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Labor Notes


Lot of stuff going today.

1. We know that America’s plutocrats want to return the nation to the Gilded Age. It turns out that Mexican plutocrats feel the same. Such as Carlos Slim. The world’s richest man has some brilliant ideas on how to make people’s lives miserable:

The world’s richest man has urged struggling nations to lift workers’ retirement age to 70 and privatize as many infrastructure assets as possible to help shore up their economies, Mexican press reported on June 12.

Moreover, countries should have people work until they are older to reflect longer life expectancy rates, Slim reportedly said. He noted the ideal work schedule should be 10-11 hours three times per week for people over 60 to allow them to have more days to “innovate, create and cultivate themselves.”

Slim added the current retirement age was established “when jobs were more physical and people died at 60, but now we live until 85 or 90.”

Old people should work an 11 hour day to cultivate themselves! Just like children in coal mines needed to work 14 hour days to learn a work ethic!!!

2. In southern California, a new labor organization has popped up to give warehouse workers some representation. Called Warehouse Workers United, it is organizing at Wal-Mart, the most anti-union corporation in the country. Wal-Mart’s response–hire a young woman to pretend to be a USC journalist wanting information on bad labor conditions and then spy on the workers! Very classy!! From WWU:

For months warehouse workers have been asking to meet with Walmart. There have been many opportunities to sit down with workers: Last year the state issued more than $1 million in fines for labor violations at warehouses where workers move goods for Walmart, UCLA conducted a study about the risky working conditions inside the warehouse, Cal/OSHA issued more than 60 violations totaling more than $250,000 in Walmart-contracted warehouses and workers at a Walmart-contracted warehouse filed a class action lawsuit that documents awful working conditions including working 362 days a years with no break and no overtime. Last week when Walmart had the chance to talk about real issues affecting Latino workers in Southern California it instead sent “Zoe,” a fake reporter. A spy. Our door is open. Walmart can change this industry and create thousands of good jobs and improve the quality of life in Southern California, but first it has to come out of hiding.

3. Speaking of Wal-Mart, workers at one of the company’s seafood suppliers went on strike June 4 to protest working conditions they describe as “slave labor.” These are temporary workers on H-2B guest visas who live in rat-infested housing and work 24 hour shifts with no overtime. The seafood supplier’s general manager is also the head of the Crawfish Processors Alliances, an industry group lobbying to fight against increasing pay for H-2B guestworkers. No doubt Carlos Slim would call these 24 hour shifts an opportunity for these workers to cultivate themselves.

4. I have tut-tutted Mark Bittman for looking down at the poor when it comes to food. But he did some very good work yesterday giving publicity to ROC-United’s new National Diners’ Guide to help consumers patronize restaurants that don’t treat their workers terribly. Of course, virtually every major fast-food chain pays their workers very little. A few however, such as Five Guys, actually provide sick days. More here.

5. President Obama continues to pay off labor for its support of his political career by negotiating secret NAFTA-style free trade agreements with Asia. A leaked document shows how nasty this is. As UE’s Chris Townsend states, “This is what happens when you get an administration that is pretty much in the lap of corporate America.” I’m glad we’ve reached the point where labor doesn’t even get a say in helping modify trade agreements to make them slightly less bad for American workers.

6. Thousands of AT&T technicians under CWA representation walked off the job for a 1-day action in Nevada and California because the company is trying to crush their union. The best represented members of the American working class the increasingly fewer unionized workers at AT&T and Verizon and they are target #1 among private sector unions for American corporations.

That’s a lot of labor news. There’s more but I’ll stop here for now.

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