Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
International Noise Conspiracy
Z Papers On Strategy
Dan La Botz
Mark t. Harris
Rank & File
Top Lies About Iraq
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Reorganizing American Labor
A t no time in the past 70 years have American workers and unions been under more direct and intense attack by corporate America. Moreover, that attack continues to show signs of becoming increasingly virulent and bold.
In the heartland of U.S. unionism, the auto industry, 100,000 union jobs will soon be lost in a second major wave of offshoring to China and Asia, textile union membership reels under the effects of the last year’s passage of CAFTA, construction jobs plummet with the emerging collapse of the housing industry, airline and railroad employment falls as management costcutting continues unabated, while regular full time jobs constrict in the manufacturing sector of the economy despite the quadrupling of profits in that sector since 2002.
Beyond manufacturing, for the U.S. economy as a whole, government data released this past June revealed that profits rose 123 percent from the end of the Bush recession in 2001 to the start of 2006, from $714 billion to $1.59 trillion. Measured in terms of national income, that is equivalent to the growth of profits as a share of national income from 7 percent to 12.2 percent—the fastest rate of growth since records were first kept in 1947—according to the international business source the Financial Times .
In the midst of union membership loss and the obscene growth of corporate profits, companies across the board continue to accelerate their abandonment of pension plans, health care costs continue to shift from employers to workers at a growing rate, a new model to undermine public employee unionism and bargaining takes shape in the Midwest, the hiring of temporary and contract workers outside bargaining units at lower pay and fewer benefits becomes increasingly the norm, while employers everywhere watch intensely the outcome of bankruptcy courts’ pending decisions to legitimize wage cuts of 50 percent, eliminate pensions altogether, and cut remaining benefits to the bone.
Today, more than ever before, workers and unions in the U.S. need to take a hard look in the wake of last year’s split in the AFLCIO and begin debating seriously what new strategies, new creative grassroots and shop floor tactics, as well as what new forms of organization are necessary to directly confront the intensifying corporate offensive.
The Collapse of Union Membership
ad the union movement today been able to
maintain the 22 percent membership level that it had in 1980 it
would now have approximately 27 million members instead of today’s
14 million. The contributing factors to the decline of union membership
have been many. At the top of the list have been the “free
trade” policies and practices of government and corporations
and the consequent exporting of millions of jobs as a result of
those policies. More than 7 million jobs have been lost in manufacturing
since 1980. More than 4.6 million of those were union jobs. NAFTA
has cost the U.S. more than a million jobs, China trade another
two million. With trade deficits running $700 billion a year further
losses in manufacturing jobs and union membership are imminent.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, every $1 billion in trade
deficit causes a loss of 13,000 jobs in the U.S. Other major contributing
factors to the loss of union jobs have been:
- the restructuring of jobs in the U.S. from fulltime permanent union jobs to parttime, temporary and contract nonunion jobs
- the institutionalization of unchecked outsourcing
- widespread redefinition of bargaining units with the support and assistance of the NLRB and the courts
- aggressive union decertification and union avoidance efforts by an increasing number of companies
- the expansion of offshoring from manufacturing to additional sectors of the economy, such as technology and business professional services
- deregulation driven destruction of once unionized entire industries, including court ordered destruction of union contracts and deunionization in industries, such as airlines and the federal government
Moreover, looming large on the horizon is the deunionization drive now beginning to take shape targeting public employees in several states, as politicians seek to return to the days when archaic “civil service” rules determined wages, benefits, and the rights of public workers.
Union Membership Decline
T he historic decline in union membership has been accompanied by a decline in the worker’s real wages, earnings, benefits, hours, and conditions unequaled anytime since the early 1930s. The following are some of the more noteworthy results of what has happened in parallel with the rapid decline in union membership in America:
- The real median take home pay of the American worker is around $1 an hour less today than in 1982
- The average hourly wage for more than 100 million workers has risen by only 31 cents since 1980. That’s an average wage increase of 1.2 cents a year
- The value of the minimum wage has fallen approximately 40 percent, leaving 19 million workers and their families below poverty level wages
- Nearly 12 million quality jobs have been permanently eliminated in the U.S. since 1980, more than 7 million of those wellpaid and mostly union manufacturing jobs
- The effective unemployment rate in the U.S. in 2005 was 12.6 percent when those unofficially unemployed and involuntarily underemployed are added to official government totals—19 million are without work
- There are more than 60 million workers in the U.S. today without a regular, permanent, full time job. Nearly half of the total employed workforce
- The U.S. worker toils for the most hours by far compared to workers in any other industrial nation—1,978 hours on average a year compared to 1,400 to 1,700 a year in Europe and 1,800 in Canada
- More than 46 million U.S. citizens have no health insurance coverage at all, including more than 31 million who are working and employed
- In the past five years workers’ share of healthcare costs have risen from 26 percent to 32 percent
- Since 1985 more than 97,000 defined benefit pension plans, mostly union, have been dismantled in the U.S., leaving workers with a fraction of what their retirement otherwise would have been
- From 1984 to 2004 more than $1.68 trillion in workers’ payroll tax contributions to social security (plus trillions more in interest) were permanently diverted from the Social Security Trust Fund to cover general U.S. budget deficits
- From 1980 to 2002 the median working family’s total federal tax burden (income and payroll tax) has risen from 23 percent to 30 percent while the tax burden for the wealthiest 1 percent of households has fallen from 31 percent to 21 percent
- George W. Bush’s cumulative tax cuts from 2001 through 2004 will amount to $11 trillion when made permanent, 80 percent of which will go the wealthiest 20 percent of households and corporations
- More than $900 billion every year is transferred from working class Americans to the wealthiest 10 percent of households as a result of the above
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.