‘A fully automated society is science fiction’—Michael D. Yates on the state of U.S. labor

by  and 

MR Online | April 30, 2019

Michael D. Yates

May Day is one of the most important days to the exploited workers of the world. Michael D. Yates, director of Monthly Review Press and former Associate Editor of Monthly Review magazine, and a retired professor of economics. In his many books and articles, as well as in the following interview conducted in early April 2019 by Farooque Chowdhury, Yates reflects on the state of U.S. labor—from recent history to new initiatives within the labor movement at the grassroots level, where workers are defying and contesting “official” labor leadership.

Farooque Chowdhury: You have been closely associated with labor in the United States for more than 30 years. You have worked as a labor educator, as negotiator representing unions, as union organizer, and as labor activist. Moreover, you have covered labor widely in your articles and books. Based on these interactions and experiences, please tell us about the present state of labor in the U.S.Read More »

‘Unions must provide political education or labor will find itself more powerless than ever before’—Timir Basu on labor in India

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MR Online | April 30, 2019

Timir Basu

Labor around the world is facing a hostile situation to the extent and intensity unprecedented in labor’s history. At the same time, labor in the Global South and Global North is theoretically, organizationally and politically unarmed. In this interview conducted in April 2019 by Farooque Chowdhury, Timir Basu focuses on labor in India, a large economy in the Global South. Basu, once a revolutionary who organized among the poor peasantry, spent years in prison, during which time he focused on organizing prison labor. He has been an editor of Frontier, the radical weekly published out of Kolkata, ever since.

Farooque Chowdhury: You were actively involved with organizing the poor peasantry along revolutionary line. That was days of organizing armed struggle, years ago. Then, after getting out of prison, you actively got involved with organizing unions. You were simultaneously writing on labor and unions/labor movement in two famous weeklies—Economic and Political Weekly and Frontier. Later, over the years, as editor of Frontier, you keenly observe the labor and labor movement in India. What’s the present condition of (a) the labor, and (b) the labor movement in this south Asian country?Read More »

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Samman and the International Workers Day


Countercurrents | May 01, 2019

Lal Bahadur Shastri had given the slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ (Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer). This was in recognition of their contribution for national security and food security in the country. The point that was however missed out was the issue of ‘Jai Samman’. Being a part of the working class working towards protecting national territory or providing food security to the nation, both of them were missing on ‘Samman’.Read More »

May 1: Glints at Bangladesh labor’s struggle


Countercurrents | May 01, 2019

Today is May Day – a day for the labor to celebrate, a day to vow for carrying forward its political struggle for emancipation of humanity, a day to reiterate its position on the questions of capital and capital’s political power; and a day to learn from the working people’s history of struggles.

This land – Bangladesh – is rich with labor’s heroic struggles. The flaring-1969 was one of those days that carry stories of the Bangladesh labor’s dedication for building up a humane society.

Haidar Akbar Khan Rano, member of the presidium of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, in a recent interview [yet unpublished] recollected two incidents that stand as evidence of the labor’s heroic moves.Read More »

Live Updates: Venezuelan Govt Says Guaido Coup Failed, Lopez Hides in Chile’s Embassy

teleSUR | April 30, 2019

Live Updates: Venezuelan Govt Says Guaido Coup Failed, Lopez Hides in Chile Photo: teleSUR

The Venezuelan opposition lawmaker has once again called on the military to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Juan Guaido, the opposition lawmaker who illegally proclaimed himself “interim president” of Venezuela Tuesday morning made a call on social media asking the military and people to begin an uprising against the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.


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The app economy—Can “gig” workers be organized?

by Wade Rathke

People’s World | April 29, 2019

The app economy—Can “gig” workers be organized?

Uber driver in San Francisco | Jeff Chiu/AP

When we think about organizing precarious “gig” workers, the task seems biblical.

Low pay and no benefits that accrue to gig workers are worsened by the uncertainty of a position where you can only work to deliver something specifically demanded by consumers and at a premium you are often powerless to control.

App companies misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees in order to pass on all of the maintenance and capital costs, aside from web work and marketing, to the workers, avoiding the personnel benefit and equipment costs that are routine for regular employers. Conditions seem to cry out a union.

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May Day flashbacks: Memories of a Communist and working-class leader

by Gus Hall

People’s World | April 30, 2019

May Day flashbacks: Memories of a Communist and working-class leader

Gus Hall, in hat, above the letters “MU,”, marches with a Communist Party contingent at a demonstration in New York City in 1971. | People’s World Archives

This collection of May Day memories from former Communist Party USA General Secretary Gus Hall (1910-2000) is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared in the Daily World newspaper on April 30, 1977. Hall shares flashbacks to some May Days in his own life—in his neighborhood, with his family, in prison during the Cold War, and more.

 For some 90 years, workers throughout the world have been celebrating, demonstrating, and marching on May 1. On this special day, workers hold their heads higher and walk with a jaunty spring to their step. This is their day. In many small ways, they reflect a deep pride and unwavering confidence in their class. Some consciously and others instinctively feel that our class has the task of clearing the path, providing the main force, in the struggle for social progress.

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