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.
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.
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.
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.
Much of the radical left subscribes to some version of "Dump the bosses, put the workers in charge." Brian Edwards-Tiekert tours a bakery in Oakland that went out of business -- until its workers brought it back. Melissa Hoover describes how worker-run businesses adapt to a bad economy. And Gayle McLaughlin discusses her plan to create jobs by following the model of the Mondragón cooperatives in Spain.
From the mid-1960s to 1981, working class people waged a double battle against their bosses and often ossified unions in a period of tremendous labor militancy. Yet that history has been written out of the books about the period, which tend to characterize workers as reactionary and prowar. Labor historian Cal Winslow and Mike Hamlin of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement set the record straight.