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Front Page » Table of Contents » Working & Wages

By Angelo Lopez on December 12, 2011

In the past couple of weeks, I've been following the local Occupy Wall Street movements that have sprouted up in the area. About fifty miles to the north, Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland have been causing big news with their clashes with the police and their large scale protests. I've been participating with protests closer to home, donating food to the Occupy San Jose encampment, and joining rallies in Occupy Palo Alto and Occupy Mountain View. I've been a fervent follower of the Occupy Wall Street protests because I share their fears about the growing economic inequalities in this country and agree with their criticisms of the financial institutions. As the holiday season gets underway, a perenniel Christmas chestnut is playing across the nation's playhouses and schools and it shares the same criticisms of economic injustice as the Occupy Wall Street protests. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" shares with the Occupy Wall Street protests an indignation of economic injustice and asks us to help relieve the plight of the victims of our economic system.

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By Diane Wahto on December 10, 2011

The Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, issue of the Wichita Eagle carried a small news item about a few New York cops who, working overtime, earned close to two and half million dollars a year. My husband, who once taught public school as I did most of my working life expressed outrage that these cops would earn that much money guarding bridges, The Port Authority, tunnels, and other New York sites.

My response to him was that I think public servants should be paid at least as well as stock brokers and other financial advisers, most of whom spend their work days playing with other people’s money. I have nothing against people who go into that profession. Before my 401k went down the drain, right after George W. Bush took office, I sent my money to a financial adviser who did well for me and who was an extremely nice person. Why, though, are stock brokers so much more valuable to our social welfare than the public servants who keep our streets safe or teach our children?

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By Dmitri Iglitzin on August 29, 2011

In a truly unprecedented attack on federal law enforcement agents at the National Labor Relations Board, California Representative Darrell Issa and his Republican allies in the House of Representatives are doing the bidding of corporate elites in an effort to suppress the collective bargaining rights of private sector workers.

In June of this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) commenced an enforcement action against Boeing based on a claim by IAM District 751, part of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, that Boeing broke worker protection laws when it told its unionized workers in Everett, Wash. it would transfer airplane assembly to its newly non-union facility in Charleston, South Carolina due to their past and possible future union activity.

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By Angelo Lopez on August 14, 2011

Last Wednesday, I dropped by the offices of California Representative Mike Honda to attend a gathering of political activists to ask Mike Honda and our government representatives to focus more on creating jobs. I had received an email from Move On that this was part of a nationwide grassroots effort called "Jobs Not Cuts" to try to shift the government focus from cutting vital social services and focus instead on job creation. It was a moderately attended gathering, about thirty people from different walks of life who care deeply about the issue.

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By Stuart Elliott on June 25, 2011

The AFL-CIO has a new, informative, clever website on Collective Bargaining. It features three entertaining, funny videos by director/writer Negin Farsad, producer Justin Krebs, writer Lee Camp and punchup artist Katie Halper of Vaguely Qualified productions. Here's the first one. They use humor to show why workers need collective bargaining.

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By Angelo Lopez on April 20, 2011

On April 4, 2011 I drove to downtown San Jose, California to attend a rally for workers' rights. The rally was sponsored by We Are One, and it honored Martin Luther King Jr.'s support of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968. The We Are One rally was a great event, with people from all walks of life supporting the workers in Wisconsin and the rights of workers everywhere.

I walked around the crowd asking people if I could take their photos and they were all very happy to oblige. What impressed me were all the different types of workers who attended, from teachers to fire fighters to electrical engineers to technicians. Many of the people that I talked to were inspired by the workers in Wisconsin and the protesters in Egypt and the Middle East. The speakers were great too, especially Cindy Chavez, who was in the San Jose City Council and now a teacher at San Jose State University. Interspersed in this blog are photos that I took of the event.

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By Dmitri Iglitzin on April 12, 2011

Statistics are one thing; people are another.

According to a 2009 report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, hotel employees, and especially housekeepers, have relatively higher rates of occupational injury, and sustain more severe injuries, than most other service workers. This was not a surprising conclusion. A 2005 survey of 941 hotel room cleaners found that during a twelve-month period, 75 percent experienced work-related pain, 83 percent report taking pain medication for discomfort due to work, and 62 percent reported work-related pain that forced them to visit a doctor.

There is a reason for this, of course.

Read more of this post here ...

By Diane Wahto on April 10, 2011

Name of the game seems to be ‘sock it to the working people and protect the rich even more.'
The note card was piled among other notes, letters, and bulletin board items that I had boxed up when I retired from full time teaching in 2001 and moved out of my office in 100 building at Butler Community College. On the front of the card was a reproduction of a Van Gogh painting, The Auvers Stairs with Five Figures. When I opened the card, I saw the neat, small script of my mother’s handwriting, still familiar to me so many years after her death.

From the time I left home to the time her mind became too clouded with Alzheimer’s disease to do so, my mother wrote to me once or twice a week, newsy letters about family, friends, and neighbors. We kept up a long, steady correspondence during the years before e-mail ended the practice of letter writing.

My mother did not have a college education, but she was intelligent, artistic, and adept at math. At one point she went to business college, taking enough classes to allow her to work as a bookkeeper at the Empire District Electric Company. Then, after all us kids grew up and left home, she began working as a tax preparer.

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By Stuart Elliott on April 1, 2011

On April 5 — one day after the We Are One rallies -- over 175 college campuses in 37 states will be participating in a national teach-in on debt, austerity, and corporate greed.

The teach-in is being organized by two long-time pro-labor public intellectuals, sociologist Francis Fox Piven and philosopher Cornell West.

Scheduled for April 5th at 2 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Savings Time), the event seeks to counter the drumbeat of right-wing propaganda. Content will be streamed live to teach-ins organized in local communities from the national teach-in at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. The local teach-ins will use the streamed material and add their own speakers that focus on their community. DSA has endorsed this program and is encouraging local groups and YDS chapters to organize local events that connect to the national teach-in. Jobs with Justice, the Student Labor Action Project, and others are promoting the teach-in.

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By Angelo Lopez on March 31, 2011

Over the past month, the eyes of the nation has been transfixed by the fight going on in Wisconsin for workers to preserve their right for collective bargaining. Workers have gradually been losing bargaining powers as unions have been in decline for the past 30 years. As I read about the protests in Wisconsin, I began thinking of Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times.

When Chaplin was creating Modern Times, the United States was deep in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Depression had its starting point in the Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929. From October 24 to October 29, 1929, the market lost $30 billion in value. In July 1933 some $74,000,000,000, or five-sixths of the value of the stock market of September 1929 disappeared. The American Federation of Labor recorded the rise in unemployment: unemployment in October 1930 was 4,639,000; in October 1931 unemployment was 7,778,000; in October 1932 unemployment was 11,586,000; in early 1933 employment was over 13,000,000. The nation's industrial production in 1932 was 47 percent below normal. Between 1929 and 1932, farm values declined 33 percent and farmer's gross income declined 57 percent.

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