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Arne Duncan Fouls Out on Common Core

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Opposition to the Common Core Standards and the tests tied to them is rising, as a recent Wall Street Journal article (May 6) underlined. Approval for Common Core is now languishing at a mere 17 percent while disapproval has shot up to 40 percent. The article continues: “This year hundreds of thousands of students across […]

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The Not So Erratic Philosophy of Yanis Varoufakis

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Greece’s new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has been mandated by the leftist Syriza government to negotiate new conditions with the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) for the continuation of Greece’s desperately needed bailout. He has just written a smashing op-ed for The New York Times that forcefully […]

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Teacher Unions Default on the Fightback

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Public education in the U.S. is facing what Diane Ravitch, former assistant in the Department of Education, has called “an unprecedented time in American history” where schools are facing “a radical, extreme break with the past” because of a “direct attack on public education.” Many of these attacks have been directed specifically at teachers, and consequently […]

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Paul Krugman Entangled in His Own Logic

Paul Krugman Entangled in His Own Logic By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

In a recent New York Times article, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, once again takes aim at economists and politicians, who are fixated on problems that we won’t encounter for decades, if at all, like the possible insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. Embracing austerity, they demand cuts to these programs in order to keep […]

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What the AFL-CIO Did Not Say About Raising Wages

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

On January 7, 2015 the AFL-CIO, in what might be a desperate attempt to seem politically relevant to the labor movement, staged a “National Summit on Raising Wages,” featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren as the keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion. Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International Union and part of the left wing […]

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The Strategic Significance of the Fight for $15

The Strategic Significance of the Fight for $15 By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer January 1, 2015
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

The fight for $15, a movement that started two years ago with a walkout of fast food workers in New York, has been gaining momentum ever since. In early December 2014, workers staged one-day strikes in over 150 cities, creating what The New York Times called “the largest labor protests in the nation in years.” Additionally significant […]

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Does Capitalism Inevitably Produce Inequalities?

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz theorized that capitalism does not inevitably produce inequalities in wealth. Instead, he argued, today’s inequalities result from policy decisions made by politicians on all sorts of matters that affect people’s income: the tax structure that favors the rich, the bailout of the […]

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California Teachers Take Another Hit From Politicians

California Teachers Take Another Hit From Politicians Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer June 29, 2014
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

With Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in office since 2011 and the Democratic Party winning a supermajority in the state legislature in 2012, one might think that organized labor was secure and riding high. At least, that is the impression organized labor projects during campaign season. But the Democratic politicians have used their supermajority to serve […]

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Socialists Trip Over Class Line in Electoral Politics

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

With the election season beginning to gear up, some socialist groups are starting to weigh in on the debate over which candidates should be supported and why it is important to support them. In this context, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has posted an article (May 21, 2014) urging support for politically “independent” candidates. In defense of […]

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The Myth of the Pro-Labor Democrat

The Myth of the Pro-Labor Democrat, by Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer, April 20, 2014
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

As the standard of living of working people continues its four-decades-long steady decline, the number of people who classify themselves as “middle class” has correspondingly dropped, including by almost 10 percent in the past six years alone. Under the circumstances one might assume that leaders of organized labor are furiously rethinking their single-minded, long-held strategy […]

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Book Review: How to Jump-Start Your Union

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

HOW TO JUMP-START YOUR UNION, just released by Labor Notes, is an invaluable book for any union activist. It details the successful 2010 strike by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), starting with the formation of CORE (Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators) back in 2008 when they had only 22 members; their election to union leadership positions […]

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What’s At Stake in Privatizing Education

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Forms of Privatization in Public Education The idea that government can’t do anything right has been trumpeted by the right wing for decades, particularly by its recently deceased leader Milton Friedman, a former economist at the University of Chicago. He campaigned to reduce government functions to a minimum while letting private enterprise step in and […]

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The New York Times Gets an ‘F’ on Education Policy

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

A recent New York Times editorial took a moment out to lecture mayor-elect of New York City Bill de Blasio on how he should treat teachers and their unions. We hope he doesn’t listen. The editorial began by endorsing a pay raise for New York City teachers, but insisted that “any sort of raise will require […]

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Labor Needs to Recalibrate and Fight

Labor Needs to Recalibrate and Fight
By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

While the U.S. media has been obsessed with the in-fighting between Democrats and Republicans, as well as the recent government shutdown and the global/domestic ramifications of a possible government default, little attention has been paid to a looming disaster confronting working people: Obama is again threatening to cut “entitlement” programs, meaning Social Security and Medicare. […]

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The UAW Takes One Step Forward, and One Backward

The UAW Takes One Step Forward, and One Backward By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Trying to rebound off the ropes, where it has been pummeled for the past several decades, The United Auto Workers (UAW) has launched an aggressive organizing campaign in the South, in line with an AFL-CIO resolution emphasizing organizing there, where unionization rates are weak across the board. As reported in The New York Times, the UAW […]

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Who Is An Objective Journalist?

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

In a recent New York Times article article David Carr questioned whether someone could be both a journalist and an activist, a question that was prompted by the role of Glenn Greenwald, a writer for The Guardian and a political activist, in reporting on Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks. As Carr put it, “The question of […]

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Detroit’s Retired City Workers in the Crosshairs

Detroit’s Retired City Workers in the Crosshairs By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

With Detroit’s finances looking increasingly dire, the city’s creditors are beginning to face off with one another, each trying to minimize their losses. The city’s pension fund, which supports retired city workers, has found itself in direct conflict with a formidable opponent, the bondholders, individuals and institutions that gave the city money in order to […]

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A Curious New York Times Article on Teacher Evaluations

2013-04-01
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

A recent New York Times article, “Curious Grade For Teachers: Nearly All Pass,” finds incredulous the idea that, “In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations.” The author goes on to cite similar percentages in other states and concludes: “The teachers might be rated all above […]

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Un curioso articolo del New York Times sulla valutazione degli insegnanti inviata da Tom

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

An Italian translation of A Curious New York Times Article on Teacher Evaluations. Un recente articolo del New York Times, “Curious Grade For Teachers: Nearly All Pass”,trova incredula l’idea che “In Florida, nelle valutazioni più recenti il 97% degli insegnanti sono ritenuti efficaci o altamente efficaci”. L’autrice continua citando percentuali simili in altri stati e […]

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AFL-CIO’s Own Oil Disaster

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

With less than transparency, the AFL-CIO just issued a statement endorsing “expanding the nation’s pipeline system.” Although it did not explicitly endorse the Keystone XL pipeline, the labor federation nevertheless managed to extend its blessing to the project while hiding behind vague generalities. However, the logic of its position is unambiguous: the federation is in […]

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How To Defend the Public Sector

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

The attacks on the public domain, particularly public education, social services, and the public sector unions that are linked to these services, are coming in rapid-fire succession, sometimes in an overwhelming barrage where the victims have little time to comprehend what is happening and respond effectively. This should come as little surprise. The attacks are […]

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Corporate Tax Breaks and Jobs

2012-12-15
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

It has become an entrenched trend: corporations approach government officials and demand tax breaks, threatening to abandon the city, state or country if the politicians are not forthcoming. In 2011, for example, in San Francisco, Twitter demanded a tax break as a condition for locating in the city and won a $22 million break over […]

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Paul Krugman Discovers Marx (and Misses the Point)

2012-12-11
Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

In his recent New York Times op-ed piece, Princeton professor and regular columnist for The New York Times, Paul Krugman observed: The American economy is still, by most measures, deeply depressed. But corporate profits are at record high. It’s simple: profits have surged as a share of national income, while wages and other labor compensation […]

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The Chicago Teachers and Their Students’ Test Scores

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Many crucial issues are at stake in the Chicago Teachers Union strike. But the school district’s insistence that student test scores constitute a major basis of teacher evaluations seems to have become a particularly contentious point, leading to the vilification of teachers by the mainstream media, particularly The New York Times. (more…)

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How Unions Could Do Much Better

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

The International Association of Machinists just succeeded in negotiating a humiliating defeat with Caterpillar after a 15-week strike. Workers lost considerable money by striking, and then lost even more with the new contract, accepting almost every concession the company demanded despite the fact that the company was sitting on a record $4.9 billion in profits. […]

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Inequalities, Taxes, and More Inequalities

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

 Thanks to Occupy, most working people are well aware of the growing inequalities in wealth. But for those who lack the specifics, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich provides a useful overview: “…the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent’s take […]

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Taxing the Rich and Its “Left” Critics

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

 In a recent article published on the website of Socialist Viewpoint, Chris Kinder criticized those on the left who call for raising taxes on the rich. Identifying himself as a Trotskyist, Mr. Kinder displayed particular displeasure with Trotskyists who embrace this demand. Yet, as we will argue, his arguments fundamentally deviate from the political-strategic framework […]

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Taxing the Rich and the Jobs Crisis

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

In a recent article, “Pensions Under Attack in America?,” Mr. Leo Kolivakis took issue with a proposal by Mark Vorpahl, a union steward, to defend pensions by taxing the rich in order to create jobs (see Pensions Under Attack). Both authors agree that solving the jobs crisis is indispensable to solving the pension crisis, but […]

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Money, Power, and Politics

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

When it is a question of the efficacy of money in politics and workers fail to put up a fight, money prevails. The moral is: money counts — but only if we let it.

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How Not To Be a Union

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Unions were originally built on the principle of solidarity. Workers soon realized that as individuals they were powerless when trying to defend their interests in relation to their profit-maximizing employers. But when they were organized and stood together, their combination gave them the upper hand. Under the banner of “an […]

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AFL-CIO Declares Victory in Wisconsin in the Face of Defeat

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer  In the wake of the Wisconsin elections and the failure to unseat Governor Walker, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a victory statement of sorts, resorting to the most tortured and convoluted logic. (more…)

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How the Democrats Exploit Occupy

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

There has been much talk about attempts by various organizations such as the Democratic Party and some top officials in organized labor to co-opt Occupy in order to steer this movement in directions beneficial to themselves. Such attempts can hardly be surprising, given the use that many in the Republican Party made of the Tea […]

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Gov. Jerry Brown’s Terrorizing Tactic

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer Current political developments in California highlight the gaping chasm that divides the established political process — which is routinely mislabeled as “democratic” — with the positions embraced by the vast majority of Californians. Unfortunately, California is to the United States as Greece is to Europe: both are fiscal basket cases. California has […]

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Los banqueros y el perdón: La ley suave para el 1%

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Cuando los propietarios de casas se retrasan en el pago de sus hipotecas, sea porque han perdido su empleo o por el vertiginoso aumento de las tasas de interés, los banqueros reaccionan fríamente. Motivados por sus intereses económicos ponen a hacer horas extras a su maquinaria de embargos y obligan a millones de personas a […]

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Bankers and Forgiveness

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Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer When homeowners have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, whether because of a job loss or because the interest rates just shot up, the bankers have responded coldly. Led by their economic interests, they set their robo-signers working overtime on foreclosures, forcing millions of people out of their homes. Back during the […]

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