Category Archives: labor

The most important thing to remember about Labor Day

 

Don’t wear white any more!

It’s the rule.

Okay, so you probaly know this already, but

bbbbTea Party hero “Joe the Plumber” (name’s not really Joe and he never was a plumber) has a new job.  At Chrysler. Which could hire him because they didn’t go out of business in 2009 after, you know, that socialist ‘rescue package’ from the Feds saved their baby bottoms. Also, it’s a union shop – Joe is now a member of the UAW.

“In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice – it’s a union shop – the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” he wrote.

Can’t wait till Neil Cavuto has him back on the program at FOX.

Means nothing, move along

Our last – and best ever – Mayor is busy on Facebook today and found this. Thanks, Ed!

And that has nothing at all to do with why so many working people in the US get food and health care assistance. Nothing at all.

Want to see some income inequality? This is ugly

With a hat tip to blogfriend Tit4tat, here is a nice clear depiction of what’s really been going on. Most economists place the beginning of the income stagnation somewhere in the late 1970’s. And then along came Reagan; from there it was full speed ahead.

http://scotterb.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/chart.jpg

They didn’t hire themselves you know

Dear Stuart Varney: You are an idiot and that’s probably why you’re a star at the Fox Business channel (the one no one watches). Asked if Federal workers are deserving of back pay when this is over, Varney said:

That is a loaded question isn’t it? You want my opinion? . . .  No, I don’t think they should get their back pay, frankly, I really don’t. I’m sick and tired of a massive, bloated federal bureaucracy living on our backs, and taking money out of us, a lot more money than most of us earn in the private sector, then getting a furlough, and then getting their money back at the end of it. Sorry, I’m not for that. I want to punish these people. Sorry to say that, but that’s what I want to do.

(Why is he sorry to say that?) Stuart, the people you want to punish aren’t the ones who created the agencies, funded them, or made the rules. They are people, plain people who work in payroll or data processing. Maybe they’re engineers or safety inspectors or mathematicians or nurses. Perhaps they clean the offices. How about the folks who answer phones at IRS, CDC, Defense . . . they don’t carry weapons so they’re probably non-essential. I’m guessing that most departments have IT people – let’s hope nobody needs critical help on their computers or – Elvis forbid – servers.

As for those who are essential … they’re required to stay on the job (see Washington DC, Thursday, Capitol Police) but won’t see paychecks for the duration. And today is Friday – for most people, that’s payday.

And you want to punish them. Delightful.

 

Labor Day 2013

The annual video:

WalMart ought to try it

They’re up and running now and the Walton family own more wealth than 40% of the country combined.

(Via Brian from NYC, a once fellow-blogger and WW commenter, who now seems to have an actual life, so the only time I catch up on what he’s doing these days is on facebook which is where he posted this.)

Oh fer gawd’s sake . . .does Eric Cantor really think he can fly this one?

I’m a day late with this, but now that I’ve seen it, it must be shared! Here’s a Labor Day thought from a leading light in the Republican leadership of the Congress of the United States.

As for the little people – you know, the ones who did things like build the Hoover Dam and the Brooklyn Bridge and the ones who died fighting for the eight-hour day – those people? La.zy.

Capitalism has three legs: resources, capital and labor. It needs all three.

Make the insanity stop – or give me his job, and then I won’t care

(I’m pasting-in this clip from the WSJ to show that this  is a bona fide story and not something out of a Muslim commie Kenyan anti-colonialist way gay anti-American dream factory.)

Despite his short-lived tenure, Mr. Johnson will receive exit payments worth as much as $44.4 million, according to Duke.That includes $7.4 million in severance, a nearly $1.4 million cash bonus, a special lump-sum payment worth up to $1.5 million and accelerated vesting of his stock awards, according to a Duke regulatory filing Tuesday night. Mr. Johnson gets the lump-sum payment as long as he cooperates with Duke and doesn’t disparage his former employer, the filing said.

The Duke board voted for Johnson’s resignation, and since Johnson was eligible for severance if he quit for “good reason,” he is able to collect his $44 million. Grist calculates that Johnson’s pay package comes out to $5.5 million per hour, if he actually put in a full 8-hour day.

Bill Moyers talks to smart people

M y brother was here last week. We talked a lot about many things. He’s a fine conversationalist he is. And I’m not bad, so we had a good time. But he’s got an edge on me with the depth and breadth of his knowledge. And personal experience wtih much of which he speaks.

He’s a PhD in Philosophy, a former priest who studied texts in Latin and Hebrew. He’s a father and a grandfather. He’s a sailor and a superb do-it-yourselfer (a longtime fantasy of mine is to have him prisoner for a week in my house with his tools and no books. That would be sweet.)

He’s a lecturer, a college professor, a prolific author and travels extensively to meetings and workshops here and in Europe and in Africa. I’ve no idea how he has time to do any of these things. It’s annoying.

One of the things we talked about was labor and labor unions. I said I thought that the union model, as practiced today, has failed. It was the right model for a long time but is the wrong model for these times and needs to be reinvented.

He disagreed. But here’s some evidence that, for maybe the first time ever, because some very smart people are saying the same thing, I was right and he was wrong.

The relevant discussion is the first 20 minutes or so here from yesterday’s Bill Moyers’ show. It’s fascinating.

While we contemplate stimulus vs austerity . . .

. . . herwith a tweet from Robert Reich, well known Clinton-era Commie (h/t UTMB, here); I will now add him to my Twitter feed.

Once, America believed in its workers: oh, those were the days alright

Bill put these up today.

ROMNEY: “I’m concerned when I watch a president cow-tow to the union bosses by putting in place those union stooges at the NLRB. I’ve taken on union bosses before. I’m happy to take ‘em on again.”

THE PREZ: “The values at the core of the union movement – those don’t change. Those are the values that have made this country great. So when I hear some of these folks tryin’ to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so called ‘right to work’ laws for private sector workers that really mean the right to work for less and less and less – when I hear some of this talk I know this is not about economics, this is about politics. I keep on hearin’ these same folks talk about values all the time. You want to talk about values? Hard work – that’s a value. Lookin’ out for one another, that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together and I’m my brother’s keeper and sister’s keeper, that’s a value!

I expect a Tea Party congress critter will soon demand that the Kenyan-Muslim-Commie “Labor Day” in September be cancelled or renamed. I suggest Oligarch Observance Day.

I’ve posted this before. Today is a good day to post it again. From 1981:

May Day 2012: a real Labor Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

ImageSpring is in the air, and you know what that means–that’s right, Occupy Wall Street is back, bigger and better than ever! Although actions have been ongoing for several weeks, the first major action will be the worldwide General Strike called for May 1st. From OccupyWallSt.org:

May 1st, also known as International Workers’ Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a General Strike for the eight-hour workday. In many countries, May 1st is observed as a holiday. But in the United States, despite the eventual success of the eight-hour-workday campaign, the holiday is not officially recognized.

Now, in response to call-outs from Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland, and other General Assemblies and affinity groups, the Occupy Movement is preparing to mobilize a General Strike this May 1st in solidarity with struggles already underway to defend the rights of workers, immigrants, and other communities who are resisting oppression. Dozens of Occupations in cities and towns throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia have already endorsed May Day.

To quote the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, who recently called for a national General Strike in Spain on March 29th to protest labor reforms:

For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.

I’ll be at the NYC action; hope to see you there! I’ll post links and updates as they become available.

When Bruce speaks, a lotta people listen

Haven’t been paying much attention in recent years to popular music. I do notice when something happens (RIP Clarence et al) but don’t generally pay a lot of attention when soemthing new is published.

Here’s what The Guardian has to say about Bruce Springstein’s new album, Wrecking Ball.

Indeed, [the album] is as angry a cry from the belly of a wounded America as has been heard since the dustbowl and Woody Guthrie, a thundering blow of New Jersey pig iron down on the heads of Wall Street and all who have sold his country down the swanny. Springsteen has gone to the great American canon for ammunition, borrowing from folk, civil war anthems, Irish rebel songs and gospel. The result is a howl of pain and disbelief as visceral as anything he has ever produced, that segues into a search for redemption: “Hold tight to your anger/ And don’t fall to your fears … Bring on your wrecking ball.”

Springsteen plunges into darker, richer musical landscapes in a sequence of breath-taking protest songs – Easy Money, Shackled and Drawn, Jack of All Trades, the scarily bellicose Death to My Hometown and This Depression with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine – before the album turns on Wrecking Ball in search of some spiritual path out of the mess the US is in.

I may have to borrow a dime for this one. Here’s a cut.

How will we know when FOX jumps the shark?

FOX News has a long glorious history of making ‘errors’ in their cryons and headlines – a remarkable number for a network so respected for the ferocity of their fact checkers.

Although this one comes late in the year, I’ll call it the clear winner for their 2011 Dirty Rotten Lie award. Look at the March 8.8% data point. See how it’s much lower than the November 8.6% datapoint? And how that one is on the same axis as October’s 9%?

Anyone who has ever made charts knows you use software which don’t allow for these types of errors. You enterz the numbers and your software friend puts it in the right place – unless you override it. Which they had to have done.

(They could use a new graphic designer too – that’s one sorry looking chart. )

George Will is most egregious and he sends his Christmas cards by FedEx

George Will doesn’t like the post office. He thinks it’s not needed; he even says:

. . . surely the government could cede this function to the private sector , which probably could have a satisfactory system functioning quicker than you can say Fed Ex, UPS and Wal-Mart.

He sees the first two as delivery vehicles; Wal-Mart would become the physical post office. Very convenient for places that don’t have a Wal-Mart.

He adds that the staff at those places “have an incentive to practice civility”. George has never met my carrier or been to my post office, where there are actual humans available to answer customer questions, something they do well and knowledgeably. A good for-profit would dump those helpers in a heartbeat (hmmm, how many jobs would that be?).

But he really gets the disingenuous prize for this shockingly dishonest bit:

Labor costs are 80 percent of USPS costs (53% of UPS’, 32% of FedEx’s), in part because it has negotiated very friendly union contracts.

Leave aside for the moment the usual we-don’t-need-no-stinkin-unions mantra – I’ll wager he left a little something out of that equation, like this: I’ve not noticed tens of thousands of UPS or FedEx employees walking  or driving every inch of residential property in the country every day.

And what would happen to the direct mail industry if FedEx had to hit every house in my neighborhood. No mention – including it would be quite inconvenient when bashing is the point.

There’s a serious discussion to be had about how to streamline the post office. But we’ll leave Will out of that discussion; he’s not interested in being serious.

Plus, you’ll avoid the stampede of the human herd

Marylee brought this to my attention yesterday and I got it in an email this morning as well. Not a bad idea. And it’s yet another rational segue from Move Your Money and the Shop Local movement.

This Christmas, how about buying services from local businesses instead of buying product?

The email I received said “don’t buy products made in China”. I don’t think China is likely to notice, but the idea of putting some money into the hands of local businesses is appealing and can have an impact. Some ideas:

  • a spa day
  • gym membership
  • car detailing
  • massage
  • a home visit from a computer tech
  • a house cleaning service for a day
  • tickets to a local theatre, opera, concert
  • locally made crafts and jewelry
  • locally created artwork
  • a consult with landscapers or a decorator or financial consultant
  • for grandparents: how about stocks in a local company
  • and of course, gift certificates to any locally owned store or service business or donations in someone’s name

Can’t hurt.

Income gap – no comment

h/t mac at Talk & Politics

Dialogue, 2011 style

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

Lech Walesa: one of my heroes

Leading his 'mob'

The union organizer who led the movement that overthrew Soviet communism in his native Poland 30 years ago, whose actions signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, is coming to New York to support Occupy Wall Street.

. . . to show his support for the  Occupy Wall Street protesters.

“How could I not respond,” Walesa told a  Polish newspaper Wednesday. “The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street  are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is  something I understand.”

. . . Walesa said “capitalism is in  crisis” and not just in America.

“This is a worldwide problem,” he told  the Lublin-based Dziennik Wschodni newspaper. “The Wall Street protesters have  focused a magnifying glass on the problem.”

. . . A staunch anti-communist and former Polish president who helped steer his  country to a free market economy, Walesa . . .  has warned of a “worldwide  revolt against capitalism” if the Wall St. protests are ignored.

They are  protesting the “unfairness” of an economy that enriches a few and “throws the  people to the curb,” he said in a recent interview.

We Are the 1 Percent

POSTED BY ORHAN

Tens of thousands marched through the streets of lower Manhattan Wednesday in support of Occupy Wall Street and to protest the actions of the financial elite that has devastated the lives of so many. The current issue of Orion magazine includes an article by Christopher Ketcham that  draws the connection between the demonstrators and the city they marched in:

Of the twenty-five largest cities, New York is the most unequal city in the United States for income distribution. If it were a nation, it would come in as the fifteenth worst among 134 countries ranked by extremes of wealth and poverty—a banana republic without the death squads.

It is the showcase for the top 1 percent of households, which in New York have an average annual income of $3.7 million. The One Percenters took for themselves close to 44 percent of all income in New York during 2007 (the last year for which data is available).

New York’s wealth concentration is almost twice the record-high levels among the top 1 percent nationwide, who claimed 23.5 percent of all national income in 2007, a number not seen since the eve of the Great Depression.

The number of homeless in the city rose to an all-time high last year with a record 113,000 men, women, and children, many of them comprising whole families, retreating night after night to municipal shelters.

Average workers have been the consistent losers since 1990. The real hourly median wage in New York between 1990 and 2007 fell by almost 9 percent. Young men and women aged twenty-five to thirty-four with a bachelor’s degree and a year-round job in New York saw their earnings drop 6 percent. Middle-income New Yorkers—defined broadly by the FPI as those drawing incomes between approximately $29,000 and $167,000—experienced a 19 percent decrease in earnings.

Almost 11 percent of the population, about 900,000 people, live in what the federal government describes as “deep poverty,” which for a four-person family means an income of $10,500 (the average One Percenter household in New York makes about that same amount every day).

About 50 percent of the households in the city have incomes below $30,000; their incomes have also been steadily declining since 1990. During the boom of 2002–07, the trend was unaltered: the average income in the bottom 95 percent of New York City households declined.

The wealth of the One Percenters derives almost entirely from the operations of the sector known as “financial services,” whose preoccupation is “financial innovation.” The One Percenters draw the top salaries at commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, credit card companies, insurance companies, stock brokerages.

The largest twenty financial institutions in the U.S., almost all of them headquartered in New York, now control upward of 70 percent of the country’s financial assets, roughly double what they controlled in the 1990s.

According to the article, financial innovation is a “socially useless activity”, with “little or no long-term value”, whose purpose is to “merely shift money around” without designing, building, or selling “a single tangible thing.” Financial services once allocated capital for socially useful projects that also created jobs. The goal now is to maximize short-term profit by generating and bursting asset bubbles, hedging carefully to come out ahead no matter the cost to society. Having created a wave of gentrification that devastated manufacturing and made the city unaffordable for most workers, including writers, artists, and musicians, the One Percenter sits atop a cuturally sterile world that “that offers nothing but mass consumption as a prospect for our youth,” that trumpets “contempt for the least powerful in society,” that offers only “outrageous competition of all against all.”

Gimme that old time religion, er, I mean protestin’!

This is what Occupy Wall Street is about. And now that major news outlets have deigned to take notice, it’s growing into a movement.  Invitations to local demonstrations are popping up all over Facebook (I’ve had two invitations just this morning) and this has generated an organizing site here. It gets personal at We Are the 99 Percent.  From there:

UPDATE: Here’s the official site for Occupy Wall Street. And I just found another picture I rather fancy.

Atrios proves again that a few well chosen words work just as well

There’s a wee flaw in designing an economy which requires people to spend a huge amount of money to purchase and maintain a giant metal box in order to be able to drive to minimum wage jobs.

Yup.

Free markets mean f-r-e-e-e-e-d-o-m ! !

A challenge to my conservative friends – justify this:

  • Almost every American-themed trinket sold in the Smithsonian Institute is made in China.
  • San Francisco is importing its new bay bridge from China.
  • New York City awarded Chinese state-subsidized firms contracts to renovate the city’s subway system, refurbish the Alexander Hamilton Bridge over the Harlem River, and build a new Metro-North train platform near Yankee Stadium.
  • the Martin Luther King monument in Washington was designed by a Chinese sculptor and assembled by low-wage Chinese workers.

Of the last, David Sirota, in an op-ed published in Truthout September 2, said:

Imagine the contradiction: a memorial for a civil rights leader who deplored “starvation wages” and died supporting a sanitation union’s strike is built by non-union serfs from China! The Chinese invasion, Sirota wrote, is caused by an America “no longer willing or able to invest in its own future.”

Original article at Human Rights for Workers, via an email from Joe.

Labor Day 1981

The ILGWU made this commercial in 1981. Their jobs were suddenly leaving the country and they wanted to put up a fight. It didn’t make any difference of course. We all know there’s simply no profit in paying a decent wage to workers. And profit is all to our Ferengi overlords.

(This is a second encore reprise for this video, but today is the right day, yes? And I really love it – it’s a slice of history and perhaps a lesson for those who would blame the unemployed for not having jobs.)

Sunday gasbaggery

Damn librul media. Here’s tomorrow’s lineup:

  • Face the Nation: Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman
  • Fox News Sunday: Dick Cheney
  • State of the Union: Sen. DeMint, Sen. Lieberman, Rep.
    Rogers, James Hoffa
  • This Week: DeMint
  • Meet the Press: Rep. Maxine Waters, Tom Friedman, Mark
    McKinnon, Paul Gigot, Doris Kearns Goodwin

Jim DeMint twice?  And I don’t see anyone from labor or even from one of the gajillion jobs councils.

Oh my holyrollers! Here’s an update on the schedule. I guess John McCain wasn’t available to fill out the hour.

 

I think Atrios is reading me

First I saw lottsa oldies (my kind, not his) sprinkling his site and I thought, well okay, it’s a retro thing. But! But! Cometh this post, with one of my all time favoritest videos, which I first ran (and will again and again) after Governor Nojobsisbetterthanaunionjob of Wisconsin undertook union bashing – well, that is a step too far. I don’t care how famous is the Atrios, this video is  mine, mine, mine!

NBC did a Sunday funny

The ego of the pundit (and producer) knows no bounds. On Meet the Press today, Gregory called his round table discussion (which was actually quite good) a Jobs Summit. Really.

Just like Nixon/Mao. Just like Reagan/Gorbachev. You know, a summit.