I wrote a short piece on bad labor history in textbooks for this week’s issue of The Nation:
Taken together, the narrative that emerges is one in which unions arose to address now-expired injustices, achieving only limited success, and then were replaced by legal regulations and enlightened business leaders. Not coincidentally, that’s the impression you’d get from a lot of our newspapers, politicians and TV shows too.
It’s in the Noted (news briefs) section. It’s adapted from this post I wrote for the website. Subscribers can download the issue here.
I was on The Rich Smith Show Wednesday night talking about that evening’s huge march and labor’s deepening relationship with Occupy Wall Street. Here’s the audio (I come on about 90 minutes in).
Here’s an Alternet piece I wrote previewing the march that took place Wednesday night. I talked to leaders of labor and community groups about why they’re linking arms with Occupy Wall Street and where they want to see it go:
“There’s a commonality of purpose,” says Albanetti. “At the very least, there’s commonality in what we deem to be the problem.” Mumm says visiting Liberty Park conjured decade-old memories of the anti-globalization movement that kept gaining steam following anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle but “really collapsed after 9/11.” He believes Occupy Wall Street has the potential “to go to the place that the anti-globalization movement ten years ago could have gone, which is to mobilize some constituencies in America that have not worked together the way they have back then.”
Allison and Jamie kindly had me back on Citizen Radio to talk about how textbooks distort the labor movement and how companies get away with firing labor activists. Here’s the audio of the episode, which also features a great interview with journalist Steve Horn on the big oil backing of a supposedly objective documentary on natural gas extraction.
Here’s my Nation interview with AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler on the challenges facing youth and the labor movement:
Do you see the attack on public workers as a consequence of the decline in private sector unionization?
Definitely. The density question is the biggest and most important challenge we have in front of us. How do we grow? And we’re basically in a defensive posture in every state. It’s not only attacks on the public sector and collective bargaining – it’s prevailing wage laws, it’s voting rights, it’s everything you can think of being thrown at us.
Check it out.
I have a new piece up at Alternet on what the attack on the Postal Service shows us about what the GOP House really cares about:
Now, like the US economy, the USPS faces a crisis brought on by Republican policies, which Republicans insist only more right-wing policies can solve. USPS has informed Congress that it can’t pay $5.5 billion due to a federal retiree health fund September 30, raising prospects of default. Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, are demanding layoffs and service cuts. Here’s how the Republican plan – burning the Postal Service to save it – contradicts the stories Republicans tell us about themselves.
Through IPS’ Other Words project, I have an op-ed up at the Columbia Missourian and other local sites:
It would be nice to say that what happened to Green is unusual or that going to the government means she’ll get justice. But the truth is that companies fire workers for union activity all the time, and they often get away with it.
Check it out.
My latest Prospect piece explains why this fall could be the last opportunity for pro-labor NLRB decisions for a long time, and suggests what some significant ones could be:
Over the past months, the GOP has escalated attacks on the NLRB as a rogue job-killing agency, and Republicans’ willingness to use procedural tactics to block even recess appointments further raises the likelihood that once the pro-labor majority reaches its January expiration date, the board could be left to languish until the next presidential election. Although President Barack Obama inherited an NLRB with three vacancies, it took 14 months for him to fill any of them, due to a familiar combination of Republican obstruction and Democratic hesitance. Since then, “they’ve been playing defense,” says law professor and former NLRB attorney Jeff Hirsch, “and I don’t fault the board for that because they haven’t had a lot of time.” Come January, “I would be stunned if they actually get a third member on,” he adds. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says Republicans are trying “everything they can to prevent the NLRB from actually doing what it’s intended to do.”
“Check it out.
I had a blast recording this interview with the incredible Allison Kilkenny (@allisonkilkenny) and Jamie Kilstein (@jamiekilstein) of Citizen Radio. We talked about my Prospect piece on coming out as bisexual and my Dollars & Sense piece on why Boeing workers keep striking.
The episode also includes characteristically incisive and hilarious takes from Jamie and Alison on NYPD infiltrations and capes.
My feature in next month’s Dollars & Sense labor issue is on news stands this week and online now:
So whatever the result, the Boeing case is less a story about the potency of current labor law than about the power of the strike on the one hand and the threat of retaliation on the other. It’s the story of workers who have refused to believe that they should cede a hard-won package of middle-class wages and workplace protections in the face of a major company’s multi-year effort to persuade or intimidate them into backing down. Now, after decades during which Puget Sound has been the only place Boeing assembles commercial aircraft, workers are right to recognize that the power to move work elsewhere has become a powerful weapon in management’s arsenal.
It was frustrating this summer seeing half the coverage of the Boeing NLRB complaint fail to mention retaliation for striking, and none of it address why Boeing workers have chosen to go on strike five times in three decades. So I went to Puget Sound to hear from veterans of the Boeing strikes. Check out the piece. And if you’re looking for a response to the claims of GOP politicians (echoed last week by NYT columnist Joe Nocera) about the case, here’s something I wrote in May.
Continuing this week’s theme of telecom union density, I have a piece at Dissent on what Warren Buffett and CREDO mobile both showed us last week:
Two web petitions showed up in progressive inboxes last week. One, organized by Daily Kos in support of striking Verizon workers, was blasted out by “alternative” cell service provider CREDO Mobile. The second, organized by MoveOn, was a call for taxing the rich, piggybacking on a recent op-ed by billionaire Warren Buffett. Though neither petition itself is objectionable, together they illustrate a harsh reality: It’s easier to get the wealthy to share their money than their power.
Check it out.
Update: Good points (via facebook) from Jacob Remes:
Here’s my take, at the Prospect, on the end of the Verizon strike and the challenge of reversing the decline in the company’s union density:
Early describes the regular reports he heard from Verizon Wireless workers of the ways management fostered resentment of their unionized landline counterparts. “You are the profit center,” managers would tell them. “You are the ones that are making us the success that we are today. See that guy over there, in that hard hat—do you know how much he makes?”
Check it out.