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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.
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."
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
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