Browsing the archives for the Labor category.


Labor Day Links

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holiday, Labor

Paul Krugman:

In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.

It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans.

Ed Kilgore:

Some pundits and pols, unfortunately, keep seeking to turn Labor Day into something entirely alien to its tradition. You may recall (as Paul Krugman did today) Eric Cantor’s tribute to business owners in his Labor Day message last year. On Friday we were treated to a Peggy Noonan column about Labor Day that wound up being about the “romance of the marketplace” and the deep insights of Ronald Reagan—who, whatever else you think about him, did not exactly exemplify the Work Ethic—into the connection between hard work and the American character.

Please: on this one day a year, can we be spared the contempt of the wealthy and the powerful for the “losers” who still work for wages and can’t seem to save and invest? Can Republican pols perhaps re-learn the lip service for the necessity of collective bargaining rights and the utility of unions they used to employ on occasions like this? And can conservative “thinkers” express some understanding that workers are not mere raw materials to be burned up in the creative forges of heroic capitalists? Can we please stipulate that the wildly unequal wealth and income levels in this country that are getting more unequal every day are not the pure product of natural or marketplace selection or—more laughable yet—the results of employers and individual workers freely contracting as equals?

Probably not.

Shawn Gude (on the Washington, DC, living wage bill):

The vituperation with which Walmart has attacked the living wage bill is perhaps most striking because capital’s threats, typically tacit, have actually been openly made. The City Council dared question the untrammeled control of capital, and now they’re seeing the result of such temerity. Even marginally shifting the locus of power from capital to labor— even if it’s done by a state that usually does the bidding of business—is enough to occasion outcry from the business community. DC’s deputy mayor, for instance, has said,“People have no idea how damaging this is,” and argued that even a veto wouldn’t be enough to restore business confidence.

The controversy throws into sharp relief one of our era’s great unspoken truths: Capitalist democracy, if not an oxymoron, is less a placid pairing than an acrimonious amalgamation. The marriage that Francis Fukuyama famously pronounced eternal is in fact a union of opposites. Inherent to capitalism is inequality, fundamental to democracy is equality. Class stratification, the lifeblood of capitalism, leaves democracy comatose. The economic “base,” to put it in classical Marxian terms, actively undermines the purported values of the political superstructure.

Capitalist democracy is a domesticated democracy. Even before it makes its existence visible in the political arena—via campaign donations and high-powered lobbyists—capital markedly narrows the range of policies available to citizens and their elected officials.

See also:

Krugman, “How the Other 47 Percent Lives

David Sirota, “How Labor Day Was Hijacked

Sarah Kliff, “Happy Labor Day, in Eight Charts

Benjamin Sachs, “A New Kind of Union

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Repeat After Me: It’s Not the Sixties Any More

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Labor, liberalism and progressivism

Last week I wrote a post called “Remembering Our History” that recalls the way young liberal activists of the 1960s and 1970s — the New Left — kicked apart the New Deal Coalition and thereby helped make the Democratic Party the lame and spineless thing it has been in recent years. I don’t want to repeat that entire argument, so if you want to disagree with that premise, please read the earlier post first.

Today some west coast OWSers are planning to shut down some ports, temporarily blocking commerce to punish some of the 1 percent. But other OWSers, and unions that have been supportive of OWS, are saying this would punish a lot of working people, too. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

And some occupation activists are labeling it as too confrontational, with the protest’s potential for violence detracting from Occupy’s stated intention of narrowing the chasm between rich and poor.

“Support is one thing,” Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union, wrote to his members last week. “Outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another and one that is destructive to our democratic process.”

Not the 1 percent

The Alameda County Building and Construction Trades Council’s secretary-treasurer, Andreas Cluver, said many of his union’s workers were recently hired at port building projects after long stretches on unemployment. Given that, a port shutdown aimed at punishing the 1 percent “makes no sense,” he said.

He said no union at the port supports the shutdown.

“We’re extremely supportive of the message of Occupy Oakland, and we did come out to support the Nov. 2 general strike, but we’re not behind this one,” Cluver said. “When working people aren’t involved in the decision on whether to shut down their jobs at the port, that’s problematic. And we weren’t consulted. Losing a day of wages is hard.”

He added: “The port is a public entity. It’s really not the 1 percent. Go shut down a country club – that’s the 1 percent.”

Together, the unions represent more than 1,400 workers at the port. Other unions that have refused to endorse the shutdown, including the California Nurses Association, declined to comment – all apparently not wanting to antagonize protest organizers.

However, at FDL, hotflashcarol is calling bullshit. And she’s doing this by recalling her personal memories of the 1960s counterculture — which is kind of pathetic, considering she was only 8 years old during the Summer of Love, although she did get to Haight Ashbury then while 17-year-old me was stuck in the Ozarks. But to counter the opposition of the unions to the port shutdown, she trots out speeches from the 1960s New Left. This includes speeches by Mario Salvo (1942-1996) who was a key member of the Berkeley Free Speech movement.

Mario Savio included “organized labor” in his list of those running the odious machine, the machine that we must not stop passively, but must stop by putting our bodies upon the gears:

be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone!

After he gave that famous speech, Mario was arrested, along with 800 others, and sentenced to 120 days in Santa Rita Jail – the very same place some of us may find ourselves occupying tomorrow. I have never been arrested and I’d like to keep it that way. But I am willing to march with heroes like Scott Olsen and all the others who have been arrested and brutalized. I am willing to take that risk, especially to support the people who man the front lines and push through the police barricades and refuse to allow the state to have every single ounce of the power. Without them, who among us would have had the guts to be the first one to sit at that lunch counter or stand up on top of that police car and demand our right to free speech?

Historically, labor activists have put their bodies on the line — sometimes at the cost of their lives — a whole lot more than the counterculture ever did, but let’s go on … One of my points in the earlier post was that in the 1960s, the unions were run by a bunch of old white guys who were standing in the way of progress for racial minorities and women, and some among them were pretty corrupt, and there was good reason to stand up to the unions then.

But that was 40 bleeping years ago. The unions today ain’t your granddaddy’s unions, child. Our current state of economic injustice is very much linked to the decline of the unions, and re-empowering workers through union organizing is one of the keys to turning things around.

Hotflashcarol goes on to post a video of Angela Davis ca. 1970 discussing the violence she grew up with as a black child in North Carolina. Hotflashcarol seems to be implying that what Angela Davis and her family went through in the 1950s and 1960s South justifies whatever confrontations OWS wants to mount today.

But what blacks experienced in the South back then is in a different ball park from what the mostly white and mostly middle-class OWSers have faced even on their worst days. Back then, a few wrong words or even a hint of attitude could get a black person killed, and any white could murder any African American with impunity, because no all-white jury would convict him even if the all-white police force arrested him, or the all-white public prosecutors decided to try him. That’s what Angela Davis experienced.

Like I said, what OWS has been through isn’t anywhere in the same ball park. Nay, the same galaxy. Yes, there are free speech and public assembly issues to be addressed, but these need to be taken through the court system before any counter-violence is justified.

Repeat after me: It’s not the sixties any more. Many things have changed.

Oh, and there’s another video at hotflashcarol’s post from about 1968 that’s supposed to make some kind of point, although it’s not clear to me what.

Hotflashcarol strikes me as a relatively privileged person who has romantic fantasies of being a rebel. She refers to herself as a blond at one point, so I assume she is white. Reliving one’s youth can be fun, although I take it my youth was a lot less fun than hers. But the world is a very different place now, and like it or not, activists like Mario Savio helped bring about the rise of Reaganism and the stagnation of the working class we’re seeing today. (Again, if you don’t understand how that happened, read my earlier post.)

The absolutely last thing any lefty activist ought to be doing TODAY is dissing unions and causing working people to lose a day’s pay so that the activist can have lots of fun playing at being a revolutionary and maybe getting on YouTube. If OWS is not actively trying to gain the sympathy and support of working people, on behalf of working people, then what is its purpose?

If you are a Boomer itching to relive your youth, go light some patchouli incense and listen to Jimi Hendrix for awhile. And then get over the past and ask yourself what you can do TODAY for the working people being screwed by the system TODAY. The 1960s are OVER, people.

Update: This via ShakesvilleReuters writes,

But union workers were largely expected to stay on the job, and were contractually barred from joining such a strike. The protest will focus in part on truck drivers who earn low wages and cannot join unions because they are classified as independent truck drivers, and must provide their own trucks.

“It’s a group that encapsulates basically everything that is wrong with society,” [Mike King, a graduate student who acts as a media liaison for Occupy Oakland] said.

So, part of the stated purpose of the port shut-down is to support low-wage workers who can’t unionize. Somebody needs to explain that to hotflashcarol. The problem with a lot of big, messy, unfocused demonstrating is that while their original purpose may have been perfectly righteous, once the vocational protesters show up everybody forgets what that was.

Update:
See also Laura Clawson for Daily Kos

It’s true that there are some terribly exploitative conditions at ports, especially for short haul truckers. But doing something in the name of workers without consulting the workers involved, and despite opposition even from a very militant union, is disrespectful of workers at best.

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Go Ohio

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elections, Labor

Ohio’s anti-union law defeated, apparently by a huge margin, although they are still counting votes.

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Must Read

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holiday, Labor

E.J. Dionne, “The Last Labor Day

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Wisconsin GOP: Above the Law?

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Labor, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

You might remember that a judge in the People’s Republic of Wisconsin [update: to be known henceforth as Fitzwalkerstan] last week issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the publication of the state’s new union-busting law. This was to keep the law from going into effect, per Wisconsin state law, until a suit challenging the law is decided.

Yesterday the text of the law was published on a website of the Legislative Reference Bureau, which provides research and drafting services for the state legislature. The head of this bureau, Stephen Miller, said that this publication did not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But Wisconsin Republican are saying, aha! The law was published! It can go into effect now.

It appears Miller was maneuvered into publishing the bill by state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Fitzgerald and Miller met Friday. Miller said Fitzgerald asked him to publish the law and, after reading the statutes, Miller agreed that he could do so. He said he had never published a law without being given a date by the secretary of state during his 12 years of running the reference bureau.

After the restraining order was issued March 18, La Follette sent a letter that same day to the reference bureau rescinding earlier instructions to publish the bill Friday. “I further instruct you to remove all reference to March 25, 2011, as the publication date and not to proceed with publication until I contact you with a new publication date,” his letter said.

The Republicans’ argument, as I understand it, is that the court order barred the Wisconsin Secretary of State from publishing the law, which is usually done in a newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. However, the court order didn’t say the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau couldn’t publish it. And the website publication meets the state’s public notice requirements for putting a law into effect, they say.

Miller himself says the publication was only an “administrative step,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat, says he doesn’t think the website publication satisfies the legal requirements for publishing, and the law is not in effect. But Scott Fitzgerald says it is too in effect, nyah nyah nyah.

I’m neither a lawyer nor an expert on Wisconsin state law. However, since the restraining order was broadly worded and clearly intended to stop the law from going into effect while it was being challenged in court, it is not unreasonable to assume that Fitzgerald’s maneuver does not satisfy the publishing requirement. But the lawyers and judges will have to duke this one out.

It’s fascinating to me that the Wisconsin Republicans aren’t even trying to not look like the old Soviet Politburo now. They’re so all-fired eager to bust unions and punish their opponents they can’t wait a few weeks for the courts to decide the pending suit.

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Wisconsin’s Cultural Revolution

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Labor, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

James Fallows writes from Beijing that the activities of Republicans in Wisconsin remind him of … Beijing.

A University of Wisconsin history professor, William Cronon wrote an op-ed for the New York Times critical of Gov. Scott Walker, and now Wisconsin Republicans are in all-out McCarthyite witch hunt mode, trying to find some way to shut him up or discredit him. More details from Josh Marshall and from Professor Cronon.

The state Republican Party wants access to the professor’s university email account so that they can see who he’s been talking to about Gov. Walker and his union-busting activities. Writes James Fallows,

The reason this strikes me particularly hard at the moment: I am staying in a country where a lot of recent news concerns how far the government is going in electronic monitoring of email and other messages to prevent any group, notably including academics or students, from organizing in order to protest. I don’t like that any better in Madison than I do in Beijing.

Since Cronon is a state employee his university emails legally are public property, but if there’s any reason for the Wisconsin Republicans to go after the professor’s emails other than intimidation, I can’t think of it. See also John Nichols.

No rightie blogger that I’ve seen has commented on this yet, but when they do, I predict they will defend the Wisconsin Republicans and then go back to screaming about how they’re the defenders of liberty from Big Government.

Speaking of emails — an Indiana deputy prosecutor has resigned because of an email he sent to Gov. Walker suggesting some staged union “thuggism.”

“If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions’ cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions,” the email said.

“Currently, the media is painting the union protest as a democratic uprising and failing to mention the role of the DNC and umbrella union organizations in the protest. Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions. God bless, Carlos F. Lam.”

The prosecutor, Carlos Lam, also said the pro-union protests presented “a good opportunity for what’s called a ‘false flag’ operation.” The email was obtained by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which obtained Gov. Walker’s emails concerning the union-busting bill.

What strikes me about the email is the implied assumption that Republican thuggishness is justified, even sanctioned by God, because the DNC and unions are inherently bad, somehow. It was no secret that the DSCC and the AFL-CIO supported the pro-union protests, but I guess the union thugs weren’t being thuggish enough.

And yeah, another blogger already made the comparison with Donald Segretti and CREEP.

In other developments from the Cheese State — yesterday a state appeals court punted the legal challenge to the Wisconsin’s union-busting bill to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

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Tonight in Wisconsin

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Labor, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Are Wisconsin GOP senators getting the “wobblies”? Stephen Moore writes in the Wall Street Journal that conservatives are worried that three Republican senators may defect to the Democrats’ side to kill the governor’s union-busting bill.

If there’s any solid evidence Republican resolve is about to crumble, Walker doesn’t say. But Greg Sargent writes that an NBC Wisconsin affiliate is reporting that “four moderate Republicans are wavering and could break with the GOP and vote against Walker’s budget repair bill.”

When even Rasmussen polls show Republicans are losing ground, and with recall efforts underway, some senators must be thinking hard about their political futures and whether they want to be chained to Scott Walker if he goes down like the Titanic.

Last week, conservative apparatchiks like Jennifer Rubin were gushing about Scott Walker’s future as a presidential candidate. This week, Americans for Prosperity (e.g., David Koch) is trying to whip up support for Walker by sending a bus around the state. A Wisconsin ABC affiliate reported,

Americans for Prosperity brought a bus tour to Ashwaubenon Friday morning, looking for people to sign petitions in support of Governor Walker’s budget proposals.

High turnout at the “Stand Against Spending — Stand With Walker” campaign forced organizers to move from Perkins restaurant to the Holiday Inn next door.

Organizers say more than 100 people showed up to give their support.

Wow, that sounds so … rinkydink. And news stories say the bus tour is being met by protesters all around the state, also.

Rick Ungar writes at Forbes that Gov. Walker’s overreach already has cost him and Republicans dearly.

The Wisconsin governor’s desire to be at the forefront of his perceived GOP revolution may not only have doomed the anti-union effort, but it may forever label him has the man who gave the democrats the gift that keeps on giving – the return of the union rank and file into the arms of the Democratic Party.

The governor may be facing the downside of drawing media attention. Isthmus newspaper and the Wisconsin Associated Press today filed a lawsuit over Walker’s failure to respond to a request for access to emails. Scott had bragged that he had received 8,000 emails telling him to stand firm on his budget bill. So, let’s have a look, said news media. Um, we’ll get back to you, someday, said the governor’s office.

But those are The People’s emails, and under the state’s Open Records law, Walker is obligated to cough them up. Stay tuned.

Walker sent out layoff warnings today, although I thought he had promised layoff notices. Is he starting to blink? Or is he about to hit the iceberg?

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Polls Say Walker Is Losing Public Support

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Labor

A Public Policy poll finds that Gov. Walker is losing support in Wisconsin; if last fall’s election were held today, Walker’s Democratic opponent would win handily. Interestingly, the biggest shift was among Republicans with a union member living in the household.

A New York Times/CBS News poll also finds a hefty majority of Americans are opposed to taking collective bargaining rights away from public employees, 60 percent to 33 percent. This finding is nearly identical to other polls I’ve seen. What’s surprising is that nearly as large a majority were opposed to cutting pay or benefits to reduce budget deficits. And finally, this —

Labor unions, including private sector labor unions, are seen as less influential now than they were three decades ago. The poll found that 37 percent of those surveyed believe that labor unions have “too much influence” on American life and politics, while 48 percent said they had the “right amount” or “too little” influence. In a 1981 poll, by contrast — soon after President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers — 60 percent of those surveyed said unions had “too much influence.” Of course, union membership has declined since then.

The campaign to turn unions into the bogyman is backfiring, seems to me.

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Momentous (and Crazy) Times (Updated)

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Labor, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

There’s much more going on than I can follow. You may have heard there’s a civil war in Libya, for example. For a while it seemed that Moammar Gaddafi was toast, but the news this morning is that he’s using paramilitary forces and mercenaries to crush the rebellion. The post-Gaddafi era may be postponed, alas.

In Wisconsin, it appears Democrats in one legislative house, the Assembly, have ended a filibuster and reluctantly agreed to allow Gov. Walker’s union-busting bill to come to a vote. Wisconsin Senate Democrats are still out of state, however, so it can’t pass into law just yet.

Must Read:Scapegoats in Wisconsin” by Mark Erlich.

Organized operatives paid by FreedomWorks are attempting to throw the protesters off their game by inciting them to violence. Shoving into crowds and getting into people’s faces while being terminally obnoxious, a few of the Koch-paid goons have been insulted right back, which of course is captured on video and labeled “union thuggery.”

One, um, video of dubious veracity begins with some guy practically begging a protester to hit him. Then the camera turns away, the image gets fuzzy, and you hear noises that sound like punches. When the camera comes back into focus, you see a somewhat puzzled union protester, still holding his sign, while the Koch guy is screaming “you just hit a girl!”

While I do not condone violence, neither do I condone BS. The allegedly assaulted young woman was allegedly the FreedomWorks operative allegedly holding the camera, and although she is allegedly petite and the man who allegedly assaulted her (without dropping his sign) appears to be quite large, there are no reports she needed medical help. Please; that’s the best you got? This, dears, is what real thuggery looks looks like.

Update: Stephen Colbert demonstrates —

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bust in Show
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Elsewhere: Although Indiana has backed down, the situation in Ohio is still at an impasse. Also, a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from municipal workers has just left committee in Oklahoma.

In other news, the Obama Administration is not going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which has always struck me as being blatantly unconstitutional. A federal judge has found the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional, which now brings us to three judges yes, two judges no.

Finally, there’s a bill pending in the state of Arizona that would repeal the law of karma within state borders. I’m serious. HB 2582 would prohibit courts from basing any decisions on “religious sectarian law,” which beside being an oxymoron is defined as

… any statute, tenet or body of law evolving within and binding a specific religious sect or tribe. Religious sectarian law includes Sharia Law, Canon Law, Halacha and Karma but does not include any law of the United States or the individual states based on Anglo‑American legal tradition and principles on which the United States was founded.

I like the part about Anglo-American legal tradition. I also suspect that the authors of this bill assume the Ten Commandments are part of that Anglo-American tradition and wouldn’t be prohibited.

Karma, of course, is basically just the principle that actions have consequences; cause and effect. You might as well prohibit gravity. This bill is right up there with China’s regulation that lamas may not reincarnate without government approval. For that matter, I’d expect the Arizona legislature to pass a law prohibiting species from evolving within state borders, but then they’d have to acknowledge that species do evolve.

Update: Alex Pareene has more about the so-called “union thug” video, which has gone viral on the Right. Pareene points out that this video was made in Washington DC, not Wisconsin, which I had not noticed. “FreedomWorks could only manage to provoke an incident in D.C., because the people of Wisconsin are a gentle and peaceful lot, unless there is a Packers game on,” he says.

He also says that what he saw was the gentleman in the video pushing away the camera. I can’t make out that he did anything in particular, but you take a look and see what you think. Pareene continues,

Pushing a camera away from one’s face seems less “thuggish” to me than it does … defensive. And purposefully picking fights with people in order to provoke an angry response does not really prove much of anything.

Pareene also says that the young woman whose camera was pushed is now comparing herself to Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who was assaulted in Cairo, which I also hadn’t noticed until he pointed it out. He continues,

I am not making that up. I wish I was making that up. But I would actually not make that up, because it would seem beyond the pale to accuse conservative activists of being so horrible, so desperate to play the victim, so morally depraved, so deep into their persecution fantasies that they’ve lost all perspective on the rest of the world.

Yeah, pretty much. One of the keys to interpreting teabaggery is that in their minds, they are always the victims.

Update: See Wonkette and Tbogg.

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The Last Triangle Waist Factory Victims Identified

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Labor

Nearly one hundred years ago, on March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Waist Factory near Washington Square, in Manhattan, killing 146 workers. Some of the workers leapt to their deaths from the 9th-floor sweatshop rather than be burned. The workers could not escape the fire because management had locked the doors to keep them from leaving early.

Six of the victims were so badly burned they could not be identified, and the six bodies were buried together in a cemetery on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. The New York Times reports today that a determined researcher has identified the six unknown victims — Max Florin, Fannie Rosen, Dora Evans, Josephine Cammarata, Maria Lauletti, and Concetta Prestifilippo. All six were immigrants in their teens or early 20s except for Maria Lauletti, who was 33.

“Waist,” by the way, refers to “shirtwaist,” the name of a popular style of ladies’ fashion at the time.

Many Americans have heard of this fire; what is less well known is that a couple of years before the fire, in 1909, a walkout by Triangle employees sparked a mass strike of New York’s garment workers that lasted for six weeks. As many as 32,000 striking workers, mostly women, took to the streets and adopted the slogan “We’d rather starve quick than starve slow.”

The power establishment was of course opposed to the strike. Police arrested strikers on any pretext; employers hired thugs to beat them. Eventually some employers conceded some improvements in wages and working conditions, although the Triangle Factory management made no concessions. They simply locked out the strikers and hired new immigrant workers, who would work as much as 12 hours a day for as little as $1.50 a week.

The fire shocked America, and it also shocked the New York legislature into passing some of the first workplace safety regulations in the country. Among the reformers pushing for protection for workers was Frances Perkins, who had watched the fire from the street. Perkins would be the Secretary of Labor in the Franklin Roosevelt Administration.

The fire also became a catalyst for union organizing, especially for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. It was only after the fire that garment workers in New York won the right to unionize.

Today, as the political Right in America is gripped with an insane compulsion to return the United States to the 19th century, we seem to be re-fighting issues thought to be settled many decades ago. The fight of the vilified public workers of Wisconsin is not not so much about wages and benefits, because the workers have offered to make concessions on wages and benefits. The fight ultimately is about the collective bargaining rights of all American workers, public and private.

Those rights were paid for with the lives of Max Florin, Fannie Rosen, Dora Evans, Josephine Cammarata, Maria Lauletti, Concetta Prestifilippo, and 140 other Triangle employees, plus the thousands of lives of miners, factory workers, and other laborers that were so easily thrown away for the sake of a profit margin.

I realize there’s an argument that public employees aren’t like private employees, and that public employees should not be allowed to unionize, never mind strike. Make no mistake, the real point of these arguments is that nobody should unionize, period. I have yet to see an argument against public employee unionization that hasn’t been used against private employee unions as well.

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold nailed it when he said the Right is using “divide and conquer” tactics against all American workers. “The idea here on the right and the corporate side is to divide working people against each other, to turn private employees against public employees out of some kind of resentment,” he said.

Paul Krugman said today,

… what’s happening in Wisconsin isn’t about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker’s pretense that he’s just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

See also Andy Stern.

Steve Benen says that Gov. Walker will make no compromises. The blinking will be done in the Wisconsin legislature, however. If three Republican senators switch sides, the Dems could block the bill. Pressure from constituents will be critical now.

When I saw the article about the Triangle Factory workers today, it felt as if they were calling to us to stand strong and not go back. I know some of you have been active in Wisconsin these past few days, and I thank you. Don’t let the oligarchs win.

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