Station Casino workers have gone without raises since 2007, faced cuts to benefits, and seen more than 2,800 of their coworkers laid off. Since they started attempting to organize, they have faced a campaign of illegal intimidation and firings by the company, with firings specifically targeting Latino workers. The current fast ramps up their activism and organizing efforts.
Station's reason for calling the fast "disingenuous" seems to be that the action is designed to draw attention to the workers' efforts to unionize. Well, yeah. Obviously a hunger strike or fast undertaken as part of an activist campaign is done to publicize the campaign. But "disingenuous" is defined as "lacking sincerity." You don't subsist on water for a week in an insincere way. In fact, if you're willing to do that, you're almost by definition extremely sincere. (For the record, I'm not a fan of the hunger strike of indefinite length. Those typically start out as "we're not eating until we get what we want" and end with "or maybe we are ..." But a seven-day, defined fast demonstrates serious commitment without setting up failure.) By this standard, anything other than perfectly targeted direct action, and certainly anything with a public relations intent, is "disingenuous."
- "Our Pain, Their Gain," a new report on hotel work in Seattle, shows how growing hotel profits comes at the workers' expense. Workers face low wages and worsening working conditions that are clearly reflected in the decrease in workers employed to care for every 100 occupied hotel rooms:
(Our Pain, Their Gain (PDF))
That means more work and more injuries for housekeepers, and more profit for hotel companies.
- Continuing on the hotel theme, workers at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. are fighting for a fair contract. They have a list of better choices if you'd rather not cross a picket line.
- How Organized Labor Helped Win Marriage Equality in Maryland and Washington--And What We Can Learn
- Katha Pollitt gets at the core of the "is being a stay-at-home mother work" debate:
So there it is: the difference between a stay-home mother and a welfare mother is money and a wedding ring. Unlike any other kind of labor I can think of, domestic labor is productive or not, depending on who performs it. For a college-educated married woman, it is the most valuable thing she could possibly do, totally off the scale of human endeavor. What is curing malaria compared with raising a couple of Ivy Leaguers? For these women, being supported by a man is good—the one exception to our American creed of self-reliance. Taking paid work, after all, poses all sorts of risks to the kids. [...] But for a low-income single woman, forgoing a job to raise children is an evasion of responsibility, which is to marry and/or support herself. For her children, staying home sets a bad example, breeding the next generation of criminals and layabouts.Tell your representative in Congress to support the WORK Act, so every mother in America can make the same choice Ann Romney did.
- Among elderly people, 76 percent of Latino-headed households, 74 percent of African-American-headed homes, and 65 percent of Asian-headed households don't have enough money to meet basic expenses.
- Prison labor is back in a big way:
All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.
Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights, and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance—unless, that is, you traveled back to the nineteenth century when convict labor was commonplace nationwide.
- Bloomberg (the news organization, not the mayor himself) editorializes for raising the minimum wage:
Raising the minimum wage won’t entirely solve the problem of anemic incomes, but it would help. Economists have long found that boosting the minimum wage can raise income levels for those earning just above the minimum. Employers, seeking to protect “wage ladders,” often bump up salaries for slightly higher- paid employees, too.
- Missouri is closing six charter schools run by Imagine, the country's largest for-profit charter company and the one that recently began a partnership with Teach for America.
- Diane Ravitch is trying to understand Michelle Rhee. But it's easy to tell where Ravitch is going wrong—she's trying to see something good or genuine in Rhee. You understand someone like Rhee by assuming that she's always, always operating from an agenda that is both relentlessly self-promoting and aimed at privatizing our schools, turning them over to for-profit companies and chipping away at worker power. Then everything she does makes sense.