Category Archives: SubDisp Exclusive

Solidarity Strikes, a DREAM Decree and “Obamacare” – June in Review

June 28, 2012

A new writing job in the labor movement has kept me from writing my own material more frequently both here at Subterranean Dispatches and other publications. 

While I hope to produce a new piece in the near future, for now I’d like to feature some outside anaylsis on important developments in the month of June – including inspiring solidarity pickets that spread around the country among Teamster sanitation workers and some insights on Obama’s recent executive order protecting 800,000 undocumented youth from the threat of deportation.

But first my take on healthcare reform…

Stepping Away from Single-Payer

In one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases in recent history and a fever-pitched media event, the country’s highest court closed out the month of June with a decision on the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law. The decision is understood as being hugely historic on both the right and the left. But there was a lot of confusion about the substance of the verdict that the Supreme Court finally handed down on the Affordable Care Act. 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 Meaning of Trayvon Martin

[SubDisp Exclusive]

It took more than two weeks before the national media said a word about it. The police tested for drugs, but not on Zimmerman – on Trayvon’s body. And the only thing the shooter knew about Trayvon was revealed in these words: “I think he’s Black.”

Racism is alive and well. And to think the media was crowing about a “post-racial” America when Obama was elected. No one can honestly doubt that had it been Trayvon who shot and killed Zimmerman, Trayvon would have been arrested immediately – it would’ve been as if the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law didn’t exist.

Despite the daily police abuse and violence committed against Black men across the country, cases like these rarely get any mention in the U.S. mainstream media. But every time they do somehow make headlines, the national conversation shifts to talk about the racism that runs through the criminal justice system in this country – from the cops to the courts to the prisons. 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