[COMM-ORG] Labor Day Thoughts, Actions, and Provocations

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Mon Sep 3 10:28:39 CDT 2012

[ed: this message from Peter, while on the Labor Day theme, also 
contains community organizing content.]

From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>

Is Barack Obama a Radical Socialist, a Pro-Business Sell-Out, Both, or

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

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**Dear Friends and Colleagues,*

*An occasional and brief message from Peter Dreier *

· *Union-Made Clothing? -- *I recently discovered a men’s clothing
store in LA called *Unionmade* that doesn’t sell union-made clothes! What
gives? Should I be outraged? To find out, I called the store’s owner. I
report what I found out in this article for *Huffington Post*, *“There Once
Was a 
* A *shorter 
* appears in the *San Francisco Chronicle*, where the *Unionmade* chain is
headquartered and its initial store is located.

· *Talking about my book -- *Patt Morrison interviewed me about my
new book*, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice
Hall of Fame <http://100greatestamericans.org/>*, for her *Labor Day
* on KPCC (89.3 FM in Los Angeles), which airs from 1-3 pm. I’ll also be
on the *A Public 
* show, on WORT (89.9 FM) in Madison, Wisconsin, from 1:05 to 1 pm (central
time) that day. I will also be interviewed on the Voices at Work show on
KPFT (90.1 FM in Houston) from 3:30-4 pm (central time). I recently taped a
radio interview with Tavis Smiley <tavissmileyradio.com> (which will be
broadcast on Friday) and in October he’ll be interviewing me on his PBS
television show. My book has gotten some nice reviews, most recently by
Andrew Tonkovich in the *OC
*and by Randy Show in Beyond

· *Eat Union Food -*- Want to know what union-made products to buy
for your Labor Day picnic or BBQ? I've posted the list in my Huffington
Post column, “Look for the Union Label for your Labor Day BBQ,”
for conscientious consumers.

· *The History of Labor Day -*- Why do Americans celebrate Labor
Day in September and not May Day, like most of the rest of the world's
democracies? I explain why in an article, “Occupy Activists Resurrect May
Day for Americans,”
I wrote earlier this year for *The Nation.*

· *A Guide to Corporate Greed -- *In a new article in *Dissent *
magazine, “Do American Corporations Care How Much Workers
Gordon and Donald Cohen reflect on the historic collapse of business
support for decent wages. Why are today's business leaders are unconcerned
about the declining middle class or about the growing number of families
slipping into poverty? It wasn't always this way.

· How Greedy Can You Get? -- The Business Roundtable, the most
powerful corporate lobby group, is pushing the Republicans to weaken the
nation’s environmental, public health, consumer protection, and workplace
safety laws, putting tens of millions of Americans at risk of death,
disease, and serious injury. Donald Cohen exposes this outrage in his
Post* article, “Business Lobby Urges GOP to Oppose Health and
· As Unions Decline, Inequality Rises -- The corporate assault on
America’s labor unions is one of the key reasons for the widening gap
between the rich and everyone else. This
report<http://www.epi.org/press/unions-decline-inequality-rises/> from
the Economic Policy Institute demonstrates the connection between the
decline of union members and rising inequality.

· *Dying From the Heat -- *A bill now on California Gov. Jerry
Brown’s desk will save the lives of farm workers exposed to extreme heat
and dangerous conditions. Read about it in “Harvest of Shame:
*Huffington Post* and (if you live in California) please contact Gov. Brown
urging him to sign the bill. Not surprisingly, corporate agribusiness
claims the bill will kill jobs. As Donald Cohen and I explain in this
*, they are -- as usual -- crying wolf.

· *A Landmark Victory for Domestic Workers – *Another bill on
Brown’s desk is the California Domestic Workers Bill of
If he signs it, nannies, housekeepers, caregivers and other domestic
workers will enjoy better working conditions, meals and rest breaks and
overtime pay. Sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco and
passed by both houses of the state legislature, it offers the almost
200,000 domestic workers in California basic labor rights they have been
excluded from for decades. If signed into law, California will become only
the second state in the country, after New York, to extend labor
protections to domestic workers.

· *Today’s Social Justice Heroes – *The movement for domestic
workers’ rights is led by the National Domestic Workers
started several years ago by Ai-Jen Poo, a remarkable young organizer. She
is one of eight young activists I profile in an article, “Today’s Social
recently in
*The Nation*.

· Honoring Rev. James Lawson -- One of the great social justice
heroes of the past half century, Rev James Lawson will honored on September
9th with the George F. Regas Courageous Peacemaker Award at LA’s Holman
United Methodist Church. For more information, go to the Interfaith
Communities United for Peace and Justice website <http://icujp.org/>. My
profile of Lawson, “A Totally Moral
recently published in *Truth-out.* · Kozol at Oxy – Jonathan Kozol,
the brilliant social critic and education reformer, will be speaking at
Occidental College on Monday, September 10, at 11:45 am in Thorne Hall. He
will be discussing (and later signing) his latest book, *Fire in the Ashes:
Twenty-five Years Among the Poorest Children in America.** * The event is

· *Talking About Woody Guthrie – *I’ll be speaking about Woody
Guthrie – especially how Guthrie’s experiences in Southern California
during the Depression inspired his radical views -- at Pasadena’s Allendale
Branch Library (1130 S. Marengo Ave.) on Saturday, September 15, at 2 pm.
Folk singer Ross Altman will perform a selection of Woody Guthrie’s songs.
I’ll also be signing copies of my book. (Guthrie is among the 100 artists,
activists, thinkers, organizers, writers, and politicians I profile). Two
weeks later – on Saturday, September 29 – the library will sponsor a
special screening of “*Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home*,” produced for the
PBS American Masters documentary series. USC professor Ed Cray, author
of *Ramblin’
Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie*, will introduce the film. This
revealing documentary features archival footage along with interviews with
Guthrie devotees such as Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. You can find
more information about these events on the library’s

· *Proposition 32: The Anti-Labor Measure -- *If he were alive
today, Woody would definitely have written a song opposing Proposition 32,
the corporate-sponsored anti-union measure on the November ballot. LA
Times columnist Michael
a great job of revealing who is behind this outrageous proposition and what
it really says.

· *Bill Moyers Exposes the “New” Ralph Reed -- * The disgraced
former head of the Christian Coalition and wealthy super-lobbyist is making
a comeback as a power-broker within the Republican Party. Along with two
other one-time college Republicans, Karl Rove and Grover Norquist, Reed is
operating behind-the-scenes, leveraging political, religious, and
financial resources to back pro-corporate candidates and to try to defeat
Barack Obama in November. Bill Moyers dissected Reed’s resurrection in a
brilliant, scathing documentary, broadcast on Moyers &

· *Curt Flood and Marvin Miller, Labor Heroes – *This Labor Day,
every professional baseball player should give thanks to Curt Flood and
Marvin Miller, but the sad truth is that most of them probably never heard
of either of these baseball pioneers. Flood was an outstanding outfielder
who risked his career in order to challenge baseball’s reserve clause. A
man of great principle and courage, Flood laid the groundwork for the
emancipation of MLB players. Last year’s fantastic and long overdue HBO
documentary, “*The Curious Case of Curt Flood,” **told the story*. Flood
should be in the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game. The other
outrageous travesty is the blatant blacklisting of Marvin Miller, the first
executive director of baseball’s players association, from the Hall of
Fame, a conspiracy concocted by baseball’s owners and not challenged by the
players’ union. Kelly Candaele and I wrote about these shameful omissions
in “Baseball’s Hall of Fame
*The Nation* and in “Baseball
*Huffington Post. *The players association should wage a serious campaign
to get Miller (who is 95 years old) and Flood (who died in 1997) into

· *Baseball’s People’s Hall of Fame: *One of Southern California’s
greatest treasures is the Baseball
an organization of baseball fanatics that honors the quirky, radical, and
off-beat aspects of our national pastime. Based in Pasadena, it sponsors a
“people’s hall of fame” whose inductees are chosen by members and include
people who aren’t likely to be enshrined in Cooperstown, like pitchers Bill
“Spaceman” Lee, Dock Ellis, Jim Abbott, and Jim Bouton, umpires Emmett
Ashford and Pam Postema, Ila Borders (a women who pitched in the minor
leagues), Shoeless Joe Jackson, Steve
(the fastest pitcher in history who never made the majors), Lester Rodney
(sports editor for the left-wing *Daily Worker* who advocated for baseball
integration), Marvin Miller (first director of the players’ union), owner
Bill Veeck, and many others. Besides the annual induction ceremony (held
every July at the Pasadena Public Library), the Reliquary also sponsors
exhibits on baseball history from the “bottom up” (including exhibits on
Mexican-American and Japanese baseball culture in southern California) as
well as lots of interesting events. It recently screened filmmaker* **Jon
Leonoudakis*’s fascinating new documentary, "Not Exactly
Cooperstown,"<http://notexactlycooperstown.com/> about
the Reliquary. All baseball fans should check it out.

· *Pride at Work* -- Among the many LGBT movement issues are for
equality at work. Last month, an openly lesbian Army officer, Tammy
was promoted to brigadier general. This is an amazing symbol of our
society’s transformation on the issue of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.
openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her
star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag
rank in the United States military.

· *Mitt: The Man from Bloomfield Hills* -- The Romney campaign
produced a video biopic to show Americans how Mitt Romney is a regular
guy—just like them. But most Americans missed it, because its prime time
slot was taken up by Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair (occupied by
an invisible Barack Obama). MoveOn.Org didn’t think that was fair, so it
produced a hilarious mock-umentary based on the true story of Romney's
hardscrabble upbringing in one of the wealthiest towns in the country. It’s
called “The Man from Bloomfield Hills”

· *Mitt’s Many Mansions -- *Mitt owns three mansions and has no
ideas to help the 15 million families who are "under water." Can Obama
seize this opportunity to mobilize "under water" voters? I discuss
this in *“Mitt’s
* in *Huffington Post.*

*Happy Labor Day!*

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*The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of
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