Democratic Left

The Chicago Workers’ Collaborative: A New Organizing Model

By Bill Barclay

“Low wage labor is a subsidy to inefficient capital,” said the Labour Organization economist in Norway to me in 2010, “and that is why we fight against the creation of a low wage sector.” But what do we do in a country, like the U.S., that already has a huge low wage sector? And where eight of the 10 fastest growing occupations require only a high school education – or less? Established unions have made little progress in organizing these workers. But there are new organizing models that offer hope for the future.

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Education is a Democratic Right

Beth_Cozzolino_YDS_march_cropped.jpgCollege, in the popular imagination, is still seen as both a time of freedom & intellectual exploration, and as the gateway to future economic opportunity. Yet young people today are increasingly working harder & taking on debt just to get a degree whose value is becoming more questionable. At the same time, universities are increasingly being subordinated to the needs of the corporate world.

It hasn’t always been this way and needn’t always be this way. We suggest that in addition to being an important part of fighting for social justice & equality, a high-quality & accessible public education system can be part of the fight for a world which is not based on exploitation and economic inequality - a world beyond capitalism.

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Confidence Fairy MIA- Austerity Doesn't Work

Time to try Real Job Creation

Chicago Political Economy Group’s Analysis of Aug 2013 Jobs Report

September 6, 2013 - Bill Barclay

Once again the BLS monthly Employment Situation Report has given the lie to the idea, popular in Washington D.C. and Wall Street, that if we’re just patient and don’t do anything to upset the “jobs creators” (aka the 1%), they will come to our rescue and expand employment.  The data make clear that they haven’t.  The private sector continues to fail the one fundamental measure by which we should judge an economy: the ability to provide jobs – especially living wage jobs – for everyone willing and able to work.

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Unions and the Defense of Freedom

Democratic socialists, and all who are committed to social justice, democracy and freedom, must continually renew our dedication to the development of a vibrant global union movement.

The Solidarity movement eventually led to the collapse of an oppressive Russian-dominated regime in Poland.  The Black trade union movement in South Africa helped dismantle apartheid.  Democratic unions were a foundation of the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

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Statement on U.S. Action Against Syria

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) opposes United States military intervention in the civil war in Syria. While we support the secular pro-democracy elements in the mass Syrian uprising against the brutal Assad regime, U.S. military power cannot liberate the Syrian people.  Therefore, for the reasons outlined below, we urge our members and friends to lobby Congress to reject the president’s request for the authorization of the use of force against Syria.

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Labor Wrestles With Its Future

By Harold Myerson


Working-America2.jpg Since the emergence of capitalism, workers seeking higher pay and safer workplaces have banded together in guilds and unions to pressure their employers for a better deal. That has been the approach of the American labor movement for the past 200 years.

 That approach, however, has begun to change. It’s not because unions think collective bargaining is a bad idea but because workers can’t form unions any more — not in the private sector, not at this time. There are some exceptions: Organizing continues at airlines, for instance, which are governed by different organizing rules than most industries. But employer opposition to organizing has become pervasive in the larger economy, and the penalties for employers who violate workers’ rights as they attempt to unionize are so meager that such violations have become routine. For this and a multitude of other reasons, the share of unionized workers in the private sector dropped from roughly one-third in the mid-20th century to a scant 6.6 percent last year. In consequence, the share of the nation’s economy constituted by wages has sunk to its lowest level since World War II, and U.S. median household income continues to decline.

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Brothers on the Line

 Brothers.jpg

Celebrate Labor Day

Film review:Brothers on the Line.”  By Maurice Isserman

 “Brothers on the Line.” Directed by Sasha Reuther. Produced by Sasha Reuther and Nancy Roth. Edited by Deborah Peretz. Running time: 80 mins.  Release date: 2012.  Distributor:  The Cinema Guild (non-theatrical/educational). Purchase - $310, Classroom Rental - $125.

 Some years ago, in a provocative article for The Nation magazine titled “I Dreamed I Saw MTV Last Night,” historian Jesse Lemisch questioned the Left’s attachment to outmoded/provincial forms of cultural expression, notably labor/radical documentary films with heroic narratives and folk-music-heavy soundtracks.  “One of the chief problems in left expression,” Lemisch wrote, “centers on the question of authenticity. Can people on the left speak honestly in their various voices, or must they pretend to be somebody else and speak in a voice that they imagine, erroneously, to be mainstream American?”

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Bangladesh- Two Agreements: One Real, One Counterfeit

by Paul Garver

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted to the Democratic Left magazine’s labor issue but for reasons of space only is published as a blog post. Two other articles submitted to the magazine will follow in the next few weeks, as well as articles that also appear in the printed version.

Global retailers and brand name clothiers in Europe and the USA have taken advantage of unscrupulous local manufacturers, weak and unenforced labor laws and a corrupt political system to contract garment manufacture for their global supply chains.  Facing the terrible consequences in thousands of deaths from the factory building collapse at Rana Plaza in Dhaka and the Tazreen factory fire, Bangladesh garment workers have begun to mobilize themselves, despite the virtual absence of national unions or an enforceable right to organize.

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