Category: Labor

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Edward Herman: The U.S. Jobs Miracle

  In both Europe and the United States, the substantial growth in U.S. jobs over the past several decades has been repeatedly cited in support of the view that a “flexible” labor market is the solution to the problem of unemployment that has beset the West once again. “Flexible” is a euphemism for “unorganized and Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: Labor Update: Organizing the New Workforce

Jeremy Brecher   Traditionally, the majority of American union members have been blue-collar white males. Over the past quarter-century, this group became a smaller and smaller minority in the workforce, while other groups—sometimes dubbed “the new workforce”—grew as a percentage of organized and unorganized workers. The proportion of workers who were women started to grow Read more…

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David Bacon: High-Tech Transportation Workers

  Sabrina Giles went to work seven years ago, keeping track of huge shipping containers moving in and out of the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) yard in Point Richmond, California. Over the years, she trained one worker after another in the difficult art of tracking the million-dollar cargoes shipped by giant corporations–C&H Sugar, United Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: Resisting Concessions

  While the number of strikes and strikers plummeted during the 1980s and 1990s, most of the major labor struggles that did take place were in resistance to management demands for concessions. Three of the most important—and most revealing—occurred at the Austin, Minnesota plant of the Hormel meatpacking company, the Watsonville Canning company in southern Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: New Tactics for Labor-Part II

In the face of employer attack, the proportion of workers in unions fell from 27 percent in 1978 to 15 percent in 1996. Many changes contributed to declining union membership. The traditional industrial, cultural, and demographic base of the labor movement in white ethnic urban industrial communities was eroded by suburbanization and deindustrialization. Many middle-income Read more…

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David Bacon: MAQUILADORA WORKERS ELECT THEIR FIRST INDEPENDENT UNION

  TIJUANA, BAJA CALIFORNIA (11/25/97) — Beating off a last-minute attempt to destabilize the election process, employees of the Tijuana factory of Han Young de Mexico on October 6 became the first maquiladora workers on the U.S./Mexico border to vote in favor of an independent union. In the traditional open voting system used by the Read more…

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Jeremy Brecher: American Labor on the Eve of the Millennium

  This is the first in a series of articles on the history of rank-and-file labor struggles over the past 25 years. It is drawn from the new concluding chapter Jeremy Brecher has written for the 25th anniversary edition of Strike!, just published as the first book in the South End Press Classics Series.   Read more…

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David Bacon: The Revolt In The Asbestos

Sergio Ruiz Nuñez is a lonely man. Remembering his wife and daughter left behind in Mexico City a year ago, he cannot speak. To hide the water welling up in the corners of his eyes, he turns away. "You know," he finally says, "when you come to this country you have so many illusions. There Read more…

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David Bacon: West Coast Janitors Get Ready to Fight

  On March 17, after seven years of rebuilding their union, Service Employees Local 399, Los Angeles janitors are leaving it. Together with janitors from Silicon Valley, Oakland, and Sacramento, they are joining to create one of the largest building service unions in the country—Local 1877. Rosa Ayala, who’s been through LA’s labor wars as Read more…

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David Bacon: Korean Workers Shut Down the Chaebols

David Bacon   Since January 14, pitched battles have raged in the streets of Seoul. Outside the Myongdong Cathedral, union leaders have been directing the general strike paralyzing South Korea, and phalanxes of police have tried to disperse thousands of demonstrators. The strike has become, not just a movement of workers, but a pro-democracy movement Read more…

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