This week in history: U.S. minimum wage rises to $7.25 an hour

People’s World | July 24, 2017

This week in history: U.S. minimum wage rises to $7.25 an hour

About 300 protesters gathered at Coffman Memorial Union on November 29, 2016, calling on the Minneapolis City Council and the University of Minnesota to pass a $15/hour minimum wage for all Minneapolis workers / Fibonacci Blue, via Wikimedia (CC)

On July 24, 2009, the federal U.S. minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour, up from $6.55.

In the 2010 midterm elections, many voters typically stayed home, and Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. There has not been a wage increase in eight years.

In real terms, that is, in purchasing power, the federal minimum wage peaked near $10.00 per hour in 1968, using 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars. In other words, the American working class has been in a steady economic decline for the last almost 50 years, despite a near doubling of productivity.Read More »

New book about Frank Little, a fine labor history

by GENE LANTZ

People’s World | July 20, 2017

New book about Frank Little, a fine labor history

Frank Little’s Grave | “Frank Little and the IWW” Facebook page

A giant hole in American labor history has been filled. By Jane Little Botkin in her new title, Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family.

Frank Little’s great-grandniece has explained every known detail of the great union organizer’s life. A hundred and twenty-five pages of careful research testify to her ability as a historian of the first rank. She also reveals family records hidden for a century. She has written not only the best biography of Frank Little possible, but she also put the events of his life and times in context so that a reader can, from this one book, draw the important lessons of the missing chapters—1905-1919—of American history.Read More »

AFL-CIO Report: Santander bank exec looted Puerto Rico’s infrastructure fund

by CAROLYN BOBB

People’s World | May 16, 2017

AFL-CIO Report: Santander bank exec looted Puerto Rico’s infrastructure fund

A key question all Puerto Ricans must ask – should banks like Santander be held accountable for their role in Puerto Rico’s debt crisis? | hedgeclippers.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid rallies by community members in Puerto Rico and Boston outside Santander banks, the AFL-CIO released a new report detailing how former Santander executive Carlos M. Garcia diverted a $1 billion fund dedicated to essential water and sewer projects into a series of financial transactions that ultimately pushed the Government Development Bank (GDB) into insolvency.

According to the report, while Garcia looted the infrastructure fund to support the issuance of billions in GDB notes and sales tax-backed bonds (known by Spanish acronym COFINA), his former employer, Santander, made millions as an underwriter.Read More »

Just Wait Until I Get Tenure

by

MR Online | 03 April, 2017

A Facebook friend, Steven Salaita, recently wrote a post about academe arguing that tenure-track professors are kidding themselves if they say they will become more radical once they get tenure. Given Steven’s vicious treatment by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, whatever he writes about higher education is worth reading. I agreed with his post, and I made a long reply. Here, I incorporate what I said into a more coherent commentary.

The first thing to understand about colleges and universities is that they are workplaces. And like all workplaces in capitalist societies, they are organized as hierarchies, with power radiating downward. From the Board of Trustees, to the top administrators, to the tenured faculty, to the tenure-stream faculty, to the vast mass of adjuncts and short-term contract faculty, to the administrative staff, clerical workers, custodians, groundskeepers, and cafeteria employees. Those at the top have as their central objective control over the enterprise, so that their power can be maintained, that revenues from tuition, grants, money from various levels of government, and the like keep flowing in, that the prestige of the college or university grows. And, of great importance, that those below them do not and cannot make trouble by challenging their authority.Read More »

A Celebration of US Labor’s Women Fighters

IN PICTURES: The women who led some of the key struggles for social equality in the U.S. embodied working-class internationalism and militancy.

telesur | 08 March, 2017

Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons (1853-1942), labor organizer, socialist and anarchist: "We are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men."
Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons (1853-1942), labor organizer, socialist and anarchist: “We are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men.”Photo:Public Domain

While a legacy of McCarthyism and right-wing ideology has clouded labor history in the United States, the U.S. workers’ movement has played a profound role in advancing social rights in the country.

However, what is often omitted from U.S. school textbooks and Hollywood-produced histories of social struggle is the key role played by women, who stood – and continue to stand – at the forefront of the fight for workers’ rights whether they be U.S.-born or immigrant, adults or minors, organized or unorganized.

Read More »

Organisms and Objectifications

A Historical-Materialist Inquiry into the ‘Human and Animal’

by

Monthly ReviewVolume 68, Issue 10 (March 2017)

Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels

The title of the conference for which this article was originally written, “Defining the Human and Animal,” raises for me two problems that required its reformulation.1 The first problem pertains to the syntactically conjunctive “and” that serves semantically to separate the “human” from the “animal.” Notwithstanding what I would call “ultraconstructionist” claims, most succinctly summarized by Anthony Synnott’s insistence that “the body social [or cultural] negates the body physical,” the differentiation implied by the formulation, “defining the human and animal,” begs a not irrelevant biological question, namely: is not “the human,” Homo sapiens, also an inhabitant of the animal kingdom; are human beings not, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, “animal, all too animal”?2 Nietzsche would certainly have grasped the irony of Carl Linnaeus’s somewhat sardonic, if not wholly misanthropic, choice to give the epithet sapiens to the genus Homo. In what was clearly intended as an insult, Linnaeus set his fellows firmly in the animal kingdom by baptizing humans with the same epithet he attached to ape species, Simia sapiens.3Read More »

Dancing Around Miners’ Strike Issues

Review by Susan Darlington

Morning Star | 02 November, 2016

 

COAL
Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
3/5

Staged to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike, COAL is a reworking of a piece originally conceived by Gary Clarke in 2009.

His decision to expand the dance theatre production is only partly warranted, as several sections would benefit from editing.

It opens with a confusing slice of domesticity that sits uncomfortably with live music from The Brighouse & Rastrick Band.

And a party that has a community cast handing out biscuits to the audience does little more than create a warm-hearted interlude that splinters the narrative.Read More »

Unemployed And Hungry, They Marched To London

By Peter Frost

Morning Star | 05 October, 2016

 

Eighty years ago this month the Jarrow March, also known as the Jarrow Crusade, arrived in London.

Around 200 men set off 80 years ago today on a 26-day march from Jarrow to London to protest against the unemployment and poverty suffered in the northeast Tyneside town.

Although it wasn’t the first or indeed the biggest protest march of unemployed people, it certainly caught the imagination of the nation.Read More »

What’s The Condition Of Labor? A May Day Question

By Farooque Chowdhury

Countercurrents.org | 01 May, 2016

Condition of labor in today’s world is not difficult to gauge. News on labor’s working and living condition is in abundance, which help comprehend the conditions within which labor survive in the present day world.

State of societies also gives a picture of labor’s condition. Afghanistan or Iraq, Libya or Syria, Greece or Ukraine, Egypt or Sudan, the UK or the USA is only a few examples. A number of societies have already experienced imperialist onslaught or financial and other crises related to capitalism or the so-called austerity measures, which brought devastation and death, eviction from home and unemployment, slashed real wage and anti-labor legislation. Everyday existence is the only question that life faces there in these societies. There’s little scope for labor to get mobilized, chalk out and raise demands, express opinion. A number of laws in a number of advanced capitalist societies virtually make unionization difficult, which is hard to identify at first and easy glance. In countries, unionization is falling. It requires serious search to get the fact from these societies. Modern slaves are now well-known fact in many modern economies.Read More »

Work: Pleasure or Drudgery

Increasingly in Britain, with the mushrooming of warehousing, call centre and service industry work, the workplace has been turned into a virtual slave plantation, asserts JOHN GREEN

Morning Star | 31 December, 2015

When Britain’s last deep pit at Kellingley closed just before Christmas the men told journalists that what they would miss most would be the comradeship of their workmates. Without that, few would chose to work deep underground as a coal miner; the work is arduous, dangerous and unhealthy. What made it tolerable was the work atmosphere, the sense of belonging to a close-knit community, of solidarity and friendship.

Read More »