Labor

Univ. of Illinois Admits Pre-Emptive Firing of Israel Critic Steven Salaita

by Ali Abunimah

Finally breaking its silence, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday claimed that the firing of Steven Salaita was “was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel.”

Rather, it was, in effect, a pre-empetive firing based on the assumption that his tweets would make him a bad teacher.

This transparent use of “civility” as a cover to fire a professor with outspoken views on Israel is almost identical to the pretext that was given by DePaul University in 2007 to deny tenure to Norman Finkelstein.

In that case, DePaul denied Finkelstein tenure on the vague grounds that he lacked “collegiality.”

How America's Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty

Cooperative Home Care Associates has 2,300 workers who enjoy good wages, regular hours, and family health insurance. With an investment of $1.2 million into the cooperative sector, New York City is hoping to build on the group's success

by Laura Flanders

Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.

 After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”

States with Higher Minimum Wage Boast Faster Job Growth

- Lauren McCauley, Commondreams staff writer

Workers in New York City rally to raise the minimum wage. (Photo: All-nite Images/ cc/ Flickr)

Adding fuel to the growing populist call for a higher minimum wage and throwing water on the conservative argument that fair pay will threaten employment, new data released Friday shows that states with higher wages are gaining more jobs.

Why Big Business Loves Desperate Workers

And how a strong social safety net can make us all more free

by Stephen Pimpare

We don’t think enough about the economic functions of social welfare policy, or about the relationship between the safety net and labor markets, and this hinders our ability to make sense of why some people fight so hard against programs that aid poor and low-income people: We mistake them for anti-welfare ideologues, and dismiss them as cruel or ignorant, but there’s an economic logic to their activism, one that’s revealed if we look at the relationship between welfare and work from both the employee’s and the employer’s perspective. Let me explain.

Imagine that we have two workers, worker K and worker O, each with two young children.

Worker K is laid off when the company “downsizes.” K is nervous, but has some savings, is eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits, Medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), and TANF, has access to free local day care, and lives in a Section 8 apartment, with their monthly rent tied to their income.

The Union vs. Corporate Showdown Has Officially Begun

by Shamus Cooke

The attack on the U.S. labor movement just sharpened with the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision, aimed at the heart of concentrated union power — public sector unions. When you add in the Obama-led assault on public school teachers unions and the Koch brother-funded “Right to Work” laws, the labor movement appears to be facing imminent ruin.  

Arsonists Posing as Firemen: How GOP Sabotages Government for Fun and Profit

by John Atcheson

Across the board, Republicans have been sabotaging government by a variety of measures, then pointing to the resulting  – and inevitable – governmental failures to reinforce their Ayn Rand fantasy of government as inept and the private sector as the solution to all our problems. 

Doubt that? Well, it appears that they will spend more money investigating the Benghazi "scandal" than the Veterans Administration debacle.

Meanwhile, the Democrats stand back and mumble lame protestations under their breath, being careful not to anger the corporatists and fat cats at whose trough they feed.  And the press?  Pulleez.  They are the corporatists. 

None of this is new, as far as a generally accepted meme, but what’s not getting much play, are how the specific problems Republicans are shouting themselves into a frothing frenzy about at the moment have been engineered by them.

Let’s look at the top five, and one emerging issue.

Unpatriotic US Corporations Becoming Hot Political Issue That Unites Right and Left

by Ralph Nader

CEO Greg Wasson of the giant Walgreen drugstore chain may be thinking of other things than patriotism this 4th of July. He confirmed last month that, to save on taxes, he and his Board of Directors may be renouncing the company's U.S. citizenship and moving its incorporation to Switzerland or some nearby tax haven.

Were Mr. Wasson to quit America, where the company rose to great profits and where it receives one quarter of its annual $72 billion in sales from Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, he would be grossly underestimating the reaction of many Americans.

Following intentions by corporate welfare kings Pfizer and Medtronic to quit their native country to get further tax escapes, Walgreen is unique in that it has 8000 pharmacies -- convenience stores well situated for citizen picketing.

Imagine the signs:

"Walgreen Goes For the Green Instead of the Red, White and Blue."

Or "Walgreen: Where's Your Patriotism?"

The Hobby Lobby Lesson: We Need To Fight For Single-Payer Health Care

by Emily DeVito

(Credit: flickr / cc / National Nurses United)

Here is the clearest, and scariest, implication of the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – is fatally flawed. It is clear we now need a public, single-payer health care system – because the Supreme Court can no longer protect us.

The fact that Hobby Lobby Inc. actually had a legal standing to bring this case to court in order to contest providing comprehensive health care to their 18,000 employees should prove that a key feature of the Affordable Care Act is unsound: It relies too heavily on private entities to deliver a public good – health care.

Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Illinois Home Care Workers

by Samantha Winslow

The Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn has struck down agency fees for Illinois's home care union, finding the workers to be only "quasi-public employees." Home care workers provide in-home care to elderly and disabled clients. Above, members occupied a Washington state agency office in 2012 to protest cuts to services for their clients. (Photo: SEIU Healthcare 775NW)

 

Why Do We Hate the Poor?

by Kim Redigan

Today, families in Detroit, living under an emergency manager imposed by a governor committed to privatizing every inch of the state, are having their water shut off.  A few days ago, the United Nations, at the behest of local activists, issued a statement on the shutoffs.

This is what it’s come to  –  appealing to an international body to uphold the basic human right to water.

The situation in Detroit is, of course, a result of systemic injustices deeply rooted in racism, injustices that have been analyzed by minds far better than mine.

No, the question I ask is not academic.

 I am honestly trying to understand the hatred that is reserved for the poor in this country, hatred as deep and noxious as a tar sands trail.

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