• Israel,  Trade Unions

    Martin Luther King on labor and Israel

    Re-upping this post from 15 years ago: On the day marking what would have been his 75th birthday. Speaking to the 1961 convention of the AFL-CIO: Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires, and few Negro employers. Our needs are identical with labor’s needs — decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets…

  • Trade Unions

    Why are non-Unite members receiving campaign emails?

    I was surprised yesterday to receive an email informing me that: You are receiving this email as a member of Unite the Union. It invited me to unsuscribe from future emails from Gerard Coyne. Looking back, I now see that I received an earlier email from the Coyne campaign on 20 March. It begins: Your union should focus on the day job – protecting you at work and fighting for better pay and conditions for our members. But Len McCluskey has been obsessed with playing Westminster politics. That’s why he gave £225,000 of your money to Jeremy Corbyn to get him elected as Labour leader. Now this weekend we have learned…

  • 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…

  • History,  Stateside,  Trade Unions

    The Mine Wars

    If you’ve been at all interested by my posts about Mother Jones and the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain (the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War), you may want to take a couple of hours to watch this PBS documentary about the coal miners’ struggle to unionize in southern West Virginia during the early 20th century. One of the featured historians is my old friend from St. Louis Rosemary Feurer, a professor of labor history at Northern Illinois University. Unfortunately it seems unavailable for viewing outside the US, unless you can use a workaround like VPN.

  • Economy,  Income Inequality,  Stateside,  Trade Unions,  Vote 2016

    A gap “as obvious as a lost front tooth”

    A lot of the support for Republican “outsider” candidates for president comes from working people who are rightly angry that while the economy has improved steadily since the depths of the 2008-2009 Great Recession, and millions of new jobs have been created, they are not feeling significantly more secure or prosperous. Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (one of whom now appears likely to be the Republican candidate for president in 2016) have benefited from this anger. But, as Ed Kilgore notes, there is a huge gap in their assessment of the blame for this problem. Even where these candidates oppose a “business community” agenda item, their opposition is not…

  • Trade Unions

    The Tories’ Trade Union Turn

    This is a cross-post by Phil BC As audacious tank-parking goes, the Conservatives’ announcement that they’re (re)launching their own trade union movement is right up there. It has certainly raised eyebrows across the political spectrum. There will activists across the spectrum who looked up and saw question marks materialise above their heads. Haven’t the Tories proven themselves consistently anti-trade union? Aren’t they about to saddle the labour movement with the most restrictive strike laws of any advanced Western nation? And do they not fulminate at the thought of workers banding together to improve their lot in the workplace? Isn’t it, at best, just a stunt and, at worse, an exercise to burn…

  • Stateside,  Trade Unions,  Vote 2016

    Scott Walker: leading by quitting

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, after dropping to somewhere around 0 percent in the polls, has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately,” Walker said at a news conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Apparently that means making it easier for someone else (presumably Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio) to defeat Donald Trump. Walker, once considered one of the front-runners for the GOP nomination, fell in the…

  • Trade Unions

    ‘Small government’ advocates seek to ban the right to strike.

    This is a cross-post from Futile Democracy A great test of consistency for those of us who believe in the fundamental right to express offensive ideas was presented this week, when a man wandered Parliament Square in the centre of London wrapped in an Islamic State flag. Liberals became conflicted; should he be arrested for that or not? It isn’t just Islam that is in the midst of soul searching due to the rise of Islamism, liberals across the World are struggling with what it is they stand for also. A further test of that is happening today; As with rights that cause inner conflict when applied to those we…

  • East Asia,  Stateside,  Trade Unions

    The difference between democratic socialists and other socialists

    Democratic socialists like Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talk like this: Near the end of [an] interview, CNBC’s John Harwood asked Sanders to respond to President Obama’s criticisms of lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), his chief critic from the left on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. “[President Obama] says it’s the most progressive one that’s ever been negotiated,” Harwood said. “Yeah, like what?” Sanders shot back. “The minimum wage in Vietnam is 56 cents an hour,” the senator continued. “Workers there cannot form independent unions. And if you protest government policy, you might end up in trouble. OK?” “What does this trade agreement have to say about…