Sunday Reads: Will work for chicken.Posted: July 31, 2022 Filed under: 2021 Insurrection, 2024 Elections, abortion rights, Climate change, Congress, corruption, COVID19, January 6 Committee, morning reads, open thread, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Justice, Reproductive Rights, Right to Work, the GOP, The Trump Family Crime Syndicate, Trump, worker rights 17 Comments
Good morning. Starting of with this nugget of news:
Now for the cartoons:
Also, check this out:
This is an open thread.
Friday Reads: The Right to Vote is Essential to Addressing the Issues of Our TimePosted: December 17, 2021 Filed under: Bread and Roses, The Biden/Harris Administration, U.S. Economy, Voter Ignorance, Voting Rights, Voting Rights and Voter Suppression, Women's Rights, worker rights 19 Comments
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I hope your week went well and your weekend goes better! I think I’m fully moved into my new phone and zapped then returned the old one. I’m about to start switching over to the new computer tomorrow. I just have a few more adulting things to do and I, fortunately, don’t need the camera and mic until Sunday.
American Life is so abnormal that I am really glad that I don’t have to drag myself into a classroom until January. I’ve dealt with teaching far worse economies and financial markets so that’s not the challenge. Part of me is just bugged by the fact I can’t depend on any American to do the right thing in this latest surge of Pandemic. Indeed, I’m actually thinking I may be back on Zoom instead of behind a podium next year. I think our economy is looking resilient and the financial markets are functional. What I think is dysfunctional is the way America does business. That’s the model that doesn’t work. It’s especially not working now. The extreme nature of the American ideological take on Capitalism is causing all kinds of things just to not work.
Then, there’s the weather situation which was elucidated in an article in The Guardian that BB posted yesterday. We’re not just experiencing extreme weather. It’s extreme and unique. This week we had temperatures never reported before in December in places like St. Paul. We continue to have severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the midwest in December. These records are not only record-setting. These instances are making records because their occurences are unknown to us in modern times. Between the weather and the global pandemic, we need to strengthen and address flaws in our institutions before it all kills nearly everything.
I do want to address the new push to reinstate and further Voting Rights and why it’s so important. First, I want to address what I’ve said above by sharing this Article in VOX by Anna North. “The world as we know it is ending. Why are we still at work? From the pandemic to climate change, Americans are still expected to work no matter what happens.”
It’s a good question to ask and it’s being asked by the workers at Kellogg’s including the one I spent my teen years viewing out school windows and those of my house on the hill. The plant in Omaha is way across on another hill where you can always see the big ol’ red Kellogg’s signature on the building. My thought was always the same. I’m never going to put myself in a place where I have to endlessly and mindlessly drop trinkets in cereal boxes for at least 8 hours a day. Yesterday, on MSNBC, I heard from Senator Sanders that some workers worked overtime for 100-120 consecutive days at Kellogg’s factories. We also learned that workers at the decimated candle factory in Kentucky were threatened with firing if they didn’t keep working. Are candles and dry cereal really worth this?
We didn’t learn anything from all the workers dropping dead from COVID-19 at meat processing plants? Now, we also find out there’s no shortage of truckers, it’s just how there’s a major difference between how independent truckers are paid and those that are union. It’s basically a problem of driver delays. Nonunion drivers get paid by the mile so they get assigned to places where they have to sit forever. Union drivers are paid by the hour. I’m frankly blessed not to have been pushed prematurely back into the classroom but that’s only because I’m semiretired and can say no without it threatening my work.
So, with that background, let’s read Anna North’s article.
For a moment in early 2020, it seemed like we might get a break from capitalism.
A novel coronavirus was sweeping the globe, and leaders and experts recommended that the US pay millions of people to stay home until the immediate crisis was over. These people wouldn’t work. They’d hunker down, take care of their families, and isolate themselves to keep everyone safe. With almost the whole economy on pause, the virus would stop spreading, and Americans could soon go back to normalcy with relatively little loss of life.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Instead, white-collar workers shifted over to Zoom (often with kids in the background), and everybody else was forced to keep showing up to their jobs in the face of a deadly virus. Hundreds of thousands died, countless numbers descended into depression and burnout, and a grim new standard was set: Americans keep working, even during the apocalypse.
Now it’s been nearly two years since the beginning of the pandemic — a time that has also encompassed an attempted coup, innumerable extreme weather events likely tied to climate change, and ongoing police violence against Black Americans — and we’ve been expected to show up to work through all of it. “I don’t think people are well,” says Riana Elyse Anderson, a clinical and community psychologist and professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “We are moving along but we are certainly not well.”
For some Americans, working during the apocalypse is fatal — think of the transit workers who died from Covid-19 in 2020, or the Amazon warehouse workers killed by a tornado on December 10 in Illinois. “All disasters are workplace disasters for some people,” said Jacob Remes, a historian and the director of the Initiative for Critical Disaster Studies at New York University. For others, the effects are more of a slow burn; the chronic stress that comes with putting on a game face at work, day in and day out, as the world becomes ever more terrifying.
Of course, Americans haven’t all quietly accepted the demand that we work through the end times. Record numbers are quitting their jobs in search of higher pay and better conditions. After more than 20 months of being asked to keep showing up uncomplainingly while everything crumbles around them, people are demanding a more humane approach to work in the age of interlocking crises.
Please read the full article.
So, the question is how do we get more humane treatment at work, access to educations, and childcare at a reasonable cost? Pharmaceuticals at a reasonable cost? Food at a reasonable cost? How about energy that doesn’t cost too much and kill us at the same time? Fewer wars? Actual customer service instead of automated checkouts and endless phone trees to get to someone that can actually help you? The business model these days is basically about where it was pre-union. Just jack up prices, lower service levels, overwork what employees you have, push a paperwork and surveillance atmosphere, then drive all the profits to the top where no one has to pay taxes on anything or can hide their money. This is not sustainable in this day and age. Where do we get some redress and control?
We should get it through our voter franchise and our democracy and representatives that deliver to voters and not just donors and radical bases. We’re losing all kinds of rights and none of them will return to us unless the majority of the democracy can vote easily and get fair elections, Can we get this done?
Not, when all roads lead to Joe Manchin and there’s a filibuster rule in the Senate for for basic civil, human, constitutional rights. These things should not be left to overturn by a radical minority.
From the AP: “Power of one: Manchin is singularly halting Biden’s agenda.” Let’s be real about this. It’s not just Biden’s Agenda it’s the people’s agenda as demonstrated by poll -after-poll. Joe Manchin is the perfect example of someone that pushes everything that’s not sustainable and mostly because his wealth depends on it and his power.
Sen. Joe Manchin settled in at President Joe Biden’s family home in Delaware on a Sunday morning in the fall as the Democrats worked furiously to gain his support on their far-reaching domestic package.
The two-hour-long session was the kind of special treatment being showered on the West Virginia senator — the president at one point even showing Manchin around his Wilmington home.
But months later, despite Democrats slashing Biden’s big bill in half and meeting the senator’s other demands, Manchin is no closer to voting yes.In an extraordinary display of political power in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, a single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda.
Biden said in a statement Thursday night that he still believed “we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition.”
But with his domestic agenda stalled out in Congress, senators are coming to terms with the reality that passage of the president’s signature “Build Back Better Act,” as well as Democrats’ high-priority voting rights package, would most likely have to be delayed to next year.
Failing to deliver on Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social and environmental bill would be a stunning end to the president’s first year in office.
Manchin’s actions throw Democrats into turmoil at time when families are struggling against the prolonged COVID-19 crisis and Biden’s party needs to convince voters heading toward the 2022 election that their unified party control of Washington can keep its campaign promises.
This has been pushed to the back burner and now they have decided to shift to voting rights. Look at who’s on the catbird seat again.
From The Hill article in the above Tweet:
President Biden joined a Zoom call with Senate Democrats on Thursday to encourage them to pass voting rights legislation, as the chamber appears poised to leave for the year without a deal.
Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who are both part of the group negotiating rules changes and voting rights, said that they had spoken with Biden about their efforts.
“Very positive. ‘Good work, guys. Keep at it,’” Kaine said about Biden’s message.
“‘Are you talking, are you taking it seriously, are you trying to get there?’ Yes. So he [was] encouraging us, thanking us and encouraging us,” the Virginia Democrat added.
Tester, asked about Biden’s general message, summed it up as the right to vote is “important for democracy.”
Those included on the call were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kaine and Tester, a source familiar told The Hill. Vice President Harris was also on the call.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the call.
Biden’s call come as Senate Democrats are poised to wrap their work for the year without a deal on how to move voting rights legislation.
“We don’t have the votes right now to change the rules,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch, acknowledging the political reality that the party currently faces.
Democrats have been holding a flurry of behind-the-scenes meetings to try to come to a deal that unites all 50 Democrats on changing the Senate rules.
A group of Senate Democrats — Kaine, Tester and King — have been tasked with coming up with a proposal on how to alter the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a way that would allow voting rights legislation to move forward.
Republicans have blocked several voting rights and election bills, fueling calls from within the Senate Democratic caucus to change the rules.
Meanwhile, the Senate is going on holiday. Why can’t we all get paid and have work hours and benefits like them?
From NPC News: Democrats rev up voting rights push to end 2021. But Senate path remains elusive. All 50 Senate Democrats would be needed to change the rules to get around a filibuster. But Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still don’t support such a move.
Long-simmering frustrations among prominent Black leaders appeared to be boiling over as they pressure President Joe Biden to do more to encourage the Senate to act. Progressive advocacy groups have revved up their pressure campaigns, fearing that time is running out to avert what they see as an existential threat to democracy. Leaders of the effort in the Senate, notably Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, have held meetings with colleagues to find a path forward.
And moderates like Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, said this week they’re ready to change the Senate rules to allow a vote on an election overhaul. But despite this movement, it may not be enough.
Manchin and Sinema are supportive of the Freedom to Vote Act, which would enshrine a series of voting-access guarantees across all states, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would impose additional limits on states with a history of discrimination. But neither supports a rule change to get around the 60-vote threshold that is blocking votes on those bills.
Manchin, who spoke to Warnock about the issue and left the Capitol shoulder-to-shoulder with him this week, told reporters he wants support from both parties before establishing new rules.
“All my discussions have been bipartisan, Republicans and Democrats. A rules change should be done to where we all have input in this rules change because we’re going to have to live with it,” he said.
That’s a problem: Republicans are extremely unlikely to sign off on any rule changes that would enable passage of voting rights legislation, which they staunchly oppose. A filibuster change through the regular process require a two-thirds vote, and even moderate Republicans say they’re not interested.
“I don’t see how. Unless Sen. (Chuck) Schumer tries to employ the nuclear option, rule changes require 67 votes,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told NBC News, referring to the Senate majority leader. “I think the rules and traditions of the Senate have generally served us well, and I don’t see the need for rule changes.”
Sinema said through a spokesperson that she still opposes weakening the 60-vote rule to pass a voting bill.
And that Ladies and Gentlemen is how empires and democracies die!
Have a great weekend! I hope you enjoy the soothing colors of Marc Chagall!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Monday Reads: Peace of MindPosted: September 21, 2020 Filed under: 2016 elections, 2018 elections, 2020 Elections, abortion rights, Affordable Care Act, morning reads, white nationalists, Women's Rights, worker rights 24 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
Trump and his Death Cult seem to thrive on anger and chaos. We couldn’t even mourn the great legal mind and contributions to civil rights of our second woman on SCOTUS without Trump and the cult jumping into offer the usual platter of women that hate themselves to replace her. We’re supposed to get the pick on Friday or Saturday and I hope the Democrats go nuclear. I’ve been fighting these same damned battles for too long and I didn’t expect to hand my daughters more church control of their bodies sanctioned by the US Government.
There are two women that appear on Trump’s short list and they are both appalling religionists. One is definitely a member of a cult and a bit of an offshoot of Catholicism. The other is one of those Catholics that the court is stacked with already which is the subcult of Opus Dei. WTF is this? Are we reversing the entire Age of Enlightenment and Reason and the Renaissance? How far back into the Dark Ages must we be thrown before they’re satisfied?
and … Where do all these nuts keep coming from? Only monsters could raise monsters like these!
I’ve switched to Fauvism for awhile and peak Beatles during the psychedelics’ period because we all can see the wild and I’d rather have the artistic version of it than the political.
So first up on the crazy list is the literal crazy and definite cult member. This woman is basically Aunt Lydia. Her church was the basis of Hand Maid’s Tale. “What is People of Praise? A look inside Amy Coney Barrett’s church that inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'” She’s on the short list but there are “safer” alternatives if you want to call them that because either way were fucked because most of the Republicans who said they’d never vote for a SCOTUS nomination so close to elections have folded like cheap deckchairs on the Titanic.
So, catch this:
Apart from being an attorney, Barrett and her family are members of a controversial church called People of Praise. The church asks members to take a “lifetime loyalty ‘covenant’, encourages female submission to their husbands”, as reported by Daily Mail. The church also inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, a show that gained popularity when it first made its debut in 2017. The church was formed as part of the Catholic revitalization movement in 1971, and at least 10 members from Barrett’s family are part of it. Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, is part of the board of members of the church. They are believed to be the “highest authority”.
The website of the church calls themselves “a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community”. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and “there were no needy persons among them”. Each member of the church is allotted a “personal adviser” who helps them with the “decisions on marriage, career, and other life choices”. Apart from this, the members are also asked to give out other information, such as sins committed by them, their financial information. While they are being called advisors, previously these people were known as “heads” for males and “handmaids” for females. The outlet further reports that the church believes the husband has authority over his wife. While members of the church had to make a lifelong commitment, they were given time to think about their decision.
(e.g. It’s a cult) OR we get the choice of all the Republican Whackados in Florida pushing this one because, well every one wants to win Florida in November. Plus, she’s Cubano and is one of those that carefully hides what she wants to do which seems to appeal to Susan Collins. From Politico: “Florida Republicans: Nominating Lagoa could clinch state for Trump. Top GOP leaders in the nation’s largest swing state say the Cuban-American federal judge could win Hispanic votes and shield vulnerable members of Congress.”
But it’s Lagoa’s background as a Florida Cuban-American that could have the most salience for Trump. His reelection hinges on the too-close-to-call battleground state, where his campaign has made outreach to Hispanic voters a top issue, worrying some Democrats.
“If the president picks Barbara Lagoa, they will be dancing salsa with joy in Hialeah well past November,” said Gaetz, referring to Lagoa’s home town, a blue-collar majority Cuban-American city that borders Miami and leans Republican.
Lagoa, a 52-year-old Columbia Law School graduate and mother of three children, emerged this weekend as a leading contender to take the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal stalwart who died Friday at the age of 87.
Lagoa is no lock for the post, however. She’s a relative unknown compared to the favorite of Washington’s conservative establishment anti-abortion groups, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who became a darling of the religious right after her bruising federal confirmation fight in 2017. Barrett and Lagoa are both high on the president’s short list for the post, officials with knowledge of the process told POLITICO.
In contrast, Lagoa’s views on abortion are little known. She had no high-profile rulings on the matter in the nearly 500 decisions she wrote as a state appeals court judge or in other decisions during her brief time on the Florida Supreme Court justice and, since late last year, a judge on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The ever location of both siderisms–The NYT–reports this today: “Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat. The president’s determination to confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election set lawmakers on a collision course as Congress deals with other major issues.” This is written by the dynamic duo of both-siderisms: Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. S0, here’s Joe Biden’s side.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential challenger, on Sunday denounced Mr. Trump’s decision to move ahead with a nomination and appealed to the handful of moderate Senate Republicans to stop the president from making a lifetime appointment that would shift the balance of power on the nation’s highest court without waiting to see the results of the election.
“To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia, noting that Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, citing the coming election. “I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it. President Trump has already made it clear this is about power, pure and simple.”
If Mr. Trump wins the race, Mr. Biden added, then the Senate should consider his choice. “But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn,” said Mr. Biden, who has promised to make his first appointment to the Supreme Court an African-American woman. “As the new president, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.”
So, it is exactly as Mary Ziegler describes it.
The Supreme Court seems strangely immune to the bitterness that plagues our politics. Even now, when Americans can no longer agree on basic facts, the Court’s relative popularity has endured. Following Donald Trump’s 2016 election, the Court has what may be its most conservative majority in decades. And yet this August, the Supreme Court recorded its highest approval rating since 2009.
But there are so many ways that the current moment could turn out very badly for the Court. First off, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems ready to test just how much damage the Court’s institutional integrity can take. In 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings for Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, because the next election was too close. Then, within hours of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, McConnell vowed to replace her before the next election.
Ginsburg, of course, was no ordinary justice. She was a hero to many. McConnell’s speed in replacing her comes across as not merely unseemly; to many who admired the late justice, it will also be a declaration of war.
Regardless of what McConnell does, the Court now looks far more conservative than the electorate. That too doesn’t bode well for the Court’s legitimacy, especially when the justices could once again decide the result of a presidential election. The Court may have to wade into one of the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have followed fights about whether the president has deliberately crippled the U.S. Postal Service to make it harder to vote. Republicans have claimed (without evidence) that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud and have sued to stop it.
I’m not so certain that matters to the theocrats the Republicans spent decades placing carefully on the court to punish women, religious minorities, people of color and the GLBT for daring to think they could be equal to White Christianist Men.
So, want some new crazy by a White Christianist Man in charge of the DOJ? And straight from the DOJ: “Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property
Identification is Response to Presidential Memorandum Reviewing Federal Funding to State and Local Governments that are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities ”
This WAPO analysis was written by Devlin Barrett.
The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.
Following a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
The Trump administration was unsuccessful in a similar funding-cut move against New York and other cities over their immigration policies. A federal appeals court ruled that the move violated the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution.
So, I would like a little peace and quiet and boring ol’ Joe Biden sounds better all the time. But, we also need to concentrate on getting rid of this asshole: “Mitch McConnell is the apex predator of U.S. politics” by Howard Fineman.
Historian Rick Perlstein has long described this chapter in the American story as “Nixonland,” a jagged terrain of White racial fear and populist resentment of the federal authority that began in the mid-1960s. But while GOP presidents from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have tilled that soil when it suited their purposes, McConnell has been, over the years, its most constant gardener, mixing arcane, cynically hypocritical legislative procedure and judicial appointments to turn emotion into lasting policy.
He has jammed hundreds of conservative judges onto the federal bench, making it younger, Whiter and more male — and far more partisan — in the process. In concert with the Federalist Society, McConnell is transforming the federal judiciary from sometimes-defenders of the poor, immigrants and people of color into the Praetorian Guard of corporations, the wealthy, and those whose cultural and racial privileges make them, at best, oblivious to their collective responsibility to all Americans. At the same time, McConnell is standing in the schoolhouse door of dozens if not hundreds of pieces of needed legislation, rendering the “world’s greatest deliberative body” an empty pantomime of itself.
And if he succeeds in forcing another pliable justice onto the Supreme Court, he may prove responsible for undercutting whatever legitimacy a possibly disputed presidential election might have if, as many suspect, it must be settled by that court. One reason to move fast and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority? To take the relatively independent (and therefore unreliable) Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. out of the equation.
McConnell has been around so long people think they know him. But they don’t, and that is by design. When you are the apex predator of U.S. politics, you don’t really care what anyone thinks. In Kentucky, where I worked for six years as McConnell was beginning his rise, he is not so much loved as endured. People talk about him like the rainy Ohio River Valley weather: It’s a pain, but it waters the crops. He retains an iron grip on state politics, has been elected statewide six times and is likely to win a seventh term in November. Democrats are pouring millions into defeating him. It’s not a great bet.
My best strategy offer is to get him out of the Senate Majority Seat. We need to make sure Republicans go down where we can make them go down and Susan Collins and Martha McSally are at the top of my list. Which brings me back to the idea of why so many white women sell the rest of the women of the world out?
Oh, well, I close here before I have to go curl up in a ball and suck my thumb.
Be safe and stay home if you can as much as possible! Be kind to yourself and others! Check in and let us know you’re safe because we care!
What’s on you reading and blogging list today?
Labor Day Reads: Labor is LifePosted: September 7, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, worker rights | Tags: American Labor Unions, Labor Day, Organized Labor, Workin Hard Blues 22 Comments
Happy Labor Day Sky Dancers!
Today is the day we celebrate the American Worker and the Union movement that brought us so many benefits and work safety enhancements that we should all appreciate Organized Labor. The day also serves as reminder of the continual fight to maintain what they earned for us through several centuries of labor movements and resistance. Republican elected officials still try to dilute all these laws that serve to protect workers and the safety of the work environment as well as dilute the right to organize.
I’m actually just going to do a tribute to the labor movement and to workers lost unnecessarily because of the greed, unsafe work places, and horrible working conditions suffered even by small children until the Labor Movement left them free to be children. I’m really not interested in spending the day on what usually serves as a kick off to the Election Season because we need a break today from all of that!
I also would like to make tribute to the indigenous people and to the slaves stolen from Africa whose human and natural resources were used to build this country. They had no pay, no thanks, and slavery for working and living conditions. They lived under religious mission systems, were sent on forced relocation to barren lands, and were bought by the Confederacy that supported ownership and torture of human beings. Their children and grandchildren continue to fight for the rights of full citizenship and recognition. I also make tribute to the diasporas and hopeful immigrants who come here to face often desperate conditions to become part of what we offer up as the America dream. We are here to form a more perfect union and organized labor makes that possible
Each of us deserve dignity, safety, and fair compensation for our work no matter who we are. Who we love, what reproductive organs we were born with, the color of our skin, and our religious and ethnic heritage should not influence the rights we have as workers. Equal Pay for Equal Work. PERIOD.
The History Channel maintains documents on the history of our Federal Labor Day Holiday.
Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.
In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.
People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.
As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
Labor Unions are more crucial than ever. States have taken more steps to pass so-called Right to work laws that are really just used to destroy the ability of people to negotiate their work environment and wages. The argument is that workers cannot be “forced” to join unions. However, this is just a disguise to defund unions and to stop the large amount of influence they used to be able to command in my states because of huge union numbers. Businesses have actively worked to dilute the ability of people to unionize and the service industry frequently uses illegal tactics to stop unionization in many ways. This is from a 2015 HuffPo article.
(Contrary to popular opinion, no worker in the U.S. can be forced to be a full dues-paying, card-carrying member of a union. But they can be compelled to pay so-called “agency fees” — the portion of dues that goes expressly to bargaining and representation costs, as opposed to, say, political campaigns. Right-to-work guarantees that workers do not have to pay these fees.)
On the right, proponents of right-to-work argue that the laws make states more competitive and attract business. On the left, opponents of right-to-work argue that the laws drive down wages and fail to create jobs. What few would deny is that right-to-work laws can be crippling for organized labor As workers bow out of unions, the remaining workers must bear a larger share of the costs associated with representation and organizing. And if the union becomes less effective, workers have even more reason to leave, creating a downward spiral.
Republicans in Michigan passed a right-to-work law there in 2012, despite the state’s storied labor history and the presence of the United Auto Workers union. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has already revealed a drop in union density in Michigan. Last year, the estimated number of union members dropped by 48,000, despite the fact that the state added 44,000 more workers to its economy.
Whatever their feelings on labor unions’ role in the workplace, many Republicans have a political interest in passing right-to-work legislation. By weakening organized labor, the laws indirectly hurt the Democratic Party, as unions remain a critical piece of the party’s base. It’s worth noting that the very phrase “right to work,” with its positive connotations, constitutes a linguistic coup for the right. (Unions have sought, with much less success, to brand the legislation as “right to work for less.”)
Like other legislative attacks on collective bargaining, the proliferation of right-to-work laws plays a large role in organized labor’s ongoing existential crisis. Right now, not even 7 percent of private-sector workers belong to a labor union, down from a peak of about 30 percent in the post-World War II years. More right-to-work laws will likely diminish that density further.
You can read about the 30 Victories for Workers’ Rights won by Organized Labor here at Stacker. The first American Union formed in 1794 and was the Shoemakers. This is a truly interesting list of the history of US Labor and Labor Law.
Today, American workers have a host of rights and recourses should their workplace be hostile or harmful. While the modern labor movement works to continue to improve the working conditions for all with big efforts around a fair minimum wage and end of employer wage theft, the movement has a history rich with fights and wins. It put an end to child labor, 10-to-16 hour workdays, and unsafe working conditions. Today, every wage-earning American today owes a debt of gratitude to organized labor for the 40-hour workweek, minimum wage (such as it is), anti-discrimination laws, and other basic protections. Far from basic, those protections were, until fairly recently, pipe dreams to the millions of American men, women, and children who labored endlessly in dreadful conditions for poverty wages.
The gratitude is owed mostly to the unions those nameless and disposable workers organized, which they did under the threat of being fired, harassed, evicted from company homes, beaten, jailed, and, in many cases, killed. In 1886, for example, over 200,000 railroad workers went on strike to protest an unjust firing. In 1894, over 250,000 workers walked out of the Pullman Palace Car Company factories to protest 12-hour workdays and wage cuts.
The 2018 Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME established that public-sector workers who are protected by unions—of which there are five times as many as private workers—but don’t wish to join, no longer have to pay fees on behalf of the union’s collective bargaining. This dealt a blow to public-sector unions, though it didn’t result in the mass exodus union detractors had hoped for. Overall union membership in the U.S. in 2019 was at 10.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that’s a historical low rate, some industries—like digital media, museums, and non-profits—are making inroads with new unions.
While we’re on the subject of hard work
I just wanted to say that I always was a man to work
I was born working and I worked my way up by hard work
I ain’t never go nowhere yet but I got there by hard work
Work of the hardest kind
I been down and I been out
And I’ve been busted, disgusted and couldn’t be trusted
I worked my way up and I worked my way down
I’ve been drunk and I’ve been sober
I’ve had hard times and I got hijacked
And been robbed for cash and robbed for credit
Worked my way into jail and outta jail
And I woke up alotta mornings and I didn’t even know where I was at
But the hardest work I ever done is when I was trying to get myself
A worried woman to ease my worried mind
So, I’d just like to wish you a happy labor day!!! Be safe! Be kind to yourself!
FDR Labor Day 1941
What’s on your blogging and read list today?
Memorial Day ReadsPosted: May 30, 2016 Filed under: 2016 elections, Afternoon Reads, worker rights | Tags: gun violence, Justice for Harambe, Memorial Day 12 Comments
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It’s the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to our country. The day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was recognized in 1868 when a organization of Union veterans established the day as a day to decorate the graves of Union Soldiers. It is believed that former slaves were the first to actually have a Memorial Day type event in 1865 which inspired Northerners to do similar things.
This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.
The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.
I still find it intriguing that states like Mississippi don’t recognize the day as a holiday–other than Federal Agencies that follow Federal Holiday Schedules–since it’s considered a “Yankee” Holiday. There was a competing Confederate holiday but the two were eventually merged for all but neoconfederates like those in Mississippi. Our family used to use the day to picnic at family cemetery plots to do general all purpose gardening and clean up. I can remember mother’s personal fight to keep the peonies off the grave stones in Kansas City and various small towns in Kansas and Missouri.
A lot of people confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day which in a way is a bit sad. Memorial Day is specifically a remembrance to those who died while in the military in either battle or in support of those in battle. They used to sell little red poppies to honor the World War 1 dead. We always got one in remembrance of my Dad’s Uncle Jack for whom he was named. Uncle Jack made it home but died within a few years from the effects of mustard gas. I’m not sure that we do much of anything like that any more but given we still lose many active service members to war and military excursions, we should remember their sacrifice uniquely. Veteran’s Day for those who lived through their service. Armed Forces Day for those serving now. Memorial Day for those who died while in service to our country.
Of course, what week could go by without another crazed mass shooting? Here’s the local headline from Houston: “TWO DEAD, 6 INJURED AFTER TERRIFYING MASS SHOOTING IN WEST HOUSTON.”
A man came into a west Houston auto detail shop and began shooting, killing a man known to be a customer and putting a neighborhood on lockdown Sunday before being killed by a SWAT officer, police said.
You can read the details but I’m beginning to think that we’ve got civilians in our country that are dying in battlefields too. Unfortunately, the battlefields are shopping centers, movie theatres, and all kinds of places in American Cities.
I hesitate to bring this story up because I find it super upsetting but I know we have folks here that love our furry relations as much as I do. A child fell into a zoo enclosure last week which resulted in the shooting of a rare lowland gorilla. There are a number of videos out that I don’t have the heart to watch. Grief is turning to outrage over the gorilla’s death. Here’s a story on that.
The killing of an endangered gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo to rescue a boy who fell into a dangerous enclosure unleashed an outpouring of grief on over the holiday weekend.
Within hours, that grief had turned to fury as critics questioned the zoo’s decision to kill the endangered 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, and called for the boy’s parents to be punished for not adequately supervising their child.
A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” received more than 41,000 “likes” within hours of its creation. The page’s description says it was created to “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder” and includes YouTube tributes and memes celebrating the western lowland gorilla and admonishing zoo officials.
“Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder,” a commenter from Denmark named Per Serensen wrote on the page. “Soooo angry.”
Lt. Steve Saunders, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they have no plans to charge the child’s parents.
That news didn’t stop tens of thousands from signing multiple online petitions calling for Cincinnati Child Protective Services to investigate the boy’s parents — who have not been identified — for negligence.
“I’m signing because a beautiful critically endangered animal was killed as a direct result of her failure to supervise her child,” one signee wrote. “I don’t blame the zoo staff for the decision they made, I’m sure they’re heartbroken.”
“If she’d watched her child he wouldn’t have been in the gorilla enclosure in the first place,” the commenter added.
A petition on Change.org asks for legislation to be passed that creates “legal consequences when an endangered animal is harmed or killed due to the negligence of visitors.” The petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.
Here’s another take on the situation including the videos. Witnesses say the boy wanted to go into the water inside the enclosure. They also indicated that entering the enclosure was not an easy task.
The incident drew widespread attention as dramatic video spread across the Internet showing Harambe dragging the boy like a rag doll through the water across the habitat.The boy climbed through a barrier and fell some 15 feet to a shallow moat in Harambe’s enclosure, Maynard said.Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, who captured some of the incident on her phone, told CNN she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water.Suddenly, a splash drew the crowd’s attention to the boy in the water. The crowd started screaming, drawing Harambe’s attention to the boy, O’Connor said.At first, it looked like Harambe was trying to help the boy, O’Connor said. He stood him up and pulled up his pants.As the crowd’s clamors grew, Harambe tossed the boy into a corner of the moat, O’Connor said, which is when she started filming. Harambe went over to the corner and shielded the boy with his body as the boy’s mother yelled “Mommy’s right here.”The crowd’s cries appeared to agitate Harambe anew, O’Connor said, and the video shows him grabbing the boy by the foot. He dragged him through the water and out of the moat atop the habitat, O’Connor said.By that point, “It was not a good scene,” she said. When the boy tried to back away the gorilla “aggressively” pulled him back into his body “and really wasn’t going to let him get away,” she said.O’Connor left before the shooting. When asked if the the barrier could be easily penetrated by a child, she said it would take some effort.
The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers.
At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation.
“This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,” said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court.
Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s “plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,” also known as the CBA, with the union. Icahn promised a “capital infusion of $100 million” to keep the casino in operation, but “only if the CBA and tax relief contingencies are achieved.”
With that understanding, the Philadelphia-based appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s order that canceled the health insurance and pension contributions called for in the union’s contract. “It is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA, as opposed to losing the positions permanently,” wrote Judge Jane Roth.
The union is urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse that ruling, arguing the labor laws call for preserving collective bargaining agreements, even if they expire during a bankruptcy. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and filed a brief in the support of the casino workers union when the case was before the 3rd Circuit.
So much for Trump and the working person.
Anyway, I’m going to make this short today because most of the stories I’m reading aren’t exactly pleasant. Seems we have a streak of violence going around the country and the headlines reflect that. Chicago is having an extremely violent few days. I was thinking that the violence here might be isolated but it doesn’t appear to be.
June 2nd is “Wear Orange Day” which is a day to commit to ending gun violence. The day started in 2013 when some Chicago kids asked every one to wear orange in remembrance of a friend killed by gun fire. Maybe this holiday will become the Memorial Day for those civilians killed in the battle in our streets.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?