The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘organized labor

HAPPY LABOR DAY WIDDERSHINS!

Is it correct to say that?  I’m not sure but I’m going to anyway.  I can say I hope you enjoy your day, whether you are at the beach, or you are having a barbecue or what have you. I also hope you are celebrating safely, six feet apart from strangers, and away from Trump boats on the water.  

However, let’s not forget the reason we celebrate the day.

In the United States, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

n 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

Finally let’s celebrate with some songs

Enjoy the day and long weekend Widdershins.  If you are going out to celebrate, be safe!

Open thread.

HAPPY LABOR DAY WIDDERSHINS!

Is it correct to say that?  I’m not sure but I’m going to anyway.  I can say I hope you enjoy your day, whether you are at the beach, or you are having a barbeque or what have you.  I will be enjoying some barbeque from Jim n Nick’s along with their great potato salad and other sides.

However, let’s not forget the reason we celebrate the day.

In the United States, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.

n 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday; President Grover Cleveland signed it into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

So let’s honor the day and the reason we celebrate it.  If you put your mouse over the pictures you’ll see a navigate button which goes forward, back and pauses.

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And let’s celebrate with some song.

and one of my favorites:

Enjoy the day Widdershins. This is an open thread.

Michigan is now a right to work state.  Holy freakin’ crap,  people.  That’s a lot like  a Pentecostal church becoming a  same-sex wedding mecca.

As a long-time trade-unionist, my blood runs cold.  Michigan was always the union state of all union states, and now this, from ABC News:

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a right-to-work bill limiting union power into law in his state, he announced in a press conference on Tuesday evening.

“I view this as an opportunity to stand up for Michigan’s workers—to be pro-worker,” Snyder said.

“I don’t view this as anti-union at all…I believe this is pro-worker.”

Anyone else find this to be pro-worker?  Me, either. Rick Snyder campaigned as a moderate Republican “nerd”, and won both the primary and the election because of crossover votes from moderate Democrats.

Of course, any moderate anybody in the state of Michigan should have had an epiphany by now.  Governor Snyder previously enacted the Emergency Managers, who could toss out all of your duly-elected local offficials and sell off your public property, such as the  land in Benton Harbor that was bequeathed to the town as a public park,  I’m certain that Snyder did this because he is pro-public property, especially when it becomes a private commercial enterprise.  Oh, and Michigan’s Snyder-approved law exonerates the EM from any liability from “oopsies” such as this.

Rick Snyder campaigned on union rights, and promised to eschew legislation of this type as “Too divisive”.  The Governor was on “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning, and stated  that this legislation absolutely had to be rushed through the lame-duck session as an emergency measure because the unions had the temerity to attempt to pass a constitutional amendment making Michigan forever a closed shop.  Although the amendment failed, he apparently just could not live with himself if this law were not enacted immediately if not sooner.  He also pointed out that Mitch Daniel’s similar law in Indiana had brought many jobs into the state,  When he was asked what the wages were on the Indiana jobs, he had no answer.   When he was asked if the Republican losses in the state legislature might have made this impassable in 2013, he had no answer again.

Governor Snyder does not need to concern himself with the ballot initiative that Governor Kasich suffered – Michigan’s apparently contains an appropriation, which precludes a ballot initiative.  Therefore, the die is now cast, and the Governor and the members of the Michigan legislature have given Democrats and unions only one mechanism of redress – the 2014 elections.

Understand that union jobs tend to pay more, are more,likely to have benefits, and provide due process for employees.  I have spent most of my life working in RTW states, and union activity is more difficult though not impossible.  People who don’t belong to the union, as a rule, receive precisely the same wages and benefits as those who are dues-paying members.  The main thing that they lack is representation with administrative actions, and that can be really important.

I once had an incident where two employees were involved, and were pretty much equally culpable.  Labor Relations advised me to suspend the union member for three days with pay, and terminate the non-member.   Their rationale was simple – the union would fight a termination clear through arbitration, and the non-union member would probably not hire his own attorney.

As a college graduate, I never thought that I would require a union.  Registered Nurses are told that they are professionals, but my personal feeling is that if I am punching a time clock, I am a pink-collar worker.  Unions insist that their employees are actually paid overtime for staying late, as opposed to donating the time, or receiving the nebulous promise of compensatory time to be scheduled in the distant future.   Unions also can intervene in various payroll and benefit problems, ranging from screwed-up paychecks to denial of vacation time or even denial of promotions.  Union dues pay for a level of representation that would be difficult to replicate on a personal level.

Of course, Michigan has exempted their police and fire personnel from these odious requirements,  Somehow, they are always exempted, and they are not known to be particularly supportive of other unions.  This nurse’s cap is off to the fire personnel of Madison Wisconsin who stayed with the other public employees to the end up there – that is not the usual.

SEIU;s President Mary Kay Henry has already announced that they will be front and center in the Midwestern elections of 2014.  Richard Trumka and James Hoffa, Jr. will be there as well.  I think that the more people understand the absolute agenda of the plutocracy, the more likely they are to stand with labor.  While a job paying $10-15 per hour is better than nothing, this is not a wage that will support a family, find decent housing, or feed and clothe children adequately.   This leaves the rest of middle-class society to look after them with government-funded supports while the upper 10% pays fewer and fewer taxes.  I’m having trouble following the logic here, people.  Why would we wish to doom more and more people into lives of requiring some level of public assistance to remain afloat?

I will be amazed if some other states do not attempt to replicate this before the end of the year.

This is an open thread’

Report from the Field

Last night, I attended the PNHP NYC Chapter monthly forum, entitled “Where’s Labor Been in the Year of Health Care Reform?” LibbyLiberal from Corrente met me there, and we both brought flyers for my Rep. Carolyn Maloney “Yes” vote protest on Saturday afternoon, which she and other Correntians will be attending.

The room was packed, and expectations were high as Bill Henning got up to speak.

“First, I’d like to stop using the word ‘but’ when describing this health care vote. We had a stunning victory on Sunday, and I think we need to see it that way. The alternative is that all of our efforts were in vain, and I can’t agree to that,” he said.

You can imagine how well this viewpoint went over (and he knew it wouldn’t be popular, either – he said “I realize this statement may be received with some derision in this forum.”). Unfortunately, as so many “progressives” do, he had made this health care bill all about him. I hate to fill him in on this, but Obama and the Democrats didn’t listen to single-payer activists. They never planned to. They were shut out from the debate from the very beginning, and Obama was quite clear about his feelings about them. So whether or not Medicare for All became part of the bill, had nothing to do with Labor’s efforts. Labor, and single-payer, never had a chance with this President. It’s painful, but true, and we need to keep telling the truth.

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The Mother of The Labor Movement

The Mother of The Labor Movement

In celebration of Woman’s History Month, I offer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, labor organizer and human rights advocate of the late 19th century. Among my paternal grandmother’s most prized possessions was a picture taken of herself with Mother Jones at a union convention, and I learned her story at a very young age.

Mary was born near Cork, Ireland. Some sources list her birth date as August 1, 1837, although she claimed it to be May 1, 1830. (Some literature suggests that she adopted the earlier date both to appear more grandmotherly, and to commemorate the infamous Haymarket Affair.) Her family moved first to Canada when she was fourteen years old, and later to Michigan. She was educated to be a teacher, but rapidly tired of that profession. She moved to Chicago, and then to Memphis where she met and married George Jones, a member of the Iron Workers’ Union. She opened a dress shop in 1861. They survived the war, and Mary bore several children, only to lose her entire family to yellow fever. Mary moved back to Chicago, opened another dressmaking establishment, and promptly lost shop, home, and possessions in the Chicago fire of 1871. Shortly thereafter, she joined to Knights of Labor and began to work in the early days of the American labor movement. The Haymaker Affair, and widespread fear of insurrection caused many to fear the Knights, and they folded shortly thereafter. Mary then became affiliated with the United Mine Workers, and rapidly became a force in organizing the mines.

Mary Harris Jones was a woman of her times. She had absolutely no interest in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, and was fond of saying “You can raise plenty of hell without the vote”. She was not in favor of mothers being active in politics, as she felt that bad mothering led to juvenile delinquency. She is also faulted by feminists for not pushing harder for equal pay for women. One thing is for certain, and that is that she would go to any lengths to organize, and relied heavily upon the wives and daughters of miners to support the men in their efforts.

She was, apparently, a captivating public speaker and storyteller who utilized passion, wit, humor and profanity. She brought visual aids, and encouraged the audience to participate in her events. She usually wore outdated black clothing, which greatly enforced the persona of Mother Jones. She organized workers, and led strikes and demonstrations both with workers and their families as well. In 1901, she did participate in a strike where female workers were demanding full wages, and reached a settlement for them to return to work after negotiating with management.

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