Four decades ago Ed Sadlowski was the elected leader of 130,000 blue-collar workers, part of a United Steelworkers (USW) membership then totaling 1.4 million, about twice what it is today.
Author Archive | Steve Early
At the Labor Notes conference in Chicago this coming weekend, 2,500 rank-and-file activists will attend the largest gathering ever hosted by the now Brooklyn-based labor education project. This will be the nineteenth Labor Notes conference, which started in 1981.
When parents turn childhood into a left-wing boot camp, their kids are not likely to remain on the shining path of their own politics for long. In fact, when the personal gets too political, parent-child relationships can be poisoned with resentment, anger, and recriminations.
As a growing number of groups on the left have begun dabbling in local electoral politics—most notably via the Democratic Socialists of America (or DSA-backed candidacies)—we would do well to heed the warning of Juan Gonzalez about the “consultant class” (currently in the employ of Mayor de Blasio). The allure of corner-cutting political consultants, corporate […]
Read Michael D Yates’s informative interview with labor journalist Steve Early and Mike Parker, leader of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. The conversation focuses on both the benefits and limitations of engaging in radical politics at the local level.
Twelve years ago, America’s leading advocate of occupational health and environmental safety succumbed to pancreatic cancer. In the U.S., where the influence of organized labor has long been contracting, the death of a former trade union official is often little noted. Yet Tony Mazzocchi was no ordinary labor leader. His passing from the scene, at […]
“Vermont . . . is the only state with universal single-payer health coverage for its residents.” — James Fallows in The Atlantic, April 2014 For nearly four years, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has been basking in the glow of press accolades like the one above. Unfortunately, what was often misreported nationally as a done deal […]
Mary Ann Barnes, the newly arrived president of healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii, recently informed hospital workers that the world figure she most admires is the late Mother Teresa — because of “her humanity and selflessness.” Pictured wearing a lei around her neck, Barnes explained in KP’s employee newsletter that her top management priority […]
For many years, American unions have been trying to “organize the unorganized” to offset and, where possible, reverse their steady loss of dues-paying members. In union circles, a distinction was often made between this “external organizing” — to recruit workers who currently lack collective bargaining rights — and “internal organizing,” which involves engaging more members […]
It’s a hard time to be the leader of any union, but those elected by teachers are really on the firing line. Corporate-backed education reformers and their political allies want to weaken the collective voice of public school educators. Teacher union bargaining rights or contract protections have come under attack throughout the country. The two […]
In the wake of last year’s long overdue U.S. troop withdrawal, mainstream media coverage of Iraq has dwindled to near zero — except when there’s another suicide bombing (which usually merits just a paragraph or two in world news round-ups). The fate of costly U.S.-funded projects and institutions is little known or largely forgotten, $800 […]
The 45,000 Verizon union members returning to work on Tuesday, after a two-week strike, would do well to remember the words of VZ’s Marc Reed when picket lines were taken down on Saturday. Said Reed: “We remain committed to our objectives.” Verizon’s executive vice-president for human resources wasn’t just referring to the company’s latest giveback […]
Since Saturday night (August 6), 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have been on strike from Massachusetts to Virginia — in the largest private sector work stoppage in the last seven years. Health care cost shifting is high on the list of givebacks demanded […]
When the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) defeated the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) in balloting among 43,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente (KP) last October, SEIU Executive Vice President Dave Regan was exultant. SEIU’s victory was “a huge achievement,” he said. “NUHW is now, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. We’re thrilled.” On a […]
Behind every good man, one finds a good woman, or so we’re told. In this year’s contest for the Teamster presidency, that traditional gender-based relationship has been reversed — at least in Sandy Pope’s campaign. In Las Vegas last Thursday night, it was a small band of good men (plus a handful of their union […]
When the history of public sector de-unionization in the Midwest is written, its sad chroniclers will begin their story in Indiana. That’s where Governor Mitch Daniels paved the way, six years ago, for more recent attacks on workers’ rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Daniels, a right-wing Republican, was elected in 2004. He got plenty […]
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not alone in bashing public employees these days. In the view of his fellow GOP governor, Mitch Daniels from Indiana, a possible presidential candidate next year, collective bargaining has transformed civil servants into “a new privileged class.” For right-wing Republican governors and legislators, the solution to state and local government […]
In 1968, the world was transfixed by global student unrest. Less attention was paid to factory uprisings that occurred at the same time and overlapped with campus protests in places like France. In one small corner of the Ford Motor Company’s huge production complex in Dagenham, England, several hundred women did their part in the […]
Chicago. During the 1970s, a small slice of the trade union left was able to tap into working-class discontent and workplace militancy in a very enduring way. The result, in the unlikely venue of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), was an on-going “Tea Party” in the best and original sense of that Boston-based organizing […]
The stereotypical union battles of the past were fought by burly working-class heroes, on the picket line and the proverbial “shop floor.” Think of tough-looking guys, wearing scally caps (and wielding baseball bats, when necessary), while marching through the streets of the San Francisco in 1934. Their enemies were many — the long-shore bosses and […]