Guerrilla Vlogger: AFL-CIO hosts John Edwards in Manchester, NH with oreos

"LABOR UNIONS are more than just 'the folks who brought you the weekend,' as the bumper stickers say. A union contract may be the best bulwark against the widening income gap afflicting America even as worker productivity climbs."

-- Boston Globe Editorial September 4, 2006

On Monday I was able to attend the annual NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast held at the Chateau Restaurant in Manchester, NH. It was quite a large turn out, I'd say 500 and maybe more. Most of the people that I talked to were happy to be there to see Edwards, represent their crew and have a great time. And most of them were concerned about the possible Verizon sale that could affect thousands of jobs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The story that I heard over and over is that unions are getting weaker because their numbers continue to decline. NH-erites that I spoke to on Monday were fairly upbeat and positive about their local union, but union participation among American workers has steadily declined in the past 30 years. So why fewer unions and union members? Well may you ask...

Cross-posted at DailyKos

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In one corner, the forces of good, in the other... bitterness

The difference between the Bad Boss contest sponsored by Working America (AFL-CIO) and the SEIU's Since Sliced Bread contest redoubles my already heald impressions of both organizations. It also reinforces the two ways liberals/Democratics/Progressives are approaching things these days.

The AFL-CIO represents bad politics: bitter, tearing down, win at all costs (also represented by the DSCC and the DCCC).

The SEIU represents a positive, constructive, win as much as we can, but make it all good, type of politics (also represented by the DNC's 50 state strategy).

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Andy Stern: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

This is a guest-post from Andy Stern on net neutrality.

Every day I get out of bed and while I'm shaving, staring in the mirror,  I start thinking about everyone going to work in America.  People go to work at all kinds of jobs every day, and they work hard for their paychecks.  Our union has 1.8 million (and growing) working people who want to build better lives.  And they want their work to be a place where they have the opportunity to realize their dreams.

I've also watched the political dynamic in Washington, D.C. grow increasingly insular among our elected leaders and their consultants - and even some members of the press corps - and so I've  watched with amazement and delight as the internet has started to break-up that insularity, allowing bloggers to compete with major media outlets for scoops and encouraging average people around the country to participate in politics with the same intensity as wealthy donors.

It's important to make sure that workers are free to unite online about issues in the workplace.  It's also important to make sure that everyone in America has equal access to the internet.  The internet's culture of openness is a critical part of its success.  Restricting access or creating a "tiered network" runs the risk of restricting the internet only to  those who can afford it.  A "pay-to-play" internet is dangerous not  only for any group that wants to organize it's members online, but to  anyone who cares about free speech and democracy.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who think there's too much free speech online, that it's too open.  I'm also sure that there are those who look at the central role that the internet has come to play  in our daily lives and their eyes light up with dollar signs, seeing  an opportunity to cash-in on what has become an important part of our  day-to-day infrastructure.  But the truth is that the open nature of  the internet, where any single individual has as much access as a  mammoth corporation, is exciting and important to the future of our  country.  It's important for holding our elected leaders  accountable - and it's also important to hold our business leaders  accountable.

The transparency and the accessibility of the internet is crucial to the long-term success of our democracy - and of our economy. Letting a few large corporations control access using a fee-based system is  unthinkable - and dangerous.

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University of Miami Students Take Over Admin Building

At Discourse.net Professor Froomkin reports that 20 students have taken over the Ashe Administration Building at the University of Miami and asks why is Donna Shalala afraid of Father Frank Corbishley?

The SEIU led strikers are demanding better pay, healthcare benefits and union representation.  God knows UM charges enough for tuition.

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Unions supporting pension-gutting bill!

There was a piece here yesterday (my own modest contribution with some links) which flagged the enormous hole (around $150 billion) that the latest pension bill currently in conference would dig in private pension schemes - that's the amount, according to the Federal agency the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, that the bill will permit employers to avoid contributing to such schemes.

Sounds like corporate welfare to me (though I'm no expert).

Now, I find (Boehner's boasting list) that several unions, including Unite To Win member UNITE HERE (but not fellow breakaways SEIU and the Teamsters, it seems) are backing the bill.

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