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World Wide Work - January 2009
Source Matt Witt
Date 09/01/24/02:13

This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.


We're very excited to report that has been completely redesigned for easier access to free, downloadable and adaptable tools for grassroots education and organizing. Please check it out and give us feedback.

The site now includes a blog with commentary, analysis, and useful facts. See, for example, an entry on the stake all progressives have in restoring the right to form a union without employer interference, or a guest entry by Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice on new 'hit and run' rights for big drug companies that threaten all Americans' health.

Worth noting

Refusing to Be Enemies ( Twelve women in Michigan -- six Jewish and six Arab -- formed a group, first for discussion about their experiences, identities, and feelings about Israel and Palestine, and then for action and education in their communities. This hour-long documentary shows that with direct personal exposure, honesty, and a sense of humor, they were able to overcome their prejudices and anger and find common ground.
Military Families Speak Out ( This half-hour film consists entirely of relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq talking about their feelings about the war, their government, and their loss.
Access Denied? ( When a professional musician went to the emergency room because of a migraine headache that wouldn't go away, the inadequately labeled drug she was given caused gangrene that required amputation of her arm. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that it cannot be held liable since the drug was approved for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At issue is a new legal theory developed by big corporations and the Bush administration that would eliminate the right Americans have had for more than a hundred years to hold corporations legally accountable for unsafe products.
The End of America ( This 72-minute film is built around a lecture given by the author Naomi Wolf on how the Bush administration eroded constitutional rights and civil liberties in America. The lecture is illustrated with news footage and augmented by interview clips with retired military leaders, victims of the Bush policies, and other commentators.

The Space Between Us
by Thrity Umrigar (HarperCollins, 2005). This poignant novel about a woman in India who works as a house maid and the woman who employs her is both an absorbing story and one of the best explorations of the human effects of class inequalities.
Long After I'm Gone by Deborah Good with Nelson Good (DreamSeekers Books). A writer in her 20s spent many hours interviewing her dying father about his life spent helping to create educational, spiritual, and community centers and projects in Washington, DC. This very personal account makes the reader think about the importance of building community in every facet of life and about what the author aptly calls "staying power" - the consistency, commitment, and patience it takes to make real change.
The Blood Runs Like a River through My Dreams by Nasdjii (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). This memoir by the son of a Native American mother and cowboy father tells in language that is both plain and uncommonly poetic about being stranded between two cultures and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to become a writer.
Beyond the Fields by Randy Shaw (University of California). Cesar Chavez failed to build an effective and democratic union that could improve the lives of farm workers, but young people who got their first exposure to organizing through the United Farm Workers experience went on to play an important role in recent attempts to revive the immigrant rights movement and empower low-wage workers through campaigns such as Justice for Janitors. Shaw describes the UFW's successes and demise and provides a 'where are they now' look at some of the movement's alumni.
The Civil Rights Reader edited by Julie Buckner Armstrong and Amy Schmidt (University of Georgia). This anthology of fiction, essays, speeches, poetry, and other literature is designed for studying the civil rights movement from its roots in the 1800s to the present and includes pieces by many of the best known African Americans.
Wage Theft in America by Kim Bobo (The New Press). The single largest category of larceny in the United States each year is the billions of dollars stolen from workers by failing to pay them the legal minimum wage, misclassifying them as independent contractors to avoid paying for overtime or the employer share of payroll taxes, or other tactics. Yet, this corporate crime goes largely unpunished. The director of Interfaith Worker Justice documents this abuse and describes in detail what individuals, community organizations, religious groups, and the Obama administration can do about it.
Unjust Deserts by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly (The New Press). Why are some people enormously wealthy? Is it because they are more hard working or ingenious than everyone else? Or is it because they have appropriated wealth and knowledge generated by the society as a whole?
Shades of Justice by Paul Krehbiel (Autumn Leaf Press). A labor activist who has been a blue-collar worker and union staffer gives some of the flavor of the 1960s through a personal memoir of his involvement in the movement against the war in Vietnam.
The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland (Viking, 2004). This historical novel brings alive the inner life of Emily Carr, an artist best known for her paintings inspired by native totem poles and villages in British Columbia at the beginning of the 1900s. At a time when most of white society was focused on obliterating native culture, Carr struggled to develop a painting style that would do justice to the artistic genius she found in native carvings.

Too Much is an exceptionally useful site that provides facts, analysis, and links regarding the wealth gap, corporate greed, and policy options to promote fairness and democracy. See, for example, recent posts on the willingness of British politicians to directly challenge the class divide and on the roots of the current economic crisis in the Reagan years.
Working Films matches and advises independent filmmakers and grassroots organizations and helps them work together.

River of Time by Jorma Kaukonen (Red House). This tap-your-feet, feel-good collection by a former member of Jefferson Airplane fuses folk, bluegrass, blues, and country music to brighten up any rainy day.

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