Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Columbine Massacre

Yesterday, Nov. 21, was the 80th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre--not the one you remember, but the state-sanctioned and capitalist-funded murder of five striking miners in the company town of Serene, Colorado, home of Rocky Mountain Fuel Company. The strike began when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) called for a general strike to protest the execution of Ferdinando Nicolo Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in April 1927 for allegedly murdering an armored car guard during a hold-up attempt; in reality, they were probably killed for their anarchist political beliefs.

The strike was wildly successful in the coal fields of Colorado, principally because working conditions there were so poor; in the previous decade, hundreds of coal miners in the state had died in mining accidents. Conditions for a successful labor action were about as favorable as one could expect in a state that viewed the Ludlow Massacre of the decade before as a success.

The Columbine Mine was one of the few mines still open; the owner of the mine had died in the months previous, and his daughter, a social worker, had taken over much of the responsibility for operating the mine--although she had not been able to assume complete control. Which is why the Colorado "rangers," plain-clothes police recently recruited, were standing on the outskirts of Serene barring entry to the strikers. A striker determined to exercise his right of free speech approached the gate, where he was grabbed and struck with a length of gas pipe, which the rangers were using as billy clubs. When angry strikers burst through the gate, the police retreated to the entry to the mine, where they set up a skirmish line and began firing on the crowd--allegedly aided by machine guns that had been set up. In the end, five strikers were killed, and countless others, along with wives and children, were included in that total.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nellie McKay

Just because ...

in the Bush era, we should all do the Zombie

JFK and Labor

The newspapers today will be filled with the question, "Where were you 44 years ago?" The day that the 35th president of the United States. As for myself, I was quite young, camped in front of the television, mystified as to the reason the usual fare of cartoons wasn't on the television. In fact, the assassination of Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, is much more vivid in my mind than the death that preceded it.

The observance of the Kennedy assassination is a good time to consider the Kennedy legacy on labor in the United States. Like his record on civil rights, Kennedy's record on labor is worse than is remembered. One must consider, for instance, the rather cool relationship between his attorney general--brother Bobby--and the labor movement; RFK is remembered for this confrontation with Teamster President James R. Hoffa, but he was also council for the McClelland Committee, which produced some of the legislation most harmful to the labor movement of any period in the twentieth century.

JFK also began the reapproachmente with business interests, which has led to the abandonment of the working-class by the Democratic Party

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why All Workers Need a Union

Lets say that you are a high performance, high-value employee. Your contract has recently ended, but your employee places great value on your remaining with the firm, and to keep you, they pay you a substantial bonus. Three months before your contract is up again, however, you are badly injured. You are badly injured because your employer has put you in a dangerous, high-risk situation that leaves you vulnerable to such injury--in fact, a number of your comrades suffer such injuries nearly every day, and some die as a result.

As a result of your injuries, you're disabled, and have to leave your employer. But, you didn't fulfill the complete term of your contract, and now your employer wants some of that bonus money back. What kind of heartless entity would do that. The United States Department of Defense, of course. Just ask Jason Fox. That's some down home compassionate conservatism.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Labor Department

I read on the AFL-CIO blog that they are looking for a new name for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)--or, at least, in the interest of truth in advertising, that they at least remove the word "labor" from their name--because nothing the Bush NLR Board has done can be construed as assisting either labor or workers.

The same is true for the Labor Department and its secretary, Mrs. Mitch McConnell, er... Elaine Chao. Labor Secretary?--to what purpose? The Worst President Ever should just shutter the place and make her Undersecretary of Commerce. Advocate for labor (that is suppose to be her role, by the way)? Let's look at one industry--mining. Under her watch, mining accidents have reached levels not seen since 1926. When there were tens of thousands more miners than work in the industry today. Her response to this surge in mining accidents? Cutting the budget of the Mine Health and Safety Administration, so that they can inspect even fewer mines. That's the way to look out for the well-being of workers, Mrs. McConnell!

In an administration of incompetents, she ranks only behind Bush himself. As the Master of Presidential Disaster would put it, "Heckuva job, Elaine."

Right-wing Racists

The publication of Paul Krugman's latest book, The Conscience of a Liberal has provoked several columns in the New York Times, and a bit of controversey in the blogosphere, as well. Many critics point to Reagan's opening salvo in Philadelphia, Mississippi, as the critical point of proof. This is, in my opinion, the apex of rightwing racism, and a critical point in convincing racist white Democrats that the new Republican party was the new political home for them. But that process began in 1948, with Strom Thurmond and his run as a Dixiecrat. Thurmond was then stroked by the godfather of modern Republican conservatism, Barry Goldwater, who helped convince Thurmond to switch parties in 1964--the same year, not coincidently, that Lyndon Johnson convinced Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. There is no conservative "movement" without the support of white racists. For more information, I suggest reading Dan C. Carter's The Politics of Rage and Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm; if those two works spark more curiosity, check out Kari Frederickson's The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pinky or The Brain

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Part of the inspiration to begin blogging again came from checking this rating for the blog posts yesterday, when the reading level was only undergraduate college level. I add one brief post, and I'm writin' like a freakin' genius. I'm going to keep this handy to show my dissertation committee.

Of course, it could also help explain why this blog has no readers. This should dumb it down sufficiently:

You'll have to excuse me now--I have to go plot how to takeover THE WORLD!


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The New UAW Contract

Much ink (and bytes) has been spilled over the newly negotiated contracts between the UAW and the Big Three automakers--particularly the two-tiered wage structure, which cuts the starting pay for new workers in half. Many of the workers are not happy with the results, either, but voted for the contract because, in their view, a job at $12 an hour, with some benefits, is better than no job at all. That is the economic reality in today's post-industrial capitalist system--those who own the means of production get to make the rules.