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Labor Blog

Published: 2006-05-07T13:44:52-05:00


Work Life in the Games Industry

2006-05-07T13:44:52-05:00 is a new organization founded a bit of a watchdog on the games industry, founded by Erin Hoffman , who shook up the industry in 2004 when she wrote an anonymous letter on the harsh (and illegal) working conditions at Electronics Arts and other video game companies that have led to lawsuits over violations of overtime laws. A useful reminder that for regular workers, the "knowledge industry" is often as harsh and arbitrary as the old industrial economy-- and a good sign of a maturing consciousness among workers that they need some real discussion and organization to change things....

Miami Janitoris Win!


With no help from Donna Shalala, the strikers at University of Miami won their crucial demand yesterday-- the right to card check recognition for their union from the university contractor, Unicco Service Company. Part of the agreement was that the union would have to sign up 60% of employees to gain recognition, rather than the 50% required to win an NLRB election. Which illustrates how bad the NLRB election process is. The workers preferred a lengthy strike, a hunger strike that hospitalized multiple workers, and a requirement for a super-majority rather than face the buzzsaw of a federal election, where...

AFL and Change To Win: Back To The Future, or Something....


By Jordan Barab, Reprinted from Confined Space I'm ust getting around to writing about this mildly amusing and ironic story. NY Times labor reporter Steve Greenhouse reported last week about a proposal by Change to Win (the unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO last year) to get together with the AFL-CIO to form another labor federation that would do many of the things they criticized the AFL-CIO for spending too many resources on: political action, grass-roots mobilization, member education, legislative initiatives, and health and safety. Change to Win Chair Anna Burger sent a letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney...

Workers Memorial Day 2006


By Jordan Barab, Reprinted from Confined Space Yesterday was Workers Memorial Day; a day dedicated by the labor movement to “pray for the dead and fight for the living,” in the words of fabled labor organizer Mother Jones. This year we’re hoping that while the praying goes forward as usual, the fight for the living may be making more headway. The focus of this year’s commemoration is the Sago mine explosion in which 12 West Virginia coal miners died last January, as well as the subsequent Alma Aracoma fire that killed two miners. As traumatized as Americans were by the...

Union Mines Are Safer Mines


By Jordan Barab, Reprinted from Confined Space Union mines are safer than non-union mines explains Charles McCollester, Director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.he decline of governmental oversight and enforcement under the present administration is a scandal. The Mine Safety and Health Administration levies fines but rarely collects and fails to go to court to enforce. In a non-union mine, the inspector has no back-up. It's his word against the company. The union has the right to accompany inspectors and provide documentation and testimony. The heart of the union presence, the...

Extreme Corruption at Veterans Administration


Imagine if Dick Cheney returned to Halliburton with a nice fat management contract after landing the company lots of lucrative contracts. That's just about the situation with the Veterans Administration where the former head of the department, Anthony Principi, returned to the company he previously headed, and the company was promptly awarded a $1 billion privatization contract desgined by Principi himself: Principi’s company, QTC Management, administers medical exams to veterans who need disability assistance. Additionally, the firm also examines soldiers before they are discharged, the results of which play a substantial role in VA disability benefit decisions. Principi was president...

WI: Real Health Care for All Workers


From over at the Progressive States Network (yes the name is changing) After the botched Massachusetts health care bill, it's nice to see Wisconsin is stepping up with a really bold health care plan. Backed by unions, businesses and municipalities, a bipartisan group of Wisconsin legislators, led by Sen. Russ Decker (D-Schofield) and Rep. Terry Musser (R-Black River Falls), introduced SB 698, one of the most comprehensive health care proposals in the country -- that would cover every employee in the state much like the existing workers compensation and unemployment insurance systems. An actuarial study done in 2003 estimated that...

Cracking Down on Wage Law Violations


One thing you can say-- the current debate on immigration is at last focusing attention on the pervasive violations of our labor laws in sweatshops and other parts of the low-wage economy. But instead of getting national legislation to shut down sweatshops around the country, we are getting policies to punish some of the victims -- while leaving the underground economy that breeds undocumented immigration largely in place. Across the country, various states and local governments have created innovative laws and programs to take on wage law violators, as a new analysis at PLAN details, although none have put all...

More on Blacks and Immigration Rallies


In Denver: "The most prominent local black organization, the Greater Metropolitan Denver Ministerial Alliance, attended Saturday's rally. On Monday, the Rev. Patrick Demmer, a member of the alliance, donned toy handcuffs with about 100 ministers from around the country during a demonstration in Washington. "This is a continuation of the civil rights struggle," Demmer said. "If we can offset some of the mean-spirited ideologies of Tancredo, I'm happy to be here to offset it." In Boston Cardinal O’Malley and Rev. Hurmon Hamilton, executive board member of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston joined nearly 8,000 immigrants in their demonstration...

Why Won't the Downtrodden Scapegoat the Immigrants?


Among liberals calling for a crackdown on immigrants, there is a trope of speaking on behalf of blacks, low-wage workers and others who are supposedly harmed by undocumented immigration. So it's got to be frustrating that organizations representing blacks and unions are refusing to play their parts and scapegoat the immigrants. Here's the NAACP on immigration reform: NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon said: “Our nation’s immigration policy must be consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect and dignity. We must move away from the politics of ostracizing immigrants and instead look...

Ethanol and the Fraud of "Free Trade"


One of the most important industries in Brazil is ethanol production, an industry based on native sugar cane that supposedly delivers eight times the energy of corn-based versions and could be a major boost to Brazil's foreign trade-- except that US and European trade laws bar it: Yet heavy import duties on the Brazilian product have limited its entry into the United States and Europe...Brazilian officials and business executives say the ethanol industry would develop even faster if the United States did not levy a tax of 54 cents a gallon on all imports of Brazilian cane-based ethanol.How seriously can...

Why an Employer Mandate is Needed


Ezra -- and Max -- have eminent logic on their side in arguing for the superiority of a non-employer based health care system in favor of direct government funding of health care. Except for the tiny flaw that it's not going to happen politically, at least any time soon. Currently, private funds, primarily employer-paid money pays for 54% of all health care in this country. For the non-elderly population, it is an even greater percentage of health care dollars. So over 8% of GDP consists of private health care spending. Now, for the government to substitute for that private spending,...

The Future Marches in LA -- and Denver, Chicago and...


500,000 people marched yesterday in Los Angeles against making being a global economic refugee a felony -- and they were joined by hundreds of thousands more in Denver (50,000), Phoenix (20,000) Houston, and other cities across the country, including Chicago where over 100,000 people marched two weeks ago for immigrant rights. The march in Los Angeles was the largest political rally in the city's history. This is the future marching. Many of those marching can vote today; many of them will register to vote where they can or when they become eighteen; and even those who can't vote, their children...

Dubai: Workers Hell


In all the debates over the Dubai Ports, progressive seemed to miss the key reason to bash the Dubai government-- it's cultivated a workers rights nightmare of plutocratic exploitation of immigrants. It's an Apartheid of the Arab wealthy-- 500,000 local residents exploiting a 1,000,000 immigrants who do the work without voting rights or rights in the workplace: [W]orkers have few rights. Visa sponsors and employers typically confiscate their passports and residency permits when they sign on, restricting their freedom of movement and their ability to report abuse... When they get here, few can leave the country without the permission of...

Median Estate: $29,000


That's it. The majority of Americans receive no more than $29,000 in inheritances, according to the Federal Reserve. Yet $200 billion annually are being passed on each year in inheritances. Put those two numbers together and it's clear that the debate on the estate tax is absolutely irrelevant for most families. And one of the reasons is that the main "tax" on middle income estates come before death, in the form of massive health-related expenses that eat away at the nest egg: RAND calculated that the average person between 60 and 70 would spend 58 percent of his or her...