What Next for Labor: How Can We Beat Back the Attacks?

In the course of 2012, two major industrial Midwestern states, Indiana and Michigan, have become so-called "Right to Work" states. This that means although unions must represent all the workers in unionized workplaces, workers who do not join the union can now "opt out" of paying union representation fees. It is the end of the "closed shop" in these states, a key victory of the labor movement in past struggles. The goal of big business is clearly to weaken the unions and then eliminate them all together. 

Chicago Teachers Land Blow for Labor

teacherstrike001September’s dramatic strike of 24,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union may prove to be a turning point in the struggle of public sector unions in the United States. Just months after the mass movement in Wisconsin was derailed into a recall, the teachers’ struggle should serve to galvanize organized labor and embolden unions nationwide to take more militant action in their self-defense against capitalist austerity.

Youth Drop Out of Job Market

Hidden by the August 2012 drop in the official U.S. unemployment rate, is the reality that millions of workers are still jobless—three years after the “great recession” was declared ended. Among the hardest hit by the capitalist crisis are younger workers.

“There were 453,000 fewer young adults with jobs in August than in July,” noted a September 7 CNNMoney article. “But despite that plunge, only 27,000 more young people were looking for new jobs….And those numbers take into account seasonal factors such as younger workers returning to school. As a result, the percentage of young people who are counted in the labor force fell to its lowest level since 1955.”

Texas Machinists Take On Lockheed Martin

lmstrike1On April 23, 3,650 employees of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and members of the International Association of Machinists District Lodge 776, went on strike. The union had entered into negotiations to renew their 3-year contract a month earlier. Management’s “last, best, final” offer was an insult. The contract would introduce two-tier retirement, abolishing pensions for new hires and replacing them with a market-based 401(k) scheme. It would also increase health care costs for all workers.

Postal Workers Must Fight the Bosses' Attacks

usps1The postal workers are under serious attacks by the bosses of the U.S. Postal Service and the policies of the federal government. It has been reported that the Postal Service has a loss of $5.7 billion so far this year (the fiscal year ends on September 30). On August 1, 2012, the Postal Service failed to make a payment of $5.5 billion to the federal government toward a fund intended to cover future retirees’ health benefits. This was technically considered “a default.”