I am part of a community where a lot of my peers aren’t working. Many of them want to but can’t because they were formerly incarcerated. In fact, studies show a formerly incarcerated white male has a better chance of being hired than an African American male without a criminal record. But that is frequently overlooked, and it often feels like no one even cares.
Black History Month is meant to celebrate the achievements of African Americans in the United States. While we have made huge strides toward overcoming the barriers that have set us back—we have not fully overcome the damages that centuries of exploitation, oppression and free labor have had on our communities due to enslavement and Jim Crow laws. Many people tell our community that we should “get over it” and “slavery is over, the playing field is equal”—but it’s no secret that structural racism has continued to plague our community with higher unemployment rates, overincarceration and a wider education gap than whites and other communities of color.
Last week, the Vermont Legislature gave final approval to a bill that would guarantee working people paid sick days. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) is expected to sign the legislation. With his signature, Vermont will become the fifth state in the country to require paid sick days. An estimated 60,000 workers who don’t currently have access to paid sick leave will now have it. Voices for Vermont’s Children, the Vermont State Labor Council and coalition partners have worked on the bill for a decade.
Each week, we take a look at the biggest friends and foes of labor. We celebrate the workers who are winning big and small battles, and we shame the companies or people who are trying to deny working people their rights.
A new video, produced by a collaboration from UCLA’s Department of History and the UCLA Labor Center, combines the experiences of young workers and research to tell the story of young workers in the United States. Titled “I Am A #YOUNGWORKER,” the animated video is a powerful dive into the world of work for young Americans.
Flint, Michigan, once was the reality and the symbol of America’s industrial civilization. Now it is a grim warning of how our civilization can end—not destroyed by aliens or even by global warming—but destroyed by the greed and indifference of our elites and their neo-liberal policies that replace our public institutions.
For Black History Month, we’re lifting up black activists, leaders and agitators who are changing the rules and being the power in our communities. Here are several profiles of leaders who are making new history right now.
In July 2015, Mondelēz International announced it had chosen to invest $130 million in its new Salinas, Mexico, plant instead of investing in its iconic Nabisco bakery in Chicago. As a result, 600 workers at the South Side Chicago bakery could lose their jobs as the product lines are sent to Mexico. The union workers at the Chicago Nabisco bakery have been producing high-quality baked goods such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies, and Ritz and Premium crackers for more than 50 years. These hardworking Chicagoans, as well as others in the Nabisco/Mondelēz production network across the country, have dedicated decades of their working lives to fuel the company’s financial success and global appeal. But their dedication and commitment to building these iconic brands is being rewarded with callous disregard and the displacement of their jobs to unregulated areas of the world with labor forces that work for poverty wages.
More than 11,000 working people sent comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission about the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Here are some highlights:
Let’s be clear: U.S. Supreme Court nominees are, in fact, confirmed in election years—even when the Senate is not controlled by the president’s party. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, was confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in February 1988, 65 days after his nomination in November 1987. And Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted to confirm now-Justice Kennedy in that election year.