On This Labor Day

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Here are two items related to Labor Day that I thought might be of interest.

The first article is from Diane Ravitch’s blog and titled “Labor Day 2014.” Here is the opening of that post:

“I recently saw photographs of John F. Kennedy giving a Labor Day speech in New York City during his Presidential campaign in 1960. He spoke in the center of the Garment District, on the west side of Manhattan. He spoke to tens of thousands of garment workers. Today, the Garment District has been replaced by luxury high-rise residences. Following NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the garment industry went to low-wage, non-union countries. The garment industry has few workers and no political power. The number of union members across the nation has dropped precipitously. The largest unions are public sector workers–especially, teachers–and they are under attack, as rightwing foundations, billionaires, and their favorite think…

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More Self-Sponsored and Self-Serving Far-Right Scholarly Research

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Richard Vedder, an emeritus economist at Ohio University, has recently released another study showing the benefits of “right to work” legislation. In a newspaper interview, he has predicted that Ohio will adopt “right to work” legislation in 2015.

Vedder has, of course, long been on the payroll of the American Enterprise Institute; so, despite his scholarly credentials, he can hardly be called impartial.

Here are three paragraphs from a story in the August 27 edition of the Athens, Ohio, Post [http://www.thepostathens.com/news/article_5daded0a-2d85-11e4-9d17-001a4bcf6878.html]:

“In 2011, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the state Republican Party enacted a Right to Work law — through Senate Bill 5—but the law was overturned by voters in a referendum. ‘With both our neighbors (Indiana and Michigan) recently adopting Right to Work, it is inevitable for Ohio to pass the same thing,’ said Vedder, who worked on Indiana’s legislation. ‘The trend is in the direction.’

“Vedder’s…

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Inequality: A Broad Middle Class Requires Empowering Workers

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

This post was written by Robert Borsage for the blog of the Campaign for America’s Future [http://ourfuture.org/] which has become a driving force behind the New Populist Movement.

The group’s report, Organizing to Take Back America: The New Populist Movement, is available at: http://y.ourfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/New-Populist-Movement-Organizing.pdf. Prepared by Riger Hickey, the co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future, the report identifies twelve key principles underlying this new progressive effort to provide an effective grassroots alternative to the Tea Party movement on the Far Right.

Robert L. Borosage is the founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future and co-director of its sister organization, the Campaign for America’s Future. The organizations were launched by 100 prominent Americans to develop the policies, message and issue campaigns to help forge an enduring majority for progressive change in America.

Mr. Borosage writes widely on political, economic and national security issues. He…

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Robin Williams Supported Union Members

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Since his death, it has become clear that, in contrast to his very extroverted stage persona, Robin Williams very quietly did an uncountable number of good things throughout his life.

Among the many good causes that he supported, he literally stood up for collective bargaining rights. The following photos show him walking the picket line in support of striking members of the Writers Guild of America-East:

Robin Williams on Picket Line during WGA-E Strike 1

Robin Williams on Picket Line during WGA-E Strike 2

Robin Williams on Picket Line during WGA-E Strike 3

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Statements by Thomas E. Perez and Arne Duncan on Harris v Quinn

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor:

“Home care workers do heroic work, providing high-quality, compassionate care that allows seniors and people with disabilities to live at home with independence and dignity.

“By organizing together, these workers have improved both their own working conditions and the quality of services they provide. The demand for skilled home care workers will only increase as the population ages and more people require these services.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision will make it more difficult for home care workers to have a united voice and the support they need to best serve their clients. We can and will continue to work in partnership with home care workers, consumers, employers, unions and states to ensure both good jobs and quality home care.”

Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education:

“Collective bargaining is a fundamental right that helped build America’s middle class. I’ve seen firsthand as Education Secretary that collaborating…

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Not a “Killshot” to Public-Employee Unions, but Not a Complete Reaffirmation of the Status Quo Either

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

If you have not been following the cases before the Supreme Court in this session, or if you have been but have simply lost track of this important labor case in the midst of the other cases that have attracted much more intense media coverage, the following is the lead to an article disseminated by The Nation over this past weekend [http://www.thenation.com/article/179033/why-harris-v-quinn-has-labor-very-very-nervous] :

“Sometime soon, certainly by the late-June conclusion of its present term, the Supreme Court will tell us its decision in Harris v. Quinn , arguably the most important labor law case the Court has considered in decades. Harris has already generated a great deal of attention and worry in labor circles, and nearly as much enthusiasm and celebration in pro-business ones—reflected in the extraordinary number of friend-of-the-court briefs filed by advocates on both sides. The case threatens the existence of the ‘agency shop,’ a bedrock…

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Where the Jobs Are Concentrated: The Largest Private Employers in the United States

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

To provide some context for appreciating the statistics related to the largest private employers in the U.S., let’s begin with the two largest public employers in the country. Those two employers are the Department of Defense, which with 3.2 million employees is the largest employer in the world, and the U.S. Postal Service, which with 601,000 employees is the third largest employer, public or private, in the U.S.

So, the Department of Defense has a million more employees—or almost 50% more–than WalMart has, and to provide some added perspective, the People’s Liberation Army of China has 2.3 million employees, or only about 100,000 more employees than Walmart has. More tellingly, the total for the Department of Defense does not include the 240,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security, and it includes only direct employees—not the employees of weapons producers, private suppliers, or private security contractors.

The following employment statistics for…

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Another Very Recent Starbucks Story That Has Received a Lot Less Media Attention

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I have no direct knowledge of how Starbucks treats its employees. But, if the bar is that Starbucks treats its employees better than WalMart treats its employees, it does not seem to be a very high bar. I think that even I could leap over it—if not like a gazelle then like a spry hippopotamus.

In any case, a group of employees at Starbucks stores in New York City were trying to unionize, and the management of one of the stores deliberately provoked successive responses from one of the lead organizers that would allow them to create a paper trail justifying his firing.

The National Labor Relations Board found in favor of the terminated employee, Joseph Agins, but the decision was overturned when an Administrative Law Judge upheld the company’s argument that it had the right to terminate him for using profanity and remanded the case back to the NLRB…

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Two Charts That Illustrate the Benefits of Unions to Middle-Class Workers

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

The following two charts are being disseminated by Unions Work [http://www.unionswork.us].

Union Density and Income (In)Equality:

Union Density and Income (In)Equality

Union Membership and the Middle-Class’s Percentage of the National Wealth:

Union Membership and Middle-Class Wealth

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Low-Wage Workers Have No Where Left to Go but into the Streets

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Fast food has become a global industry, and now the labor unrest in that industry has gone global.

Businessweek has provided a fairly thorough overview of the scope of the protests that occurred yesterday in 33 nations: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-05-15/scenes-from-the-fast-food-worker-protests-spreading-overseas

Robert Reich has provided a succinct statement of why these workers deserve broad support: http://fastfoodglobal.org/main/why-support-the-fast-food-strikes/

And the advocacy site Low Pay Is Not OK has provided the following infographic:

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