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
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
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.
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
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
[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
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
Paging through the salary listings for top labor leaders reminded me of an idea that Liza Featherstone and I came up with a while back: tie their pay to performance. It’s a scandal that these characters, who’ve presided over years of shrinkage in membership and political power, are nonetheless paid well into the six figures (putting them securely in the 1%, in other words). To take one egregious example, the president of the Laborers Union is paid almost $600,000 even though membership is down almost 30% over the last decade. So why… Read More
Follow-up to yesterday’s post on the Wisconsin recall (“Walker’s victory, un-sugar-coated”). I’ve been amazed at some of the tendentious misreadings of the piece that have made the rounds, mainly from left labor people. My favorite is that I just wasn’t aware of all the door-knocking and retail campaigning that union forces were doing over the last few months. Two points about that. One, months isn’t enough. I’m talking about years of education, organization, occupying. Face-to-face talk, direct action, all manner of things. And two, all that actually existing door-knocking was subsumed to… Read More
Democrats and labor types are coming up with a lot of excuses for Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin. Not all are worthless. But the excuse-making impulse should be beaten down with heavy sticks. Yes, money mattered. Enormous amounts of cash poured in, mainly from right-wing tycoons, to support Walker’s effort to snuff public employee unions. While these sorts of tycoons—outside the Wall Street/Fortune 500 establishment—have long been the funding base for right-wing politics, they seem to have grown in wealth, number, consciousness, and mobilization since their days funding the John Birch Society… Read More
Just posted to my radio archive: August 27, 2011 Mark Brenner, director of Labor Notes, reflects on the state of labor as Labor Day approaches • Alexander Cockburn, occasional Nation columnist and co-editor of Counterpunch, on the media and the media criticism racket
A Gallup/USA Today national poll also shows strong support for collective bargaining rights for public sector workers: 61% of respondents would oppose a law in their state similar to the one proposed by Gov. Walker. Who knew?
Ok, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is a Democratic firm, and they did the poll for the AFL-CIO, but still, they’re reputable and smart and their findings are a pleasant surprise: 41% of Wisconsin voters approve of Gov. Scott Walker, and 51% disapprove, a gap of –10. Strongly approve less strongly disapprove is even worse for Walker, at –12. Walker’s net favorable of –10 is exactly reversed for the legislature’s Dems, who are 10 points in the positive column. Unions are even better liked: 53% favorable, 31% unfavorable, for a net of +22. The Tea… Read More
This just in from the right-wing PR machine (quirky capitalization and word breaks in original): “President Obama has done more favors, more often, for organized labor than any other president, outpacing even FDR and Harry Truman in the lightning speed with which he has rushed to fulfill the union agenda. Calling Obama pro-union is putting it mildly.” Fred Barnes starts off his latest article in the weekly standard with that scorching comment. Despite not being able to convince Congress to rob workers of their right to a secret ballot, Obama continues to force… Read More