Tag Archive: Labor

US & Vietnam Labor Advocates Say Senate Must Vote NO on Fast Track

Jim is running for Assembly in LD30, and runs Educating for Justice, a US-based labor rights organization that focuses on SE Asia. .

When President Obama spoke at Nike’s headquarters in May to promote the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, each of us was shocked given our first-hand knowledge of Nike’s consistently poor treatment of its workers overseas.

In Indonesia, Nike has 168,000 workers who are paid a paltry $212 a month. Here Nike has busted unions, refused to pay even the minimum wage, has verbally and physically threatened workers for exercising their fundament right to freely associate, and they have cheated workers of millions of dollars in overtime pay. Along with the labor rights violations, Nike has also been dumping and burning scrap shoe rubber in Indonesian villages for 25 years – pumping toxins and carcinogens into the air, water, and soil.

In Malaysia, Nike has been found guilty of employing thousands of illegally trafficked workers. These workers had their passports confiscated to prevent them running away to get help or to find a better job. For years, Nike turned a blind eye on this issue until we brought the matter to prime-time TV and forced them to address it.

Chris Christie & the Middle Class: Lies up in New Hampshire, truth on the street in Jersey

Right now, Gov. Christie, the street in front of the NJ Statehouse is filled with the middle class you’re up in New Hampshire lying to. But of course, like a lot of important stuff, you’re missing it.

Today, Christie gives a “major” economic speech in his do-or-die state, where he’s in 11th place. Christie, the total flop on economic issues.

Organized labor’s role in creating the middle class that politicians of both parties like to talk about is very well known. But beyond the rest of us thanking Labor for our weekends (thank you, Labor), the obligations here in this state go beyond that. Our state workers have paid into their pensions as agreed; New Jersey has not reliably done so. And now we have an ambitious governor – trying to get a bigger job without cleaning up the mess he’s made here – whose lawyers argue in court that the agreement he made is now – presto! change-o! – unconstitutional. But just now that he’s actually required to fulfill it. Pretzel logic.

We’re following hashtag #FundNJPension. Sea of red right now at the Statehouse. Count these folks as a lot of the middle class Christie has already lied to, protesting his failure to do the right thing by them, even after being so ordered by the court. As they say, they never missed their payments.

#FundNJPension rally Trenton Statehouse May 12, 2015

Christie’s actual economic record? marshwren (who also comments here) sums it up succinctly (in a comment to NJ.com)  – To the jump page!

Bread and Roses – – The rising of the women! (a love letter)

Labor history, NJ & not: We don’t really ever cover things outside New Jersey here. But over the years, I can’t help but commemorate some of the most important moments in the history of organized labor in America. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the lesser-known Newark, NJ fire workplace fire that preceded it at the Wolf Muslin Undergarment Factory, where fire hazards and blocked exits killed at least 25 women and girls four months before. And the Flint Sit-Down Strike and the contrast it offers between the way the 1930’s Michigan Gov. Frank Murphy and the 2000s NJ Gov. Chris Christie treat unionized working people.

“Roses, too”: That brings me to this day in history, 103 yeas ago. The Bread and Roses strike was Lawrence Textile Strike in 1912. Workers, mostly women, of 50 different nationalities came together to demand better wages and working conditions.  The phrase “bread and roses” came from a line in a speech by organizer Rose Schneiderman: “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” It became a cry not just for fair wages, but also for decent working and living conditions.

Bread and Roses When I was a teenager, my mother’s friends – all warriors for public education as she was – gave me a copy of the song Bread and Roses, saying it reminded them of me. The greatest compliment of my life, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to live up to it. Particularly since I’m named for Elizabeth Gurley Flynn the great I.W.W organizer who came to help the women of the Lawrence strike (my middle name, Elizabeth).

Love letter: This is my celebration of Women’s History Month. And my love letter, especially to the women of New Jersey’s labor movement. From the rebel girl blogger.

Pride: I want to share with you this clip of Bread and Roses from the movie PRIDE, the true story of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984, an improbable thing that actually happened. It’s pretty great:

For more on the history of the strike, this great 20-minute story video from Lawrence History Center.

Governor, Pay Your Bills

The Governor once again today tried to blame workers for the failure of the state to live up to the promises made regarding making payments into the funds of the pensions they earned. Instead of going into the weeds on details, the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (NJFMBA) kept it simple:

“Yesterday the court ordered Governor Christie to pay the bills but instead he is asking firefighters, teachers, social workers;l all those that make our state work to balance his checkbook,” Donnelly said. “Governor, pay your bills!”

More of this please.

White Shirt Day: Two Governors – Michigan & New Jersey

Before midnight, I want to acknowledge an important moment in history – 78 years ago today: the end of the Flint Sit Down Strike at General Motors. It happened in Flint, Michigan, but there’s something I heard in a video with aging participants that got me thinking about my own governor, Chris Christie, in a way I never have before.

First the teaser – honoring the end of the strike with White Shirt Day (today). White shirts – like management wore. Because before, only management dictated how long and under what conditions they worked. But after, they workers had a say, and they had the power to require management to listen. The teaser:

But it’s the second video about the strike that I want to talk to you about:

The Last of the Radium Girls – And Grace Fryer and the New Jersey Women Who Took on a Company

New Jersey has a long, and awful history with industrial pollution and its residents have suffered for it. But here’s a part of NJ history – with brave women who fought back though they could barely walk, a landmark case and a milestone in regulation and labor safety – and I knew almost nothing about it. I went to school in New York; talk to me about Love Canal. I didn’t know about the Radium Girls, or the Radium Superfund sites in Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair, West Orange and East Orange. Read on, and if you know more than I did, feel free to chime in. – Rosi

Earlier this year, Mae Keane died in Middlebury, Connecticut. She was, at 107, the last of the Radium Girls.

Had she been more obedient, more apt to be bullied into compliance by her bosses and the corporation for which she worked at 18, she might have ended up like most of the other Radium Girls. Some of them never made it out of their teens. One young woman was sent to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. One yank and her whole jaw came out. Women collapsed; their legs suddenly giving out, their bones porous and breaking underneath them. There was cancer. Early death. And the company tried to blame the women. Typical.  

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has no time to be patient – Part III

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield blog. Promoted by Rosi.

3T2A7823‘Absurd’ ‘Idiotic’ ‘Toxic’ ‘Voodoo’ ‘Abusive’

These are all words NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia used to describe education ‘reform’-particularly standardized testing-in her recent 90-minute meeting with NJ ed bloggers, and quite frankly, they were music to my ears. I’ve been waiting for the NEA leadership to draw a hard line in the sand.

Part I of this series focused on the devastating effects of high-stakes testing on special needs children, and how edu-preneurs-21st century carpetbaggers-are profiting from the testing boom. Part II focused on the ways billionaires and their ‘charities’ are controlling the media to push out their messaging to an uninformed public. Part III’s focus is on Lily’s visits to two very different New Jersey schools, and how NEA-and all its members-must fight back against destructive education ‘reform’.

As with the two previous posts, unless otherwise indicated, Lily’s quotes are in red.

A tale of two cities

REUTERS_Kevin LamarqueIn her tour of New Jersey, Lily stopped at two schools: Pyne Poynt Middle School in Camden, which shares a building with the co-located Mastery Charter School, and West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional High School. The median household income in West Windsor is $147,234, with only 2.5% of its residents living below the poverty level, while Camden’s median household income is $25,681 (no, that’s not a typo), and affluent_home45% of its residents live below the poverty level. Two years ago the state swooped in, took over the school district, and appointed as superintendent in the ‘Most Dangerous City in America’ Paymon Rouhanifard, a 32-year-old former New York City school system bureaucrat/former Wall Street analyst/Teach for America alumnus who spent a grand total of two years and one month in front of a classroom. Makes perfect sense, right?

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García has no time to be diplomatic – Part I

Promoted by Rosi. It was a privilege to be included in the meeting Marie describes below. Lily has always reached out to bloggers to talk about education, and in fact I spoke with her last at Netroots Nation in Detroit this July.

Cross-posted with Marie Corfield.

“This is a test. This is only a test. If this had been an actual emergency…” Yea, you know the drill. More on this later…

n-ETHAN-large570This is Ethan Rediske and his parents. Ethan is an 11-year old Florida boy who was born with cerebral palsy. He is also blind and brain damaged. He is perhaps the poster child for all that is toxic and outright dangerous in education ‘reform’-especially standardized testing. More on him later…


This is Lily Eskelsen García, newly elected President of the National Education Association.

What do all three have in common? Keep reading…