All Articles Tagged "labor"
The country has been consumed with the news that “right-to-work” legislation was signed into law in Michigan on Tuesday evening. “The pair of new laws, which make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state, make it harder for its workers to organize and to maintain power because workers covered by union contracts will no longer be required to pay dues,” explains NBC News. Less money means weakened unions. And it gives companies the power to hire non-union workers.
The number of union members has been steadily dropping in recent years, to 14.8 million people, or 11.8 percent of workers, NBC News reports. (The article blames the loss of auto jobs to globalization.) But even with their number diminished, unions still hold political sway. This law, and many Republican lawmakers, seek to diminish them further.
“Those who oppose unions say that’s a victory for businesses who want more flexibility in how they manage their work forces, and for workers who don’t want to be constrained by union rules or collective bargaining agreements. That, they say, will ultimately create more jobs and help the state’s economy,” NBC News continues.
The unions, of course, aren’t buying this, so they’re already plotting to reverse these laws or dump the politicians who support them out of office. Talking Points Memo lays out the options in further detail. The Atlantic is banking on union attempts to boot Republican governors from office.
“Many Republican governors in the industrial Rust Belt are aggressively challenging union power, and hoping to see the fruits of their own labor rewarded. For a Michigan governor to sign antilabor legislation and live to tell the tale would be truly historic, in the birthplace of America’s labor movement,” that website reports.
“These upcoming gubernatorial races will be a test for how much influence labor can still muster,” the article continues.
The Michigan Chronicle argues that right-to-work laws would actually benefit black workers.
“The fact is that, contrary to the “scare tactics” of union bosses, Right to Work Laws do not give employers the ability to fire employees ‘at will,’ making Black workers especially vulnerable to losing their jobs,” the outlet says. “A Right to Work Law empowers workers, giving them the option to choose whether or not to join unions without suffering backlash, such as employer or union retaliation. The law also means that workers may resign union membership, when they so choice, devoid of any consequence.”
The article argues that in neighboring states with right-to-work laws, per-capital income has grown significantly more than in Michigan. And in Detroit, the black population makes up 84 percent of the total population. Unemployment in the city is 17 percent, according to the article.
On the flip side, Slate magazine questions the numbers that are continuously pushed out by right-to-work supporters. The article quotes numbers from Fox News that puts the unemployment rate in right-to-work states at 6.9 percent vs. a national average of 7.9 percent vs. 7.6 percent in non-right-to-work states. Calling the numbers “impossible,” the site says that while the employment rate in right-to-work states might be a little higher, the cause hasn’t been established. And the article reiterates the message of the picture above and the Economic Policy Institute: workers in right-to-work states make $1,500 less annually than those in non-right-to-work states.
The same organization also says that black male union workers earn $2.60 more per hour than non-union black males, and women, $2.25 more per hour.
Workers across the country have been more actively protesting low wages and long hours in recent weeks. Walmart staffers raised their voices over schedules that had them in stores on Thanksgiving Day. And today there will be an international day of action. Port workers in Los Angeles went on strike. And fast-food workers in New York have been protesting wages — $7.25 per hour with a median annual income of $18,230, according to Daily Finance. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that more older people — 28 and older, in general; 32 and older for women — are working these jobs. Some even have college credits under their belt. The headline on this Bloomberg story paints the picture: “McDonald’s $8.25 Man and $8.75 Million CEO Shows Pay Gap.” Tyree Johnson, who works at two McD’s restaurants and has been an employee of the company for 20 years, struggles to pay for his single-room occupancy home. The protesters were asking for $15 per hour.
“[S]ome protesters also hope to improve their bargaining power by gaining recognition for a new union, called the Fast Food Workers Committee, that would represent fast-food workers at a variety of restaurants,” writes Daily Finance. “[Organizer Jonathan] Westin claimed that last week’s strikes demonstrated to workers that they could strike without losing their jobs, and predicted that this would lead to increased employee involvement in future protests and build momentum for the movement.”
In other words, workers whose place on the corporate totem pole is low are finding strength in numbers and seek out the kind of support and cohesion that a single voice — like the one offered by a union — offers. If you read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair in high school, you’ll recall that many of the same issues were discussed when that book was published in 1906 — workers coming together to fight for fair pay and better working conditions. Would this lower revenues for these corporate giants and their executives? Sure (but they’d still be super-rich). Does that mean there might be fewer items on the dollar menu? Yep. But is it better for individuals and society as a whole when people make a living wage? Absolutely.
Part of the problem, The Daily Beast points out, are the unions themselves. They’ve failed to detail the modern-day significance of unions and the labor movement.
[Unions] drive up the cost of doing business, we hear, though unmentioned is that higher wages mean a stronger local economy. Unions are corrupt, we hear, though that’s a hard stone to cast for anyone living in a glass mansion built by the banking and investment industries, or with the ill-gotten gains from corporate insider trading. Even odder is to hear that argument from working-class people, who have bought into the notion that “right to work” actually has something to do with workplace freedom.
Now, as in the past, unions stand for workers who, on their own, couldn’t possibly bargain with the huge corporations that hold their livelihoods in their hands. The fight is on and neither side is backing down.
You’re expecting. And if one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever experience wasn’t enough to stress you out, you’ll probably soon get an earful of hospital horror stories courtesy of the world-wide web and even some close friends. You’ll hear about the perilous pressure to have unnecessary C-sections and epidurals that caused more pain than they relieved. Throughout all this you may start to question your options and what kind of delivery will work best for you. Many women are choosing to forego the traditional hospital delivery altogether in exchange for a home birth with the assistance of a midwife and/or doula. But should you doula or is this experience a delivery-don’t for you?
In her article, “Why You Should Have Your Baby at Home, and Not at a Hospital” writer Charing Ball broke down how the expensive cost of hospital births, women’s increasing lack of medical coverage and expectant mothers’ high dependency on Medicaid funds have all led to more women seeking out alternative birthing options. Many women, like me, though can’t picture having a baby anywhere but a hospital. While I’d like to imagine the often portrayed natural bliss of giving birth to a baby in a tub of water surrounded by loving friends and family in the comfort of my home, I’m still terrified at the thought of, “What if?” And while medical technology definitely has its faults and biases, why not take advantage of something that many women in third world countries wish they had access to? It’s true, women’s bodies are simply doing what they were made to do since the beginning of time before episiotomies and epidurals. In the U.S., however, midwives and doulas lost their status at the end of the 1800′s, and doctors took over the reins. With knowledge about hygiene and the latest medical procedures, doctors had a higher success rate of keeping both mom and baby alive than midwives did. Yet in this day and age, you truly have to question whether your doctor is doing what’s best for the health of you and your baby or what’s more convenient for his/her schedule. Don’t be quick to assume that because you’re in a hospital with medical staff who have years of schooling behind them that you will have a safer more “professional” experience. Your choice of a midwife or doula doesn’t mean you’ll have a barefoot yogi chanting with candles either. Although, homebirths are viewed as more “natural” you can choose to have the procedure be as laid back or structured as you want it to be.
If you’re considering having a home birth with the assistance of a midwife or a doula (Midwives oversee the medical parts of the birth, including the actual delivery, while doulas provide constant emotional and physical support and comfort to the mom-to-be.) For example, you could choose to have the assistance of a doula even if you opt for a hospital birth since they are mostly present for emotional support, but a midwife is necessary if you choose to have a home birth with no doctor present.
All births are different, even for individual women, so even if a home birth was a positive experience for your first-born you may not feel the same way about your next pregnancy. The following pros and cons might help you decide works best for you:
A couple of months ago, we were asking women to share their thoughts on natural vs. hospital births and one of our readers shared a fascinating story, that caught our attention. At our request she expounded and submitted her story to share with our audience.
By Kelli Iyanu
On the morning of August 1, 2010, I went into labor with my fifth child. I was overdue by a week and not it expecting to happen. All my children – except for my oldest – were overdue. The previous night, my hubby never went to bed. He said he was on edge and he didn’t know why. I woke up that morning after feeling like I wet my underwear. Even though this was my fifth child, my water had never broken before and the feeling was strange. I thought I had to use the bathroom.
My labor pains felt like really bad gas so I continued to sit on the toilet waiting for “something else” to happen. When the “gas pains” got stronger, I told my husband. We packed all our children up and were on our way to The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee, Florida. We live ten miles outside the city limits, but thought we could make it. I wasn’t screaming, but my husband decided to blast Earth, Wind, and Fire and make our children sing along so they wouldn’t be scared or confused by the situation. We were still at least five miles outside the city limits when the baby’s head popped out without me pushing. She literally was dropping out of me.
My husband pulled over on the shoulder of I-10, pulled her the rest of the way out, hopped back in, and took off. Luckily, he decided not to cut the umbilical cord. Our baby cried a little and laid her head down. I assumed she was tired from being born and had gone to sleep. I was out of it and in shock.
When we got to The Birth Cottage, our midwife, Layla Swisher, cried “Oh, no, she’s blue!” She grabbed the baby and immediately began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! Layla saved my baby’s life. My husband did such a great job that day. And our other four children were real troopers that day. I’m so proud of them. I’m also proud of my midwife, Layla Swisher and her mom Alice Sanpere at The Birth Cottage in Tallahassee, Florida. They’ve birthed all of my children and if I was going to have another one, I’d want them right there again! In case you were wondering, we named our daughter Nandi (after Shaka Zulu’s mother) Abiona (Yoruba meaning born while traveling). She has been a wonderful little girl and a beautiful completion of our family. Oh, and she was born to “Kalimba Story” by Earth Wind and Fire. Lol.
If you have an interesting story you’d like to share with the Madame Noire audience, you can send it to us at editors_at_madamenoire.com
More on Madame Noire!
- Drop That Drink! Hidden Calories That Can Ruin Your Diet
- Chemistry Clash! Couples Whose Love Seems Lost…
- What You See Is What You Get: Red Flags Women Ignore
- Ruben Studdard – Life After “American Idol”
- Bedroom Breakdown: What His Moves Really Mean…
- Teeny Weeny Afros & More: Celebrity Women Who Have Done the Big Chop
- It Could Happen to You: Gay Men and the Women Who Date Them
- Style to Steal or Girl, Stop: Jada, J.Lo, Tyra and More Hot Looks and Hot Messes From This Week
There’s never really a good time to run out of gas, but you definitely don’t want to be in that situation when your wife is in labor. That’s what happened to Aaron Reynolds in San Diego when his wife, Nicole, went into labor two weeks early.
After packing his wife in the car and attempting to head to the hospital, Aaron had to reroute when his Port Expedition ran low on gas. But the couple never made it to the gas station either, and Nicole ended up having to deliver their third child on the side of the freeway.
“She [was] saying she needs to push,” Aaron told Fox 5. “She said, ‘Pull over the vehicle’ and any father knows when the wife says pull over you better pull over.”
A 911 dispatcher helped the couple through the delivery, and although Nicole said she was worried about not having pain medication while giving birth, “it wasn’t that bad.”
“I really thank the 911 dispatcher and I thank my wife for allowing me to practice as a doctor,” Aaron said. “We’re just really thankful it worked out great. [It's like] something we see in the movies.”
Did any of you have a crazy experience on your way to the hospital to give birth?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
More on Madame
- Boy, Bye!: 6 Stupid Reasons to Turn a Man Down
- Hair Raising: Iconic Women Who Changed the Standard for Black Hair
- Does Dating White Trump Your Black Card?
- 7 Things That Should Never Happen In The Bedroom
- Dangerously In Love: Warning Signs To Protect Your Heart From Harming You
- Are You A Coward When It Comes To Breaking Up?
- Can You Marry Someone You Don’t Love?
- So, What Do Their Moms Look Like
Fantasia Barrino received her bundle of joy a little bit earlier than expected, after she and boyfriend Antwaun Cook checked into Presbyterian Hospital in North Carolina Monday afternoon.
The couple’s baby was originally due December 29, but Fantasia gave birth to a healthy son just a little more than two weeks early today. I’m sure they’ll be happy to have their new baby home just in time for Christmas. Congrats Fannie!
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
More on Madame Noire!
- WEEKEND WRAP UP: Kat Williams Wins Back Custody, Common vs. Drake? + More!
- Over Age Acne? Learn How To Beat the Bumps
- The Odd Couple: Hollywood’s Most Shocking Relationships
- Changing Faces: Common Cosmetic Surgeries Performed in 2011
- Do You Have a Love List?
- Unforgivable Hood Baby Names: Celebrity Edition
- Family Feud: Celebrity ‘Blood’ Battles
(AllHipHop) — Over the last several weeks, concerned citizens from across the nation have trekked to Madison, WI to fight for the rights of working people. Newly elected governor, Scott Walker, stepped into office in January with an agenda to balance the budget and get Wisconsin back on track financially. Of course, lots of people disagreed with his plans for the land of the cheese heads.
(New York Times) — A few hours after N.F.L. owners filed a complaint against the players union last week alleging that it was not bargaining in good faith, Houston Texans right tackle Eric Winston took to his keyboard to react. “The NFL has reached that point where the kitchen sink is getting opened and every ridic claim will be tossed out,” Winston wrote on Twitter. “Enjoy the comedy people.” And then: “Walking out of a bargaining session. These guys are a real hoot to deal with. If anyone screams, ‘I want my cake and eat it too’ it’s them.”
Winston is just one of the dozens of players and agents who have taken to Twitter during the N.F.L.’s labor strife, opining on everything from the court skirmish over how the N.F.L.’s television contracts were structured (@ericwinston) to the 18-game regular season (@RobertMathis98) to players having to pay for their own health insurance if the league imposes a lockout when the current collective bargaining agreement expires March 4 (LeCharles Bentley, who on Twitter is @LeCharlesBent65).
The N.F.L.’s labor negotiations are the first of a major sports league to be played out in the social media age, giving hundreds of players, dozens of agents, millions of fans and even a handful of owners the equivalent of a gigantic microphone to offer instant — sometimes frustrated — analysis of the once-cloaked minutiae of contentious negotiation.
(Wall Street Journal) — The clash between Republicans and unions that caught fire in Wisconsin last week escalated Monday: Labor leaders planned to take their protests to dozens of other capitals and Democrats in a second state considered a walkout to stall bills that would limit union power.
The protests have ignited a wider national debate over the role of labor unions and who should shoulder sacrifices as states scramble to tackle yawning budget deficits. Governors in both political parties are looking for union concessions as they struggle to balance budgets. Some are pushing aggressively to curtail the power of unions to organize or collect dues.
On Monday, thousands of steelworkers, autoworkers and other labor activists surrounded the Indiana state capitol to protest a bill before the legislature to dramatically weaken the clout of private-sector unions. This is in contrast to Wisconsin, where a newly elected Republican governor is in a standoff with public-sector unions and their allies.
(New York Times) — For young adults, the prospects in the workplace, even for the college-educated, have rarely been so bleak. Apart from the 14 percent who are unemployed and seeking work, as Scott Nicholson is, 23 percent are not even seeking a job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total, 37 percent, is the highest in more than three decades and a rate reminiscent of the 1930s.
Capitalism, slavery and prison labor have been bedfellows since the 1800s. African American male labor was exploited then, and this exploitative coupling continues into this century. In 1860, there were 1,981,385 black male slaves in the Unites States—a figure computed from the Historical Demographics, Economic, and Social Data: U.S., 1790-1970, ICPSR. Once these slaves were manumitted and no longer a free workforce, Douglas A. Blackmon describes how their labor was recaptured in his book Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Black male labor was recaptured, according to Blackmon, by charging Negroes with crimes such as vagrancy and other non-consequential acts, and this need for cheap labor paralleled an increased enforcement of these frivolous laws—i.e., harvesting time. As a result of this system, Blackmon describes this indentured servitude (debt slavery) as forced labor. As prison labor became a more necessary part of the capitalist system during Reconstruction, as a result of the devastation brought on by the Civil War, landowners exploited this peonage system and needed to build new prisons to house these former slaves and lease them to labor-hungry entrepreneurs.
These labor-hungry entrepreneurs decided to expand on this idea of convict leasing in the 1800s and created the first private prisons. States such as California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas had privately operated prisons between 1850 and 1950. The industry of contracting out prison labor was extremely profitable up until 1950, but things became unglued with the discovery of rampant abuse in these private prisons. Private prisons reappeared in the 1980s as a result of the “war on drugs,” and the concomitant laws associated with this war such as California’s notorious three-strikes-and-you-are-out laws. These campaigns such as the “war on drugs” and “get tough on crime” have been a dismal failure and have afflicted non-violent African American offenders, especially males, with a permanent handicap—a lifetime of limited opportunities.
The collateral consequences of a felony conviction also play a role in the burgeoning African American male unemployment rate. African American male unemployment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 15.6%, which economists assert is a Depression-era level number. The U.S. economy, it has been widely reported, has not added jobs since December of 2007 and has shed 7.2 million jobs overall since then, according to reports. Even worse, it is accepted that many jobs will not return for several years. Of course, African American males will be the most affected by the structural and racial flaws in the economy.
In my book, Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?, I show how the United States is returning to systems of prison labor exploitation. Over 2 million U.S. citizens are now incarcerated in the U.S., and half of them are African American males. This return to slavery has been facilitated by private prison corporations that lease factories in prisons and then lease the prisoners they house for the state out to these factories to perform work for companies such as Dell, Victoria’s Secret, and other multinational corporations and Fortune 500 companies. According to Yahoo Finance, Corrections Corporation of America has a 2.69 billion market cap.
There is a phenomenon eerily similar to what Blackmon describes regarding the nominal fees Black men were forced to pay to forestall forced labor. This is now happening to the formerly incarcerated who come out of prisons with crushing debt. These economic sanctions come in the form of probation fees, jail fees, special assessments, fines, and restitution. These fees are assessed on money deposited for prisoners by their family members. When ex-prisoners cannot pay these fees, they are returned to prison on a technical violation and are then forced into labor again.
Instead of states spending more money on corrections over education and building more prisons, they should embrace this idea of justice reinvestment to attack disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system, outsourcing and African American unemployment. Justice reinvestment strategies, according to Susan Tucker and Eric Cadora, contend that the billions of dollars spent on corrections should be redirected to build “human resources, physical infrastructure such as schools in those neighborhoods devastated by high levels of incarceration like the million dollar blocks in Brooklyn, NY.” A million dollars a year, according to Tucker and Cadora, is being spent to incarcerate people from one block in Brooklyn.
Redirecting money to create jobs in these high incarceration communities would go a long way towards improving education in these communities, improving employments prospects, and de-commodifying Black men so that their labor is not stolen by capitalists looking to exploit the captive labor the prisons provide them. Finally, states should follow New Jersey’s state legislature’s example of exploring laws which remove barriers that affect successful reintegration back into society by the formerly incarcerated, such as not being able to stay in public housing or receive welfare benefits, not being able to secure occupational licenses, and asking the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
Dr. Byron E. Price is a professor of political science at Texas Southern University and is the author of Merchandising Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization.