Apr 032014
 
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BY ANNIE-ROSE STRASSER
The pitiful condition of labor in the US allows for all manner of abuses by employers. Business —in cahoots with the government—has won this round, for the time being. 

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CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JULIO CORTEZ

Two hundred fifty employees of the United Parcel Service (UPS) walked off the job for 90 minutes in February to protest the firing of one of their coworkers, Jairo Reyes. Reyes had driven for the company for over 20 years, and they felt his firing (which occurred after a complicated saga over the hours that senior UPS workers could hold) was unfair. Continue reading »

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Mar 282014
 
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 PERRY MILLER

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There are no less than six books on the Gastonia Loray Mill strike of 1929. There are scores of papers, hundreds of opinions and a common conception that although the strike itself was a failure, it led to better working conditions for many workers that followed. Not one that I have read reveals the current condition of Gastonia and surrounding towns like Bessemer City that were the battleground between a homegrown communal left and a despicable capitalist ownership that finally broke the back of the workers in the strikes of 1927-1929. I write this fully aware that my maternal extended family is from Gastonia and many live there or in Bessemer City currently. Their stories are somewhat separate from the mills but really no one was unaffected by the “Mill Hill” and its battle to survive. Much of my youth was filled with stories of how the town resisted the Yankees and the mill overlords. The oral history passed down to me from grandparents and parents and uncles and aunts are rich with scenes of the common man resisting authority, whatever form it took.  Continue reading »

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Jan 202014
 
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Editor’s Note: We present here an splendid analysis of the situation of labor worldwide by the editors of Monthly Review, the unofficial university for people’s economists around the globe. Please be sure to read the Appendix’s Notes by the same editors as it situates the main piece in the larger context. —PG

The Plight of the U.S. Working Class

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By Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review

Modern capitalism, sociologist Max Weber famously observed early in the twentieth century, is based on “the rational capitalistic organization of (formally) free labor.” But the “rationality” of the system in this sphere, as Weber also acknowledged, was so restrictive as to be in reality “irrational.” Despite its formal freedom, labor under capitalism wassubstantively unfree.1 Continue reading »

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Jan 132014
 
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“The goal has been to create a borderless world for goods and finance while building fences with razor wire to keep workers in place.”

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By Rowan Wolf, Cyrano’s Journal Today

On January 3, 2014, the machinists union at Boeing voted to approve a new contract that undercuts many long fought for benefits. It was hardly a resounding “win” as the contract only squeaked through with 51% of the vote. Essentially the same (bad) deal had been voted down by the union in the fall ((Note. The Union comparison of the two contracts can be found at http://www.iam751.org/pages/t2013/Comparison_latest_offer.pdf.)). However, the national union pushed through a new vote over the objections of local leaders ((Note. “Local officials of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers had urged their 30,000 members to oppose the deal, arguing that the proposal surrendered too much at a time of company profitability. They had opposed taking a vote at all but were overruled by national leaders in the Machinists union.”)). Some might think that Boeing’s offer of bonuses for passing the contract are telling. Boeing originally offered a $10,000 bonus to be paid in 2016, and added an additional $5000 to be paid in 2020 (Jones, WSWS 1/4/13). Unfortunately, you have to still be working for Boeing at the time those bonuses are paid. While, it is assumed that those who voted for the contract were voting for job security over hard won benefits, the contract language is reportedly quite vague on those matters – particularly when it comes to construction of the new composite wings on the 777X. Continue reading »

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 Posted by at 11:51 am
Oct 112013
 
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By Rodolfo F. Acuña 

“The consciousness of a worker is not a curve that rises and falls with wages and prices; it is the accumulation of a lifetime of experience and socialization, inherited traditions, struggles successful and defeated . . . It is this weighty baggage that goes into the making of a worker’s consciousness and provides the basis for his behavior when conditions ripen . . . and the moment comes.”– E. P. Thompson Continue reading »

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