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Who represents the working class in Massachusetts?

The vote to take away public employee health care bargaining rights took place thirty minutes before midnight, on April 26th,  while most of the state slept, oblivious to the event.    The scene would have brought a big smile to the face of Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker.   But this wasn’t Madison.   This was Boston, and the protagonists weren’t members of the GOP, but the Democratic House leadership in allegedly progressive Massachusetts. By a margin of 111-42, the House of Representatives voted to take away negotiating rights from municipal unions in determining key aspects of their health care benefits.  Following powerful... Read More

Middle Class Brats?

I fear I am raising spoiled-rotten, middle-class brats. I fear I am raising the very kind of children I would have hated as a child. Why? Because they are comfortable and cozy and have everything they need in their day-to-day lives. They do not go hungry. They do not wear shoes with holes or ones they have outgrown. They have comfortable beds with good mattresses. They have their own books and toys. The electricity has never been shut off. They don’t eat fast food for dinner. (Just last night I made them chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, saag paneer, and... Read More

Joe Bageant: 1946-2011

It is with great sorrow that we learned of the recent death of Joe Bageant. Joe and Class Action’s late co-founder, Felice Yeskel, were two of our greatest voices on class in the U.S.  What a loss for us all. Felice loved Joe’s blog posts –and frequently sent me links to his latest dispatch with comments like “check out this zinger” and “bull’s eye.” Almost once a week, I am asked the loaded question, “Why does the white working class vote against their economic self interest?”  (Or as Joe titled a blog, “AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM”) I... Read More

Connecticut Public Employee Activists Fight For Pension Justice

Out of the limelight, public employee activists have achieved a near victory in their quest for a fair pension plan.  However, fulfillment of a national precedent setting grievance award to allow Connecticut state employees to transfer from a defined contribution 401(k) type retirement plan into the state’s traditional defined benefit pension system has been delayed. On September 22, 2011 an arbiter ruled in favor of Alternate Retirement Program (ARP) members that they had been unfairly steered as new employees into their plan when the much better traditional pension plan was available.  They had not been given sufficient information to make... Read More

Class, Race & the Attacks on Public Employees

The Wisconsin uprising has become as loud a wake-up call as there has ever been that working America is under attack. Attempts by Governor Scott Walker and the Republican majority to steal away the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers – as a false premise for the state’s budgetary hardships – has triggered a national uproar by labor rights supporters. In spite of all the good organized labor has brought to all American workers – union and non-union alike – union membership in the U.S. has endured constant erosion by the corporate sledge over the past several decades (see... Read More

Caregiver Unions: Much Needed But Most Vulnerable Now

Often overlooked amid the current attacks on long-established public sector unions around the country is the threat to recently organized workers, who are the lowest paid and most badly treated. When “regular” state workers are under attack, it’s not easy to improve the conditions of a contingent workforce of direct care providers at the bottom tier of public employment, such as home health care aides and child care workers. Organizing of publicly-funded care providers has led to expanded collective bargaining coverage for more than 600,000 workers in about a dozen states. They have become the single largest source of new... Read More

Modern-day Pirates: the Republicans vs. the Public Sector

So, let’s be clear:  it’s not about the budget.  As the facts have emerged in the 2011 Wisconsin crisis with Governor Scott Walker’s move against public service unions, it is not about Wisconsin lacking funds.  There is no credible way that Walker and his clique can argue that eliminating a worker’s right to collective bargaining saves the state a dime.  Each time that this is raised it becomes a laughable moment. What we are witnessing is a well-orchestrated effort on the part of the Republicans to cleanse the USA of viable labor unions.  It is really that simple.  While those... Read More