• This Labor Day, Let’s Salute All Union Stewards — and Their Cutting Edge in California

    The real heroes of what’s left of the labor movement are not people with full-time union jobs, union-furnished cars and credit cards, and union benefits that dues-paying members don’t get anymore.  It’s the men and women who take time out from their regular jobs, under the baleful eye of their boss, to be shop stewards. […]

  • SEIU Buys Its Own Version of History

    In the last five years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has gone from being a media darling to generating more bad press for itself than any other labor organization.  Some of SEIU’s negative publicity is a product of right-wing union bashing.  But a huge amount is self-inflicted — the result of conflicts with other […]

  • The NUHW 16: SEIU’s Courtoom Payday Is Pyrrhic Victory for New Corporate Unionism

    Legal lynching, actual or attempted, has been a longtime threat to union organizing.  When workers first tried to form unions, they found themselves charged with conspiracy.  For nearly a century, employer attempts to crush their “illegal combinations” took the form of injunctions, fines, and imprisonment for civil court contempt or criminal law violations.  When the […]

  • Contract Bargaining in Tough Times: Lessons from the Recent Past

      Labor Activist and Author Steve Early to Speak on: Contract Bargaining in Tough Times: Lessons from the Recent Past Wednesday, February 24, 5pm Costanzo’s Riverside Restaurant 405 Hudson River Road Waterford, NY Several important labor battles have developed in the last year in the Capital District of New York.  A strike for union recognition […]

  • The Night They Drove Old EFCA Down

    Scott Brown’s January 19 defeat of Martha Coakley in the race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat has been greeted as a “game changer” for Barack Obama and his political backers.  This GOP victory has deprived Democrats of their “filibuster-proof” super-majority in the Senate, making Obama’s health care plan — at least, in its current […]

  • Green Mountain Mustering for the War at Home or Abroad?

    Earlier this month, the Burlington had a busy weekend mustering its “troops” for active duty on several fronts, one at home and the other abroad. On Saturday, Dec. 5, two hundred labor and community activists gathered in this leading progressive city to plan more effective resistance to job cuts and contract give-backs demanded by recession-ravaged […]

  • The Progressive Quandary About SEIU: A Tale of Two Letters to Andy Stern

    Abstract: The terrain of “progressive labor” in the U.S. has shifted dramatically in recent years.  The two-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — long associated with the remaking of labor as a force for social justice — has become embroiled in a series of controversies that have alienated past campus, community, and political allies. […]

  • Why the Health Insurance Excise Tax Is a Bad Idea

      Twenty years ago, 60,000 workers from New York City to Maine rallied against healthcare cost-shifting at the telecom giant then known as NYNEX (since “rebranded” as Verizon). NYNEX was a very profitable, multinational company seeking to capitalize on a demoralizing decade of lost strikes, contract givebacks and widespread unionbusting.  At a time when many […]

  • SEIU Civil War Puts “Partnership” in New Light

    Tom Kochan, Robert McKersie, Adrienne Eaton, and Paul Adler.  Healing Together: The Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell ILR Press, 2009. During his uncontested campaign for AFL-CIO president this year, Rich Trumka offered the olive branch to corporate America — despite the latter’s demonstrated lack of enthusiasm for reinstating organized labor as its […]

  • The AFL-CIO Debates Union “Raiding”

    No subject arouses the passion of our labor officialdom more than “raiding.”  In his blustery maiden address as president of the AFL-CIO, Rich Trumka won thunderous applause last Wednesday by announcing that anyone daring to “raid an AFL-CIO union will find 1,000 organizers coming to the rescue of that union.” In trade unions that too […]

  • Embedded with Organized Labor: An Interview with Steve Early

      Steve Early is a 25-year veteran of the labor movement, journalist, and author of the new book Embedded with Organized Labor (Monthly Review Press, 2009).  His is a voice for a more militant rank-and-file democratic form of trade unionism which attempts to challenge the bosses by re-energizing a mostly dormant labor movement. Kristin Schall: […]

  • A Postcard from Vermont: Sanders Shows Congress How to Avoid Tar & Feathering at August Tea Parties

    The Green Mountain state used to be a good place for retired union guys to get away from it all in August.  Now, thanks to “Obamacare” — with its threats to the elderly everywhere — that’s not the case this year. I was sitting on the porch of Richmond’s On The Rise bakery last Thursday, […]

  • Reading, Writing, and Union-Building

    “It’s a well-established fact,” reports the New York Times Book Review, “that Americans are reading fewer books than they used to.”1  According to the National Endowment for the Arts, more than 50% of those surveyed haven’t cracked a book in the previous year.  In labor circles, the percentage of recent readers may be even smaller.  […]

  • Why Labor Doesn’t Need a “House of Lords”

    “Also being debated [at the AFL-CIO executive council meeting] is whether to create a mechanism to nudge past-their-prime union presidents to retire so unions are not stuck with tired, uninspired leaders.  One negotiator [of AFL-CIO/ Change-to-Win/NEA unity] talked of creating an advisory ‘Labor House of Lords’ to encourage older union presidents to step aside.” — […]

  • Employee Free Choice at Work: Checking Out of Stern’s Hotel California

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wants its members to believe that their union is just like the alluring but ultimately nightmarish hostelry immortalized by The Eagles.   It’s a place of permanent imprisonment only “programmed to receive” workers and their dues money, not let either go elsewhere when the rhetoric of “progressive unionism” wears thin […]

  • Who Rules SEIU?

    “SEIU has evolved into a dictatorship in which Andy Stern and others have consolidated power and decision-making authority and resources among a few.” — Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers-West, San Francisco Chronicle, January 3, 2009 On Thursday, January 8, a group of 70 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials will join a […]

  • Why Pay-to-Play Is Bad for Labor

    “Our community is expanding: MRZine viewers have increased in number, as have the readers of our editions published outside the United States and in languages other than English.  We sense a sharp increase in interest in our perspective and its history.   Many in our community have made use of the MR archive we put […]

  • Is Obama Backing Off a Crucial Pledge to Labor? Bait and Switch on the Employee Free Choice Act

    “Our community is expanding: MRZine viewers have increased in number, as have the readers of our editions published outside the United States and in languages other than English.  We sense a sharp increase in interest in our perspective and its history.   Many in our community have made use of the MR archive we put […]

  • Puerto Rico’s Teachers Show the Way: SEIU Learns the Meaning of “No”

    Listen to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s interview with Steve Early and FMPR President Rafael Feliciano on Democracy Now! (27 October 2008). When last seen on the picket-line, Puerto Rican teachers were fighting their way through police barricades to appeal to fellow workers from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), at its lavishly funded convention […]

  • Can SEIU Members Exorcize the Purple Shades of Jackie Presser?

      Thousands of SEIU members are expected in San Jose this Saturday, September  6, to protest spreading corruption and Andy Stern’s latest grab for control over SEIU’s third largest local (which has helped blow the whistle on scandalous behavior elsewhere in the union). The rally is being organized by United Healthcare Workers (UHW) and allied […]