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Opinion Pieces

Kurt Newman on US Intellectual History Blog

Nelson Lichtenstein on The AFL-CIO's new agenda.

Kurt Newman on UAW 2865's sympathy strike with AFSCME 3299.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Resistance to Obamacare.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Unions and Liberalism.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Obamacare.

Nelson Lichtenstein on Michigan's Right-to-Work law.

Nelson Lichtenstein awarded 2012 Sol Stetin Award for Labor History. Read his acceptance speech here.

Samir Sonti, on Rosa Parks' forgotten past as an organizer and activist.

  • "The Forgotten Rosa Parks," in The Jacobin.
  • "Rosa Parks activism wasn't limited to a Montgomery Bus Boycott," in Salon.

    Black History Month just ended, which means grade schools nationwide recently celebrated how the Civil War abolished slavery, that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter, and, of course, how the Civil Rights Movement ended segregation and disfranchisement. Children everywhere rehearsed familiar narratives about how after enduring years of racist oppression, valiant African-American women and men like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully demanded and secured equal rights.

    And in a bizarre reminder of the political significance the struggle for civil rights still carries, Barack Obama and John Boehner capped the month with a rare joint appearance to unveil a statue of Parks in the Capitol building on the same day that the Supreme Court heard a challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We can expect a ruling a few months before we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where, on August 28, 1963, King delivered his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.

    It’s sadly unsurprising to learn that Parks is the first black woman to be memorialized in Statuary Hall, space already occupied by such loyal patriots as John C. Calhoun, Alexander Stephens, and Jefferson Davis. But if Parks’ statue is a victory it’s rendered a bit less sweet by the myths told about her.

    Read the full piece at The Jacobin, or Salon.

Nelson Lichtenstein, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times

Nelson Lichtenstein, "Class Unconsciousness: stop using 'middle class' to depict the labor movement"

  • George Orwell thought the precise and purposeful deployment of
    our language was the key to the kind of politics we hoped to advance. By that
    standard, virtually everyone—from the center to the left, from Barack Obama to
    Richard Trumka to the activists of Occupy Wall Street—has made a hash of the
    way we name the most crucial features of our society.

    Read the full piece here.

Eileen Boris in an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee

Eileen Boris & Jennifer Klien in a New York Times op-ed

  • Fairness for Home Care Workers

    NOT long after announcing his candidacy in 2007, Barack Obama spent a day working alongside Pauline Beck, a home health care aide in Oakland, Calif. Together, they cooked breakfast and lunch, cleaned house and did the laundry. Last December, the president mentioned his day with Ms. Beck when he proposed placing most home-care employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, from which many of them have long been excluded.

    Mr. Obama proposed revising a Labor Department rule so that it would give home attendants and aides the protections, like overtime pay, that most American workers take for granted. The department opened an extended comment period and received some 26,000 statements, two-thirds of them positive. It is now deliberating on a final rule.

    With a work force of about 2.5 million, two-thirds of whom would be affected by the proposed rule, home health and personal care is the second-fastest-growing job category in the country, projected to double by 2018. As women, immigrants and service workers have become the new face of labor, what happens to home care matters for the shape of our economy, the fate of unionism and the establishment of a decent standard of living for all.

    Read the full article here.

Nelson Lichtenstein in a Democratic Socialists of America op-ed

  • Can the Unions Survive? Can the Left Have a Voice?

    President Obama will win this November. Despite levels of unemployment and anemic economic growth that would normally doom an incumbent, America's first African-American president is going to occupy the White House for another four years. And he will do so not because he fulfilled his most resonant campaign promise of 2008 – to end partisan gridlock and red/blue antagonism – but because that very polarization now works just enough in Obama's favor to keep him in office. Given the radicalism of the Republican Right, the intense political divisions have generated an electorate that is largely frozen in place, but with enough on the Obama side to enable the president to squeak home.

    Read the full piece here.

Nelson Lichtenstein in an Los Angeles Times op-ed

  • The National, Non-Union, Conventions

    Thousands of unionists are on their way to the Democratic National Convention that begins Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. Of the 609 delegates from California, more than a third are labor people.

    A Labor Day parade jump-starts the entire conclave, with out-of-state Democrats swelling the ranks of spectators and marchers alike. There will be dozens of union-delegate caucuses, pro-labor shout-outs from prominent politicians and adoption of a platform that endorses collective bargaining, both in the public sector as well as the private.

    Read the full article here.

Alice O'Connor in a Salon Op-Ed

  • How to make Occupy catch on
    Were history a guide to today's politics, progressives would be redoubling their efforts to turn the still-unraveling crisis of capitalism into an opportunity for system-changing reform. Certainly they would be doing everything within their power to combat the logic of austerity and entitlement-slashing that has crystalized into a new Washington "consensus," and instead to shape the debate around issues of employment, inequality, the erosion of the safety net, and the unprecedented concentrations of wealth and economic power that have survived the Great Recession intact. But they would also move to engage the debate at a deeper level: in terms of what a just, equitable and socially as well as financially productive economy looks like and what roles the state and the market should play in bringing it about.

Nelson Lichtenstein in a New York Times Op-Ed

           The Supreme Court decision to block a class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart was a huge setback for workers with consequences that range far beyond sex discrimination.

Nelson Lichtenstein on NPR

           Pro-union forces are still turning out in Wisconsin, but is this a a classic labor dispute?

          Listen to Lichtenstein's comments on the image and meaning of this important collective protest.

Eileen Boris

          Boris explores how household workers get the shaft -- and why they are fighting back.

Ezra Klein in the Wahinton Post

          Lichtenstein :"A governor like Walker is completely correct that it’s in his self-interest to ignore public opinion."

Nelson Lichtenstein

          Wisconsin state leader has leveraged the budget crisis to strike a body blow at the public-sector unions.

          Wisconsin is moving ahead on bill stripping public unions of collective bargaining rights.

          Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has proposed a bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers.

          Today union leaders and intellectuals are more entangled than at any other time since the 1940s.

          Obama is not finished, but the shelling from the opposition will continue to be intense and the liberal-left casualties

          heavy.

           Labor-law reform is stalled in congress.

          American workers need a labor movement grounded in social justice, not fractured, fighting unions.

           The crisis in the American auto industry marks a decisive turning point for the nation's manufacturing economy.

           The government and labor unions have control of Chrysler and GM.

           Opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act reaches a fever pitch.

          Chicago sit-in echoes the one that built the UAW

David Brody (UC Berkeley)

Opinion Pieces generated by the September 27, 2008 workshop with Ruth Rosen

           Steve Attwell, "Going Beyond Obama's Two-And-A-Half: A Case for More Jobs Now," Daily Kos

           Peter Cole, "Sunday Forum: The New Green Frontier," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

           Peter Cole, "The Economic Component of Human Rights," STLtoday.com

           Shannon Gleeson, "The Scapegoat of Illegal Immigration," The Santa Cruz Sentinel

           Daniel A. Graff, "We Must Support the Right to Work With Free Choice," South Bend Tribune

           Alex Lichtenstein, "Public-Works Plan Worth the Money," Miami Herald

           Premilla Nadasen, "Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Labor Rights," La Prensa San Diego

 

 

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