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World Wide Work - May 2009
Source Matt Witt
Date 09/05/02/18:26

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


Walmart Workers for Change is a new 6-minute video that features Walmart workers and former managers from around the country talking from the inside about how the nation's largest company stops its employees from making a free choice to form a union.

The video includes footage of President Obama explaining why he supports Walmart workers' organizing and believes the company must meet its responsibility to provide affordable health care.

Alliance for Justice has a fact sheet for progressive organizations on the Employee Free Choice Act and why it matters to everyone interested in the whole range of social justice issues.

Meanwhile, the fight over national health care reform seems to be focused on whether to keep candidate Obama's promise that if you don't like the private insurance system there will be a parallel and competing public option you can choose instead. Media reports from Washington suggest that Democratic leaders in Congress are on the verge of giving in on this point.

There are lots of web sites you can go to regarding this battle. Just two of them are Health Care for America Now and Stand With Dr. Dean.

New and worth noting...

* The Lonely Soldier by Helen Benedict (Beacon). About 1 of 9 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is female. Nearly a third who have returned home say they were sexually assaulted by male military personnel while there. The trauma they suffered is largely ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and by society as a whole.
* Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould (City Lights). It's now President Obama's war in Afghanistan. If the history told by these journalists is any guide, it could very well become his Vietnam.
* Mandate for Change edited by Chester W. Hartman (Lexington). What do progressives want President Obama to do? Leading activists and analysts contributed chapters on 47 topics to answer that question.
* Dancing on Live Embers by Tina Lopes and Barb Thomas (Between the Lines) is a detailed, practical guide to combating racism in organizations.
* Teaching Green: The High School Years edited by Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn (New Society). Tested ideas for lesson plans, projects, experiments, and other ways of engaging teenagers in hands-on learning about ecology, sustainability, and other green issues.
* Ruins by Achy Obejas (Askashic). A novel that centers on a Cuban who gradually becomes disillusioned with the revolution.
* Leaving Resurrection by Eva Saulitis (Boreal Books). An intimate personal memoir by a woman who studied Alaska's whales (and her own relationships and inner life) every summer for many years.
* Localist Movements in a Global Economy by David J. Hess (MIT). Can acting locally make a real impact on globalization? Hess looks critically at four sets of experiences: "buy local" campaigns, urban gardens, local ownership of electricity and transportation, and community media.
* Nice Work if You Can Get It by Andrew Ross (NYU). The jobs of "creative class" professionals around the world are increasingly insecure and temporary in ways that bear some resemblance to the experiences of low-wage laborers.
* The Canal Builders by Julie Greene (Penguin Press). The building of the Panama Canal in the ten years before World War I by tens of thousands of workers from around the world is often described in terms of its political and economic impact or its technological challenges. This book focuses on the workers who built it and their attempts to win better conditions.
* Shadow of the Racketeer by David Witwer (University of lllinois). This study argues that the first media coverage in the 1930s of emerging corruption in certain unions ignored the ways employers benefited from sweetheart arrangements with mobsters, and that labor's failure to promptly clean house allowed its opponents to permanently cast a shadow over public support for the union movement.
* The Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History edited by Aaron Brenner, Benjamin Day, and Immanuel Ness (M.E. Sharpe). Nearly 800 pages of analysis of important labor struggles from a variety of perspectives, as well as accounts of particular landmark battles.
* Condensed Capitalism by Daniel Sidorick (Cornell). This history of Campbell Soup's factory in New Jersey provides a case study of the evolution of mobile capitalism and the decline of the labor movement in the 20th century.

Hutto: America's Family Prison.
This short documentary is about a prison in Texas that holds immigrant families, including pregnant women, children, and infants, none of whom has a criminal past. It is administered by the country's largest for-profit "corrections" company.
* The Garden. A heartbreaking, 80-minute documentary about the demolition of immigrant families' 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles at the whim of a private developer -- as supposedly progressive politicians sit on their hands.

[View the list]