Let's Work Together for Change

By Mike Mathis, Teamsters Director of Government Affairs.

When Matt and Chris invited us to join the MyDD community, they warned us about you. They said MyDD readers are a smart and cantankerous bunch who wouldn't pull any punches. They told us to be prepared for anything.

Teamsters are old hands at confrontation - taking on bastard employers or anti-union propagandists - but we are novices at online discussions. Nevertheless, we welcomed the opportunity because we recognize that bloggers and unions are natural allies - we share common goals and derive our strength from the power of many.

For us it was an opportunity to introduce ourselves, to educate and to build relationships. You know, it's not just the number of union members that is shrinking. So is the number of labor reporters. Unless there is a big strike, you never hear about unions in your local media. The national press is not much better, with several news organizations recently axing their labor beats.

Perhaps it's because most media owners - large national corporations or hometown power barons - share the same anti-union views as the owners of the Santa Barbara News-Press. I'm not one to believe in media conspiracies, but this is just one example of how management still controls the message. Fortunately for Santa Barbara citizens the reporters fought back.

Many media outlets even refuse to run union ads. Consolidation of the press and of our airwaves further squeezes out organized labor's message.

And it's a message that is rarely taught in schools. Think back to your high school history course, how much did you learn about the Knights of Labor, Eugene V. Debs, the Haymarket Riot, or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory?

If you welcome our message, we welcome your scrutiny.

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Unions: Mobilizing Voters for Nearly a Century

This week's post is by Mike Mathis, director of government affairs for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

So how exactly did Karl Rove mastermind Republican victories in 2002 and 2004? By stealing a page out of organized labor's playbook.

Rove's 72-Hour Task Force, using professional and volunteer operatives to organize and lead a get-out-the-vote push in the final 72 hours before Election Day, was formed in 2001. Unions have been doing this for most of the past century.

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Labor Built this Country - It's Time to Take it Back

Well this seems like something we could get done next cycle. Jeff Farmer is the director of organizing for the Teamsters. I'm going to thank them preemptively for our new servers, since that's what's going to keep this site running on election day. -Matt

Organized Labor was dealt another damaging blow last week by President Bush's cronies on the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB ruled 3-2, along party lines, that millions of nurses and other workers are "supervisors," and therefore excluded from collective bargaining rights.

The so-called "Kentucky River decision" was pretty much expected from the Big Business shills who sit on the NLRB. Not only will 8 million workers lose their labor law protections, including their right to form unions, but companies will be even more emboldened under the new expansive definition of "supervisor" to reclassify workers in their effort to dismantle organizing drives.

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Gore Vidal turns 81 today. ('06 interview comments)

Today Gore Vidal turns 81. Gore Vidal was interviewed on C-SPAN on April 29, 2006, relative to his new memoir, Point-to-Point Navigation, which will be out soon and can be ordered now online. In the interview, he described himself very simply as "an ancestral voice prophesying war."
Below the flip is some of what he had to say in the interview about the media, Iran, George W. Bush, and other topics. (The transcription is mine, as are any errors.)

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Labor News: NLRB and Andy Stern

First some logistics.  Andy Stern is going to be in DC tomorrow as part of this book tour for 'A Country That Works.' He's going to be at Olsson's Bookstore at 1307 19th Street at 7pm and at The Big Hunt 1345 Connecticut Ave at 8pm.  This book matters, and you should go see Andy talk, if only because he's one of the most  powerful people in the progressive movement who gets what we're about.  Over the next few years, my guess is that there will be a strong alliance between labor and blogs, and that Andy will be one of the key drivers building that coalition.

Ok, now on to the big bad news.  The National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, just made it illegal for millions of workers to unionize by reclassifying almost anyone with small supervisory responsibilities as management.  I haven't been able to get in touch with my union friends, but this is really really bad for all of us.  In Virginia, Hospitals are already planning to break the state nurse's union.

Stephen Colbert has the best explanation out there.

The AFL-CIO blog has more details.  Suffice to say, this is going to make the nurse shortage in this country much worse, and it's going to damage our health care system dramatically.  When nurses can't organize and speak out, it means that errors and corruption by hospital management will probably multiply and worsen since there will be a strong disincentive towards speaking up.  

Politically, this is going to be bad for Democrats because labor is a huge funder of the party, and provides reliable volunteers and muscle for GOTV efforts.  There is nothing good in this decision at all.  It's classic Bush, and it's going to hurt anyone who has to go to a hospital.  Rallies are scheduled, and I'm trying to find out what else is planned.

Heckova job, NLRB.

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