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PORTSIDE  February 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDE February 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Tidbits & Announcements - February 6, 2012

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Date:

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Tidbits & Announcements - February 6, 2012

* WISCONSIN UPRISING Labor Fights Back - New York -
Feb. 17 
* It Happened in Wisconsin
* Keystone Opponents Need a Jobs Program
(Bishop Frank Adams, Laurel MacDowell) 
* Re: Occupy Oakland (Margie Bernard) 
* Dead Wrong? Election Official Disputes Claim That 
  Deceased Voted in S.C. (Jim Campbell) 
* Friday Nite Videos -- February 3, 2012
(Tibby Brooks) 
* January Employment Report (Joe Persky
for the Chicago Political Economy Group)

==========

* WISCONSIN UPRISING Labor Fights Back - New York -
Feb. 17

You are invited to a book party for Wisconsin Uprising:
Labor Fights Back (Monthly Review Press, 2012), edited
by Michael D. Yates.  It is free and open to the
public.

Special guest David Newby, President of the Wisconsin
Fair Trade Coalition and President Emeritus, Wisconsin
State AFL- CIO, will report from the front: The Recall
Election and Labor in Wisconsin Today.

Contributors to the book will also be present for
discussion with you:

Beyond Wisconsin: Seeking New Priorities as Labor
Challenges War Michael Zweig, professor of economics
and director of the Center for Study of Working Class
Life at the State University of New York at Stony
Brook, and a national co- convenor of U.S. Labor
Against the War.

What Can We Learn from Wisconsin? Stephanie Luce,
associate professor at the Murphy Institute, City
University of New York, and a founding member of
Progressive Dane/New Party and the Student Labor Action
Coalition in Madison, Wisconsin.

Back to the Future: Union Survival Strategies in Open
Shop America Rand Wilson, long-time union organizer,
has helped workers build non-traditional organizations
at a number of companies, most recently at Comcast.  He
now works for an SEIU local in Boston.

Friday, February 17, 2012 6pm - 8pm

Stony Brook Manhattan 101 East 27th Street, 3rd Floor
Between Lexington Ave and Park Ave South New York, NY

Books and refreshments will be available.

Sponsored by Monthly Review Press and the Center for
Study of Working Class Life.

RSVP appreciated but not necessary:  Contact Scott
Borchert at [log in to unmask] or 212-691-2555.

==========

It Happened in Wisconsin - new book

Folks--

Just got my copy of "In Happened in Wisconsin:
Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor
Protest," edited by Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle, with
an introduction by John Nichols and an afterward by
Michael Moore. It is published by Verso. (Truth in
advertising: I wrote Chapter 15, "Wisconsin and US
Labor.") Because of the effort to get this volume out
quickly, I had not seen any of the other chapters.  Now
that I have the book--and almost immediately consumed
it!--I think  that Mari Jo and Paul assembled an
excellent collection of articles  that not only provide
a good overview of the struggle, but they place  it in
the historical and cultural context of progressive and
labor  struggles in Wisconsin. I think folks will find
it quite interesting,  and I suggest it is essential
for labor activists/intellectuals. To  give a small
sampling: the book is divided into five sections: How
It  Started in Wisconsin, The Right-Wing Assault, The
Fight Begins, Labor,  and Beyond Wisconsin. Authors, in
addition to Nichols and Moore,  include Nick
Thorkelson, Mari Jo Buhle, Tom Morello (of "Rage
Against  the Machine," and now serving as "The
Nightwatchman"), Mary Bottari,  Ruth Conniff, Paul
Buhle, Patrick Barrett (who does a nice interview  with
Ben Manski), Dave Poklinkowski, Charity A. Schmidt,
Frank Emspak,  Gary Dumm, Matthew Rothschild, Rober
Bybee, Sharon Rudahl, myself, and  Ashok Kuman and
Simon Hardy.

Hope you will check it out, and spread widely!

In solidarity--

Kim Scipes

===


=========

* Keystone Opponents Need a Jobs Program

Most of us who were against the Keystone pipeline will
probably agree that we need jobs that pay well.  As I
have gotten older and been denied many good jobs over
the last decade know the struggle.  In my case, I
changed career from engineering to priestly ministry. 
One day twenty years ago, I realized that the RC church
abandoned the children and would not listen to us in
the ministry to do something about it.  So I left that
church and ministry and got married. But I finding a
job that would pay me a living wage has been a constant
struggle.  My wages have gone up and down and now down
and down.  At 68 I can not afford to retire and still
get my disabled wife insurance.  So I force myself the
work at the one job that has given me insurance and
enabled me to pay for my wife's insurance.  For many
years, I have enjoyed challenges.  But now the
challenge to survive is a daily chore.

I want a world that will not kill my children and
grandchildren with heat and smoke, but I also want them
to have a more equal distribution of wealth.  This
should not be so difficult!  But it has become a major
issue for the rich--mainly republicans.

Bishop Frank Adams

===

I think the article is right that the public still
perceives a jobs versus the environment paradigm. But
the reality is that the current economy is not
sustainable and both to begin to adapt to climate
change for our future security and to create more jobs
to get people working again, we need to create "green
jobs". The labour movement recognizes this and is
working on it. Governments are not really encouraging
this except rhetorically, except in Europe. In some
European countries it has worked very well; they have
developed green energy, created green jobs and been
leaders in innovation.

And there is much to be done. For instance to increase
solar energy even by 10% would include a lot of
infrastructure, communication and policy to get it to
people and that all means jobs. To build windmills out
into the ocean, as Denmark has done creates jobs. To
invest and create technology to use ocean waves for
energy = more jobs. To change building codes so that
new buildings are green = more jobs. To build public
transit and trains connecting centres = more jobs. To
create infrastructure for electric cars, so that you
could stop at a station and switch you battery, the way
to day we fill up our tank = more jobs.

There is so much to be done and that can be done. The
problem is that the politicians have their minds on the
old industrial economy or have been influenced by the
fossil fuels industry. When Republicans say the
President is killing jobs, they mean oil jobs. In fact
all the economic development they talk about is more
jobs to exploit resources, increase carbon, and make
the fossil fuels industry more profits. This is
nonsense in the 21st century! But to be more credible,
those opposing the pipeline and the unions need to
offer alternative scenarios and encourage the
government to support a green jobs program that
supports entrepreneurs who can mount companies to do
the jobs needed.

Laurel MacDowell

==========

* Re: Occupy Oakland

What seems like splinter groups in the Occupy Oakland
who seek confrontation for confrontation sake is all
too of reminiscent of citizen movements in the 60s &
70s that were infiltrated by federal and local agents
specifically to disrupt, disorganize and discredit a
legitimate protest group. COINTELPRO anyone?

Margie Bernard A California expat in Ireland

==========

* Dead Wrong? Election Official Disputes Claim That
Deceased Voted in S.C.

"THIS LITTLE LIGHT .  .  . "

At the South Carolina Working Families Party State
Committee Meeting on 2/4/12 an article from Portside
was included in the handouts to attendees. It is: DEAD
WRONG? ELECTION OFFICIAL DISPUTES CLAIM THAT DECEASED
VOTED IN S.C.- 1/29/2012 Keep up this excellent,
nationally relevant good work. This meeting was well
attended by a key constituency of SC folks in organized
labor in a labor-hostile environment. Many thanks.

Jim Campbell

==========

* Friday Nite Videos -- February 3, 2012

The David Rovics video has a dead wrong refrain,
"...now that the last Lincoln Veteran died."

There are at least 5, if not 7, Lincoln Vets still
alive and making trouble for the bourgeoisie.  Maybe
David Rovics's last Vet died, but as the widow of a
Vet, I can assure you that no premature anti-Fascist
can be declared dead until s/he is really "over the
hill."

Tibby Brooks

==========

* January Employment Report

Joe Persky for the Chicago Political Economy Group

The employment and unemployment statistics released
this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics report
an expansion in employment of almost 250,000 and a
decline in the unemployment rate to 8.3%.  Taking these
numbers at face value, the media is already
editorializing that the economy is bouncing back.  Yet
if we look more closely at the numbers we find that
they are strongly influenced by the approach the BLS
takes to seasonally adjusting data. January is a tricky
month for statisticians.  December often sees a run-up
in the labor market followed by a drop in January. 
What the BLS is reporting is not an increase in
employment, but a drop smaller than expected for this
season.  What the BLS is reporting is not fewer people
unemployed, but an increase in unemployment less than
expected.  Between December and January unseasonally
adjusted employment actually fell by more than 2.6
million jobs.  Between December and January the
unseasonally adjusted unemployed actually rose by about
850 thousand people.  It may be that over the year the
Bureaus estimates will hold up.  But for now all we can
really say is that a mild January has produced less of
a cutback than we usually see.

Even the official seasonally adjusted statistics show a
dismal picture of the labor market.  The best overall
indicator of labor market conditions is the employment-
population ratio.  As the name suggests, this ratio
shows the share of all people 16 and over with jobs of
some sort. In January the seasonally adjusted
employment-population ratio was 58.5%, the same as
December.  Labor force participation rates actually
fell from 64% to 63.7%.  And the Bureau's broad measure
of underutilization, which includes, in addition to the
unemployed, involuntary part- time workers, discouraged
workers and others marginally attached to the labor
force, in January was 15.1% (down only .1% from
December).  The median duration of unemployment
remained virtually unchanged.  Looking at the
seasonally adjusted job figures shows that the biggest
estimated increases were in durables manufacturing, a
positive sign. But other large gains were in temp
services and food services.  Fast food outlets aren't
laying off as fast as they usually do in January.

If we take a longer-run view, this last year has seen
an increase of about 2 million jobs, or 166 thousand
per month. That is better than the year before and the
year before that.  But this modest growth in employment
is just doing a little better than population growth. 
The (seasonally adjusted) employment population ratio
last January was 58.4%.  This January, as noted above,
it is 58.5%.  In January, 2007 the same figure was
63.7%.  At this rate it will take us half a century (52
years) to just get back to where we were before the
panic and deep recession took hold. And keep in mind
that the labor market in 2007 hardly represented full
employment.  In that year about 8.5 million workers
were unemployed or underutilized by the BLS's own
measure.

It seems obvious that the country desperately needs a
massive federal jobs program to put millions of people
back to work.  We are creating a class of permanently
marginal workers and unemployed.  Inequality continues
to widen.  It is time to wake up and change course.

Joe Persky for the Chicago Political Economy Group

==========

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