April 30, 2005
May Day Preparations
Here are a few websites with information about May Day:
May Day is not just about the arrival of spring. It is also 1880s workers demanding humane treatment; it is men and women around the world marching in solidarity against the factory owners who would have them work all day, every day but Sunday; it is anarchists, socialists, and leftists of every kind working together within the labor movement. This association of May Day with radicalism is ultimately what led to it being downplayed in contemporary accounts, while Labor Day remains as a state-sanctioned holiday.
May Day is designated International Workers Day. It is indeed a thoroughly international holiday; and the United States is one of the few countries in the world where pressure from local working classes has not led to an official holiday. In the 20th century, the holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union; celebrations in communist countries during the Cold War era often consisted of large military parades and shows of common people in support of the government.
May 1st, International Workers' Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the United States, Canada, and South Africa. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day.
In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.
The heart of the movement was in Chicago, organized primarily by the anarchist International Working People's Association. Businesses and the state were terrified by the increasingly revolutionary character of the movement and prepared accordingly. The police and militia were increased in size and received new and powerful weapons financed by local business leaders. Chicago's Commercial Club purchased a $2000 machine gun for the Illinois National Guard to be used against strikers. Nevertheless, by May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago clothing cutters, shoemakers, and packing-house workers. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality.
April 29, 2005
According to the press release, the recommendations include:
The officers’ recommendations include:
- Establishing a $22.5 million Strategic Organizing Fund with rebates for unions that meet tough organizing standards;
- Creating year-around, year-in and year-out member education and mobilization capacity around national, state and local political and legislative issues and increasing political program funding by approximately $7.5 million a year;
- Building stronger state and local labor organizations through improved planning and coordination, establishing performance standards and benchmarks, forming larger metropolitan, area and regional organizations and developing mechanisms for full funding and affiliation; and
- Increasing training and leadership development to ensure diversity at all levels of union movement leadership.
AFL-CIO Responds to Internal Criticism
Several news reports this morning about the AFL-CIO's response to the criticims it has faced from internal forces over the last several months.
Facing Dissent, Labor Chief Offers a Plan for Growth (by Steven Greenhouse, NYT)
Facing the most extensive internal dissent since he took labor's helm in 1995, Mr. Sweeney proposed more than 20 measures, among them creating a year-round political operation in all 50 states and enlisting two million nonunion workers in a new program aligning them with organized labor in political and legislative battles.
"The bottom line is to create a strong voice and a better future for working people," he said in a telephone news conference. "To do that, we have to build not just strong individual unions but a strong nationwide movement."
AFL-CIO President Proposes Shake-Up (by Nancy Cleeland, LAT)
The 26-page document released by Sweeney on Thursday, posted on the federation's website, would increase the federation's organizing fund by $10 million, to $22.5 million. About $15 million of that would be in dues rebates to national unions with strategic organizing plans. The majority of funding for organizing drives would still come from the unions themselves.
Sweeney also would add $7.5 million to political efforts, mainly educating union members about issues and mobilizing them to vote. That would still leave politics with nearly twice as much funding as organizing would receive. Critics would like to see the priorities reversed.
Labor Group Tries to Address Dissent (by Pete Yost, Newsday.com)
"We must increase the size of our membership ... or no other strategies to strengthen our movement will work," says the report entitled, "Winning for Working Families."
Investing at the 30 percent level would generate half-a-billion dollars a year in organizing funds at the national level, the report says.
The labor federation says it wants to target major employers with organizing drives including Wal-Mart, Comcast, Federal Express and Toyota.
The dissidents in the coalition with the Teamsters are the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the Laborers International Union and Unite Here, the union representing hotel and restaurant workers.
The leaders of those five unions said there are many unanswered questions about the AFL-CIO's plan and that organizing workers who are not yet in unions must be at the top of labor's agenda.
Labor Quote Quiz - Answer
Here is the answer to this week BigLabor.com's Labor Quote of the Week.
The organization of the working class as a class by means of the trade unions… is the very essential point, for this is the real class organization of the proletariat, in which it carries on its daily struggle with capital, in which it trains itself.
And the answer is:
Friedrich Engels; German Socialist, associate of Karl Marx; 1875
Thanks to BigLabor.com!
April 28, 2005
Worker Memorial Day
In case you forgot .... Today we celebrate Worker Memorial Day, "a day to pay tribute to those who have perished on the job and a day for safety and health stakeholders to recommit themselves to the mission of preventing all workplace fatalities in the future." Worker Memorial Day Honors Those Who Have Died on the Job (Occupational Hazards.com)
Here is the statement released today byJonathan L. Snare (Acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA):
"On this Worker Memorial Day we remember and pay tribute to those who have died in pursuit of their livelihoods. We honor their memories and rededicate ourselves to our purpose: to foster safer and more healthful workplaces for all workers in America.
"The dedicated men and women of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration pause to reflect on their mission and its meaning for the well-being of our Nation. Those who enforce workplace standards, together with those engaged in outreach and compliance assistance, and all of OSHA's myriad tasks, today renew their efforts to ensure that all American workers return safely each day to their homes and loved ones.
"We continue to move steadily towards this goal, as rates of injuries, illnesses and fatalities on the job decline in most industries and occupations. Yet, we cannot be satisfied until all workers and all workplaces share in this progress.
"Today, we remember those workers who have passed; but, we also renew our commitment to work hard every day to prevent workplace loss of life. We remain steadfast in our mission to bring every worker home safe and healthy every day — our nation's workers and their families deserve no less."
Do weight policies discriminate on the basis of age and sex? So claim two waitresses at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. According to news reports:
Trisha Hart and Renee Gaud -- two Borgata Babes, as the waitresses at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa are known -- filed their complaint with the state Division of Civil Rights. It was made public Wednesday.
Under the Borgata policy, the casino can fire waitresses who gain more than 7 percent of their body weight and cannot shed it during a three-month leave of absence.
It applies to about 160 women and 50 costumed male bartenders. The men must maintain "V-shaped torsos, broad shoulders and slim waists."
The policy already is the subject of another lawsuit and is being challenged by the cocktail servers' union.
Waitresses File Discrimination Complaint (by John Curran)
April 27, 2005
NBER Report on the Mexican-Born Workforce in the US
The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States by George J. Borjas, Lawrence F. Katz - #11281 (LS)
This paper examines the evolution of the Mexican-born workforce in the United States using data drawn from the decennial U.S. Census throughout the entire 20th century. It is well known that there has been a rapid rise in Mexican immigration to the United States in recent years. Interestingly, the share of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. workforce declined steadily beginning in the 1920s before beginning to rise in the 1960s. It was not until 1980 that the relative number of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. workforce was at the 1920 level. The paper examines the trends in the relative skills and economic performance of Mexican immigrants, and contrasts this evolution with that experienced by other immigrants arriving in the United States during the period. The paper also examines the costs and benefits of this influx by examining how the Mexican influx has altered economic opportunities in the most affected labor markets and by discussing how the relative prices of goods and services produced by Mexican immigrants may have changed over time.
Thanks to Joe Hodnicki, Law Librarian Blog, for the tip
NLRB faces criticism
In NLRB: helper or nemesis?, Jane M. Von Bergen of the Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the long standing criticisms of the NLRB, this time in the context of the attempts by various graduate students organizations to form labor unions.
According to Von Bergen:
With membership falling, union leaders want to encourage growth. Even as critics say the labor movement is outmoded, union leaders blame a political environment that they say is hostile to workers and unions.
Chief among the obstacles, they say, is the NLRB, an independent federal agency that resolves union issues. The president appoints all five members, three from his party and two from the opposition.
The board's critics say its rulings on union representation, strikes and labor practices have swung too far in favor of management and well beyond the shifts expected with changes in political power.
"We are seeing much more than the pendulum effect correcting the excesses of a Clinton board," said Jonathan Hiatt, general counsel of the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions representing 13 million workers.
Not really, said Robert J. Battista, the NLRB's chairman. Battista, who was appointed by President Bush, is a Republican who formerly practiced employment law on the management side in Detroit.
"If you are asking whether the board has gotten a political bias or an ideological bias, I'd say no," he said.
Most decisions favor workers, and those that do not, he said, are "reestablishing a long-standing precedent that we thought was improvidently overturned" during the Clinton era.
Because the National Labor Relations Act was created to promote and protect collective bargaining, NLRB cases tend to favor employees, Hiatt agreed. But 40 recent precedent-setting cases reveal a bias, he said.
"Why is it that in every one of these cases, they are coming out on the management side?" Hiatt asked. "Forget the unions. It's an anti-worker position."
The article quotes Professor Charlie Craver (GW) (Kudos!)
Labor Quote Quiz
"The organization of the working class as a class by means of the trade unions… is the very essential point, for this is the real class organization of the proletariat, in which it carries on its daily struggle with capital, in which it trains itself."
For the answer check back on Friday, or if you can wait, go to BigLabor.com.
John Bolton's Lessons for Managers
So, what managers could learn from John Bolton's nomination hearings to be US ambassador to the UN? Quite a lot according to Michelle Powell (a certified etiquette trainer and president and CEO of Huntsville-based Professional Manner LLC):
According to Ms. Powell:
"This may only be my opinion, but I don't believe that bosses have to humiliate, harass and berate subordinates to get them to comply. Nor do I think that yelling obscenities, name-calling, fist pounding and other expressions of grown-up tantrums (ha!) are an effective way to manage people.
Further, I believe it to be assault and abuse. I heard a woman say that she had to apologize to her boss for cutting up his apple and letting it brown before he could get to it. "My timing was off," she said. I think the boss was off.
If deplorable behavior such as chasing someone and throwing things is minimized on a national level with all eyes watching, what incentive is there for a corporate executive or a corner-store shop owner to treat his or her employees with dignity and respect? How much power do we give those in hierarchical positions and where do we draw the line on the double standards? Are the policies for misconduct in the employee handbooks only for the underlings?"
April 26, 2005
Unions' New Approach to WalMart
Unions are using the power of the blogosphere in their efforts to organize Wal-Mart workers. According to Timothy Spence (Hearst News Service):
The union organizing movement against Wal-Mart Stores has all the trappings of a grass-roots political campaign: a snappy Web site, volunteer action list, and an issues-based platform that focuses on wages, health care and retirement security.
If the unionizing campaign at the retail behemoth has a familiar ring, it may be because one of its leaders honed his skills in the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination.
Paul Blank was the national political director for Dean, whose strong showing early in the contest was credited to an Internet-based campaign that appealed to young voters and donors disillusioned by big-party politics....
Blank says the union has signed up more than 40,000 supporters on its anti-Wal-Mart Internet site in just a few weeks, although the UFCW is not using the Web to raise money. Those supporters include community activists concerned about Wal-Mart's impact on small businesses, environmentalists opposed to "big-box" stores and Wal-Mart workers who want better pay and benefits.
Some other recent news reports about Wal-Mart:
The retailing behemoth, whose $10 billion annual profits are based on low prices, low expenses and its relentless pace of store openings, announced it will shut the doors here May 6 after workers voted to make this the first unionized Wal-Mart in North America.
Wal-Mart Faces New Public Image Battle (by Frank Langfitt)
A new advocacy group has bought a full-page ad in Monday's editions of USA Today, criticizing America's largest retailer for destroying American jobs by purchasing most of its products from China. A watch group called Wal-Mart Watch launched the operation.
The New Pope and Labor
Media coverage of the new pope has tended to focus on hot-button issues like abortion, homosexuality and the marriage of priests. But what about the basic question of work?
Fuller answers this question as follows:
Theologians say Benedict XVI is likely to follow the traditions of his predecessors. The same church that is so often described as ultraconservative is actually quite leftist when it comes to work: Labor should always be given priority over capital, according to the church. Employees should not be treated simply as cogs in the capitalist machine. The church encourages solidarity between workers and says unions are indispensable.
Fuller, however, notes that the Vatican's position is more complicated than that.
In recent decades, church leaders have criticized "rigid capitalism," which it feels is geared toward the acquisition of money for money's sake.
Property and capital should serve workers, not the other way around, the church says.
"The church supports a measure of state intervention in economics to make sure that workers have a certain freedom over and against the power of employer and capital," said Nigel Biggar, a professor of theology and ethics at Trinity College in Dublin.
But the church also criticizes pure socialism, which it says does not guarantee that assets will be used wisely and in the interests of workers because the state itself becomes a new oligarchy.
This ambivalence also applies to technology.
Work and leisure
Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, have published Work and Leisure in the U.S. and Europe: Why so Different?, as an NBER Working Paper. Here is the abstract:
Americans average 25.1 working hours per person in working age per week, but the Germans average 18.6 hours. The average American works 46.2 weeks per year, while the French average 40 weeks per year. Why do western Europeans work so much less than Americans? Recent work argues that these differences result from higher European tax rates, but the vast empirical labor supply literature suggests that tax rates can explain only a small amount of the differences in hours between the U.S. and Europe. Another popular view is that these differences are explained by long-standing European "culture," but Europeans worked more than Americans as late as the 1960s. In this paper, we argue that European labor market regulations, advocated by unions in declining European industries who argued "work less, work all" explain the bulk of the difference between the U.S. and Europe. These policies do not seem to have increased employment, but they may have had a more society-wide influence on leisure patterns because of a social multiplier where the returns to leisure increase as more people are taking longer vacations.
Conference on Strategic Outsourcing
The Conference Board is sponsoring, The 2005 Strategic Outsourcing Conference: Maximizing Value with the Next Generation of Outsourcing, next April 27-29 at the Intercontinental, the Barclay, New York, NY.
Among the topics to be included are:
Global Business Process Sourcing – Myths and Best Practices
Managing Organizational Change: A Key Driver in the Outsourcing Process
Offshore Outsourcing: Making It Work Long Term
Getting More from the Deal: Improving Your Outsourcing Governance Model
Using Metrics to Drive Improved Performance
Achieving Operational Excellence with F&A Outsourcing
Increasing Value with the Next Generation of Outsourcing
Transforming the Organization with Human Resources Outsourcing – A Case Study
Outsourcing In Practice: Driving Globalization In A Multi-industry Company
Panel Session: Overcoming the Latest Outsourcing Challenges
Case Study: Meeting Diverse Sourcing Needs with a New Offshore Outsourcing Model
After the Acquisition: Facilitating a Seamless Transition to Outsourcing
April 25, 2005
Labor Joke and Cartoon of the Week
Ministers of the World Unite!
The Windsor Star reports that the drive by Canadian Autoworkers Union to organize ministers of the United Church is gaining support. According to the paper:
"Following a meeting in Windsor this week and what he believes is growing support for unionization, pro-union Rev. David Galston predicts United Church ministers will become the first organized clergy in North America.
"We're going to get a union," Galston, who is helping lead the organizing drive, said Thursday.
"We are moving from a feeling of having to be bold to feeling more like we're simply providing education. That's different from the beginning when it was more confrontational.""
April 24, 2005
Unions seek to organize professional employees
"Union organizers at Yale University know it's hard to generate sympathy for Ivy League graduate students, many whom get free tuition and health care and are paid up to $25,000 a year to teach.
The union rallying the students, UNITE/HERE, built its reputation organizing garment workers, mostly women and immigrants who endured long hours and meager pay in textile mills. Yalies, with undergraduate degrees from topflight colleges and the promise of bright futures, don't garner the same feelings.
It's the same story in Washington, where a union is courting Microsoft employees, and in New York, where organizers are drumming up support at IBM.
"They have a good enough deal. They shouldn't complain," said Marcus Courtney, president of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, echoing the refrain organizers so often hear.
With American manufacturing jobs disappearing, many union leaders say they must organize high-tech workers and academics to survive. But organizers are finding that to rally a white-collar work force, they can't follow the 20th-century story line pitting workers and their numbers against businessmen and their money."
For the rest of the story, see here.