This article is co-published with Occupy.com Between sequestration, with its damaging impact on workers and the entire economy, and the billions of dollars in cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other necessary social programs that President Obama is pushing, it is evident that the economic policies of both major parties are not intended to promote [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. On April 11 over 400 people packed the third public Portland Budget Hearing, which was organized by the City of Portland and which left many spilling out beyond the room where the hearing took place. More importantly, for the City Council there was an unexpected critical outpouring from the vast [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. Fresh from shoving his “Right to Work for Less” legislation down the throats of Michigan’s workers, Governor Rick Snyder has grown bolder in pursuing a corporate agenda. He has now appointed Kevyn Orr of Jones Day law firm to act as an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) of Detroit. As [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. It’s no secret that most cities, counties, states and school districts in the U.S. are facing big deficits. What is less understood is the extent to which austerity cuts have become politicians’ bi-partisan response to the situation. The dramatic measures being implemented in Portland, Oregon are no exception. By “austerity” [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. Spurred by real urgency over the corporate driven ruin of the environment, a growing social movement is taking shape that will be on display this Sunday, February 17, when tens of thousands descend on the streets of Washington, D.C. in a show of power titled “Forward On Climate.” What is [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. Millions experience the repressive nature of the U.S. immigration system on a daily basis, lifting its need for reform to a level of urgency. And fixing this broken program is integral to building the unity among U.S. workers that is required to challenge corporate America’s attacks on our wages, rights, [...]
This article is co-published with Occupy.com. Last December, at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., leaders from a variety of progressive organizations such as Greenpeace, the NAACP and the Communication Workers of America met with the intention of beginning a national campaign to, in the words of Mother Jones reporter Andy Kroll, “remake American [...]
This is Part 2 of a two-part series co-published with Occupy.com. Click here, for Part 1 of the series. In the Northwest, at the terminals on the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and Portland, Oregon, the membership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are on the defensive against the Northwest Grain Handlers Association (NWGHA). The conflict involves [...]
This is Part 1 of a two-part series co-published with Occupy.com. Click here, for Part 2 of the series. It’s a familiar pattern: those on top of the economic ladder enjoy massive profits, while expecting workers to sacrifice even more for the “greater good.” This storyline weaves itself into every justification for anti-worker policies. From Washington’s potential Grand Bargain [...]
The call for a new constitution was a key political demand of the Egyptian people when they overthrew the thirty-year dictatorship of Mubarak. Motivating this was the desire to begin dismantling the repressive bureaucratic state machinery they had suffered under and replace it with a democratic government that would be guided by their needs and [...]
The passage in Michigan of the anti-worker legislation grotesquely misnamed “Right to Work” (RTW) should be putting the entire nation on red alert. The downward pressure on the standard of living such bills unleash on the vast majority extend well beyond the union ranks. The bill’s success in Michigan, a pivotal state for organized Labor, [...]
Whether we are left with the Fiscal Cliff or a Grand Bargain, workers in the U.S. face massive cuts to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Food Stamp assistance and other needed social safety nets. This is an example of “austerity” which has largely been pursued in the U.S. until now, on [...]
The game is rigged, but not the fight. In 2010 and 2011, workers at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon came together to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 to improve their conditions and strengthen their voice. It was the largest union organizing victory in Oregon for 30 years. This victory held great [...]
For some time now, Labor has been punched into a corner when it comes to state legislation. Over the last two years legislation has been passed in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan that has attempted to gut largely public workers of their union rights.
When a torrent hits an obstacle that refuses to give, it either flows around or over the obstruction. When workers’ needs for a living wage, fair treatment, and a voice are damned up by an oppressive employer, it is only a matter of time before they find a way of asserting their strength. Testament to [...]
U.S. workers and those who are unemployed are frequently told that the current presidential elections are among the most important in this country’s history. With continuing high unemployment and underemployment, declining wages, and looming massive cuts to social programs that help workers, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, we are at a grave point [...]
If foxes are put in charge of rebuilding a chicken coop, it is a given that the chicken’s new quarters will be less than secure. In terms of rebuilding the economy, with the predatory interests of Wall Street dictating the “solutions” proposed by both the Republicans and Democrats, it is a given that their plans [...]
The issue of unemployment and underemployment loomed above the hype of both the Republican and Democratic Party conventions with the cold stare of a harsh judge. Many promises and dubious claims were made from the respective party podiums, but no real solutions were put forward.
The unions remain the only organizations in this country built by and for workers to be a collective fighting force to defend and improve the members’ standard of living. While only a minority belongs to unions, all workers’ fate depends on their strength. Unfortunately they have been taking a serious beating. How has the leadership [...]
Many of today’s social expectations and political outlooks of the Labor Movement, and workers in general, were formed in the post World War II economic expansion. While the economy was expanding and there were steady jobs to be had, it appeared to be enough for many people to focus on improving their immediate community or [...]
Mark Vorpahl Though, for most, the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Libor) interest rate fixing scandal appears to be distant and far too complex to understand, its potential consequences may be as economically devastating as a world war.
Mark Vorpahl Echoing the story of David vs. Goliath, janitors in Houston are on strike and taking on such corporate giants as JPMorganChase and Exxon Mobile in an effort to pressure the janitorial companies they employ to agree to the workers’ modest demands. It is these big business behemoths that are the real powers behind [...]
On Friday, July 6, President Obama signed into law a bill that would renew transportation programs and extend low interest rates on student loans for one year.
Mark Vorpahl During the week of July 1st to 7th an international cabal of corporate lobbyists will be meeting behind closed doors in San Diego. Their aim is moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards completion.
Mark Vorpahl Any day the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Most at risk is this act’s “individual mandate” which requires everyone to buy health insurance from a private insurer or face a steep fine.
Mark Vorpahl Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker not only defeated the recall, he did so easily taking 54 percent of the vote.
Introduction Forget the November elections. As the article below shows the most significant political event in the near future will take place shortly after, regardless of whether it is Obama or Romney in the White House. That will be the bipartisan austerity attack plan known has Simpson/Bowles. This measure will inflict massive cuts on Medicare [...]
Mark Vorpahl In this presidential election year, when the outcome hinges on the economy, the phrases “job creation” and “job creators” are quick to roll off the candidates’ tongues. It is not hard to see why. With up to 24 million unemployed and underemployed, and those working subject to the downward pressure this creates in [...]
Introduction by Mark Vorpahl With a historically massive student strike that is now expanding to all sectors of society, the Canadian Province of Quebec has become the new center for an international-wide popular response to the devastating cuts capitalism is forcing on workers and students. The world’s economic and political elites have their program of [...]
Mark Vorpahl The following report of a rally in Chicago supporting the “Robin Hood Tax,” led by National Nurses United, provides a small glimpse of the potential power that a union allied with the community can wield. The “Robin Hood Tax” is a tax-the-rich measure that would collect 25 to 50 cents for every $100 in [...]
Mark Vorpahl Since President Obama made his very calculated public statement announcing that he was “personally” in favor of same sex marriage, among the many commentators who have rushed to his support have been a significant number of Labor leaders. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, stated “Look, I support that position. We support it [...]
Mark Vorpahl At the annual Wells Fargo shareholders’ meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at least 150 “shareholders” were denied their lawful right to attend by means of the use of police force and barricades. True, none of them were big shareholders and their priorities in attending were not to cheerlead the [...]
Mark Vorpahl Weeks after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has announced that his killer, George Zimmerman, will be charged with second degree murder. Though originally allowed to walk scot free without any charges, Zimmerman is now behind bars. It is hard to think of another case that has swung so [...]
Mark Vorpahl The current debate that has erupted within Occupy circles was built into this movement’s foundation. It has been sparked by much needed soul searching in the wake of a series of confrontations with the police, most notably in Oakland, that ended disastrously. It should be news to no one that the police easily [...]
The Democrat’s agenda is closer to the Republican’s than it is to addressing the needs of rank and file unionists. The Democrats have nothing to inspire people with and much that must be fought against, because the policies they pursue are ones that favor Wall Street. The union leadership is facing the alternative of either contributing to a mass movement in the streets based on the needs of workers, or a trickle into the polls to elect Obama who, as many know, gets vastly more campaign contributions from Wall Street than from unions.