AFL-CIO merger/founding convention pin. #union #labor #history (at Michigan AFL-CIO)
When I say that strikes work, I don’t mean that unions get each and every last thing they ask for. That’s an unrealistic goal in any negotiation. I mean that strikes allow unions to get things that they would not get without a strike. This is primarily because a strike adds a very powerful stakeholder to the outcome of the negotiations: the public. When negotiations involve only workers and management, management is often able to simply say “fuck off.” Management can wait them out—workers will run out of money and start starving long before their managers do. If managements feels that they can save money in the long term by telling workers to fuck off with their contract demands, they will do it, even if it means taking a financial hit in the short term. This is the cold logic of capitalism. Absent any direct incentive, management will always take a dollar out of workers’ pockets and put it into their own, if they can.
A strike, though, acts as a check on that imbalance of power by inviting a very powerful third party to the table. Rahm Emanuel, perhaps, would be happy to tell teachers to fuck off. When Rahm Emanuel has a million angry parents calling his office demanding that he fix the god damn teacher’s strike so their kids have somewhere to go all day, things change. Mike Bloomberg, perhaps, would be happy to tell the NYC subway employees to fuck off. But when they go on strike and the subways stop running and the entire commuter-driven metropolis grinds to a halt, eight million people collectively demand a solution, and fast. Verizon would surely be happy to tell its employees to fuck off and take what it gives them. When nobody can get their cable fixed in time to watch the game, Verizon will feel the wrath of the world, pressuring it to find a solution. The public is awesomely powerful, and self-interested. The public wants things to work. The details of how that’s accomplished usually get drowned out in the primal scream of “fix it now!” This pressure mostly falls on management. Sure, people get angry at the unions, but unions, excluding corrupt ones, are not primarily concerned with PR (at least not to the extent that corporations or politicians are, by necessity). They’re concerned with improving the lives of their members. They are the only thing standing between workers and the “good will” of management, which is often the same as oblivion.
Are strikes an inconvenience for the public? Yes. That is why they work. And that inconvenience, in the long run, is a small price to pay for living in a country that respects freedom enough to allow its workers to organize. Strikes are the pinnacle of workers exercising their freedoms in this capitalist system of ours; conservatives should love them. On principle, it scarcely matters whether the workers are public or private. As John Cook wrote about Chicago’s teachers, they are “participants in a labor market. They are free to organize and to withhold their labor if they don’t like the deal they’re getting. They will either get what they want, or they won’t. This is how things work.”
Restricting the right to strike is tantamount to forcing people to work against their will. That’s an even more onerous government demand than taxes. You would think the Republican party would be protecting workers’ rights to strike at all costs.
Some countries with far more radical economic histories than ours can find themselves paralyzed by frequent strikes, to the detriment of the nation. We’re not them. We’re not Greece, and we’re not Venezuela. We’re not even close. We’re America, where “socialism” is still considered a pornographic word in politics. The working people of America—which is to say the majority—would be better off with more strikes, not fewer. Because they work.
Of course, in order to have strikes, we need unions. That’s another thing to work on.
You should make this your facebook profile pic immediately.
The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike, and what happens there will affect teachers throughout the nation. Hell, this strike could affect all unions for years to come.
Rahm and CPS wanted this strike, and now they’re going to get it.
Rahm, the latte liberal asshole, and his team at CPS don’t seem to know their head from their ass when it comes to labor relations. Shit is going to get real. Stand strong, don’t back down, Solidarity forever!
By Kevin Drum
Dylan Matthews says a bit more today about something I mentioned briefly a couple of weeks ago: among men, wages haven’t just stagnated over the past few decades. They’ve plummeted:
As you can see on the black line in the above graph, median earnings for men in 2009 were lower than they were in the early 1970s. And it gets worse. The decline shown above is actually too mild, because it doesn’t take into account the massive exodus from the workforce of men since that period. Between 1960 and 2009, the share of men working fulltime fell from 83 percent to 66 percent, and the share not making formal wages tripled from 6 percent to 18 percent. When you take all men, not just those working fulltime, into account, the slight decline in the above graph becomes a plummet of 28 percent in median real wages from 1969 to 2009.
….High school dropouts’ earnings have fallen 66 percent since 1969, and people with some college – the median level of education in the US – have seen earnings fall by a third. Reasonable people can disagree about what caused this massive decline and what should be done to fix it. But it’s a major crisis….
This decline in both male employment and male wages has been going on for 40 years now, and as Dylan mentions, it’s far worse at the bottom of the ladder than at the top. Male high school grads working full time earn 25% less than they used to, and if you account for those not working or working only part time, aggregate wages are down by nearly half.
Half! And that’s for high school grads, not dropouts. (And the picture changes only modestly if you add health benefits to the wage picture.) These are men who basically played by the rules, got their diploma, and then went into the workforce. Or tried to, anyway. But they’re finding it far harder to find steady, full-time work than their fathers did, and when they do they earn dramatically less than their fathers did. So I’ll repeat what I said the last time I wrote about this: if you want to understand why marriage has declined among the working and lower middle classes, you have to understand what’s happened to male wages. It’s not the whole answer, but there’s simply no way that it’s not a big factor.
July 31 2012
DETROIT - “Teachers are under fullblownassault,” declared Vice President Joe Biden, addressing the American Federation of Teachers convention here on Sunday. Vice President Biden, his wife Dr. Jill Biden - a longtime teacher, United Auto Workers President Bob King and noted educator and author Diane Ravitch all came to the AFT convention to pledge their support for our nation’s teachers.
The vice president was introduced by Jill Biden who taught for 13 years in a public high school and continues teaching full time at Northern Virginia Community College, even as she serves as the “Second Lady.” She told the audience, “Being a teacher is notwhatIdo, it’swhoIam.”
Vice President Biden spelled out the choices voters have in the November election.
Why does the Republican budget cut $900 million for K-12 education, cut Head Start and Pell grants, Biden asked, answering himself: “because they have to pay for their one trillion dollar, 600 million tax cut for the wealthy.”
The attitude of the “new” Republican Party, Biden said, is: “Government needs to keep its hands out of education.” He declared, “Don’t tell me you value education but then don’t invest in it.”
Biden noted that the middle class has been clobbered by the economic crisis, and attacked the Republican aid-the-rich, trickle-down approach. He said, “We think you rebuild the middle class from the ‘middle out,’ they think from the ‘top down.’” Addressing the teacher delegates, he said, “We don’t see you as the problem, we see you as the solution.”
A sea of 3,000 teachers and school workers, wearing AFT Obama-Biden blue T-shirts, cheered enthusiastically. Thought many disagree with some of Obama’s education policies, they saw the bigger picture, as outlined by UAW President Bob King.
Addressing the convention on Saturday, King cited two priorities in the coming period. Number one is the re-election of President Obama. We may not agree with all the president does, King said, but we “cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. We will go back 50 years if Republicans win.”
Second, to achieve real progress, King said labor must recommit to rebuilding a social and economic justice movement when the elections are over.
He noted that when unions were stronger, “every measure of social justice” was stronger too. “Too many of our economists do not understand the core centrality to a fair and just society is a vibrant and strong labor movement,” King said. When union members advance, every worker in America benefits, he said, adding that labor is the “core of democracy” in any nation.
EducatorDianeRavitch tore apart the “big lie” of lagging test scores used by some education “reformers” to justify privatization. The American educational system is failing as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows that test scores of American students are at their highest points ever, she said. She said increases have been steady and significant and they have been greatest for black and Hispanic students. “We should be thanking our nation’s teachers,” said Ravitch.
“Teachers need to work in a professional atmosphere where they are treated with respect and dignity,” Ravitch said. “Carrots and sticks are for donkeys, not professionals.”
She cited a number of reason students have difficulty in the classroom, from health issues to family stability but she said the “single biggest predictor of student progress is family income.” Thus, poverty and joblessness must be addressed to improve student learning.
Retired hearing specialist and past Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart agreed. When an economic crisis hits the country, she said, “teachers feel it first in the classroom; stress from the home is carried into the classroom.”
Delegate Debbie Uribe, a 30-year early childhood educator in Los Angeles, said she feels her work with children builds the foundation for future success. She’s upset her school is getting an 8.5 percent cut in state funding.
Also bringing the crowd to its feet Saturday was Detroit NAACP President, Rev. Wendell Anthony. Reverend Anthony said if you are teaching in America you’re going through some kind of hell adding, “Love has got to kick in, because the money isn’t.” He asked what message are we sending when you can use your NRA card to vote (as in Texas) but can’t use your college ID. “Insanity is running wild,” he exclaimed.
The convention re-elected AFT President Randi Weingarten to another term.
Photo: Vice President Joe Biden greats teachers at the AFT Convention in Detroit, July 29. Courtesy AFT.
By Emma Chadband
Children who enroll in a K12 Inc. cyberschool are more likely to fall behind in reading and math, move between schools or leave school altogether, according to a new study from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado.
K12 Inc. is the nation’s largest virtual school company. It operates 48 full-time virtual schools in 2011-12, and provides services and support to dozens of other schools that offer online classes.
Some of the biggest problems the study found were K12 Inc. students’ low on-time graduation rates, math, and reading scores.
Math scores for K12 Inc.’s students are 14 to 36 percent lower than scores for students attending more “traditional schools” in the states in which the company operates schools. In grades 3 – 11, K12 Inc. students’ reading scores were between 2 and 11 percentage points below the state average.
The on-time graduation rate for K12 Inc. students is 49.1 percent, compared with a 79.4 percent on-time graduation rate for the states in which the company operates schools.
“Our in-depth look into K12 Inc. raises enormous red flags,” NEPC Director Kevin Welner said. The report’s findings were presented in Washington last week to a national meeting of the American Association of School Administrators, where the report’s lead author, Dr. Gary Miron, debated Dr. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning.
“Computer-assisted learning has tremendous potential,” said Miron. “But at present, our research shows that virtual schools such as those operated by K12 Inc. are not working effectively. States should not grow full-time virtual schools until they have evidence of success.”
The company’s schools usually operate on less public revenue than traditional schools, but they have “considerable cost savings,” according to a press release from NEPC. They devote minimal or no funds to operating costs including facilities and transportation, and they have more students per teacher and pay teachers less. Furthermore, the study found K12 Inc. spends half as much per student than charter schools overall spend on special education and a third of what districts spend, according to the press release.
“Part of K12’s problem seems to be that it skimps on special education spending and employs few instructors, despite having lower overhead than brick-and-mortar schools,” said Welner, who is also a professor of education policy at the University of Colorado.
K12 Inc. students are also very likely to change schools, which could lead to their low on-time graduation rates.
In light of shrinking education budgets, state governments have considered using online schools to cut costs in education. But this latest study echoes the growing body of evidence suggesting students do not learn as well in cyberschool environments.
A “more rigorous” study of student learning in Pennsylvania virtual charter schools conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found virtual-school students ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than students in traditional charters and public schools. Audits and state evaluations in five different states have reported similar conclusions.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 31, 2012
By Audrey Williams June
Academe needs a new model for the professoriate that better supports the
growing number of instructors who are off the tenure track, the
participants in a national project about the changing faculty have
The participants, who represent a cross-section of academe and its
stakeholders, also said in a report being released this week that they
need to align to gather data that will paint a clearer picture of higher
education’s increasing reliance on contingent faculty.
A key reason for those two strategies to improve the jobs of contingent
faculty members is that their poor working conditions may harm student
learning, says the report, a “working document” produced by the Delphi
Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success.
The 49-page document, in part, details the challenges linked to the
rising number of contingent faculty, who now make up about 70 percent of
all instructors at the nation’s colleges and universities. But data that
quantify the effects of this shift in the make-up of the faculty and the
issues it creates aren’t readily available, the report says. Without
hard numbers, campus policy makers may be unaware of the extent of the
challenges they face.
“Everybody agreed that we lack good data tools to help inform policy
making at various levels as it relates to non-tenure-track faculty,”
says Adrianna Kezar, director of the project and an associate professor
of higher education at the University of Southern California.
“What we’re doing now is creating all of these data tools and resources
so that we can make people aware of the extent of the issue and then
have a series of best practices that have been put in place at various
institutions that we can point to that we know work.”
Participants in the Delphi project also agreed that the current
system—with tenure-stream faculty on the one hand, and full-timers and
part-timers who work off the tenure track on the other— “isn’t working,”
Ms. Kezar says. “We all thought, What is the new model of the faculty
that we need to have?”
The document reflects a year’s worth of work by more than 40 people,
including college presidents, higher-education researchers, leaders of
scholarly associations, faculty union leaders, and representatives of
organizations that represent faculty who are off the tenure track. The
report and the strategies it proposes emerged from discussions at a
recent meeting where most of the project’s participants gathered.
The participants will be pared down into two task forces to work on
advancing the project’s strategies in various ways.
For instance, they will need to develop a conceptual paper that details
what the future faculty should look like and how it could be adopted by
all types of institutions. And eventually, the project will need some
grant money to make pieces of both strategies a reality—such as setting
up models at individual institutions or university systems of how to
best support non-tenure-track faculty.
Ms. Kezar says she expects to post the document at the project’s Web
site [http://tinyurl.com/cw9ec9p] later this week. Other documents
related to the project’s current efforts will be posted over the next
It surprised many when the National Union of Healthcare Workers—a quintessential service sector union—announced in February its intent to affiliate with the Machinists, which has an extensive industrial union history.
Details are still under discussion, but an alliance would ultimately bring more than 9,000 NUHW members together with 720,000 IAM members.
The announcement came at an important juncture for NUHW, which was born in 2009 after the Service Employees drove out key activists and leaders from its 150,000-member United Healthcare Workers-West local in California during a battle over democracy and local autonomy.
NUHW ran against SEIU in 2010 in elections for 43,000 service and tech workers at California’s Kaiser Permanente hospitals and lost. But a labor board ruling last year confirmed that Kaiser had colluded with SEIU during the election, and the board ordered a re-run.
Now NUHW will enter the field with strong backing from a powerful AFL-CIO ally.
An interview with three principal players delves into the thinking behind the match.
Carl Finamore, former president of IAM Local Lodge 1781 in California, spoke with Gary Allen, IAM general vice president; Sal Rosselli, president of NUHW; and Don Crosatto, Western Territory IAM District 190 senior area director.
Labor Notes: Where did the idea to affiliate come from?
Don Crosatto: I was always very much aware of the dominant presence of SEIU-UHW in successful organizing, bargaining, and community coalition building in California. They had the gold-standard contract in the health industry, had very active steward participation, and were the fastest-growing union in California. Their record stood out. After they were kicked out of SEIU and formed NUHW, I saw that same leadership continuing to run impressive campaigns, but this time on a shoestring budget.
Stands to reason, I figured, that they would be thinking about linking up with an organization with resources.
Of course, some will think this relationship with the IAM is strange because we do not have much experience in health care. But NUHW has that part pretty well figured out; they do not need that from us.
They need to be part of a larger organization that values local autonomy and that does not micromanage from headquarters in Washington, D.C.
LN: How did the consultations develop?
DC: I knew former SEIU-UHW President Sal Rosselli for 20 years and asked if he wanted to talk with Gary about how we view local autonomy and democracy. There were intense discussions for a couple months that included our international president, R. Thomas Buffenbarger, and the international’s nine-member executive council, that ultimately led to a letter of intent to affiliate.
Gary Allen: The thing that moved me was blatant abuse by SEIU of basic union democracy against duly elected SEIU-UHW leaders over disagreements on bargaining priorities and organizing. Unfortunately, this was not a complete surprise. It’s my opinion that over the last several years, SEIU chose growth at all costs, negotiating future organizing access instead of bargaining standard-of-living increases for their members.
In the IAM, decisions about collective bargaining priorities are left to our members.
LN: What were the first reactions of the IAM?
DC: Health care is not one of our bread-and-butter industries and most of our leadership is not in California. So, most IAM leaders did not really know the players up close. However, we found our general philosophies are pretty much the same.
We both believe members should drive negotiations by selecting the bargaining committee, developing contract demands, and ratifying agreements. In addition, the IAM is not in the habit of forcing consolidations into mega-locals, with smaller locals giving up their independence as demanded so often by SEIU.
LN: What does the IAM think it will get out of this relationship?
GA: It would be disingenuous to say we are not interested in thousands of new members or that we do not appreciate the value of becoming a major player in the rapidly growing health care industry. But an even bigger benefit for the IAM is NUHW’s huge pool of organizing talent.
DC: We definitely hope their example and experience will energize our locals to organize more, which, frankly, we can use.
LN: How will NUHW benefit?
DC: Of course, NUHW needs resources to go after bigger targets like Kaiser.
But, as its name indicates, NUHW is a national health care union. Our organizing perspective is not about picking SEIU apart but about organizing vast areas of the unorganized.
SEIU is much bigger, but most of their members are concentrated in New York, Illinois, and California where, for example, they have 700,000 members.
SEIU is not present in large sections of this country. The IAM’s extensive geographic presence is an enormous advantage, especially in the South. We do not have tens of thousands of members in these states but we do have a presence. Instead of blowing in with a blizzard of purple shirts, our organizers get introduced by IAM members who not only lived and worked in that community but whose parents have also lived their whole lives in that community. Being introduced as a good guy by these deeply rooted local folks matters in small towns.
Sal Rosselli: With the IAM located in every state in the union and in every province of Canada, we have a tremendous opportunity to organize. Most hospital workers in this country are not in a union—a whopping 90 percent of them, or 9 million in all. It’s great that the IAM shares our vision and confidence about national organizing.
LN: How will this all affect the upcoming Kaiser NUHW/SEIU representation election involving 43,000 employees?
SR: Well, IAM resources will hopefully make it easier for us to communicate to the 10,000 folks we could not even reach last time.
But the Kaiser campaign this year is fundamentally different in two other huge ways.
First, Kaiser has shown its true colors. In the last election, we could not very effectively criticize Kaiser because the good relationship with the old SEIU-UHW built up over the years produced the best contracts in the industry. This was still fresh in everyone’s mind. Today, it’s the opposite. Kaiser is trying to jam through concessions despite their enormous profits. This has angered thousands of workers who previously trusted Kaiser.
Secondly, SEIU-UHW has changed. In 2010, we were a brand-new organization and it was difficult to explain our differences with SEIU. Not true today. SEIU has failed to pursue grievance complaints and, at the same time, caved to numerous concessions dictated by Kaiser and other hospitals.
By contrast, in the last year and half, NUHW has settled half a dozen contracts with no takeaways, proving by example that you can avoid concessions and even gain some improvements if you stand up to the employer.
Along with our new relationship with the IAM, these are things that, I believe, make a huge difference this time around.
Click the link for more
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - The Anheuser-Busch-owned beer distributorship in Riverside, Calif., wanted to implement its own business model - we’re talking money, folks - but apparently forgot the Teamsters represent its 120-person workforce.
The result? Bargaining broke down and A-B, now a subsidiary of a Belgian brewer, forced Teamsters Local 166 to strike.
The conflict between Anheuser-Busch and the Teamsters in Southern California is not the first faceoff between the union and affiliates of the big brewer. In St. Louis, A-B’s hometown and headquarters, local distributors of Busch beers - though not the brewery itself - spent months trying to hire non-union truckers to haul cases of Busch beer. Anheuser-Busch took a hands-off position against calls to intervene.
In Riverside, negotiations on a new contract began in April and Busch negotiators, who dance to the tune of the fairly new owner, In-Bev, mistakenly thought the Teamsters had to roll over, too.
The company wanted to do away with the traditional hourly pay rate for drivers, warehouse and mechanics and force a straight base and commission plan.
The members weren’t buying it and the Teamsters were forced to strike on June 25. They’ve been picketing 24/7 since then.
“The company reps are basically no-good, rotten, piles of dung,” Local 166 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Bergen said in a milder moment. “They turned down federal mediator assistance, never moved in negotiations and apparently borrowed the blinders from Budweiser’s Clydesdales.”
Bergen said the company’s recalcitrant, divisive posture is counterbalanced by the 120 strikers’ solidarity and resolve.
“Never in all my years in the Teamsters have I seen a stronger, more motivated group of strikers who care about each other and the integrity of their jobs,” he said.
Bergen said a second stumbling block in negotiations was retirees’ medical coverage. Retirees never had co-pays before and now the company wanted to block any new retiree coverage under any conditions once a new contract was ratified and implemented.
Paul Mihalow is editor of The Southern California Teamster.