Michigan House Approves Anti-Union Bill as Massive Protests Erupt

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/michigan-house-approves-anti-union-bill-massive-protests-erupt

Demonstrators have converged on the Michigan Capitol.

By Alex Kane
December 11, 2012

 The Michigan House of Representatives passed a contentious anti-union legislation today as thousands of protesters massed at the Michigan Capitol to voice opposition to what will be a major blow to union rights and a victory for right-wing forces.

The bill passed 58-51, the first part of a two-step plan to prohibit both public and private workers from being required to pay for the costs of labor union representation. As AlterNet’s Joshua Holland explained , so-called “right to work” laws, which are being proposed in Michigan, “allows workers who choose not to join the union to take advantage of the union’s representation without chipping in to cover the costs. And that effectively defunds the union.” Salon’s Josh Eidelson explains further : “Contrary to much rhetoric – and some reporting – U.S. law already prevents workers from being required to join a union or pay dues, per se. The issue is whether non-members, whom the union is still legally required to negotiate for and represent at work, can be required to pay representation fees.”

The legislation that already passed concerned public workers, minus police and firemen–a page out of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union playbook. When Walker embarked on his anti-union drive, he too excluded police and firefighters from inclusion in his plan to strip workers of collective bargaining rights. The bill set to be voted on this afternoon concerns private sector workers, and Reuters reports that it “is expected to be debated and approved by the House later on Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, massive protests have erupted in Michigan over the law, which many say was rammed through quickly with no committee hearings. Governor Rick Snyder had previously said he would not sign a “right to work” bill, but he has apparently rescinded that promise.

“This is being forced down peoples’ throats,” one Michigan Democrat told the New York Times.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/michigan-house-approves-anti-union-bill-massive-protests-erupt

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Fast-Food Workers Ride Crest of “Simmering Strike Wave” Sweeping Nation

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/13258-fast-food-workers-ride-the-crest-of-a-shimmering-strike-wave-thats-sweeping-the-nation

By Sarah Jaffe
Tuesday, 11 December 2012

From the halls of state capitols and the port of Los Angeles, to the parking lots of McDonalds and the warehouses of Walmart, low-wage workers are pushing labor back into the national political arena.

Isaac Ferguson has worked at the McDonald’s on 51st and Broadway for four years. In all that time, he’s gotten exactly one raise of 10 cents an hour; after four years, he makes $7.35. “The price of a MetroCard went up, the price of food went up, they never decided to pay us more,” he said.

Last week, Ferguson and 200 other fast-food workers in New York City went on strike. And while they no doubt have a long road ahead before their bosses give in to their demands of $15 an hour and recognition of their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee, things have already changed a little.

“The boss’s attitude has changed,” Marty Davis, who works at the Wendy’s at 425 Fulton Street, explained. “He’s more nice about things, though he still requires the same things as far as effort, going quick, doing the same things.”

And Pamela Flood, whom I met last week leading chants on the picket line outside that same Wendy’s, told me that her boss at Burger King, who used to refer to her by her first name, is back to calling her Miss Flood.

Truvon Shim took the stage with Flood at both the fast-food workers’ rally on strike day, and Thursday’s rally of low-wage workers from across the city. He came to tell his story of losing everything in his Far Rockaway home to Superstorm Sandy, but also had his own victory to share.

Shim had asked his boss at Wendy’s for a few days to deal with the storm’s aftermath, but when he called to be added back to the schedule, was told there were no available hours. However, this week, along with an organizer from New York Communities for Change (NYCC), the group that began the fast-food worker campaign, Shim met with his general manager and was promised he’d get his hours back.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/13258-fast-food-workers-ride-the-crest-of-a-shimmering-strike-wave-thats-sweeping-the-nation

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Conservative Myths and the Death of Marlboro Man

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/11

It’s Time to Leave Marlboro Country

Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 by Common Dreams

Those of a certain age remember TV ads featuring the Marlboro Man – a rugged individual who rode a horse through an America that even then had long since disappeared.  He was self-reliant.  No moocher.  Didn’t need government handouts. Didn’t need government.  What he needed was cigarettes.

He inhabited Marlboro Country.  An imaginary nation populated by people who didn’t need each other.

The Marlboro Man is dead. Died of cancer.  Really.  Induced no doubt by those Marlboros he sucked down. Two other Marlboro Men also died of lung cancer.

Of course, the whole thing was an extraordinarily destructive myth – just like the myths the Republican’s have been selling for 30 years, now.  Rugged individuals who don’t need no gubmint’.  A private sector much like Marlboro Country – where all good things happen by pure serendipity, and where we don’t need no stinkin’ regulations or taxes.  Where small businesses are invoked as the modern-day equivalent of the Marlboro Cowboy.

This is the bull being marketed by Republicans to the American people.  In reality, conservatives have been working with giant corporations and the uber-rich to systematically siphon money and power into the hands of giant corporations and the obscenely wealthy.

This is why they’re threatening to take us over the fiscal cliff.  This is why they still characterize the uber-rich as “job creators,” even after it has been clearly shown that a healthy middle class is the real source of job creation.  And they continue to hawk tax cuts for the rich as their magic elixir for the economy long after it has been clearly demonstrated they reduce the middle class’s share of the economic pie, to the detriment of the economy.

Let’s say that again, in words that even Fox News and the Wall Street Journal can understand.  The whole trickle-down, job-creator approach to economic growth doesn’t work.  You get nada, zip, zero, zilch, n-o-t-h-i-n-g from it in terms of economic return.

How about austerity?  It has become glaringly obvious that austerity budgets in a time of economic slow-downs are a recipe for economic disaster.  It’s never worked in the past.  And now austerity budgets have brought on severe recessions in Spain, England, Ireland, and Portugal, and they are threatening to do so in France and Italy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/11

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