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Benny

The John Deere Strike Shows the Tight Labor Market Is Ready to Pop

Workers are also feeling the heat of the past year’s market basket inflation. Kaiser’s 1 percent raise offer (on top of the introduction of an average 26 percent wage cut for all new hires) becomes a wage cut against a 5 percent consumer goods inflation. The 15-cent-per-hour raise International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers construction workers are getting in Orlando, Florida, doesn’t come close to keeping up with the rising cost of living. Kellogg’s proposal includes cutting the cost-of-living adjustment, which was once a central part of collective bargaining in core industries but which never came back for Big Three autoworkers after the 2008 financial crisis and auto bankruptcies. Core to several of these strikes — Deere, Kellogg’s, and Kaiser — is a revolt against the 1980s-era introduction of “two-tier” contracts that provide worse conditions for new hires. As Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union Local 3G president and Kellogg’s strike leader Trevor Bidelman told Labor Notes, “The future’s not for sale.”

In the case of Deere, workers are well aware of the company’s record profits and aren’t moved by what amounts to a $1-per-hour wage increase for most of them. The members have long self-organized into a Facebook group called “Post ’97,” meaning employees hired after 1997, with worse wages, benefits, and pensions. The current contract for most “post-’97” workers would be a 6 cent raise from what “pre-’97” workers made 10 years ago. The company’s proposal to cut pensions for all new hires — creating a “post-’21” workforce — runs up against a moral opposition that aligns with a new economic playing field, causing many workers to tout as a core demand of the strike: “No third tier!”

But a tight labor market also means leverage for workers. Knowing that they’re harder to replace, individual workers become more likely to say no to bosses: Today, workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate in decades — one of the most precise measures of their labor market power as individuals. Where workers are organized collectively into unions, tight labor markets lead to rising willingness to confront employers over the terms and conditions of employment, instead of just looking for a better deal elsewhere. In other words, the same forces making work intolerable for so many — not enough workers and too much work — are simultaneously preparing workers to fight back.

Meat Packer Strikers – Clergy Pickets. Rabbi Mizmer Shir leads colleagues, employed in kosher meat departments, in picket line at First Ave. and 44th St. In Chicago, “They’re our people.” Capital parley today will seek to end strike of 300,000 meat workers. (Photo By: John Tresilian/NY Daily News via Getty Images)Employers at kosher meat departments picket at First Avenue and 44th Street in Chicago on Jan. 16, 1946. Photo: John Tresilian/NY Daily News via Getty Images
The end of a national mobilization also tends to release built-up pressures in the workplace. Workers who put up with suppressed wages or stressful working conditions during an emergency expect to see something change afterward. As Harold Meyerson recently observed, both 1919 and 1945-1946 saw massive strike waves as the world wars ended. In the 1945-1946 cycle, when more than 10 percent of American workers went on strike, events that could plausibly be called general strikes erupted in Stamford, Connecticut; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Rochester, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Oakland, California.

The release valve that may be opening now resumes an expansion of labor activity before the pandemic. The generation before the 2008 crisis had been marked by long-term stagnation of wages and decline in labor’s share of national income. Recoveries from recessions in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s took longer than in earlier years, and large numbers of workers got stranded in permanent underemployment or inactivity. These trends culminated in the Great Recession and its agonizing, protracted recovery. But unemployment finally fell below 4 percent in 2018, and that year and the next, a noticeable uptick in strike activity occurred — most notably in a massive teachers’ strike wave — when labor markets had finally recovered from the devastation that followed the 2008 financial crisis, but teachers’ wages had not.

In terms of strike activity, the current private sector wave picks up where the teachers left off, after an interlude of relative inaction during the height of the pandemic. In 2020, moreover, teachers formed the first major group of workers to refuse to accept whatever terms the employer dictated for reopening the workplace. It is difficult to imagine teachers speaking out against returning to work in unsafe conditions as much as they did without the national wave of militant teachers’ strikes in the two preceding years. This resistance has now spread across the economy, in both organized and individual forms.

I think higher education, in terms of instructors, may see some movement in collective bargaining in the next few years.

Benny

More from that article:

TODAY, WORKERS’ ECONOMIC resistance — whether through organized strikes or in the refusal of dangerous, underpaid, and unappealing jobs — is shaping the political agenda. Many of the policies in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal would pursue the same ends as workers’ actions but in the realm of social policy. Proposed subsidies for home health care and child care, the child tax credit, Medicaid expansion, and investments in housing and green energy would all indirectly support workers’ power. Either by increasing demand for labor further or by alleviating some of the grotesque social pressures that have forced employees to accept whatever terms employers offered them, the federal government would strengthen workers’ bargaining position. When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., warns against becoming an “entitlement society,” what he is opposing is the shift in labor market power that such policy measures help secure.

The issue in dispute across these strikes is whether American workers can be muscled back into punishing labor market conditions.
The heightened interplay between industrial and political disputes marks a break with recent history. Through much of the last generation, even militant industrial action often bore little explicitly political significance. A major strike like the one at UPS in 1997 or Verizon in 2016 won gains for workers, but such events remained economic affairs. Politicians might feel compelled to comment on them — as former President Bill Clinton did about the UPS strike — but such disputes didn’t raise or settle any larger political question about the balance of power between the classes. (After providing a carefully neutral comment urging UPS and the Teamsters to settle, Clinton headed straight to Martha’s Vineyard.)

In the last several years, a number of mainstream Democrats have come to accept what had previously been a left-wing argument: that the increase of social inequality and the decline in working-class economic security is the ultimate cause of the destabilization of American democracy and must be taken head on. The stated position of the Biden administration is that “the decline of union density has … weakened our democracy.”

When organized labor is stronger, widespread dissatisfaction takes a more coordinated form. With higher levels of union membership, organized workers’ militancy generates concentrated pressure on targeted firms and triggers dissension among employers. Some bosses start to squirm and seek to calm labor down by agreeing to progressive social reforms, while others insist on holding the line. Those caught in the middle, like salaried employees at Deere, may largely sympathize with the strikers while being forced to work through the strike despite a serious skills gap.

The lower level of workers’ organization today — the smaller size of the organized workforce compared to an angry but scattered mass — makes it more difficult to divide employers politically in this way. On the picket lines and on Capitol Hill, the political capacity of a shrunken labor movement is being tested. The more concrete gains workers win now in either arena, the more others among the unorganized millions will see the benefits of unity.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN styles himself as labor’s champion, aspiring to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” Days before he launched his presidential campaign (using a Pittsburgh union hall for his stage), Biden appeared on the picket line of one the major strikes of 2019, at the Stop & Shop grocery chain in New England. Recently, confronted with businesses having a hard time hiring staff, the president said, “Pay them more.”

But when asked to take sides, he’s stuck to official neutrality, his press secretary citing unspecified “legal reasons.” On Friday, when asked about the John Deere strike, he stated, obviously, “They have a right to strike. They have a right to demand higher wages … I’m not getting into the negotiation.”

And the administration has allowed key pro-worker provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act to expire, such as subsidies for COBRA, which are particularly crucial for striking workers whose employers cut off health insurance. The Allegheny Technologies Inc. workers, part of the United Steelworkers union, who struck for five months this year had the benefit of federally subsidized COBRA; the UAW members currently striking John Deere, whose employer plans to cut them off their plans by October 27, will not. They would, however, be eligible for other subsidies, including heavily subsidized Obamacare plans, though that would entail changing plans and potentially medical networks.

Ultimately, the issue in dispute across these strikes is whether American workers can be muscled back into the punishing labor market conditions of the pandemic and the several decades that preceded Covid-19 that made the pandemic so brutal within the insecure and unequal American workplace. Will nonunion workers settle for low wages and dangerous conditions? Will union workers continue to ratify two-tier contracts with incremental givebacks to employers? When the U.S. worker “goes back” to work, what kind of economy will they be going back to?

This is precisely the same issue as the one roiling Capitol Hill right now: whether Congress’s role is to return us to a pre-pandemic status quo or to intervene on the side of a battered working class.

polarbear4
polarbear4

those caught in the middle could refuse to do the work that the strikers do. solidarity and yes, risk losing their job as the strikers are doing.

biden is another obama—pretty words that float away. and a ra_ist.

wi63

At my place of employment work rules are somewhat lax right now, Right now one person has been late 16 times for work. They wont write him up as thier desperate just to keep bodies right now…

Benny

Tips for Orl…and a song..

Benny

As seen on a Nextdoor thread in Central IL:

USPS comment on NextDoor.jpg
polarbear4
polarbear4

polarbear4
polarbear4

polarbear4
polarbear4

💜🧚🏻‍♀️🌝

jcitybone

jcitybone

jcitybone

jcitybone

Paul ADK
Paul ADK

Biden’s agenda is part of Bernie Sander’s agenda. Watered down and cherry picked, for sure, but there it is. That is payback for progressives holding our noses and getting Biden elected. And also why Biden’s support for his own program seems to be tepid at best. Politicians do their donor’s bidding, first.

wi63

Suprised he didnt ask for all the people crossing our border to not pass go, take them directly to the coal mines for work

jcitybone

jcitybone

Benny

Colin Powell, who served Democratic and Republican presidents in war and peace but whose sterling reputation suffered when he went before the U.N. and made faulty claims to justify the U.S. war in Iraq, has died of COVID-19 complications. He was 84.

In 1989 Powell became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.

But his reputation suffered a painful setback when, in 2003, Powell went before the U.N. Security Council and made the case for U.S. war against Iraq. He cited faulty information claiming Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed away weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s claims that it had not represented “a web of lies,” he told the world body.

In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

jcitybone
Paul ADK

Instant karma.

jcitybone

https://inthesetimes.com/article/strike-wave-john-deere-workers-iatse-hollywood-nurses-miners

Ten thousand John Deere workers went on strike today. Sixty thousand IATSE members may be on strike by Monday. They will join the thousands of nurses, miners, hospital workers, factory workers, and others already on strike across America. Here we are, in our long-awaited strike wave. What does this thrilling development tell the labor movement about what its future direction should be?

Nothing.

Let me phrase that in a more positive way: The current wave of aggressive strike actions across the country is one of the most politically inspiring things that has happened in years. But the fundamental thing that the labor movement needs to do remains exactly the same as it was last year, and the year before that: We need to organize many, many more workers into unions. A strike wave in a growing labor movement is the seed of something big for society as a whole; a strike wave inside a shrinking labor movement is, for all of its charms, a taunt to everyone on the outside looking in. In a society defined by inequality and elitism, unions are in danger of becoming just another benefit for the lucky few.
The promise and power of these strikes carry with them the imperative for unions to grow. As long as union density continues to decline, as it has since the middle of the 20th century, strikes will remain a tool inaccessible to the vast majority of working people in America. The strike wave will be a bomb whose blast radius is tightly contained. Its full potential will never be unleashed unless we make it possible for everyone to embrace its lessons. Inspiring millions of workers to fight for better lives is great — but when only 10 percent of them have the tool necessary to get it done, that inspiration can quickly curdle into cynicism and despair.

The good news is that strikes and new organizing are naturally complementary. There is no better advertisement for the benefits of joining a union than a highly visible successful strike that brings some high-handed employer to its knees. If IATSE goes on strike, the entire film and television industries will come to a halt. That’s pretty fucking impressive, by any standard. Many Americans may not know much about unions, but they will know when their favorite TV shows go off the air due to the fact that the people who work on those shows are unwilling to continue eating shit. (They will also notice when all of their favorite celebrities come out in support of the strike, because they know what’s good for them in a widely unionized industry.) Strikes bring media coverage and attention in local communities to a tangible, direct demonstration of the power of organized labor. That is a rare and valuable thing. This strike wave will make many people want to have a union of their own. The question is whether the institutions of organized labor — big unions and the AFL-CIO — will make a plan to capitalize on this in a systematic way. And fund the plan. And execute the plan. Of that, we have no evidence yet.

This gets to the heart of why the union establishment can seem so moribund at the same time that the labor movement, broadly conceived, can seem so vibrant and energized. People have energy. People are pissed. People are ready to fight. The institutions that exist to ostensibly enable that to happen are, to a large extent, insulated from the fluctuations of public opinion on the street, and only incidentally concerned about harnessing these outpourings of energy. It is all too easy for these labor institutions to smile and cheer the strike wave as it happens, then move forward as always. Yay! Great! Strikes! Attention! But where is the plan to organize the next 10 million union members, and where are the resources to fund it?

WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR MASS ORGANIZING, AND WHERE IS THE MONEY FOR IT? These are the questions we need answers to from the union world. We do not need a month of supportive tweets. We need several hundred million dollars, dedicated to new organizing. To start.

polarbear4
polarbear4

hope it gets a lot of tweets. lol

Benny

jcitybone

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/supreme-court-reform-expansion_n_6169b75be4b005b245bce336

Democratic lawmakers on Friday trashed a draft report released by President Joe Biden’s recently formed Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court, saying its findings fall short of the kinds of reforms needed to restore integrity to the court.

“This report is a disappointment to anyone who’d hoped for a hard-hitting effort to address the Supreme Court’s deep troubles,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“The White House Commission on the Supreme Court ‘draft’ misses the mark,” reads a joint statement from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Mondaire Jones (N.Y.).

“After years of Republicans upending precedent, breaking their own rules, and stealing seats on the Supreme Court, we must restore legitimacy and integrity to the Court and undo the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have inflicted on our democracy,” they said.

polarbear4
polarbear4

wrong place

Paul ADK

They’re all playing for the same team. Anything that furthers the aims of the oligarchy stands, anything that opposes it is swiftly and thoroughly squashed. Any corporation that buys politicians (most, by far, of the big ones) needs to be boycotted and starved out.

Benny