From The Nation: Last night, Worker Center Watch – a new website dedicated to attacking labor-affiliated activist groups like OUR Walmart, Restaurant Opportunities Center, and Fast Food Forward - began sponsoring advertisements on Twitter to promote smears against the protests planned for Black Friday. In one video sponsored by the group, activists demanding a living wage and better working conditions for workers are portrayed as lazy “professional protesters” who “haven’t bothered to get jobs themselves.”
“This Black Friday, just buy your gifts, not their lies,” instructs the Worker Center Watch narrator. . . .
Worker Center Watch has no information its website (Read more…)
If you haven’t read anything by Zadie Smith, I highly recommend finding White Teeth, her debut novel, and diving in. Smith wrote White Teeth while still attending university, and it was published to great acclaim when she was only 25 years old. It’s a wonderfully sprawling novel, by turns wry, satirical, and poignant, crammed full of vibrant characters, multiple themes and threads, and brilliant, surprising language. It deals with the cultural clashes and changes of immigration, generations, and class differences.
If you read White Teeth and didn’t like it, stop right there; you’re not going to like anything else (Read more…)
Part 1: McDonald’s version of company scrip (Part 2 below)
Any minute now we’ll see the return of company scrip.
In the bad old days before labour unions forced reforms, companies – especially in industries where workers were isolated, like mines, lumber, and farming – would pay their workers in scrip. Scrip was a credit that was only accepted at the company’s store – a store that charged wildly inflated prices. What a great deal for the owners, eh? They paid meagre wages, then recovered every penny, while ensuring they retained a steady supply of labourers who were (literally) hungry (Read more…)
The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling’s first non- Harry Potter book, received almost universally poor reviews, ranging from tepid to savage. Reviewers found the book too long for the subject matter, too slow, poorly paced. They thought the plot was a soap opera. They found the writing cliched, studied, heavy-handed. In a book full of characters, they found few noteworthy. As one reviewer put it: “Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that “The Casual Vacancy” is not only disappointing — it’s dull.”
Backlash? Impossibly (Read more…)
This is the first in a series of reviews of youth (formerly called YA, or young-adult) novels, which I will be reading in no particular order and with no particular method. I love youth literature, and it’s simply a pleasure to read what I want once again, with no schoolwork hanging over my head. As with all my “what i’m reading” posts, if it seems that I like everything I read, it’s because I only write about books I enjoyed.
I finally read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’ve been intensely curious about this book since it was released (Read more…)
It’s Opening Day!
It’s always a long, cold winter for a baseball-only fan, but winters for Red Sox fans have been especially long and cold lately. When was the last time we saw a meaningful game? (Don’t answer that.) I lost interest ’round about July last season, unusual for me, but there’s something about losing every night that doesn’t inspire me to plan my life around the team’s schedule.
But that’s all behind us now. Spring is here, and with it, a fresh start, new hope, and who knows, maybe a half-decent, rebuilding kind of season for the Sox.
. . . → Read More: wmtc: what could baseball, sexual abuse, and pitbulls possibly have in common?
An enormous number of library-related stories cross my path, either through school or this blog. A few have stayed on my mind and seem worth fleshing out.
A San Antonio, Texas public library will become the first in the US (and possibly in the world) to go completely bookless – that is, its collection will have no paper books, only digital books.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of digital books, and without recapping all that here, I think it’s important to realize that there are both positives and negatives. The digital book, like all technology, is
. . . → Read More: wmtc: three library issues, part 1: the all-digital library
Right now there are no American women who were of reproductive age prior to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Yet reproductive rights in the US have never been more threatened. 2011 marked the passage of the most state-level restrictive abortion laws ever. 2012 saw the second-highest.
More than half of all US women of reproductive age (15–44) now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights. Ten years ago, it was fewer than one-third.
The Guttmacher Institute has produced a series of infographics to illustrate the state of reproductive rights in the
. . . → Read More: wmtc: 40 years old and already irrelevant: happy birthday roe v wade
I’m re-running this, which I wrote for Socialist Worker Canada (now at a temporary site while a new website is being completed). If you are part of this struggle – or if you want to be part of it – and live in the GTA, please join us tomorrow night for Fighting Austerity in North America: Walmart Workers to Bill 115. Details below.
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Workers Doing It For Themselves: Food service workers in New York and Chicago unite to improve working conditions
One of the most exciting developments currently unfolding among the working class in North America
. . . → Read More: wmtc: workers doing it for themselves: fighting the austerity agenda in north america
At last, this is the fourth post of the talks I attended in November and December. Allan and I organized this in Mississauga, through the Mississauga “twig” of the IS. The talk was given by our friend and comrade John Bell.
The other recent talks: noah richler, u.s. war resisters, and the militarization of canadian culture, from greece to chicago to toronto, workers fighting back against austerity, and talking radical: a history of canada through the eyes of activists.
Allan is guest-posting this one.
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This past year, Conservative MP Paul Calandra hosted a
. . . → Read More: wmtc: a people’s history of the war of 1812
Of all the reasons for hope that we’ve seen in recent times – Wisconsin, the Occupy Movement, the Quebec students’ actions, the Chicago teachers’ strike – this trend gives me the most joy and the most hope. Here are three stories of non-unionized workers organizing themselves to change conditions in their own workplaces.
In September, New York City restaurant workers walked off the job and won a historic victory against their oppressive and vindictive employer. The restaurant workers who were fired and locked out of their store for organizing a union have won after a week of escalating protests outside
. . . → Read More: wmtc: more signs of life in the labour movement: non-union workers rising
Working my way backwards, this the second of four talks I attended that I’ll be reporting on.
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In November, I heard Nikos Loudos of the Socialist Workers Party in Greece (by Skype) and Canadian activist and organizer Carolyn Egan speak about the recent general strike in Europe, and the fight against austerity at home and abroad.
It was after 1:00 a.m. in Greece, but Nikos was full of energy. He reminded us, “I cannot complain, there are people who have bigger problems”. In Brussels, the Eurogroup was staying up all night discussing “the Greek
. . . → Read More: wmtc: from greece to chicago to toronto, workers fighting back against austerity
There are always at least two sides to every story. Long ago, in the American West, some pioneers and cowboys were killed by “Indians”. More recently, Iraqi “insurgents” have killed US soldiers. When I was growing up, Vietnamese “guerillas” – I believe… . . . → Read More: wmtc: greenwald on "both sides are wrong", hedges on the world as gaza
Revolutionary thought of the day: Initially, the Mincome program was conceived as a labour market experiment. The government wanted to know what would happen if everybody in town received a guaranteed income, and specifically, they wanted to know whether people would still work.
It turns out they did.
Only two segments of Dauphin’s labour force worked less as a result of Mincome – new mothers and teenagers. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies. And teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families.
. . . → Read More: wmtc: rtod: a town without poverty. it happened in canada.