Category Archives: Occupy

Labor Needs a Different Kind of “Ground Game”

November 20, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio, delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed candidates to office.

Labor’s decisive role in reelecting Obama and boosting dozens of other Democrats in key races was acknowledged in the national press. And it was acknowledged by labor. Read the rest of this entry

Historic Union Victory and New Promise for Port Drivers

April 21, 2012

Published at CounterPunch.

In an era of defeat and decline for the labor movement, pathbreaking organizing victories are rare. Union activity in these times is more likely to revolve around defensive battles than conquering new territory or reclaiming ground that was lost decades ago.

Earlier this month, a rare election victory by port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles signaled a big step forward in the fight to organize a deregulated industry that is rife with worker abuse.

The 46-to-15 vote by Toll Group drivers in favor of joining the Teamsters was the first of its kind in nearly 30 years. And Toll, an $8.8 billion Australia-based logistics company, fought the workers every step of the way. 

But the workers’ historic victory has given new hope to other drivers throughout the industry. Read the rest of this entry

The One Percent Targets D.C. Schools

March 29, 2012

Students and Parents Protest the Demolition of Bruce Monroe Elementary
(Grassroots Media Project, Empower DC)

Published at Socialist Worker.

In 2010, Washington D.C. residents ousted the much-maligned former Mayor Adrian Fenty, in what was largely considered to be a referendum against his notorious union-busting Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Fenty’s replacement, Vincent Gray, opposed Rhee’s reforms while Gray served on the City Council.

But as mayor, Gray has done little to reverse the damage that Rhee inflicted on D.C. schools. In fact, the mayor – along with Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright and the current Chancellor Kaya Henderson – has mostly continued Rhee’s policies and is now poised to make things much worse. Read the rest of this entry

Labor Politics and the Captive Electorate of 2012

March 14, 2012 

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

Back in 2010, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lashed out at President Obama who she said was part of the “blame the teacher crowd” of education reform.

“I never thought I’d see a Democratic president, whom we helped elect, and his education secretary applaud the mass firing of 89 teachers and staff,” she said – referring to the firing of all teachers at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island earlier that year.

Last month, the AFT executive council unanimously voted to endorse Obama for reelection. Read the rest of this entry

Workers’ Power from Puget Sound to Goose Island

February 29, 2012

[SubDisp Exclusive]

For anyone wondering where I’ve been lately, I apologize for my literary absence at Subterranean Dispatches. A combination of day-job work, organizing in the local Occupy movement and other preoccupations have prevented me from finding sufficient time to write a solid dispatch column worthy of publication here or elsewhere. February has been a busy month.

But it’s also been a busy month for organized labor and workers’ struggle in general. The following articles are highly-recommended essential reading on two crucial battles in labor in the month of February – one that may set the stage for a larger union rights struggle in an industry that desperately needs it; and the other, a swift and salient reminder of the possibilities that exist when workers come together and take bold action. The first article discusses the two-week strike among 500 non-union port truck drivers in Seattle. The second chronicles a factory occupation last week led by the same workers at the same facility who occupied their Republic Windows and Doors plant back in 2008. In their own terms, workers were victorious in both cases, though their long-term battles continue. In an era in which workers are under the gun, from teachers in public education to manufacturing workers across the board, the lessons from these two recent struggles are profound. Read the rest of this entry

Military Intervention vs. Maritime Union Power

UPDATE: Jan. 24 – Settlement reached between ILWU and EGT. Rank-and-file longshore workers approved the agreement that requires all EGT work to be dispatched from the Local 21 hiring hall. ULP charges and other litigation has been dropped, but damage claims against ILWU totalling $300,000 still stand. And EGT is not required to keep workers on the job if there is no grain to move. While EGT will employ ILWU labor, as part of the agreement its lease with the port has been amended so that EGT is not obligated by the port authority to hire members of any union at the terminal. The pact reopens negotiations for a labor contract and the union must must ask all outside supporters, including Occupy, to call off all picket actions unless collective bargaining talks break down.


January 21, 2012

Published at Common Dreams.

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Armed Forces will be deployed to intervene in a labor dispute, facilitating a scab operation against union dockworkers at the Port of Longview in Washington.

In the long dispute between International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 21 and EGT Development, the international conglomerate is now poised to make its first grain shipment from its new $200 million export terminal, violating its contract with the publicly-owned port and the union’s jurisdiction on the waterfront.

But it may take an army to cross the picket line. Read the rest of this entry