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union labor built the American dream
(DonkeyHotey based on a WWII poster)
Two important pieces highlight how American labor law is stacked heavily against workers—and how things could be different. Josh Eidelson argues that one of the lessons of the Komen Foundation controversy is that secondary boycotts work—but while that's a strategy that anti-choice groups and anti-gay groups and just about everyone else can use, it's illegal for unions to do so:
So if anti-gay activists were to picket JC Penny for featuring Ellen DeGeneres in its TV ads, it would be protected speech. But if union members were to picket JC Penny for selling boycotted products, it could be illegal.
Why, Eidelson asks, should unions not have the same right to free speech as Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church?

Dorian Warren, meanwhile, argues that America's last hope is a strong labor movement, and sketching out a number of ways the labor movement can focus "not just on workers’ rights, but can also act as a democratizing force advancing social justice and expanding worker, citizen and resident power in the workplace and in their communities." For instance:

While labor law constricts the scope of issues that unions can negotiate at the workplace, it doesn’t prevent worker organizations from bargaining in the political arena for affordable housing, equitable development, local, regional and national economic policy, criminal justice, or the wide range of issues that affect poor and working class people. Stephen Lerner, among others, has outlined what a wider scope of collective bargaining might look like. Imagine, for instance, that the United Auto Workers could negotiate over the environmental standards of the cars they produce instead of just wages and benefits. Such a vision requires a far-reaching campaign to redefine the scope of collective bargaining and workers’ voices at work.
Last summer, our own Jake McIntyre similarly took a look at the constrictions of labor law and how unions and their allies can find a way forward.

And more:

  • There's been another indictment in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29 miners:
    Last year charges were brought against two others — the mine’s security chief and a foreman who had not been at the mine on the day of the explosion.

    But Mr. May, one of the mine’s two superintendents, is the most senior, and industry observers say the charges against him are an indication that prosecutors are getting closer to the executives who ran the company, Massey Energy, which has since been bought by Alpha Natural Resources.

  • Hotel workers are asking Iron Chef Morimoto not to open a new restaurant at the Hyatt Andaz, because of Hyatt's horrible record on workers rights.
    Related, faculty and students from more than 150 colleges and universities are calling on Hyatt to rehire the sisters fired from the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara after objecting to having their heads photoshopped onto bikini-clad bodies.
  • With locked-out workers from American Crystal Sugar and Cooper Tire on a 1,000-mile road trip for justice, word came that the United Steelworkers and Cooper Tire had reached a tentative settlement. Mike Hall had talked to some of the locked-out workers.
  • Karoli explains how the picture of Michelle Rhee and Rick Santorum sugar-daddy Foster Friess isn't just some random picture of people with nothing in common taken at any old party.

    Related, while Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's education reform program targets teachers in counterproductive ways, even he thinks Rhee is too divisive, and backed out of attending a parent group's rally when he learned Rhee would be there.

  • Awesome. Tennessee's teacher evaluation process has led to physical education teachers "scrambling to incorporate math and writing into activities, since 50 percent of their evaluations will be based on standardized tests, not basketball victories."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "a strong working class movement" (9+ / 0-)

    that's what Rose Schneiderman called for at the memorial for the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire workers.

    Our last great hope is to build one, because brothers and sisters, our unions today are not that strong movement and we will not be without the unreprseented, the unorganized, the retired, and the unemployed.

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:12:07 PM PST

  •  A Lot of Union Activity Was Illegal When They (7+ / 0-)

    first were arising in this country. Independence from the Crown was illegal in the beginning.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:18:33 PM PST

  •  And (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mighty Ike, Dirtandiron, nicolemm

    we can't even get laws from our beloved elected officals to keep us from having to represent thr "FREE RIDERS".  I could give a shit about  "right to work" if it wasn't about we had to bargin for the free riders also.

    Free Rider -  a creature 10 times worst than a scab........

    "If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist." Walter Reuther

    by fugwb on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:27:57 PM PST

  •  The solution to the problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, notrouble

    Eidelson addresses, aside from unions challenging such laws, is for non-union groups to call for boycotts to support workers.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. @DavidKaib

    by David Kaib on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:47:59 PM PST

  •  This pro-labor angle at DKOS - nice! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radical def, indie17, notrouble

    My family is a blue collar family. I may endeavor to write with a certain sense of articulation, such that might seem to belie that, but the facts of the matter are just such facts as they are.

    My family is a family of mechanics, of warehouse workers, and of farmers and small ranchers in generations before. My family does not make any political positions out of our pragmatic vocations. We simply live, and work - though in more recent generations, we've had to become more generally familiar with the concept of post secondary education, as the jobs market has evolved to favor the same, to even require the same for the simplest jobs around.

    Not to detract from the pro-labor focus with a pro-education focus, but I think that the concepts are naturally related. Education supports labor development, for one thing. For another thing: As I recall having heard the president speak of, at least once, there are matters of entrepreneurialism and technological development such that the nation may endeavor to better develop, on the national level.

    Maybe some regions more preoccupied with archaic and dysfunctional ideologies, inasmuch, may find it hard to adapt to a more entrepreneurial focus in economic development - and related jobs development. I don't suppose we should let the national climate be dragged down with as much, however.

    To return to the point: My family is a blue collar family. We don't make a political position out of our vocations.

    My grandfather was an entrepreneur, himself - a member in a trucking partnership, later retired, then came out of retirement to become the sole proprietor of his own trucking business, at which he was rather successful, even after they shut down logging in California.

    I like the labor focus, here at DKOS. I think it's something that the party can make more of a position about, such that the people may find themselves able to relate to, naturally and constructively.

    There isn't an enterprise around that could be built without the commitment not only of the workers to the job, but of the management also to the well being of the  workers.

    The 1% can run around in their ivory towers, all they please - not all of us are so distracted with sense of "privilege," quite.

    My two pesos. Odelay.

  •  Oh come on. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don’t you know that if companies have to pay higher wages it will cause companies to make less money, then there’ll be that much less money that can trickle-down back to the workers? Sheesh.

  •  The labor movement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKDAWUSS, notrouble

    The labor movement is often equated with the USA's battled unions, but it as actually much broader than that. It includes workers' centers and associations. There are immigrants rights groups, enviro-organizations, feminist groups, Occupy alliances and anti-racist groups who are part of it.

    There are non-union workers, small business owners, salaried professionals, academics and retired people who are also belong to it. Plus others I can't think of right now.

    Mobilizing this broad social movement is a top priority. How to do it is our biggest challenge.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:59:42 PM PST

  •  Everybody needs to go "balls to the wall" on (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, notrouble

    Card Check. Get Card Check, and Unions get members. Get Union Workers back on the voter rolls and we get a foundation back in place under our society. This thing about Unions joining with everybody else to get stuff for all of us can only go so far if everyone is not also at least as focused on making organized labor strong.

    We work, we earn the paychecks our families need, and then we have the luxury to work on making all of the other parts of our lives better.

    When we organize, we hold our own, and even win battles. When, out of pride or whatever, we try to go it alone, the only thing that we ensure is that we'll all get picked off one by one.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 07:29:19 PM PST

  •  Ode to Woody (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radical def

    TWC playing 'Bound for Glory' tonight.  So here's a lyric of Woody's to celebrate.

    All You Fascists

    I’m gonna tell you fascists
    You may be surprised
    The people in this world
    Are getting organized
    You’re bound to lose
    You fascists bound to lose

    Race hatred cannot stop us
    This one thing we know
    Your poll tax and Jim Crow
    And greed has got to go
    You’re bound to lose
    You fascists bound to lose.

    All of you fascists bound to lose:
    I said, all of you fascists bound to lose:
    Yes sir, all of you fascists bound to lose:
    You’re bound to lose! You fascists:
    Bound to lose!

    People of every color
    Marching side to side
    Marching ‘cross these fields
    Where a million fascists dies
    You’re bound to lose
    You fascists bound to lose!

    I’m going into this battle
    And take my union gun
    We’ll end this world of slavery
    Before this battle’s won
    You’re bound to lose
    You fascists bound to lose!

    •  Of course, that was over 50 years ago... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When people were going over to Spain, to fight Franco.

      Here and now, in the USA, going into the 21st Century, some gains have been made, despite the fact that the NLRA and other labor laws were written by corporate hacks, to constrain the legalization of unions, which could no longer be prevented.

      Right Now going into the Democratic primaries, is a critical juncture in labor history, as the forces most hostile to labor marshal their considerable resources yet again to try to destroy or cripple the union movement as much as they can.

      The only material prospect for preventing that is a mass electoral uprising, to crush the monopoly corporate fascist Chamber of Commerce Republicans (and Blue Dog ilk) democratically, and suppress the right, legislatively and judicially.

      Right now is the time to bring the better Democrats forward for the primaries, to force incumbents to the left, or replace them with more viable candidates going into November.

      Demonstrations protests, boycotts and strikes, etc are all very well and good, but until we gain more progressive plurality in the House and Senate, and down the ladders of power, we are all screwed, more or less.

      Seize the Time!

      Seize the Power!

      All Out for the Primaries!

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle.

      by Radical def on Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 09:36:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  PE being the ONE class I could never get an A in (0+ / 0-)
    Awesome. Tennessee's teacher evaluation process has led to physical education teachers "scrambling to incorporate math and writing into activities, since 50 percent of their evaluations will be based on standardized tests, not basketball victories."
    But under this rubric, I could have!

    However coaches were always known for giving tests so elementray that any blockheard could ace them.  Even when they were teaching allegedly academic subjects.

     I'm stall mad at our coach/Spanish teacher for driving me away from a language that I actually DID and still do NEED, and  into the arms of those socialist surrender monkey Frenchies .

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 07:53:38 AM PST

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