Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30 Week In Review

Week In Review
September 30, 2012
by Bill Onasch

Missing In Action
Today’s papers report the bloody milestone of two thousand GI fatalities in Afghanistan–the majority coming on the watch of the President who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize soon after his election. In addition to ten thousand Afghan “friendlys,” more than a thousand NATO allied troops, including 433 from Britain and 158 from Canada, have also perished since the invasion/occupation began eleven years ago. It’s estimated at least ten times that number of other Afghans and Pakistanis–many noncombatants–have been killed by NATO forces.

But there are not only MIAs in Afghanistan. Also missing in action is any substantial debate, much less protest, on the home front about this longest war in American history. The “Peace Democrats” so vocal when it was “Bush’s War” mostly have laryngitis. The traditional peace & justice groups take care not to give aid and comfort to the enemy–the Republicans.

The United National Antiwar Coalition–who played a prominent role in the antiwar protests at the NATO Summit in Chicago in May–is promoting local demonstrations around the eleventh anniversary of the invasion next weekend that includes the demand of Out Now. If there’s one in your area I urge you to show your support.

‘There’s Something Happening Here’
That line from a 1968 Stills song was chosen by Steven Ashby as the title for a perceptive opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune. Ashby is a University of Illinois professor of labor relations I have encountered in non-academic settings over a good many years. He is co-author of an excellent book, The Staley Workers and the Fight for a New American Labor Movement and spoke about the lessons of the Decatur struggle at a 2009 conference in Kansas City sponsored by the website in partnership with Labor Notes Troublemakers Schools. What he writes is usually worth reading and this piece is no exception.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23 Week In Review

Week In Review
September 23, 2012
by Bill Onasch

Why Are White Drop-Outs Dying Faster?
Sabrina Tavernise opened a New York Times paywall-protected article entitled Life Expectancy Shrinks for Less-Educated Whites in U.S.,

“For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.”

While women of all class and demographic groups have historically outlived men these new peer reviewed studies establish that the average life span of under-educated white women has dropped fastest of all–a full five years between 1990-2008.

Tavernise notes,

“The five-year decline for white women rivals the catastrophic seven-year drop for Russian men in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, said Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in London.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

More clashes in South Africa mining
SAfrica military forces to assist in mine strikes

Police kill councillor in miners crackdown

South Africa gold strike spreads

4-Year Deals for Unions at Verizon
Verizon Workers Queasy at Deal

CAW, GM reach tentative deal

CAW strikes deal with GM

Auto talks shift to Chrysler

7 Days that Shook Chicago: The 2012 Chicago Teachers Strike

Union, Southwest ask US to mediate stalled talks

Workers vote against joining union at Coca-Cola in Fort Worth

Students join union workers to SLAM NYU trustee

UE's Chris Townsend Takes On Author of Anti-Union Book

AT&T offers $100,000 reward in worker’s death

Slide in household incomes continues, census figures confirm

Wal-Mart Holds Secretive ‘Workerwashing’ Meeting in DC with Labor Advocates

'Planetary Emergency': New Data Elevates Climate Change Alarm

Arctic sea ice thaw may be accelerated by oil, shipping
Quebec student associations cheer PQ tuition freeze
Reversing Trend, Life Span Shrinks for Some Whites
48.6 Million Americans Lacked Health Insurance in 2011

Obama More Flexible on Medicare Privatization Than Rhetoric Suggests

Labor Strife Threatens American Airlines Schedule

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicago Teacher Win A Victory For All

Chicago Teacher Win A Victory For All
by Bill Onasch
September 19, 2012

An Inspiring Rare Win For Our Side
The tentative agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will not be final until it has been considered and ratified by the more than 26,000 CTU members. In a union rebuilt around the principle of jealously guarded rank-and-file control, this is no mere formality. But the approval of the 800-member House of Delegates, representing every school in the system, by a 98-2 margin, indicates the likelihood of overwhelming membership endorsement of the deal brought back to them by their negotiators.

And well they should. This is the biggest and most inspiring union victory since the 1997 UPS Teamsters strike. It clearly demonstrates the resilience of unions said to be dying and proves the obituaries of the traditional strike tactic to be bogus as well. At the same time however, it reminds us of the limitations of what even the best led unions can accomplish through collective bargaining alone today and implicitly poses the need for a labor party to be built by resurgent working class fighters–in unions or out.

The CTU deserves not only our praise but emulation. While their experience cannot be exactly and immediately replicated in every union much of what enabled them to prevail against long odds is universally relevant for worker struggles. I won’t attempt a comprehensive analysis here but I want to outline several factors that I see as enabling the CTU breakthrough.

Understanding Class
The CTU leadership departed from the prevailing strategy of class collaboration, “partnership” with the employer, pursued by officials of most mainstream unions. They not only correctly viewed the Mayor and unelected Board of Education as adversaries, not partners; they also understand that the national ruling class sees public education as a long neglected opportunity for expanded private profit. This national attack is coordinated by the Obama administration through Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former CEO of CPS. The Race to the Top scam has not only facilitated expansion of public funded Charter schools. It has also been a bonanza for companies doing the mandated testing, publishers of outrageously priced text books, capital expenditures for computers, buildings, buses, etc. Along the way, Obama and Duncan have not hesitated to smash teacher union resistance to these “reforms,” including the temporary firing of every public school teacher at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.

Confronting Race
The CTU has not hesitated to expose the impact of social conditions in the Urban Core abandoned by white flight on learning. They fault CPS management for their neglect of the worst schools in the poorest neighborhoods of color. A sample of their outlook was presented by CTU president Karen Lewis in an excellent interview Race, Class at Center of Education Debate. This honest, proactive approach facilitated winning allies within the community, including Rev Jesse Jackson.

Union Democracy
The CTU has a turbulent history of regime changes. The present one has proven to be legitimately committed to promised democratic functioning. All of their strategy was discussed, modified and decided with near consensus before negotiations began. The bosses knew the union bargaining team had solid backing from the members–crucial to any successful outcome. When the central leadership, with the best of intentions, sought to expedite the end of the strike the House of Delegates politely, but firmly said we need more time. After a couple of days consulting with members in every school, the Delegates gave their near unanimous consent.

Battling For Public Opinion
Many union officials, thinking private meetings with the bosses get things done, avoid publicity. That’s not the CTU leaders style and the impact of their strike meant they were going to be the lead news story of the day, like it or not. The spokespersons for the union did an exemplary job in getting their message out in the media to compete with the CPS lies and distortions. Early polls showed far more supported the union rather than the Mayor.

The picket lines at every school, and in front of CPS headquarters were not glum, token gestures. Teachers that hadn’t done much chanting or singing since college football games found their voice and also engaged the public at these lively actions. In addition, there were at least three mass rallies involving thousands. The strike showed a sympathetic human face,.

Labor Support
While the strike ran counter to what most unions do these days, support among union ranks was strong and most officials gave at least lip service well wishes. Some, such as National Nurses United, SEIU, and ATU demonstrated enthusiastic substantial solidarity. Even the tiny National Writers Union, a UAW affiliate to which I belong, did what they could do to help with their very meager resources

What the CTU Didn’t and Couldn’t Win
When you look at a comparison of what the bosses initially seriously sought to what’s in the Tentative Agreement, the achievements of this short strike are impressive. When you consider the present collective bargaining climate–especially in the public sector–where the norm is wage and benefit cuts, along with gutting of working conditions, it is in fact remarkable.

Nevertheless, the union negotiators acknowledge that while they got the best deal they think they can presently obtain it falls short of many of the goals of the union’s program for revitalizing public education. They are faced with the brutal reality that laws passed by labor’s perfidious “friends” severely restrict bargaining for so-called “non-economic” issues. They can’t even mandate class size or demand air conditioning in sweltering school buildings–much less more far reaching needed changes in public education or redirection of funding to support them.

This is another specific example of how even organized workers cannot rely on collective bargaining alone. As long as the ruling class maintains a monopoly of all things political we’re SOL on some of our most vital issues.. I urge the CTU leadership to follow the logic of their class perspective by lending the prestige they have earned by calling for the revival of the movement for a Labor Party.

In any case, I join in saluting the 26,000+ working class heros of AFT Local 1–the Chicago Teachers Union.


September 19 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

Chicago teachers vote to return to classroom
How Key Chicago Teacher Contract Disputes Were Resolved

Chicago teachers suspend strike
Teachers End Chicago Strike on Second Try

CAW keeps talking to GM, Chrysler as they review Ford labor deal

CAW contract better for Ford than pact with UAW

CAW optimistic about talks with GM

Boeing union urges members to reject labor contract

Fire at Mexico Pemex gas facility kills 26
Striking SA miners sign deal to end 5-week strike
Maritime Labor Alliance Formed with Oct. 1 Dock Strike Looming

Casino Organizing Puts Union’s ‘Las Vegas Standard’ to the Test
TTC to stop for 1 minute to honour worker killed on job

Australian 'mega mine' plan threatens global emissions target
Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years
NFL’s issue is in black and white

Race Is On as Ice Melt Reveals Arctic Treasures

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17 Week In Review

Week In Review
September 17, 2012
by Bill Onasch

I delayed the WIR until today awaiting the outcome of the Chicago Teachers House of Delegates first look at an outline of a possible agreement that could end their strike. But, as a glance at today’s News Update on the Labor Advocate Blog demonstrates, there were also lots of other labor and environmental stories breaking over the weekend. I’ll touch on a few of them. Meanwhile, our efforts to get our updates on the site once again continue while this WIR appears on our Blog, is sent out to our Yahoo mailing list, and is usually cross-posted by our friends at Labor Standard.

Off the Job Education
It’s not easy keep up with a strike in progress in the limitations of a weekly column. By the time this WIR is uploaded there may already be dramatic new developments. Over the years I have had some personal experience in contract negotiations that have sometimes led to strikes. Like war, truth is often an early victim in such struggles as both boss propaganda and rumors from various sources, pernicious or naive, gnaw away at early striker enthusiasm. If neglected, this inevitable challenge can lead to everything going sideways fast.

In my opinion, the Chicago teachers’ strike is proving to be the most important and inspiring major walk-out since the 1997 UPS strike victory. I say this not just because of the scale of the action, and the precedent it may set for other teacher contract battles. The most impressive thing about the strike so far is the way the leadership prepared the members who elected them well in advance and have, with needed tactical flexibility, stuck to a sound strategy.

September 17 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

A Big News Weekend:

House of Delegates Votes to Continue Strike
Chicago teachers union to continue strike

Chicago teachers to continue strike
Teachers Union in Chicago to Extend Strike Into 2nd Week
Chicago teachers rally after tentative labor deal

Thousands Attend Rally for Chicago Teachers as Union Nears Contract

Auto talks making no progress as strike deadline looms

CAW preps for possible strike

Detroit 3 review CAW wage proposal as strike deadline looms

CAW picks Ford as target; Chrysler 'very concerned' about choice

Detroit Three seeking concessions at auto talks

Hostess Narrowly Wins Teamsters Support for New Deal

Bakers reject Hostess restructuring plan

Spain and Portugal see big anti-austerity rallies

Thousands Protest Austerity Measures in Spain and Portugal

Public sector workers protest cuts across Canada

Pakistan Fires Echo 1911 Triangle Factory Fire—But Will They Spur Similar Change?

Canada won't oppose asbestos limits
Protesters occupy Vancouver coast guard station

No criminal charges against Vale angers union head

SA police raid Marikana hostels

Teachers step up pension campaign

Twitter surrenders activist's tweets
Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded
Japan plans to end reliance on nuclear power within 30 years
Judge Strikes Down Restrictions on Public Unions in Wisconsin Law
Piggly Wiggly Midwest reaches agreement with union workers

Coca-Cola fighting union battle in Fort Worth

Deadline expires, NHL triggers lockout

Hundreds attend DTES women's march

In Prosecutors, Debt Collectors Find a Partner
1 year on, Occupy is in disarray; spirit lives on

BC Transit Strike Vote

Federal Tories and NDP tied for support, Nanos poll says

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

CPS deal up in air as talks extend into early morning
Polls Show Chicago’s Parents Back Teachers

CTU President Karen Lewis: ‘Students Suffer in Low-Performing Charter Schools’

Strong Local Support—And National Labor Allies—Lend Chicago Teachers Clout

Striking Chicago Teachers: Kids Are More than a Test Score
Chicago teachers' strike nears end as City Hall and union close on deal

Fresh Hopes for End to Chicago Teacher Strike by Weekend

Walmart supplier workers strike

Greek unions call anti-austerity strike for September 26

KC labor union files lawsuit to block Mo. contraceptive bill

AT&T Mobility reaches agreement with CWA over employee benefits

Save Mart has agreements with unions; other grocery chains still seek contracts

Germans Fear Poverty Even After Life of Work

Big Ag Directly Funded Anti-Organics Stanford Study: Report

Environmentalist Bill McKibben on Keeping a Strong Focus on Climate Change

CAW to accept lower starting wage

TTC worker killed in subway accident

Fed launches bond-buying stimulus to spur growth
Arctic sea ice melt 'may bring harsh winter to Europe'

European governments hope taxing the Vatican can be their saving grace

Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign
Anger Rolls Across Pakistani City in Aftermath of Factory Fire
Though Not Yet Open, a Huge Mine Is Transforming Mongolia’s Landscape

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

Janitors plan one-day solidarity strike for teachers
In Chicago, striking teachers draw support from parents

Chicago Teachers Push Back Against Neoliberal Education Reform

Other unions show support for teachers

Charter Schools Stay Open During Strike, But Solidarity Lurks Inside

How Chicago Teachers Reached the Boiling Point
No end in sight for Chicago strike

Push to Add Charter Schools Hangs Over Strike

Studies: Wind potentially could power the world

S.Africa may halt shale gas work if it pollutes water: minister
Liberia forests sold off in secret logging contracts: report
Charges reveal a new strategy against illegal immigration

France steers careful path to labor reform

Union's board ratifies Save Mart contract

Portugal Labor Unions Plan Strikes Against Austerity Measures

Cornerstone's Embassy Suites Irvine Workers on Strike

CAW strike would halt key vehicle production

Sickened South African Mine Workers Seek Justice in Courts

Catholic school board workers vote to continue strike

Pussy Riot should be freed – PM

What's behind the NFL ref lockout?

U.S. Income Gap Rose, Sign of Uneven Recovery

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 News Update

Each Monday-Friday, by 9AM Central, we’ll post links to news stories and analytical articles of interest to working people. Sometimes they will be accompanied by editorial commentary. Stories from the New York Times will be followed with a *. The Times pay wall policy allows free access to only about ten articles a month.

Why We're Striking in Chicago
CTU Website

Chicago teachers draw a line

Paul Ryan on Chicago teachers strike: ‘We stand with Rahm Emanuel’

Chicago Teachers Strike for Fair Contract (But Really for Better Schools)

4 Reasons Chicago’s Teachers Are On Strike

National Nurses United Supports Chicago Teachers

Behind the Chicago Teachers Strike
In Standoff, Latest Sign of Unions Under Siege
Teachers’ Strike in Chicago Tests Mayor and Union

Another day of protests in Marikana

SAfrica Labor Unrest Spreads; 36,000 Miners Strike

Deadline looms for striking S Africa miners

Climate Change Pays a Visit to the Caribbean, and Coral Reefs Suffer

In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record
Automakers prep for CAW stalemate
Revamped Flat Rock plant prepares for Fusion

Dems on Labor: Warm, But Fuzzy

Menorah Medical Center Contract Win

Victory for TX Nurses

St. John's Airport workers on strike
Wage freeze legislation for Ontario teachers to pass today
Global carbon trading system has 'essentially collapsed'
Ecuadoreans Close Ranks in Assange Standoff
Occupy Hong Kong Protesters Forcibly Removed
China Plant Again Faces Labor Issue on iPhones
Mexico: Leftist Politician Leaves Party
Foul Smell Reported Across Southern California