edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by
TheWorkSite.org and the American Labor Education Center, an
independent nonprofit founded in 1979.
and worth noting:
Hand That Feeds.
might a new labor movement in America look like? This valuable
90-minute documentary takes us inside a lengthy direct-action
struggle by two dozen immigrant workers at a restaurant in New
York City who are fed up with low pay, poor working
conditions, and a lack of sick leave or paid vacations.
Showing difficult moments and strategic dilemmas as well as
fierce determination and hard-earned victories, the film is as
lively and inspiring as the workers themselves.
year, harvesters tromp through Oregon’s national forests,
looking for matsutake mushrooms that will eventually be sold
to consumers in Japan. Some are local residents who fought in
the Vietnam War. Many are immigrants from Southeast Asia who
experienced war from a different perspective. This documentary
focuses in particular on a Cambodian and a Vietnam vet who met
through the harvesting work and have become like family to
feel-good feature film unapologetically sets out to inspire a
new generation with the possibilities for united action across
narrowly defined movement lines. It tells the story of British
gay and lesbian activists who decided to raise money for coal
miners engaged in a difficult national strike. When the
national union held them at arm’s length, they gradually
overcame prejudice to build a human connection with mining
families in a remote village in Wales.
Mexican man who crosses the Arizona border to find work to
support his family is arrested on charges of murdering a
former sheriff’s wife. The immigrant’s pregnant wife hears the
news and tries to cross as well, only to be taken hostage by
the coyote she hires. The grief-stricken former sheriff begins
to investigate and uncovers corruption on both sides of the
border. This is a feature film made to entertain, with stars
Eva Longoria, Michael Peña, and Ed Harris, but in creating
high drama it also reveals some truths about the outrageous
conditions U.S. immigration policy creates.
people from across the political spectrum in different states
are organizing to ban fracking because of its impact on
community and worker health, drinking water, climate change,
property values, and quality of life. Generating even more
carbon emissions than coal, fracked natural gas is not the
clean “bridge fuel” that industry claims, according to this
in the Fine Print.
powerful 20-minute documentary (free online) narrated by
Robert Reich takes on a hidden but highly significant example
of corporate overreach in America today – the use of forced
arbitration clauses in contracts for employees, students,
phone users, nursing home residents, and many other Americans.
Increasingly, major corporations require everyone they deal
with to sign agreements that specify in the fine print that
any dispute will be resolved by an arbitrator chosen by the
company, rather than in the courts. This means that violations
of laws involving discrimination, fraud, overcharges, and much
more are channeled into a corporate-controlled process with no
hearings, no jury, no right to discovery, and no appeal. The
film follows three highly compelling cases – a TV anchor fired
because she needed time off for National Guard duties, a woman
cheated by a for-profit school, and a small business being
fleeced by a credit card company. The Republican majority on
the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with big corporations on this
issue. A campaign to regain our legal rights and target
particular corporate offenders is being coordinated by the
film’s producer, the Alliance for Justice.
teenagers in Chicago find hope and community when they get
connected with a youth theater group that produces plays based
on local people’s stories.
With a Cause.
Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area would not have been designated as protected
public lands if it weren’t for local activists who overcame
opposition from developers, oil companies, and others. Frances
McDormand narrates this 73-minute documentary that includes
interviews with local residents who were involved on all sides
of the issue.
20 percent of U.S. inmates are elderly, and more than 100,000
will die alone in their cells. This 40-minute documentary
focuses on a state penitentiary in Iowa where prisoners are
trained as hospice volunteers to work with terminally ill
somber documentary uses interviews with Holocaust survivors
and others to educate viewers about persecution faced by Roma
people (often called gypsies) throughout history and
continuing to the present day.
Memory Wall by
Anthony Doerr (Simon
& Schuster). Six
creative short stories take place in a variety of contexts
around the world, but share a common theme exploring the part
that memory plays in our lives. “Every hour, all over the
globe,” says one of the characters, “an infinite number of
memories disappear, whole glowing atlases dragged into graves.
But during that same hour children are moving about, surveying
territory that seems to them entirely new. They push back the
darkness; they scatter memories behind them like bread crumbs.
The world is remade.”
Men We Reaped by
Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury). The
author of the gripping novel, Salvage The Bones, about poor
black children along the Gulf Coast has now written a
non-fiction account centered on the death of five young men in
her community over a period of four years.
Orphan Train by
Christina Baker Kline (Morrow).
Between 1854 and 1929, thousands of orphans were relocated
from the East Coast to mostly rural communities in the
Midwest. Often, they were taken in to provide extra farm
labor. This novel focuses on one of them who landed in
Minnesota and combines it with a parallel modern-day story of
a teenager who is bouncing among foster homes in Maine.
No Future for You
edited by John Summers, Chris Lehmann, and Thomas Frank
favorite of the cultural and media “mainstream” is left
unskewered in this collection of essays from The Baffler.
Thomas Frank, Barbara Ehrenreich, Susan Faludi, and many
others take on popular books such as Lean In and Fifty Shades of Grey,
uses and abuses of modern technology, liberal icons such as
Barack Obama, mail-order conservatism, and much more.
Low-Wage Work in the
Wealthy World edited by Jerome Gautie and John Schmitt
Researchers compare the situation of low-wage workers in the
U.S. with their counterparts in five European countries, where
conditions generally are better. Case studies focus on retail
sales, hospitals, food processing, hotels, and call
Is Here in These Hills by James Green (Atlantic
Coal miners’ battle for better treatment in the period 1890 to
1933 set an example for other industrial workers that
culminated in the mass unionization that took place in America
in the 1930s.
Seeker by R.B. Chesterton (Pegasus). A
graduate student who is writing her thesis about Thoreau can’t
escape a longstanding curse on her family in this mystery that
features ghosts and spells.
The Teacher Wars by
Dana Goldstein (Doubleday).
Tracing the history of debates over public education in
America, a journalist ends by questioning whether “reform”
imposed by billionaires and hedge fund managers is producing
results. Real reform, she says, would require providing the
mentoring, class sizes, planning time, facilities, and
training needed to spread the best practices some teachers
Topless Cellist by
Joan Rothfuss (MIT).
Julliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman broke boundaries
with her performance art, whether playing without clothes,
suspended in the air, or using everyday objects as
instruments. This biography spans her life, from winning
Little Rock’s beauty contest in 1952 to her fatal bout with
breast cancer, which she turned into series of
Old Crow Medicine.
Outstanding music and songwriting, featuring It’s An
Already Mean Enough World (without you), The Warden (how does
he sleep at night?), and Dearly Departed Friend (about a young
man attending the funeral of a 21-year-old fellow war
tribute album of Jackson Browne songs performed by others,
including the Indigo Girls, Jimmy LaFave, Paul Thorn, and
Permeable Life by
Carrie Newcomer. Songs that combine the feel of poetry,
prayer, and music in clear-voiced meditations on work with our
hands, memory, lifelong love, making “room at the table” for
all, and more. The songwriter also has published a book
of contemplative poems and essays by the same
Ghost of Woody Guthrie by
Bucky Halker and Andy Dee. A revival of nearly two dozen
Guthrie songs, most of them not well known, including the
priceless “Everybody’s Got a Monkey (On Their Back).”
Midwestern folk rocker and labor historian, has produced many
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