Monthly Archives: June, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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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More Tone Deafness and Message Muddle from the White House

ACADEME BLOG

The e-mail that I am reproducing below has just been disseminated by “Making Change at Walmart,” the employee organization that is trying to pressure Walmart into providing more of its employees with living wages and decent benefits.

It serves to reinforce my ongoing complaints about the Obama administration’s seeming obliviousness to the messages that it communicates with its choice of photo-ops.

Making Change at Walmart

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Commemorating “Loyalty Day,” instead of “May Day,” Is Essentially an Insult to Workers and Their Unions

ACADEME BLOG

Yesterday, the White House issued this proclamation:

“On Loyalty Day, we renew our conviction to the principles of liberty, equality, and justice under the law. We accept our responsibilities to one another. And we remember that our differences pale in comparison to the strength of the bonds that hold together the most diverse Nation on earth.

“In order to recognize the American spirit of loyalty and the sacrifices that so many have made for our Nation, the Congress, by Public Law 85-529 as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as ‘Loyalty Day.’ On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.

“Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2014, as Loyalty Day.

“This Loyalty Day, I call upon all the people of the United…

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A May Day Lament for American Labor

ACADEME BLOG

The following post was written by Jack Rasmus and is being re-posted here with his permission.

Dr. Rasmus teaches Political Economy at St. Marys College in Moraga, California. He is author of the 2012 and 2010 books, Obama’s Economy and Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression, published by Pluto Press.

He hosts the weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m. Pacific time. Over the past 5 months, he has been interviewing long-time, experienced labor activists on the theme ‘Is American Labor at a Strategic Impasse?’, a friendly discussion of what’s not working and what new needs to be done. Guests have included Steve Early, Jerry Gordon, Ray Rogers, Greg Shotwell, and others with decades of experience in organized labor. He will be gathering the insights of those whom he is interviewing on his radio program and producing an interview article of their…

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Labor under Fire, Literally, in Turkey

ACADEME BLOG

This is from Labour Start, which promotes trade unionism internationally:

“Turkey’s first mass May Day demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square took place in 1976, with the participation of hundreds of thousands. A year later, half a million people took part — but 37 were killed by gunfire.

“No one has ever been prosecuted for this crime, and for decades the government banned May Day celebrations in Taksim. Attempts to meet there have been met by tear gas, violence and arrests.

“The violence peaked in last year when hundreds were injured.

“This year, when unions including DISK, KESK and the Chambers of Medicine and Engineers announced that they would once again attempt to commemorate May Day in Taksim, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by announcing a ban on the event.

“When union leaders attempted to hold a small press conference in late April (pictured here), police responded with…

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Today Is the Centennial Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre, One of the Pivotal Events in U.S. Labor History

ACADEME BLOG

What follows is taken from the United Mine Workers website.

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The Ludlow Massacre

The date April 20, 1914 will forever be a day of infamy for American workers. On that day, 19 innocent men, women and children were killed in the Ludlow Massacre. The coal miners in Colorado and other western states had been trying to join the UMWA for many years. They were bitterly opposed by the coal operators, led by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company.

Upon striking, the miners and their families had been evicted from their company-owned houses and had set up a tent colony on public property. The massacre occurred in a carefully planned attack on the tent colony by Colorado militiamen, coal company guards, and thugs hired as private detectives and strike breakers. They shot and burned to death 18 striking miners and their families and one company man.  Four women and 11…

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