Sunday, October 31, 2010

Proof That Everything, Even NFL Coaching Decisions, Is Related To Labor

It appears that the decision of whether the Dallas Cowboys will fire their coach might depend on the possible lockout due to labor issues between the players' union(NFLPA) and management.

Full story here:

In Solidarity,


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prophetic Words from UE

My good friend Chris Townsend, Political Director of the United Electrical Workers of America(UE) has posted a very good article on the predicament the Democrats have gotten themselves into via their quixotic quest for bipartisanship.

You can read the full article here:

In Solidarity,

Joseph Riedel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The IWW, Fast Food, and a Lesson for Big Labor

The recent narrow loss suffered by employees of the Jimmy John's restaurants in Minnesota led me to consider the future of the labor movement.  The workers in this case were attempting to join the Industrial Workers of the World(IWW).  The IWW has a long, storied history of militant, rank and file unionism, but has been largely marginalized due to lack of membership for the last several decades.  However, the IWW appears to enjoying a bit of a renaissance due to the inaction of the mainstream labor movement when it comes to certain industries.

While the IWW still subscribes to the One Big Union philosophy, they seem to have discovered their niche in the fast food and service industry.  Their work with the Starbucks Union has yielded some positive results, and their near victory in Minneapolis should be a reminder to big labor that we shoot ourselves in the foot when we write off an entire section of the working class.

For years, big labor has shied away from organizing fast food and other restaurant staff.  Their reasoning behind this is that the bargaining unit is too small, and therefore is more susceptible to decertification.  They also don't want to invest the resources necessary for that small a yield in membership.  The reason I reject this line of thought is that while the initial investment is more than the net gain, it would set in motion the momentum to organize more of this ever growing section of our economy.

Think about it:  less than 1% of fast food employees in the Unites States are union members.  Now think about how many fast food workers there are in the area where you live.  While the turnover rate in the fast food world is fairly high, much of this can be attributed to the squalid working conditions the employees endure.  I worked several fast food places when I was younger, and I can tell you that the conditions were similar to Wal-Mart(yes, I worked there too).

We should support any labor organization that is willing to take on this industry whose employees are in desperate need of union representation.  You can also donate to the IWW here:

In Solidarity,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Google Maps Union Shop Finder

I wondered to myself today if there was a google map tool that would let you locate a union shop in your area so that you could patronize those shops.  After I did not find one, I decided to start my own.  Please visit the map here:

I have set the map to allow open editing.  Please feel free to bookmark unions shops that you know about in your area.

In Solidarity,


Monday, October 18, 2010

Labor Unions' Constitutions Still Harbor Anti-Leftist Bias

I'm in the early research stage of an article on the anti-leftist bias that still exists within the labor movement.  The AFL-CIO, and many of their affiliate unions have language that barres anyone with "authoritarian or totalitarian views" from holding office.  This is a thinly veiled allusion to those who publicly espouse views that are in line with Communism, as well as Socialism in general.  While it is a well known fact that the AFL-CIO was purged of it's most militant members during the McCarthy Era, it is very seldom mentioned that a lot of these policies are still in place.

This causes many of our most militant members today to hide their beliefs in order to be successful in the labor movement.  I hope to gather information and statements from several sources in order to have a thorough discussion on this subject, which is very important to the future of our movement.

In Solidarity,


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Union Building Strategy: Apprenticeships

I know I've bitched a lot about my lack of enthusiasm for PAC fund spending, so I figured I better offer a viable alternative to this spending that might actually pay off in the way of growing membership. Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the apprenticeship programs offered by building trade unions like the IBEW(Electricians, IUPAT(Plumbers), UA(Pipefitters), etc. Unfortunately, these programs only accept applicants who already have a high school diploma or GED.

I believe it is high time that the trade unions make a collective effort to build apprenticeship programs with the high schools in their respective areas. Many times, auto shop is the only trade class offered. Imagine if the local high school offered Electrical Shop, Masonry, or Plumbing programs that started in the 10th or 11th grade and continued right after high school. Not only would the trade unions who are in desperate need of membership(this is a major understatement) gain new members, but the good press and relationship building between the union and the local community would be immense.

In Solidarity,


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Organizing Opportunity: Call Centers

While I was in the midst of my series on Organizing in the Retail Sector, I began to think to myself about other sectors that in my opinion, are ripe for organizing. The first thing that popped into my mind was Customer Service Call Centers.

Think about it for a minute. call centers(the ones that are still here and have not been outsourced) employ workers who are not paid very much, who work in stressful environments, have limited benefits, and who are disconnected from upper management. The disconnect between their pay level, and that of management is also a good source of ammunition.

So why haven't OPEIU or SEIU, or anyone else made an effort to organize these people?

For one, I know an excuse could be that organizing workers at a call center would be more difficult due to heightened security at these offices, but hell, if we can organize other workers in secure locations(Airline Industry, anyone?)

My point is, shouldn't we at least be making the attempt? For once, instead of another PAC commercial this and every other fall, I'd like to see a simple commercial from the AFL-CIO(or even CtW) that says, "If you and your co-workers want to form a union, call us at 1-800-go-union." Of course, we'd then have to divert precious PAC money into something else like - BUILDING A LABOR MOVEMENT.

Think about how many call centers you pass every time you drive down a highway into downtown of wherever you live. Think about how many employees there are who could join the labor movement if we made the effort.

"You can't do it, unless you organize." - Samuel Gompers

In Solidarity,