Wed 8.24.11| Labor Struggles at Verizon and Beyond

The biggest strike in four years came to an end on Monday, but the conflict between Verizon and its unionized workers is far from being resolved. The case epitomizes the challenges for union workers in the US, who often are employed by businesses that are majority non-union. Labor journalist and organizer Steve Early talks about how workers should and can fight back in an era where open shops are becoming the norm.

Tues 7.26.11| Academic Labor & Higher Ed in Crisis

William Deresiewicz at The Nation

William Deresiewicz, A Jane Austen Education Penguin, 2011




"A self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class." In the eyes of Bill Deresiewicz, that describes not just the US economy as a whole but also the troubled landscape of higher education. Deresiewicz discusses the plight of academic labor and other trends within the academy. He also evaluates calls for the abolition of tenure and for technology-based and market-driven reforms.

Wed 4.27.11| Public Workers in Higher Education

Academic workers -- from exploited staff to tenured faculty to poorly paid adjuncts and grad students -- are on the chopping block, as states target public education from coast to coast. Union leader and political scientist Steve London talks about how the Professional Staff Congress, which represents workers at CUNY, is fighting back against austerity meted out by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. He also revisits the New York City fiscal crisis of 1975 and its parallels with today.

Mon 4.04.11| Labor Upsurge

Dan Clawson argues that organized labor's decline could be reversed, and the Left's prospects greatly enhanced, if workers and their unions actively connected with social movements pushing for economic, racial, gender, and global justice. Clawson articulates his vision for labor's resurgence, discusses recent attacks on unions and public-sector workers, and describes the last great labor upsurge.

Mon 3.14.11| Class Struggle in Wisconsin, Labor Struggles with Itself

Last Friday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that strips the state's public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights, following almost a month of mass demonstrations. Where did the protests come from and who sustained them--the national leadership of unions or rank and file members? Labor journalist Steve Early discusses organizing in a time of austerity. And he considers the trajectory of a generation of Sixties activists into the leadership of unions that have gone to war with each other over the last several years.

Wed 2.09.11| Conspiracy Theory; Notes on Egypt

Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture U. of Minnesota Press, 2008 (2d ed.)

Ahmad Shokr

Samer Shehata, Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt SUNY Press, 2009

Conspiracy theories often get dismissed as the product of paranoia, but Mark Fenster argues that's a mistake: conspiracy theories have long been a part of American politics, and even though such theories often chase illusions, they shouldn't be dismissed or discounted. Also, Ahmad Shokr reports from Cairo, and Samer Shehata discusses the history of Egypt's labor movement.
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