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Our own bluebarnstormer, sometimes known as Mike Hummell, is keeping up his crusade to get out the workers' side of what happened in the Hostess bankruptcy. Working In These Times' Bruce Vail covers Mike's fight to be heard, which he's waged in the media, in the diaries here, and with Kagro on Daily Kos Radio, because "It was incredible to see the strike portrayed in the media as the union forcing the company out of business." It's a great story whether or not you're already familiar with what he's been doing.

Keep reading below the fold for much more working people's news.

The War on Education

  • Teachers and other staff at Michigan's Cesar Chavez Academy, one of the largest charter schools in the state, voted to unionize, 88-39.
  • Adjuncts at CUNY are letting students know that the adjunctification of higher education is not a good thing, with some including a long statement about the situation on course syllabi:
    More than half of courses at CUNY are currently taught by adjunct instructors; this was not always the case. CUNY presently employs 6,541 full-time faculty, counselors, and librarians. Despite record breaking enrollment, that is 4,512 fewer of such positions that it provided in 1972. CUNY’s reliance on adjuncts impairs the conditions under which courses are taught and the quality of your education. Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom. We are not paid to advise students, grade papers, or prepare materials or lectures for class. We are paid for one office hour per week for all of the classes we teach. We are not paid to communicate with students outside of class or write letters of recommendation. Out of dedication to our students, adjuncts regularly perform such tasks, but it is essentially volunteer labor.

    To ensure that we remain conscious of the adjunctification of CUNY, we ask that you do not call us “Professor.” We are hired as adjunct lecturers and it is important that you remember that. You deserve to be taught by properly compensated professors whose full attention is to teaching and scholarship.

  • Data is not objective, no matter what Bill Gates thinks.
  • One of the hot trends in corporate education policy is to shut down "failing" schools—if they're traditional public schools, anyway. Charter schools have been getting a free pass on the closures front, and people are starting to notice. But while there shouldn't be a double standard, that doesn't mean continual school closures are good policy. Anthony Cody argues that churn is a bad policy for charters, just as it is for public schools.
  • In Rick Perry's Texas? Surely not!

A fair day's wage

  • Mmmm ... candy.
  • An FYI from the marvelous Sarah Jaffe:
    No, that waitress isn't flirting with you.

    Neither is the barista at your local Starbucks, nor the counter server at the Pret A Manger near your office, and you might be surprised to learn that the stripper at your local club doesn't have a deep fondness for you, either.

    In fact, for many service workers, women in particular, pretending to be happy and flirting are a key to keeping a job and making a living. If you're tempted to think of that as an "of course" kind of thing, think again. That's real work, to smile through the asshole saying things to you that under any other circumstances would be unpardonable sexual harassment, to smile on the worst day of your month when you really just want to cry, to laugh at the lamest jokes. And it tends to be work that the lowest-paid workers, especially women, have to do most.
  • Also, you are an asshole if you don't tip your server, and tip well. In most restaurants in most states, those workers are making $2.13 an hour before tips. The tip is part of the price of the meal, not some reward for making you feel all special inside.
  • The appeals court decision overturning President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board would have similarly overturned hundreds of recess appointments since Ronald Reagan's first term, the Congressional Research Service found.
  • The National Nurses Union is pushing for a safe staffing ratio law for Washington, D.C., hospitals.
  • When someone says "human trafficking," does your mind go straight to sex trafficking? It shouldn't:
    Some 78 percent of forced labor is based on state- or privately-imposed exploitation, not forced sexual exploitation. [...]

    Immigration officials may categorize immigrant workers who are trafficked as undocumented workers and deport them. Police and labor inspectors may view involuntary servitude or debt bondage in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manual labor and manufacturing as "mere" worker rights abuses, and so not justifying a remedy. Prosecutions for forced labor are far fewer than those for trafficking for sexual exploitation (and even those are low).

  • New York Times editorial:
    Part of an effective agenda would surely include a higher minimum wage, which is overdue. It is one of the most effective ways to lift wages because raising the floor also raises wages higher up the income scale. Union membership can also push up wages through collective bargaining. In 2012, even as the share of American workers in a union fell to its lowest level in nearly a century, the median weekly earnings of full-time unionized workers was $943 versus $742 for comparable nonunion workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Yet the administration’s support for unions has been more rhetorical than real. Mr. Obama failed to keep a campaign promise from 2008 to advance legislation to make it easier for workers to unionize and made scant use of the bully pulpit as unions have come under prominent attack in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  time to raise the minimum wage (7+ / 0-)

    As for the hostess video, it has been around since January 15.  So not getting any traction.

    "The only person sure of himself is the man who wishes to leave things as they are, and he dreams of an impossibility" -George M. Wrong.

    by statsone on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 11:16:09 AM PST

  •  That is a great video. (8+ / 0-)

    Everyone should watch that and forward it to elected officials.

    As usual, workers getting fucked while the fatcats get fatter.

  •  Good week for the AFT's efforts, not just in MI (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    israelfox87, NancyWH

    Their press release reports success with unionizing charter school teachers in NY and CA, too. Such an interesting tactic, would be great to see more reporting or a diary from someone with insight.

  •  Couldn't happen to a better person (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, davehouck

    Every interaction I've had with Mike has been exceptional, and as an ambassador for his cause he is doing a fantastic job.  

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:00:02 PM PST

  •  The stories I could tell working adjunct faculty! (4+ / 0-)

    Just a couple, I guess.  It was routine during the in-session - the introductory briefing for the faculty, performed at a big meeting a week before classes began - for the administration to tell us straight-up during the presentation (and also mentioned in plain language in the handout) not to make difficult assignments, give tests, or in any way scare the students for the first 21 days of the semester.  There was no subtlety in this.  And especially don't do this during the first week of class.  Why?  Tuition refunds.  Someone dropping a course in the first week got a full tuition refund for the dropped hours.  Partial refunds were available out to 21 days after the start of class.  After that, we could fuck the students up, blow their minds, no one cared after 21 days.  Sure they could drop the class after that - no refunds if they did.

    Some adjuncts, I observed this with my own eyes, did not take questions from students or even lecture during the course.  They read from the textbook.  That's all.  Big joke, because my mom was a teacher, and a good one, I actually gave lectures, took questions, asked questions of my students, and generally tried to teach them.  Every semester, a student would bitch about me being too difficult, and every semester the administration asked one of the few full-time faculty to sit in on my class.  It was all love and kisses, they always cleared me.  So, even though I was doing a good job, making sure my students got their money's worth out of their college education, I got the grief and the wooden statues who read from the textbook got a pass.  Hey, at least I wasn't fired or blackballed, which happened to other dedicated adjunct instructors.

    If you are starting out on your college career, don't attend a college, either two- or four-year school, with a high percentage of adjuncts.  Please keep in mind, many for-profit colleges don't have a full-time or tenured faculty, it's all adjunct with them.  Choose well and insist on being educated.  Ask questions in class.  Pester the instructors.  The good ones will love you for it.  The bad ones....fuck the bad ones, who cares what they think?

    Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:02:46 PM PST

  •  Is there any legal recourse for Hostess workers (4+ / 0-)

    To get their retirement fund back, which they paid for themselves?

    "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

    by surfermom on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:04:06 PM PST

  •  P. S. God bless you, Hostess workers. My dad was a (4+ / 0-)

    Union man. He made airplanes and jets for the government at a company called LTV. After he retired the company tried to undo the healthcare package of the retirees, saying the company could not afford it and had never promised it anyway. The retirees sued the company and won. My mother still gets healthcare benefits from them to this day. The lawsuit forced the company to keep their word.
    A few years ago, LTV was bought by Grumman. They still make jets and drones. My brother works there now. He is 61. The company has decided to close the current plant in Grand Prairie, TX and build a new plant 50 miles away. The wages offered at the new plant will be 50% lower than wages at the current plant. Most employees at the current plant are not willing to drive 50 miles further to work AND take a 50% pay cut. It is obvious the company made this move to screw their workers. The new plant will be filled with workers who will work dirt cheap because they don't know any better and can't find other work. They will not have benefits.
    This is the end of the middle class in America. When my father worked at LTV, he made $88 a week. It doesn't sound like much, but because of the benefits it was enough to support his family. He was able to send me to college and to medical school. He still supports his widow even though he has been gone 12 years.

    "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

    by surfermom on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:22:01 PM PST

    •  It sounds like the employees of Grumman (0+ / 0-)

      financed the new plant by having the wages halved. At Hostess the money slated for reinvestment was just siphoned off by management for their own bonuses. Either way, the worker loses.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:38:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've used the info provided (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, NancyWH

    by bluebarnstormer and a few others to educate many friends/co-workers and family members about the reality of what happened at Hostess.  MSM presented only pro-corporate propaganda and the usual "blame the union" garbage.  I'll pass this video around, too.

    Thanks for all your efforts!

  •  Thanks for all the info & hard work! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've used the info provided by bluebarnstormer to educate a bunch of friends/famil/co-workers on the real story of what went down at Hostess.  The msm coverage was totally pro-corporate with the usual "blame the union" slant.

    We need people on the ground like this to speak out about labor issues and we, as a progressive community, need to do a better job getting the word out.  I hadn't seen this video, but will pass it around, as well.

    Thanks again!

  •  My brother in law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "lost" his IBM pension, but, like my husband says, "He still votes Republican!"

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:41:27 PM PST

    •  crazy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      i have a friend he makes about 22k and thinks rich people
      pay to much in taxes also he believes the estate tax is 69 percent and if you are rich you should keep your money because you create jobs
      guess were he gets his info.........fixed news..... and trying to explain anything to him ??????
      Romney paying 17 % and him paying more ...hes a smart guy and creates jobs
      fucking feel like smashing my head against the wall after trying to talk to him

      In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

      by lippythelion69 on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 03:53:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great video! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just an excellent job on telling the story with this video!

    Love one another

    by davehouck on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 07:36:41 PM PST

  •  If what happened to the Hostess pension fund (0+ / 0-)

    had happened to 401k's it might be more obvious, but it sounds no different to me. If you had a percentage of your salary put into a 401k only to find at the end that that money was never put it, you'd be shocked. Bernie Maddoff rots in prison for something similar, I believe, but he did it to wealthy folks.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 06:47:43 AM PST

  •  Mike Hummell FC (0+ / 0-)

    I am a member of the Mike Hummell Fan Club.

  •  Also new this week... (0+ / 0-)

    Supermarket chain Stop & Shop is recruiting strikebreakers in Mass., Conn. and R.I.

    Contracts with five United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals expire Feb. 23 and the hiring of scabs is intended to intimidate the workers:

  •  Dailykos trained me for this.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had been lurking this site every day for years when the strike went down and the Union said we could talk to the media. This was the obvious place to go. I don't even think I had ever posted a comment before. Nowhere else could I have said what needed without being hindered by someone's filter. If it wasn't for the people here I would have never gotten the wind behind me. The response to that post convinced many of my Brothers and Sisters that we were not alone in the woods.

    This site even prepared me for my TV appearances. I have seen plenty of examples in diaries from the past of media railroading and how some have successfully dealt with it.

    Any message that got out started here and I can't thank you all enough. That film would have never been made without this community.

    And it is not a typo in the name. 'Bankery' has been an inside joke for a few years among many of the Lenexa bakers. I'm not even sure if I deserve credit for the word, but I love it for it's accuracy. Sorry I didn't notice this posting sooner so I could talk to you all.

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