Labor Day Monday Reads

Image Happy Labor Day Sky Dancers!

Down here in New Orleans we’re celebrating Southern Decadence!!  It’s a very big party with a lot of everything where every one has fun while being yelled at by the usual crowd of angry, bitter judgy white men.

Meanwhile, the some times occupier of the White House is playing golf at his Virginia club all on the Tax Payer’s Dime.  And, a million US citizens are facing evacuation for the monster hurricane Dorian.  This is from the Weather Channel.  I can only imagine the hell that is pounding the northernmost Bahamas today.  

Dorian’s forward speed has slowed to a virtual stall.

Unfortunately, that means the northwest Bahamas, in particular Grand Bahama Island, are taking an extended pummeling.

Wind gusts of up to 200 mph are possible on Grand Bahama Island, including Freeport, according to the National Hurricane Center, along with life-threatening storm surge. Bahamas Press reported Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport was under 5 feet of water early Monday morning.

Squalls from the outer periphery of Dorian have also reached the southern Florida Peninsula. A wind gust to 47 mph was reported at Juno Beach, Florida, early Monday morning.

A hurricane warning has been posted along the east coast of Florida from Jupiter Inlet to the Volusia/Brevard County line. A storm surge warning has also been issued from Lantana to the Volusia/Brevard County line. These warnings include Melbourne.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Grand Bahama and the Abacos Islands in the northwestern Bahamas, including Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Hurricane warnings mean that hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area, generally within 36 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Storm surge warnings mean there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, within the watch area during the next 36 hours. If you live in an area prone to storm surge, be sure to follow the advice of local officials if evacuations are ordered.

A hurricane watch has been posted along Florida’s east coast from north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet and from the Volusia/Brevard County line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. A storm surge watch has also been posted from north of Deerfield Beach to Lantana and from the Volusia/Brevard County line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. These watches include Jacksonville.

It’s hard to imagine what a storm of this size has down, can do, and will do.  ABC already reports the hurricane has brought ‘historic’ destruction to the Bahamas which is described as it “laying waster” to the nation of a chain of low lying islands. The other provided description is “pure hell”.

Winds are currently blowing at a sustained 165 MPH — the same strength that Hurricane Andrew had when it hit parts of the Miami metro area in 1992.

The eye of the storm made a second landfall at 2 p.m. on the island near Marsh Harbour, and a third landfall an hour before midnight on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island.

Francis Charles, who rode out the storm in Hope Town, Elbow Cay, called the island “a wreck” late Sunday.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Jenise Fernandez, reporter with Miami ABC affiliate WPLG, told the station during their broadcast.

ABC News correspondent Marcus Moore, who is on the ground in Marsh Harbour, described the scene as “pure hell.”

“I have seen utter devastation here in Marsh Harbour. We are surrounded by water with no way out,” Moore said. “Absolute devastation, there really are no words it is pure hell here on Marsh Harbour on Avoca Island in the northern part of the Bahamas.”

Image result for new orleans statue dedicated to workers A local doctor commissioned a statue to recognize and celebrate the role of Latino Workers in helping the city of New orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levees 14 years ago.

Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. The 2005 storm was one of the deadliest, and in the aftermath, Black and brown communities felt abandoned by the US government. One of the things we saw as a result of the hurricane was many Latinos who arrived in the city to help rebuilt. Unfortunately, it meant workers cramming into small living spaces and because of the Bush Administration, it also meant they weren’t always paid at the minimum federal rate. All the while, their contributions went largely ignored. On Saturday, a new statue in New Orleans honored the workers, most of whom are Latino and Latin American, for their work.

A local doctor commissioned the statue, made of bronze and marble, but it’s clear that the Crescent Park monument means something to many others. Council member Helen Moreno told 4WWL, “We watched the destruction that happened because of the storm, and we wondered, ‘how in the world are we ever gonna come back?’ But thanks to so many people who came and helped us and the influx of Latino workers that we had in our city, we were able to come back, and not only New Orleans, but surrounding parishes as well.”

E.J Dionne wrote this very moving column today in WAPO on “Remembering the legacy of Labor Day”.

We have also lost the sense of solidarity that originally inspired Labor Day. Greenhouse recounts a conversation with his then-86-year-old mother when he was in Wisconsin covering Republican then-Gov. Scott Walker’s offensive to gut collective bargaining and cut public employee benefits.

“When I was growing up,” she told him, “people used to say, ‘Look at the good wages and benefits that people in a union have. I want to join a union.’ Now, people say, ‘Look at the good wages and benefits that union members have. They’re getting more than I get. That’s not fair. Let’s take away some of what they have.’ ”

How did we get to this point? In another must-read book for our moment, “The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society,” Binyamin Appelbaum argues that the growing role of professional economists since the late 1960s fundamentally altered popular understandings about how the world should work.

We have moved, Appelbaum argues, from a healthy respect for what markets can accomplish in their proper sphere to a “single-minded embrace of markets” that “has come at the expense of economic equality, of the health of liberal democracy, and of future generations.”

“In the pursuit of efficiency,” Appelbaum writes, “policy makers subsumed the interests of Americans as producers to the interests of Americans as consumers, trading well-paid jobs for low cost electronics.”

Appelbaum, who writes about economics and business for the New York Times editorial page, values what economists do, but the ones he respects most are those who understand the limits of a purely material understanding of what matters. He quotes the brilliant Amartya Sen: “Economic growth cannot sensibly be treated as an end in itself. Development has to be more concerned with enhancing the lives we lead and the freedoms we enjoy.”

 

So, that’s it from me today.  The very thought and sight of that Hurricane has me quite triggered so I’m staying home with the TV off as much as possible.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Labor Day Reads

ss-120830-labor-day-16-ss_fullHappy Labor Day!!

I read this poignant article from the Harvard Business Review last week but I wanted to headline it today because it is so true.  Labor really has no friends in America any more.  Both parties have realigned themselves to pander to the donor class. This is written by Professor Robert Martin.

Real wages for production and non-supervisory workers have declined since the mid-1970s.  The share of jobs that are unionized has plummeted back almost to the level it was before 1935 when the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) facilitated a huge increase in unionization.  High unemployment has persisted in the jobless recovery. For those fortunate enough to have full time employment, job security is down, and pension and health benefits are shrinking. No trend for labor is positive.

Worse still, it is arguable that its longtime friend in Washington has abandoned traditional labor.  Throughout most of the 20th century, labor could count on having the Democratic party squarely in its corner. President Roosevelt rode to the rescue of labor in 1935 with the NLRA to fight back against the corporations who were subjecting labor to hostile, dangerous, insecure and low-paying workplaces. Throughout most of the rest of the 20th century, a Democratic presidential hopeful could not dream of winning the party’s nomination without gaining the endorsement of the President of the AFL-CIO – who always had a key speaking role at the Democratic Convention.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party battled on behalf of capital, supporting right-to-work states, deregulating industries, and lowering tax rates.  That was the 20th century alignment.

It began to change at the end of the 20th century. A key marker occurred in 1992 when President Bill Clinton signed into law a tax change that allowed only the first $1 million in CEO compensation to be deducted for corporate income tax purposes. It was supposed to discourage corporations from paying their CEOs more than what was then thought to be an excessive $1 million (imagine that!) – and failed spectacularly as they were given stock options instead, which made them wealthier than ever before.

But in whose favor was this measure intended? Labor?  Hardly. There was no obvious benefit to them.  Capital? Yes indeed. Shareholders were complaining about CEOs demanding ever-higher compensation – and the Democrats responded to help capital reign in CEO talent. Arguably the attention to the needs of capital has continued in the Obama administration. This administration featured enthusiastic embrace of the TARP bailouts of banks that protected their shareholders first and foremost and the continued low interest policies that favor capital owners.  Of course, the argument can be made that these policies help labor too, by avoiding a recession/depression. But the careful attention to capital first is a relatively new behavior for the Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has increasingly shifted its allegiance to high-end talent, a tiny offshoot of labor that began to emerge around 1960.   During the Reagan era, for instance, they cut the top marginal income tax rate from 70% in 1980 to 50% just two years later. By 1988 it was 28%. In seven years, an executive earning a million-dollar salary went from keeping $340,000 after federal taxes to keeping $725,000. That’s quite a raise. (The marginal rate for labor — median-income families — fell only about 10% over the same time-span.)

Labor-Day-StampWe’ve really switched from celebrating hard work to celebrating businesses that gamble. There are many ways that you can tell that businesses are really killing themselves in the long run in order to deliver short run profits.  One of the most significant ways is the lack of R&D expenditures. That’s why it’s been an important public function. CEOS are no longer interested in anything that doesn’t deliver on high quarterly earnings. Here’s Bill Gates talking about the paltry investment in clean energy.

The demand for energy — be it solar, wind, clean coal, nuclear, or hydro — already far outpaces the amount we spend on technological innovations for the future of energy, and that demand is only continuing to grow more rapidly. The International Energy Outlook recently projected world energy consumption will increase by more than 50% by 2040.

Last week, Bill Gates wrote a post about needing “energy miracles.” He drew attention to some eye-opening statistics:

60% of the federal government’s R&D spending is on defense. About 25% is on health. Energy spending? 2%.

The US ranks 11th in overall percentage of the GDP that goes to energy research (Finland and China are the top two, respectively)

R&D spending on energy isn’t just a government problem. It’s also a serious problem in the private sector. The energy industry invests less than half of one percent (0.42%) of its revenue on research. In contrast, the pharmaceutical industry puts 20.5% of sales into R&D, and aerospace and defense spends 11.5%.

The US needs breakthroughs in clean energy in order to keep its economic engine running at full speed and to control future carbon emissions. So why does the federal government spend so little on research and development for innovations in this sector?

“People just have to understand that you don’t invest today and get a clean coal plant tomorrow, or cheap batteries at scale tomorrow,” said Margot Anderson, the executive director of the Energy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “They take a lot of time, a lot of really smart people, a lot of money and private partnerships that develop.”

Again, the political donor class explains a lot of policy priorities. Steve Denning of Forbes asks why economics puts so much focus on profit maximizing business. 112.labor-visions.Anita_willcox_solidarity-forever-poster But, it doesn’t necessarily focus on maximizing profits by slashing costs, reducing service to customers, and not investing in innovation.  That seems to be a focus more on pleasing Wall Street Investors and CEOS. Actually, this “dumbest idea” came from Milton Friedman and is not the universal focus of all economists. But, the idea of “maximizing shareholder value” comes from the finance side of things but still from the Chicago School.

I reported earlier this month that the Financial Times published a pair of important articles asking why the goal of a firm is to maximize short-term shareholder value is still being taught in business schools.

“While there is growing consensus that focusing on short-term shareholder value is not only bad for society but also leads to poor business results, much MBA teaching remains shaped by the shareholder primacy model.”

The challenge is massive because shareholder value is now deeply embedded in the basic economics that is taught in business schools and economics faculties around the world. Moving on from the shareholder value theory, which even its foremost exemplar, Jack Welch, has called “the dumbest idea in the world”, will entail re-thinking and re-writing much of the basics of modern economics.

If you want a way to take action against underpaid labor, try eliminating fast food from your diet.  Subway leads the fast food industry in underpaying workers. labor That’s a good place to start or stop as the case may be.

McDonald’s gets a lot of bad press for its low pay. But there’s an even bigger offender when it comes to fast food companies underpaying their employees: Subway.

Individual Subway franchisees have been found in violation of pay and hour rules in more than 1,100 investigations spanning from 2000 to 2013, according to a CNNMoney analysis of data collected by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Each investigation can lead to multiple violations and fines. Combined, these cases found about 17,000 Fair Labor Standards Act violations and resulted in franchisees having to reimburse Subway workers more than $3.8 million over the years.

It’s a significant sum considering many Subway “sandwich artists” earn at or just above the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The next most frequent wage violators in the industry are McDonald’s (MCD)and Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN) stores.

Is there really much to celebrate about Labor Day given the maltreatment of the American worker throughout most industries? 

Today, America finds itself in a position of incredible challenge. Half of all Americans now make less than $15 an hour. Of the 10 fastest-growing jobs in America, eight are service sector jobs that pay $15 an hour or less.

Service sector jobs are the heartbeat of our economy and our communities, from the folks who care for the elderly and our children, to those who cook and serve our food, to those who clean and secure our offices. Moving our economy forward must include making service jobs into good jobs with wages that you can raise a family on.

That’s why this Labor Day, the American people are sparking a new movement, joining together for an economy and democracy that works for everyone.

Fast food workers have joined together to fight for $15 an hour. They have been joined by home care workers who are calling for $15 an hour for all caregivers. Just last week 27,000 Minnesota home care workers joined together in union, determined to raise wages and fight for quality home care for our seniors.

Working people in Seattle fought for and won a $15 minimum wage for 100,000 people, and other cities are poised to do the same. Across our nation adjunct professors, airport workers, security officers, hospital workers, Wal-Mart workers and other service sector workers are standing up and sticking together.

All told, 6.7 million workers have achieved better pay since fast food workers began striking less than two years ago, either through states or cities moving to raise minimum wages or through collective bargaining. These brave workers are building the momentum to raise wages and get our economy roaring again.

Yet the prosperity of our nation and growth of our economy depend not just on economic justice. A vibrant economy cannot exist without vibrant American communities steeped in the fundamental American principles of liberty and justice for all.

an8263661Richard Reeves suggests we call it “Reagan Day” because Labor in American has changed radically since Reagan dealt with PATCO.

I woke up last Thursday morning to learn that my FedEx man does not work for FedEx. Voices on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” informed me that although FedEx controls just about every minute of its drivers’ days, the corporation regards them as “independent contractors.”
Thus, no benefits—they even have to pay for their own uniforms—and the workers can be kicked out anytime FedEx feels like it.

This was five days before Labor Day, the 120-year-old holiday that, according to the Labor Department, is “the first Monday in September, a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contribution workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

Nice words, written after 10,000 workers marched in an 1882 “Labor Day Parade” and celebrated in a New York City park. That’s what we pretend to celebrate even though it no longer exists for FedEx guys who are no longer “workers,” but are now “contractors” or “involuntary entrepreneurs.” Outsourced Americans. You could lump them with the franchisees of fast-food outlets. A corporation makes all the rules, avoids paying all the benefits and passes on the risk and liabilities to the franchisees. Got bad milk? Your problem.

Like many “workers” of my generation, I have been there and done that. I am a member of three unions: the Newspaper Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild. Although it was run by as dumb a group of folks that ever gathered, I am forever indebted to the Newspaper Guild. I was working for a nonunion paper, the Newark Evening News in New Jersey, for $60 a week when I was hired by The New York Herald Tribune, a union paper that paid me $163.60 a week. I could buy a house and I did. I went to The New York Times, a union paper, which started me at $230 a week with loads of benefits and overtime. Then there came a day when I was promoted to management, chief political correspondent, with a salary of $23,000 a year in 1971. But there was no overtime, and I was taking home less than I had as a “worker.”

So it goes. Management, of which I was then a part, had begun to understand how to squeeze workers and their unions. By 2013, fewer than 10 percent of private-sector employees belonged to unions, compared with 20 percent in 1983 and more than 50 percent in the 1950s. Result: Wages have stagnated, spouses have gone to work, strikes have been broken. Now more than half the unionized workers in the country are public service employees, who have better and more complicated work rule regimes than corporate employees.

So, I would argue, Labor Day is a farce.

It’s possible.  But, at least I still get to enjoy the day off.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Saturday Morning Lite

Syria War Room, by Steve Sack

Syria War Room, by Steve Sack

Good Morning!!

 

I don’t know about you, but I really missed JJ’s Friday Night Lite post last night, so I thought I’d start out Sky Dancing’s Saturday with some political cartoons. I hope you enjoy these — courtesy of Cagle Post.

A few more on Syria:

 

Assad Chemicals by Steve Sack

Assad Chemicals by Steve Sack

 

Assad Chemical Weapons, by Mike Keefe

Assad Chemical Weapons, by Mike Keefe

 

Syria Plan by Rick McKee

Syria Plan by Rick McKee

 

The Anti-War Left by Eric Allie

The Anti-War Left by Eric Allie

 

Syria and Affleck by John Cole

Syria and Affleck by John Cole

 

Cameron's Failure, by Rainer Hatchfeld

Cameron’s Failure, by Rainer Hatchfeld

 

March on Washington 50th Anniversary:

 

I Have A Dream Anniversary, by Nate Beeler

I Have A Dream Anniversary, by Nate Beeler

 

MLK Nightmare by Jeff Darcy

MLK Nightmare by Jeff Darcy

 

Dreamer, by Adam Zyglis

Dreamer, by Adam Zyglis

 

Labor Day and Income Inequality

 

Fast Food Minimum Wage, by Jimmy Margulies

Fast Food Minimum Wage, by Jimmy Margulies

 

Labor Day Jobs, by Jeff Parker

Labor Day Jobs, by Jeff Parker

 

NFL Concussion Lawsuit

 

NFL Concussion Lawsuit, by Bruce Plante

NFL Concussion Lawsuit, by Bruce Plante

 

Immigration Reform

 

Immigration Reform, by Mike Lukovich

Immigration Reform, by Mike Lukovich

 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend!! And if you’re not out on the beach or doing something else more exciting, please post links to the stories you’re following today in the comment thread.


Labor Day: Celebrate the 99% and the protections we earned

I’ve joined Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire who is now displaying this sentiment:

Because even though I remain angry at Obama, I’ve “fallen in hate” with Mitt Romney. And I’m horrified at the prospect of that creepy Randroid Paul Ryan being one heartbeat away from the highest office. At any rate, I suspect that Ryan will be the true power in a Romney administration. He’ll be the new Dick Cheney — except his brief will be domestic policy, not foreign policy.

I have just been through yet another national disaster. I’ve had more than my share of them.  I just finished my FEMA registration for help.  My delightful private insurance company got the state to pass a law to raise my deductible from Hurricane Damage to about what they paid me after Katrina which didn’t cover enough as it was.  Now, I pay an exorbitant rate and I’m staring down damage with about a $7,000 hurricane deductible.  The good hands people have their hands out for my premiums but that’s about it. I get phone calls, visits, and lip service for that.  I’m on my own for whatever nature deals me except for the idea in the US that when our citizens are down and out, we help them back up.  This is an idea that is nonexistent in today’s Republican Party and in their candidates Governor “I got mine” and Congressman “I got mine and want yours too” and they are both willing to lie to improve their lots in life and diminish ours.

I’m thinking about Labor Day and the things we now have because of the Labor Movement, FDR, LBJ and even (gasp) Richard Nixon, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.  These were leaders that looked to the needs of the country and the people.  Teddy Roosevelt saw our vast national treasures and preserved them for all Americans. Richard Nixon did not deny the impact of pollution on our natural resources or toxins on our hapless workers and families.  Eisenhower knew that we needed vast infrastructure to grow our economy and our people.  FDR and LBJ knew that if the least among us could not provide for themselves, we needed to give them a hand up and pull them into  a growing, educated, and productive, middle class.  These are things that the current Republican Dastardly Duo would like to remove from us and have been actively working to remove for us. Their vision for America is an America that works for only them and their select cronies.  I will not abide by that.

I’m am thinning out my Facebook friends list rapidly of people I knew around 4 years ago that I thought supported my vision–not the Romney/Ryan vision–because it is also the vision of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  I’m all fine with the support of third party candidates but any one that tries to send me propaganda that Romney is a feminist based on hiring a few women years ago back in Massachusetts and therefor deserves my vote can frankly sell their frigging uterus and announce themselves a neutered slave imho. You’re going to be deleted from contact with me on Twitter and Facebook and you’re not going to be very welcome here either.  I will not watch everything I care about–our immigrant heritage, our appreciation for the rights of minorities, women, GLBT communities, and others and our heritage of doing right by the least among us–be destroyed by greedy Vulture Capitalists who lie.  I don’t care how mad you are at Obama, if you’re encouraging this group of race-baiting, women-hating, middle class destroying, religiously intolerant Republicans then be prepared to axed from my list and be moderated into byte hell here at Sky Dancing.  Again, I’m fine with any one that wants to tell me about Jill or Rosanne even though I will argue if you live in some states we should have a frank discussion about Al Gore and Ralph Nader eventually.  But, I do not–under any circumstances–want to read any one that tells me that the Romney/Ryan ticket are our friends.  I don’t care if you decide to skip the presidential ticket either.  Although, again, I’m not sure if I could do that if I lived in a swing state.  I am all happy with you criticizing POTUS because on many, many issues, the man deserves criticism.

But, I cannot think of ANY circumstances under which Romney or Ryan are going to be a friend to working people, teachers, firefighters, forest rangers, women, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, transexual and bisexual people, animals, the planet earth, children, or the general welfare of the United States of America.

The new platform — with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government — shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time.

Subtitled “We Believe in America,” the platform keeps its focus on the party’s traditional support for low taxes, national security and social conservatism. And it delves into a number of politically charged issues. It calls state court decisions recognizing same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society,” opposes gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines,” supports the “public display of the Ten Commandments,” calls on the federal government to drop its lawsuits challenging state laws adopted to combat illegal immigration, and salutes the Republican governors and lawmakers who “saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the chairman of the party’s platform committee, described it as “a conservative vision of governance” in his speech at the convention.

There are tons of things in the GOP party platform that are so offensive to me that I cannot believe another human being would consider them anything other than anathema.  It includes shit like  “we support English as the nation’s official language.”  It damns Democrats for  “replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit.”  Think about this anti-abortion plank which recognizes no dissent and states unequivocally that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”  I have not spent my life as a feminist activist to watch every single thing I’ve worked and fought for burned to the ground.

Is that your vision for our country?  If it is, frankly, I do not want to hear from you or know you.  Here’s a Bush Republican–Matthew Dowd–talking about today’s Republican ticket. (h/t to RalphB and Joseph Cannon)

I cannot abide with any one who says rescuing people from their flooded-out homes is not the responsibility of our society.  I cannot abide with any one that says providing basic social insurance so that the elderly can live their lives out in dignity compared to hoping and praying the money doesn’t run out and the market doesn’t abscond with their retirement savings is just the private sector at work.  I do not want our children educated by a bunch of ignorant religious zealots who do not believe in the truth or science.  I believe in public education.  PERIOD.  You can fricking pay for religious indoctrination with your own money.  I will gladly pay to preserve our national treasures like Yellowstone, The French Quarter, and other historic and natural places.  I do not want them farmed out to the likes of the Koch Brothers as a source of profit to be pillaged, polluted and destroyed.  I do not believe you have the right to tell people who to marry and who to love and when life begins.  I do not want anything that’s more efficiently put into the public trust turned over to vulture capitalists to leverage, sell, and destroy.  I do not want to hear about how evil public workers are because they are willing to take lower pay for good secure pensions, jobs, and benefits.  I want every one to have that.  If you believe any of that and you can still support Romney and Ryan, you’re a damned fool and I don’t want to hear from you.  I don’t want to read you. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.  Again,  we can disagree completely on the effectiveness or whatever of the Obama administration.  I hear you on that.  But if you support evil, you’re evil as far as I’m concerned.  Go find some hell hole and hang with the other demons.

Meanwhile, I want to raise up the people who did fight for our civilization and who fought to make life better for all of us in this country.

It is essential that there should be organizations of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize. My appeal for organized labor is two-fold; to the outsider and the capitalist I make my appeal to treat the laborer fairly, to recognize the fact that he must organize that there must be such organization, that the laboring man must organize for his own protection, and that it is the duty of the rest of is to help him and not hinder him in organizing

Teddy Roosevelt in the so-called Bull Moose Speech

I have always been interested in organizations for labor. I have always felt that it was important that everyone who was a worker join a labor organization, because the ideals of the organized labor movement are high ideals.

They mean that we are not selfish in our desires, that we stand for the good of the group as a whole, and that is something which we in the United States are learning every day must be the attitude of every citizen.

We must all of us come to look upon our citizenship as a trusteeship, something that we exercise in the interests of the whole people.

Only if we cooperate in the battle to make this country a real democracy where the interests of all people are considered, only when each one of us does this will genuine democracy be achieved.

We hope to make the great battle which is before us today a battle of democracy versus a dictatorship.

I could not help thinking as we sang “God Bless America” that you who have seen hardship for so many weeks in your fight to better conditions for everyone involved must sometimes think that things are not as they should be in this country. I am afraid that I agree with you.

I know many parts of the country and there are many that I would like to see changed, and I hope eventually they will be changed.

But in spite of that I hope that we all feel that the mere fact that we can meet together and talk about organization for the worker and democracy in this country is in itself something for which we ought to be extremely thankful.

There are many places where there can be no longer any participation or decision on the part of the people as to what they will or will not do. And so, in spite of everything, we can still sing “God Bless America” and really feel that we are moving forward slowly, sometimes haltingly, but always in the hope and in the interest of the people in the whole country.

 Eleanor Roosevelt Address to the IBEW

“Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor — those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized — do a disservice to the cause of democracy.

Fifty years or so ago the American Labor Movement was little more than a group of dreamers, and look at it now. From coast to coast, in factories, stores, warehouse and business establishments of all kinds, industrial democracy is at work.

Employees, represented by free and democratic trade unions of their own choosing, participate actively in determining their wages, hours and working conditions. Their living standards are the highest in the world. Their job rights are protected by collective bargaining agreements. They have fringe benefits that were unheard of less than a generation ago.

Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor. But their work goes beyond their own jobs, and even beyond our borders.”

Our unions have fought for aid to education, for better housing, for development of our national resources, and for saving the family-sized farms. They have spoken, not for narrow self-interest, but for the public interest and for the people.”

John F Kennedy

My daughters likely learned this song in utero because I love it and I sing it so much.  This will always be my favorite labor song.  Please share yours with us.


Celebrating Labor Day!!

So, a soggy weekend is always a great excuse to drag out some classic movies.  Here are my choices for a great Labor Day Weekend.

Joe Hill (1971)

I first saw this in junior high school for an 8th grade field trip.  The Joan Baez song always plays in my head to this day when Labor Day comes around.

Norma Rae (1979)

A classic with Sally Fields!

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

This is up on my list of best movies ever.  Henry Fonda is at his best in this film.

If you’re up to something a little bit less fictional, check out Studs Terkel’s Conversations with America.

Here’s a list from Berkeley to check if you need other movie and TV show suggestions with strong labor themes.

Here’s another list from Local 2209 in Roanoke, Indiana.  I chose a few that will give you some smiles!

BLUE COLLAR 1978 Richard Pryor.

MODERN TIMES Charlie Chaplin Humorous satirical look at technology’s effect on workers.

THE BIG ONE Michael Moore 1998

So, what’s up with you this labor day weekend?  Are you able to spend some time outdoors are is the weather keeping you indoors?