day.
  • One reason unemployment was so low as the 90s ended is that older unskilled workers were increasingly finding their way onto the Social Security disability rolls-- effectively taking them out of the statistical unemployment pool.
  • The rightwing Washington Times of course celebrates Labor Day by bashing the unions over the seamy Union Labor Life Insurance Co. (ULLICO) deal where some union leaders seem to have Enron-style pocketed profits at the expense of investors-- a total of $6.5 million in the WashTimes breathless prose -- which is of course the pocket change in Ken Lay's couch over at Enron.

    Labor Struggles in the News

  • The LA Times gives a good history of the Baseball players union, its early help from Steelworkers leaders and the harassment over the years that bred player solidarity down to today.
  • Faced with threats of Presidential intervention, the West Coast Longshoremen look to engage in work "slowdowns" this week, throwing the ball to management whether they will lockout the workers.
  • The barriers to fighting for justice in union-busting meatpacking plants is detailed in this Nation story.
  • This week's Work in Progress celebrates some big CWA gains among both Ohio state workers and among Cingular wireless employees.
  • The ICFTU has protested the detention of a Chinese labor activist, part of the pattern of anti-union actions by the government following massive labor protests as businesses have been privatized.
  • California may become the first state to require paid family leave at children's birth and for medical emergencies.
  • Even in union-friendly San Francisco, it took six years of labor protests and picketlines to force the Marriott hotel there to finally sign a union contract, a taste of why it is so hard to defend labor rights in less supportive environments. Marriott's union-busting tactics are highlighted by a separate NLRB-negotiated settlement against the hotel chain for its illegal firing of workers trying to organize at a Long Island hotel.
  • In the airline industry, US Airways and United continue to use bankruptcy or the threat of it to extract concessions from their union workers.
  • Workers won an important free speech court victory when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a trial court's judgement of $985,000 against the union for statements they made during a contract fight about the state of the employer's financial condition.
  • Nowhere is it more dangerous to be a union leader than Columbia, where 116 union leaders have been murdered this year, part of the continuing assaults on workers by business-backed paramilitary squads.

    Some Resources for Labor Education

  • For books, see Stec's online bookstore and LabourStart's Global Bookstore for the state of global labor organizing
  • For movies on labor, LabourStart has a good list of more mainstream films, while California NewsReel has more indepth documentary-style titles.

    Posted by Nathan at September 2, 2002 08:40 AM

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