Category Archives: Labor & Employment

Labor Movement Must Be More Than Just a Union Movement

Richard Wolff commenting on the UAW loss of the union election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattenooga, Tennessee. Unions need to develop allies throughout the community in order to win the hearts & minds of the workers.

Organizations of business, the wealthy and the conservatives (think tanks, foundations, hired public relations firms, advertising enterprises, major newspapers, mass radio and TV stations, internet outlets and social media) work constantly to shape workers’ life experiences and thus how they see the world. Because of their dependence on financing from businesses and the wealthy, most Republicans and Democrats avoid conflicts with their campaigns to shape public opinion. Conservatives pander to them.

No alternative, different way to see the world similarly surrounds workers in their daily lives. Workers’ organizations (unions, think tanks, independent media) are many fewer, poorer and much weaker. “Outside influences” shape workers’ consciousness one-sidedly because of the gross disparity of resources available to those exerting that influence. What made local Republicans and conservatives’ billboards persuasive was public opinion; the shape of that opinion defeated unionization in Tennessee. How differently “outside influences” work in other countries is suggested by this simple fact: virtually all of VW’s 105 factories elsewhere are unionized.

During the middle 1930s, millions joined unions for the first time: the greatest unionization drive in history.

The history of unionization in the US reinforces the point. During the middle 1930s, millions joined unions for the first time: the greatest unionization drive in history. We had never seen anything like it before, nor have we since. Unionization then was achieved by a remarkable alliance: unions (allied in the Congress of Industrial Organizations or CIO) plus large, active socialist and communist parties. Those parties widely and effectively contested the “outside influences” stemming from business, the wealthy and conservatives. Socialists and communists mobilized their own media, writers, artists and academics into play. Their demonstrations on many social issues made news and their organizations disseminated a distinctive interpretation of that news. They contradicted what business, the wealthy and conservatives asserted and not only around particular issues. Many among them also contested the economic system arguing that the US could and should do better than capitalism. Interested teachers, clergy, students, immigrant and racial minorities and the general public thus continuously encountered perspectives other than those of business, the wealthy and conservatives.

Excerpt from MOYERS & COMPANY


2014 or Is It 1864?


Are you thankful that you have been lucky enough to avoid being picked up and enslaved?

How long will you be lucky enough to be a slave on the outside (working to pay the taxes to cover the corporate profits and bailouts) and when might they find it more profitable to bring you inside. Either way you’ll make money for them.

The only country with a higher incarceration rate than the U.S.  is North Korea. Is that they sort of country with which we should be classified?

Grover Norquist, “Boss” of Tennessee

Volkswagen decided to build a factory in Tennessee to manufacture VWs for the American market. This is what the United States has always said foreign companies should do when they serve an American market.

The workers at the plant have asked for an election to determine as to whether the United Auto Workers union would represent them. The VW company, used to heavily unionized factories in Germany, have no problem with that and even invited the UAW in to make a presentation to the workers.

This should be a matter for the Company and its employees. But guess who has a problem with it? Someone who does not work there, someone who does not live there and someone who does not own VW stock. GROVER NORQUIST, sitting in his Washington office, has a problem with it. Grover is the hobgoblin who controls the Republican Party and orders its Congress-critters about.  Podunk may elect a Representative but Grover tells him how to vote.

Grover sent the word out to his minions in Tennessee that Unions are not to be allowed at the VW plant. The minions in the Tennessee Legislature got busy and passed State laws which would deny any State benefit, tax credit, deduction or aid previously promised to get the Company to relocate to Tennessee if and when a Union is selected. Grover’s Tennessee minions would prefer to shut down the factory and dispense with several thousand jobs than allow a Union to be duly elected by the workers.

The concept of “Class War” is not a simple bugaboo to frighten the gullible. It is going on, it is being fought and it is being won by the One Percent BECAUSE they know they are fighting it. They will buy elections, they will buy politicians, they will buy courts and they will buy propaganda to persuade us that they are not at war against us. They don’t fight fair and they will win unless we begin to fight back.

Congressional Caucus for Full Employment

The Democrats have been playing defense for decades. If they want to retake Congress and build a better America, they need to take the initiative. John Conyers and Frederica Wilson are two Members of Congress who are asserting leadership advocating for Full Employment.

Congressional Black Caucus members John Conyers (D-MI) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) are forming the Full Employment Caucus. This comes amidst a cry for the President to address growing income inequality and as Democrats in Congress push for an increase to the federal minimum wage.  Wilson and Conyers have been pushing the “full employment” idea since November, but this month they are creating a caucus that, according to an op-ed penned by Wilson in the Miami Herald, “advocate for policies to create needed training and work opportunities fields including infrastructure repair, building efficiency, early education, public health, and community revitalization.”

One staffer with knowledge of the caucus told Politic365 the caucus hopes to bring together experts to identify proven strategies of job creation as well as generate support for existing bills such as the AMERICAN JOBS ACT and the FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT, bills introduced by Wilson and Conyers respectively.

Recent labor statistics has the unemployment rate as low as 6.7%. The news isn’t all good for the American workforce however, as many are dropping out of the labor market because of an inability to find jobs. Participation has ticked down to 62.8% the lowest since February 1978. Black unemployment rate remains nearly double the national average at 12%.

The call for full employment is not new. It was a message Dr. King carried toward the end of his life. In 1967 he gave a speech to the SCLC calling for full employment and a guaranteed minimum income. Duke University professor Dr. Sandy Darity has also made the case for full employment. Darity, who is the chair of the Department of African and African American Studies, is also an economist who has pushed for a National Investment Employment Corps  as a response to the persistent unemployment felt by many in the wake of the Great Recession.

Reprinted from the Crew of 42

Honoring Martin Luther King

In 1968, Martin Luther King asked, ““What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”

If King were alive today, he’d be on the picket lines with the fast-food workers seeking a fair wage.

Every year, politicians line up to express their admiration for Dr. King, and to be seen as supportive of King’s goal of equality for all. It is likely past time that those who declare their support evidence it by actually supporting policies promoted by King and the movement for equal justice.

Let’s adopt a national “Just and Livable Wage” sometime before the very next day honoring Martin Luther King.

Wal-Mart, Corporate Criminal, Caught (Finally)

Excerpt from SALON (January 16, 2014) as distributed by PORTSIDE:

Wal-Mart illegally disciplined, threatened and surveilled workers – including unlawfully firing 19 people – according to a complaint released by the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon.

“Now the federal government is confirming what we already know,” fired worker Barbara Collins said in an emailed statement. “We have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my coworkers illegally.” Collins is among 23 activists fired by the retail giant after joining a strike by the union-backed, non-union labor group OUR Walmart last June.

The NLRB complaint, similar to an indictment, lists incidents involving more than 60 workers in 34 states, as well as a Wal-Mart official’s warning on national television that, “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job. And if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.” It also cites the memo, read to employees by managers in various stores in February 2013, stating that “Should you participate in further union-orchestrated intermittent work stoppages that are part of a common plan or design to disrupt and confuse the Company’s business operations, you should expect that the Company will treat any such absence as it would any other unexcused absence.”

* * * * * * *

As I’ve reported, Wal-Mart’s effort to deter activism appear to have taken a toll: While organizers said 400-some employees joined a Black Friday walkout in November 2012, they’ve released no count for how many Wal-Mart employees were involved in the protests or civil disobedience on Black Friday 2013. Wednesday also brought the release, by Occupy Wall Street, of a cache of internal Wal-Mart documents regarding the company’s campaign against OUR Walmart. As reported by Gawker, these include a PowerPoint presentation on the “Duty of Loyalty” of managers to “Support Walmart’s position on how we treat people” and “Report union activity to the Labor Relations Hotline immediately.” As MSNBC reported, they also include a list of “Early Warning Signs” including workers “speaking negatively about wages and benefits” or “ceasing conversations when leadership approaches.” Wal-Mart spokesperson Kory Lundberg confirmed the documents’ authenticity to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, and said they were “important to make sure that our associates are receiving accurate and timely information.”

WAL-MART is an enemy of working men and women in this country and overseas.  It will continue to be so as long as it gets away with it. Workers should use Labor Actions and Consumers Boycotts until the Corporate miscreant is rehabilitated so that it may function as a good corporate citizen.

FFI: See SALON or the PORTSIDE news service


We’ve been devoted patrons of the OLD COUNTRY BUFFET, known in some communities as HOME BUFFET. Our family started years ago visiting the first Buffet in Richfield, Minnesota. It was owned by two families who were dedicated to serving a homestyle meal at prices that a working family could afford.

Following the intelligent investor rule advanced by Warren Buffet (no connection), when I decided to invest in the stock market and wanted to invest in what I knew, I invested in Buffet stock when it went public. It was a wise investment. So I am part of the Buffet family, eat there and invested there, and when my kids were young they all worked there. I calculate that our extended family purchases about 480 meals at Buffets annually so Buffet revenues are enhanced by $ 4,800 every year from our kin and we.

After a time, the original entrepreneurs sold to the typical soul-less corporation. The human touch is gone, the family feeling has been surgically excised, it is now owned and operated by Ebenezer Scrooge. Oh, I have besmirched Scrooge’s good name, for even Scrooge gave Bob Cratchit Christmas day off. Not so, Buffet management, Christmas Day is an obligatory day of wage-slavery.

Buffet INCORPORATED, you have lost a customer, and your next year’s revenues will be $ 4,800 LESS than they could have been.

Readers, on many issues of the day, there is little the average person can do, but on this you can choose to punish the Corporateers. STOP PATRONIZING BUFFETS INC. UNTIL THEY GIVE THE CRATCHITS CHRISTMAS DAY OFF!