Skirmish lines in the class war

Obama Administration Eases Obstacles to Organizing

One of the worst aspects of the Railway Labor Act has been eliminated by the Obama Administration. The Act, which preceded the National Labor Relations Act, covers workers in the critical transportation industry. When they try to organize a company, they have had to get more than a majority of the votes in a government-supervised election. They had to get a majority of the entire bargaining unit. In other words, every worker who failed to vote effectively voted against the union. This built-in employer bias has destroyed many a union organizing drive!

According to Mike Hall of the AFL-CIO, "...airline and rail workers will now be able to choose whether to join a union under rules that are more fair and more in line with democratic principles."

Hot Greece Burns Markets

Initial reports of the sudden 1000-point dive in the Dow Jones Stock Index during May 6 blamed the economic situation in Europe, and especially in Greece. Devastating new austerity programs are being forced on the Greeks, and they are not taking it quietly. Economists say that other nations with larger economies, notably Spain and Italy, may collapse if Greece does. Questions about the nature of relationships between imperialist countries arise immediately. We've been told for several years now that the new "global economy" ushered in a period of cooperation among nations. It was obvious from the beginning that nothing was new between imperialist nations and the less-developed countries they exploit, but there was nevertheless a claim that imperialist nations would be able to cooperate with one another. Back when Lenin wrote "Imperialism," he said they could get along no better than rival gangs in a turf war, and he 's been proven right up to now. Even though the European Union later joined with the U.S.- dominated International Monetary Fund to create new debt to save Greece and other teetering economies, It remains to be seen whether or not their cooperation can survive today's test.

Union Youth Invited

National AFL-CIO is holding a Young Workers Summit (35 and under) on June 10-13, 2010 at the
Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. Young union members are being asked to register right away. Over the 30 years of anti-worker government just (we hope) past, union membership tended to age. Seniority is the rock-solid basis of union rights, consequently it was the younger workers who tended to take the layoffs and the older ones who stayed. This conference gives those low-seniority younger workers a better chance of making the union movement their own!

Partial Jobs Crisis Solution Advocated

The AFL-CIO and supporters such as Jobs with Justice are advocating for the Local Jobs for America Act, AKA the Miller Bill. It is supposed to save or provide up to 1 million jobs, even though 11 million are needed, by putting federal money into hiring state and local employees such as police and teachers. Advocates remind us that the great jobs programs of Roosevelt's New Deal were also partial solutions. Not everybody found a job with the Works Progress Administration, for example.

Smoke Blown in San Antonio and Austin

The refinery that blew up in San Antonio May 5th points, again, to the dangers of work in Texas, and especially in the oil industry. The eleven oil workers who were blown to pieces on a drilling platform in the Gulf didn't stay in the headlines long, as the world became much more concerned about the gigantic dump of pollutants. Texas Governor Perry defended the perpetrators, British Petroleum, by calling the explosion and record-high oil dump an "act of God."

More Cuts Coming for Children?

The Dallas Newspaper reports that the Texas Legislature is facing a deficit of up to $15 billion. Last time they faced a deficit, only $9.9 billion that time, they cut Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

Are Workers Wrung Dry?

The Associated Press reports that the productivity increase in first quarter 2010 (annual rate) was “only” 3.6%. “Down sharply from the previous 3 quarters.” AP thinks that would indicate that employers might start hiring again, as they have squeezed all they can out of the employees they have left. “Firms are reacihng the limit of worker endurance,” said Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. Companies unit labor costs fell 1.6 %. That followed declines of 5.6% in the 4th quaarter and 7.6% in the third quarter. “For all of 2009, productivity rose at a 3.7 percent rate, nearly double the 2 percent increase in 2008. it was the fastest annual increase in productivity in seven years.