• Employment Rights,  Stateside,  Trade Unions

    Unite and fight

    One of the lessons that liberals need to learn from the recent election is the severe limitations of “identity politics” based on race, ethnicity and gender. Packinghouse workers in Chicago got it right in the 1930s: Nic Smith, a self-described “white trash hillbilly from the holler” in far southwest Virginia’s coal country, gets it right today about what struggling black, white and Hispanic workers have in common and how they need to join together to fight for (among other things) a major increase in the minimum wage. And he has some choice words for liberals who make assumptions about the concerns of working-class whites in places like Appalachia. When asked…

  • Employment Rights,  Stateside,  Trump

    “It is not good news for everyone”

    One of the most compelling viral videos of the past year featured the angry reaction by workers at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis to an announcement that the the company planned to lay off 1,400 employees and move production to Mexico. I urged readers to watch the video “[i]f you want to get some idea of why so many Americans are supporting Donald Trump and/or Bernie Sanders…” Seems I was on to something. Now with a combination of promises (tax breaks) and threats (nice federal contracts you’ve got, it would be a shame if anything happened to them), President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, still governor of Indiana,…

  • China,  Employment Rights,  Israel

    China-Israel labor deal falls through; China cracks down on labor activists

    Last month we reported on a deal between the Israeli and Chinese governments that would have allowed Israeli companies to recruit 20,000 Chinese construction workers under exploitative conditions without the most basic protections of Israeli labor law. The good news is that the deal has fallen through, perhaps in part due to the 6,300 online protests sent to Israeli and Chinese officials. Meanwhile, as the number of grassroots protests and strikes by Chinese workers soars, Chinese authorities have begun a crackdown on workers’ rights activists in Guangdong province. More than 25 people from at least four labour organizations have been taken away and questioned by the police. At least seven…

  • China,  Employment Rights,  Israel

    Israel/China: Stop governments’ deal to import bonded workers

    Cross-posted from LabourStart Join with Israeli and Hong Kong Workers’ Unions and Human Rights Organizations in their call to end a deal between the Israeli and Chinese Governments that will put migrant workers in a dangerously disadvantaged position. The deal, as it stands, will allow Israel to recruit 20,000 Chinese construction workers via private recruitment agencies. In order to pay the exorbitant commissions charged by these agencies, Chinese workers will have to commit to massive loans before entering the country, making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abusive employment practices, without protection under Israeli labor law. This call to end the Israeli-Chinese deal comes as a response to the Israeli…

  • Employment Rights,  Football,  Media

    Qatar PR fail

    BBC reporter Mark Lobel was invited to Qatar to report on brand new showcase accommodations for foreign workers laboring on construction projects for the 2022 World Cup. However when Lobel and his crew ventured off on their own to cover some of the still-disgraceful living and working conditions for foreign workers, they were arrested and thrown into jail without charges for two days. Fifa says it is now investigating what happened to us. It has issued the following statement: “Any instance relating to an apparent restriction of press freedom is of concern to Fifa and will be looked into with the seriousness it deserves.” Uh-huh. Yeah. No doubt. This and…

  • Employment Rights,  Iran,  Trade Unions

    The fiery speech by a female Iranian teacher protesting for better pay

    Cross-posted from Potkin Azarmehr at For a democratic secular Iran This footage was sent to me by one of the teachers taking part in the widespread strike by the Iranian teachers. They are demanding better pay and conditions. The video shows a fiery speech made by a female teacher. See the translation below: “Most of the martyrs in the war were from our ranks, the teachers and pupils, so we have paid our fair share for this revolution, but sadly we have received the least just rewards for our sacrifices, during these days of strike, I read things that saddened me, I want to address the Friday Prayer leaders who…

  • Books,  Economy,  Employment Rights,  Stateside

    Thomas Piketty on inequality

    Huffington Post reports: The number-one book on Amazon.com isn’t a guide to green juice or an erotic romance novel. No, the top seller on Amazon right now is a 700-page book, translated from French, about rising inequality and the state of modern capitalism. In what may be a hint of widespread anxiety about the foundations of the U.S. economy, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which is currently sold out on Amazon, is beating books like the science fiction mega-hit “Divergent” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Goldfinch.” Also in the top five on Amazon is Michael Lewis’s latest, “Flash Boys,” about high-frequency trading on Wall Street. Have any of…

  • Employment Rights,  Women's Rights

    Do women prefer job flexibility to equal pay?

    According to Terri Lynn Land, the likely Republican candidate for US Senate from Michigan in 2014, working women prefer job flexibility to equal pay with men. I would argue that women and men are entitled to equal job flexibility and equal pay. I’m not sure why anyone should have to choose one over the other. But Land seems to think exchanging pay for flexibility is a reasonable tradeoff for women. Update: Laura Clawson at Daily Kos Labor writes: It must be nice living in whatever dimension Land is describing, but here in the real world, it almost sounds like she’s explaining that one way women are disadvantaged in the economy—the…

  • Employment Rights

    A living wage instead of tips

    Here’s a revolutionary idea for bars and restaurants: ban tipping and instead pay your staff a living wage. As one (of many, I suspect) uncomfortable with the whole notion of tipping , I would much prefer to eat or drink at such places. Why should someone’s ability to make a living depend on the chance generosity of customers? The [US] minimum wage for those who earn gratuities is just $2.13 an hour, and while restaurant owners are supposed to make up the difference if tips don’t bring their wages to the $7.25 minimum wage everyone else works for, many of them don’t. Meanwhile, a new survey from vouchercloud found that…

  • Employment Rights

    Walmart’s war on Thanksgiving

    While Sarah Palin publishes another screed about the dreaded (and imaginary) secular war on Christmas and Christianity (you can listen to her read some lovely passages from the book here), Walmart is conducting a real assault on another cherished American family holiday– Thanksgiving. It’s the latest development in a trend in American retailing– pushing back the beginning of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving and the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season. There was a time not long ago when the stores, after closing for Thanksgiving, opened at a reasonable hour on Friday morning. More recently, some of the bigger retailers decided to open at midnight after Thanksgiving. Now…