Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:51 PM
Who would have thought that one of the greatest labor victories this year would come from professional sports players? While attacks on organized labor continue in places like Wisconsin and Ohio, the National Football League players’ union has reached an agreement with owners that actually can be counted as a win for workers—in this case, NFL players—by improving health and safety standards.
Some of the statistics on player health are shocking. In a new documentary, Not Just A Game, Utne Visionary, radio host, and Nation contributor Dave Zirin highlights some of the scarier ones, including this: football players die an average of twenty years earlier than the general population. Even more shocking may be the NFL’s attempt, until very recently, to deny links between the extremely violent sport and head injuries. In the clip below, Zirin tells a story about a congressperson comparing an NFL doctor who denied this connection to doctors who previously denied the fact that cigarettes had anything to do with lung cancer. To any logical person, both seem impossible to deny.
Zirin also discusses the NBA lockout and the victory for the Japanese women’s soccer team in the World Cup.
Related: In addition to being named an
Utne Reader Visionary
, Zirin also recently wrote a piece for us about
patriotism and the militarization of American sports
Source: The Nation, Democracy Now!
Thursday, June 16, 2011 10:27 AM
Leaked: Target Corporation’s anti-union employee training video, “Think Before You Sign.”
Media Matters has compiled a long history of Fox News’ race-baiting and racially charged commentary.
Eight delightful essays about positively awful travel experiences.
A collaborative, online sketch with 1 million illustrators (you could be one of them).
Your inner narcissist may wonder, “Does anything matter?” Well, some things do, and ethicist Peter Singer explains why.
The jury has made its decision, reports ArtInfo, pole-dancing is not art.
Fathers-to-be, kick back and pour a shot. Heck, it’s your “dadelor party.”
Bucking the trends to downsize (or close altogether), the independent L.A. used bookseller the Last Bookstore just upgraded to a 10,000-square-foot downtown retail space. Recognize the bookshelves? They scavenged them from a defunct Borders megastore.
Just when you thought companies had exhausted all advertising platforms, Gilette carves an ad on a strand of hair.
Wired goes deeper into the comparison of basketball to jazz, explaining the mental labor that goes into inventing “beauty in real time.”
Monday, March 07, 2011 3:46 PM
It was reassuring, in the midst of Wisconsin’s labor strife, to see a New York Times/CBS News poll showing that many Americans sympathized with the workers. A majority of the people surveyed opposed weakening collective bargaining rights or cutting the pay or benefits of state workers to reduce state budget deficits.
It was very telling, however, to see where that sympathy dropped off. The richest Americans, it turns out, are the ones who are most eager to slash away:
Although cutting the pay or benefits of public workers was opposed by people in all income groups, it had the most support from people earning over $100,000 a year. In that income group, 45 percent said they favored cutting pay or benefits, while 49 percent opposed it. In every other income group, a majority opposed cutting pay or benefits: Among those making between $15,000 and $30,000, for instance, 35 percent said they favored cutting pay or benefits, while 60 percent opposed it.
That’s right, a solid majority of people making only $15,000 to $30,000 a year—that’s near or below the poverty line for many households—still mustered compassion for the public workers’ cause, while the biggest earners were much more eager to roll over the workers because times are tight.
The poll hearkens back to other surveys that have shown lower-income people give a greater proportion of their income to charity, and to a study done last summer by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California in Berkeley, showing that poor people are in general more altruistic than rich people.
Could it be that the rich, unsatisfied with simply always getting richer, are now getting meaner?
Source: New York Times, Greater Good
, licensed under
Wednesday, May 06, 2009 11:26 AM
A bill known to few outside of organized labor and big business lobbies could be a key player in reinvigorating America’s economic activity, writes Michael Payne in Dissent. The Employee Free Choice Act, which was introduced to Congress on March 10, would make it easier for workers to form unions. By doing so, it could help restore the financial viability of the struggling middle class, making it an integral part of the solution to the economic crisis. And it wouldn’t add a dime to public spending.
During the middle of the 20th century, unions brought us the middle class whose spending allowed our economy to expand. But now the middle class is shrinking; wages for the two-thirds of Americans paid by the hour have been stagnant for the past three decades. Payne pins the housing collapse on this trend.“This is not a generation of selfish materialists trying to live higher on the hog than their station in life warrants. It is, rather, a generation of Americans unable to reproduce even the modest lifestyle of their parents and turning to unsustainable debt and untenable mortgage terms as a last-gasp attempt to hold on to a modest standard of living.”
Wage stagnation correlates strongly with the decline in the percentage of workers represented by a union. This decline is not for lack of interest in unionization; according to the AFL-CIO, sixty million non-union workers want a union (business lobbies put the number at a still substantial twenty-five million). The high demand is unsurprising, since union workers make 30% more in total compensation than their non-union counterparts.
The reason union membership has stagnated in spite of demand is that the unionization process is heavily weighted in management’s favor, as T.A. Frank demonstrates in the Washington Monthly. This is where the EFCA comes in. The bill would restore some balance to the employer-employee relationship by increasing penalties for illegal union-busting tactics, allowing for binding arbitration if negotiations stall and letting workers choose the system for electing a union.
Citing unions' ability to increase middle class incomes, several economists support the EFCA. Lawrence Mishel, president of the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, says, “The president has said that we need to go from ‘borrow and spend’ to ‘save and invest.’ I think we need to go to ‘earn and spend.’” Economists like unions because, unlike federally mandated, one-size-fits-all labor standards, collective bargaining is a flexible, situation-specific tool—workers have a vested interest in negotiating a compensation package that will ensure the companies' financial success as well as their own.
A new report from the Center for American Progress found that just a 5% increase in the number of union workers would inject 49 billion dollars into the economy. “There is another sector that is really too big to fail,” writes Terence Samuel for The American Prospect. “The people who will rebuild the economy are workers with enough money in their pockets to take care of all their needs without going into huge debt.”
Sources: Dissent, The Washington Monthly, Reuters, Center for American Progress, The American Prospect
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 5:31 PM
In recent decades, the labor movement has declined in both membership and influence. Some don’t see this as a problem. Among those who do, proposed solutions vary. Here’s an idea of how to save the unions that you may not have heard: Labor needs to get in touch with its religious, and specifically Catholic, roots.
Thomas C. Kohler, who teaches labor and employment law at Boston College Law School, makes this case in the Fall 2007 issue of Boston College Magazine. Kohler traces the close relationship between the church and the labor movement through history, arguing that the overlap was no mere coincidence of location and status—the two institutions in fact share several core values related to the dignity of people, the power of community, and the nature of work. Kohler calls for “a new conversation between the law and religion about the character of work and its impact on the individual who performs it.”
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!