Smaller strikes also in decline

Several readers responded to the recent post on strikes by asking if the BLS stats, which cover stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers, are missing smaller-scale actions. (And I should say that I’m being imprecise by calling all stoppages “strikes,” since the figures also include lockouts.) Alas, no. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service publishes data on all work stoppages, regardless of the number of workers involved. The numbers from 1984 through 2016 are graphed below. Smaller strikes peaked at 1,142 in 1985, which looks big by recent standards. If the trajectory… Read More

The disappearing strike

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released this morning, last year saw the second-smallest number of major strikes in recorded history: seven. This is close to the record low set in 2009, five—in the depths of the Great Recession, when the unemployment rate was approaching 10%. Last year’s average unemployment rate was less than half that, 4.3%. Here’s the grim history of the decline of labor’s most powerful weapon in two graphs: The number of days of “idleness”—a curiously moralizing word for an instrument of class struggle—wasn’t as close to a… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): December 7, 2017 Jane McAlevey on power, strange alliances, and serious threats to workers • Jane McAlevey and Liza Featherstone on sexual harassment, capitalism, and power

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Just added to my radio archive: May 25, 2017 James Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, on the U.S. origins of Nazi race law • Alex Gourevitch, contributor to this Boston Review roundtable, on strikes and their challenge to bourgeois law

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Just posted to my radio archive: March 30, 2017 Jodi Dean on why the temptations of populism should be resisted • Jane McAlevey, author of No Shortcuts, on real organizing, not fake organizing

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Just added to my radio archive: January 21, 2016 Adolph Reed on reparations to black Americans (a reaction to this Ta-Nehisi Coates piece; Reed’s 2000 piece on reparations is here) •  Steffie Woolhandler of Physicians for a National Health Program on single-payer, Sanders, and Clinton Inc.’s lies January 14, 2016 Isabel Hilton on the Chinese financial melodrama • Chris Maisano (author of this article) on legal challenges to public sector unions January 7, 2016 Jason Williams reports from Oregon on the rancher occupation • Toby Jones on Saudi Arabia  

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Finally, after an unpardonable delay, four shows freshly uploaded to my radio archive: August 13, 2015 William Darity on discrimination, a job guarantee, and baby bonds • R.L. Stephens II, founding editor of Orchestrated Pulse and author of this essay, talks about Black Lives Matter and the creation of a leadership class August 6, 2015 [vacation encore] Ian Bone, author of Bash the Rich, on anarchism (first broadcast March 2007) • Bethany Moreton, author of To Serve God and Wal-Mart, on Christian free enterprise and the Behemoth of Bentonville July 23, 2015 James Galbraith and Leo Panitch (the article that launched a thousand righteous polemics) on Greece July… Read More

Union density erodes again—and why bosses hate unions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is just out with its figures on union membership in 2014. Overall membership, aka density, fell to 11.1% of the workforce, from 11.3% in 2013. The decline was more than entirely the result of slippage in the private sector, down from 6.7% to 6.6%. Public sector density, perhaps surprisingly, rose, from 35.3% to 35.7%. Since private sector employment is more than five times that of the public sector, the private sector decline dominated the public sector’s rise, producing the overall drop. Here’s a graph of union density… Read More

Fresh audio content

Freshly, though belatedly (sorry!), added to my radio archives: April 24, 2014 Heidi Shierholz on the plight of young adults in the job market • Kshama Sawant, socialist member of the Seattle city council, talks about a $15 minimum wage and how to make revolutionary politics practical April 17, 2014 Trudy Lieberman on how much you’ll have to pay for health care even if you’re insured • Priamvada Gopal on the fascist threat in India April 10, 2014 Keith Gessen on Ukraine and Russia (article here) • Martin Gilens on how the rich rule and the people have no say (paper here) April 3,… Read More

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Just posted to my radio archives: March 20, 2014 Anatol Lieven on Ukraine • Micah Uetricht, author of Strike for America, on the Chicago Teachers Union

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Just posted to my radio archives: December 19, 2013 Sam Gindin, former advisor to the Canadian Auto Workers Union, on why unions need a left • Christy Thornton, grad student organizer at NYU, on unions and the corporate university There was no December 12 show because KPFA was fundraising. The December 26 show is a rerun because of the holidays.    

Some unions complain about Obamacare, discreetly

A friend of LBO’s sent this along—a letter from three unions to the Democratic Congressional leadership complaining about Obamacare. It was not meant to be public, though it got leaked and is making the rounds—though not vigorously enough. In an effort to speed up the circulation, I’m posting it here. The unions are worried that their multiemployer plans are going to take a hit, a fact that the Obama administration seems not to care about despite all that unions did for them, and that employers are going to cut back on full-time… Read More

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Just uploaded to my radio archives: March 28, 2013 Terry Kupers on the psychological effects of prison • Haley Sweetland Edwards, author of this article, how Wall Street took over Dodd-Frank March 21, 2013 Yanis Varoufakis on the economies of Australia, Cyprus, and Greece • Jonathan Westin of Fast Food Forward on organizing fast food workers in NYC  

Sam Gindin on the crisis in labor

[This is a lightly edited transcript of my interview with Sam Gindin, first broadcast on June 14, 2012. The audio is here. Thanks a million to Andrew Loewen for doing the transcription.] My next guest is the excellent Sam Gindin. Sam is an economist who spent more than 20 years in the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union, first as a researcher and then as an adviser to the president. He retired from the CAW in 2000 and has since been teaching in the wonderful political science department at York University, Toronto. He… Read More

Sam Gindin comments…

The excellent Sam Gindin, who spent many years with the Canadian Auto Workers as an economist/advisor (and who cannot be dismissed as some armchair pointy-head), writes in response to my recent stuff on Wisconsin: Very good response; I think you are right on re labour. The one thing I’d add, and I think it is very significant, is that this crisis in labour overlaps with the crisis on the left.  I’m convinced that any renewal in labour won’t happen until there is an organized left with feet inside and outside labour—and even… Read More