• All the Economics You Need to Know in One Lesson

      CHEAP MOTELS AND A HOTPLATE: An Economist’s Travelogue by Michael D. Yates ORDER THIS BOOK This essay complements my forthcoming book: Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate: an Economist’s Travelogue (Monthly Review Press). We Meet an Economist Karen and I were hiking in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the Atalaya Mountain Trail, which begins […]

  • Preface to the Turkish Edition of Naming the System

      I am honored to write this preface to the Turkish edition of my book, Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy.  I thank Neset Kutlug and everyone else who helped bring this edition to fruition.  I wrote the book with an international audience in mind, so it is gratifying to see […]

  • Interview with Paul LeBlanc

      Paul LeBlanc Paul LeBlanc is what I have called an “organic intellectual,” a scholar and activist who has risen directly out of the working class.  Paul is the author of many books, including A Short History of the U.S. Working Class (Humanity Books, 1999) and Black Liberation and the American Dream (Humanity Books 2003), […]

  • Taking Back the Workers’ Law: An Interview with Ellen Dannin

      Ellen Dannin TAKING BACK THE WORKERS’ LAW: How to Fight the Assault on Labor Rights by Ellen Dannin BUY THIS BOOK Ellen Dannin is one of the most eminent labor law scholars in the United States.  A former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) attorney and currently professor of labor law at the Pennsylvania State […]

  • Race Track

      Working people like to gamble.  It adds excitement to life and allows us to dream that we might be able to live without working at jobs we detest.  As a boy, I played poker, shot nine-ball, pot bowled, bet the ponies, and even hit the bingo tables once.  “Hap,” the man who ran the […]

  • What’s the Matter with U.S. Organized Labor? An Interview with Robert Fitch

      SOLIDARITY FOR SALE: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise by ROBERT FITCH AUTHOR’S NOTE READ EXCERPT BUY THIS BOOK Michael D. Yates: Robert, let’s start off with a question not directly connected to your book Solidarity for Sale.  Some commentators say that today labor unions and labor movements are irrelevant […]

  • Right-Wing Attack Dogs Go after a Colorado High School Teacher

      A high school geography teacher here in Colorado — Jay Bennish who teaches at Overland High School in Aurora — is in trouble, attacked by the right, for things he said in an honors geography class after Bush’s State of the Union address.  A student in the class taped the teacher’s comments (about twenty […]

  • A Union Is Not a “Movement”(19 November 1977)

      [The Los Angeles Times recently ran a series of investigative articles by Miriam Pawel on the problems of the United Farm Workers:  “Farmworkers Reap Little as Union Strays From Its Roots” (8 January 2006); “Linked Charities Bank on the Chavez Name” (9 January 2006); “Decisions of Long Ago Shape the Union Today” (10 January […]

  • Bowling Alley

      Michael D. Yates, “Revelation” (29 October 2005); and “Mobilization” (13 November 2005) It was a mid-Sunday afternoon in late Winter.  We had just finished our match, and I was disappointed with my poor performance.  For some reason I could not prevent my left wrist from turning over when I released my bowling bowl, and […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part Seven

      Michael D. Yates, “Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda,” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6 The reason why work is so unsatisfying is simple.  Work cannot be fulfilling; it cannot allow us to fully use our uniquely human capacities; it cannot be anything but […]

  • Mobilization

      For the most part, we go along living without thinking much about the world around us. Things just seem to happen without rhyme or reason. My parents knew that people like themselves were not quite the same as people who had a lot more money, but they didn’t reflect very deeply as to why […]

  • Do Unions Still Matter?

      Listen to Michael D. Yates’ keynote speech (mp3) at the conference “How Unions Matter in the New Economy” in Toronto, 28-29 October 2005. Excerpt First, working people want and need good jobs and benefits, but the vision worthy of a struggle to achieve, they need that, too.  People are likely to do great things, […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part Five

    [Author’s note: Let me repeat my invitation at the end of Part Four of this series. Readers are invited to submit short essays, about 1,000 words, about their work. What do you do? In what ways is your work satisfying? In what ways is it not? How could it be made better? Send your essays […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part Four

      [Author’s note: Let me repeat my invitation at the end of Part Three of this series. Readers are invited to submit short essays, about 1,000 words, about their work. What do you do? In what ways is your work satisfying? In what ways is it not? How could it be made better? Send your […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part Three

      In Part Two, we examined the rapidly changing nature of post-secondary teaching, one of the two reasonably skilled  jobs among the top ten jobs estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the highest job growth between 2002 and 2012. The other job is nursing. Job experts claim that there is a […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part Two

      In Part One, I argued that capitalism produces very few jobs that utilize fully our human capacities to conceptualize and perform work.  Instead, most jobs are degraded and demand little of us.  I noted that of the ten jobs projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the greatest job growth between […]

  • Let’s Put the Nature of Work on Labor’s Agenda: Part One

      Capitalism fails workers in at least three ways. It cannot guarantee that a job will be available to any worker who needs one. It cannot guarantee that a worker who has a job will receive adequate compensation for it. And it cannot guarantee that a worker who has a job with adequate pay will […]

  • On the Road with Michael and Karen

    As some of you know, my wife and I retired from the world of regular wage labor in the Spring of 2001. Since then we have lived in many places, the last being Portland, Oregon. We spent fourteen months in Portland, along with our twin sons. We were attracted to this city because we wanted to see the Northwest and because of the publicity it has received as an environmentally conscious urban area with a very liberal politics. While the city is surrounded by a green belt of parks, fine for hiking, and while great trees and beautiful flowers abound, Portland’s reputation for liberal politics is mostly myth. Unemployment is very high, wages are low, and workers are treated poorly. One of my sons, a talented chef, was paid a wage much less than half of what he had earned in Pittsburgh and is now earning in Washington, DC., which included several one-day strikes with mass picketing He seldom worked full-time, and the manager of his last employer routinely went on the company com puter and stole hours from workers, a practice which I have come to learn is commonplace in the United States. Working people are almost never mentioned in the local newspapers or discussed by leading politicians. A valiant struggle by unionized workers at the famous Powell’s bookstore, which featured several one-day strikes and mass picketing, got no publicity at all. The labor movement, such as it is, is all but invisible.… [Parts 1-5]

  • Can the Working Class Change the World?

    Radicals of every stripe believe that capitalist economies are incompatible with human liberation. That is, while human beings have enormous capacities to think and to do, capitalism prevents the vast majority of people from developing these capacities. Therefore if we want a society in which the full flowering of human competencies can become a reality, we will have to bring capitalism to an end and replace it with something radically different

  • The Rich, the Poor, and the Economists

    In the New York Times of December 15, 2001, there is an article titled, “Grounded by an Income Gap.” The subject of the article is the growing income gap between the richest and the poorest people in the United States, a disparity greater here than in any other industrialized nation. Apparently the reasons for this inequality have been vexing the brains of our best economists. Martin Feldstein, Harvard professor and, under Reagan, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, is quoted as follows: “Why there has been increasing inequality in this country is one of the big puzzles in our field and has absorbed a lot of intellectual effort.” But, this effort has apparently been wasted, since he goes on to say, “But if you ask me whether we should worry about the fact that some people on Wall Street and basketball players are making a lot of money, I say no.”