Sunday, September 05, 2010

"Morning Papers" - Its Origin

The Rooster


Of course, everyone knows this American sweetheart.

This is our Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.

She is Labor through and through.  It doesn't come better than this.  She can speak for herself.

Hilda take it away, honey.

Celebrating American workers and progress on Labor Day

Posted Sunday, Sep. 05, 2010

These are tough times for American workers. There are too many parents out there who have lost a job and are choosing between losing their home and sending their children to college. There are too many workers who are desperately searching for employment and just can't seem to find an opening or even get an interview.

The unemployment rate in the Fort Worth area may be holding steady, but it clearly needs to start dropping -- and quickly. As we stem the loss of jobs, we must accelerate growth in all sectors of the economy, from tourism to manufacturing, so that everyone who wants a job can get a good one.

Fortunately, there are positive signs that the tide is turning. The country was losing a staggering 800,000 jobs a month when President Barack Obama took office 20 months ago. Now, we are adding jobs -- almost 100,000 every month. That's not nearly enough, of course, but we are moving in the right direction. The administration's efforts are effectively preserving jobs for the middle class, fostering business start-ups and helping companies expand. The jobs are beginning to come back.

So on this important day, when our nation celebrates the American worker, we have an opportunity to take stock of who we are and what is ahead.

Look around your community and you will find people just like you, who believe in playing by the rules and working hard to get ahead. Our families, our neighbors, our fellow Americans: They are the country's greatest resource. They are the reason I remain optimistic and committed to serving workers. They are also why I believe in extending a hand when a worker becomes unemployed and offering a leg up when one is looking for a new job.

I also believe in efficiency and looking ahead. So not only is my department helping to ease the transition during economic down times, but we are also preparing workers for in-demand jobs and high-growth industries -- from high-tech and healthcare to wind and solar power. We have already invested $2 million in five communities -- including Arlington -- to upgrade the renewable energy skills of 500 ironworkers and place them on wind turbine projects. That makes good sense in Texas, already a leader in wind power and energy. The grant will help ensure not only that workers have the skills they need to get these good jobs but also that businesses have the trained workers they need to succeed. It's what I call win-win.

Those and many other examples point to one clear fact: Our economy is changing quickly, one community after another. And, despite challenges, the nation is also growing stronger. So we have a choice before us. We can dwell on today's problems and repeat the mistakes of the past. We can miss golden opportunities for progress and let benefits be perks for the privileged few at the expense of the working many. Or we can look forward and seize opportunities in growing industries and thoughtful undertakings that will benefit entire communities.

I believe that now is the time to ramp up, to build on the progress we've already made in getting Americans back to work. Now is certainly the time to remember our workers. After all, they have always played a key role in revitalizing our economy. They surely will again. At the Department of Labor we know that well, and we intend to support them every step along the way.

Hilda L. Solis is U.S. secretary of labor.

The birth of the United Auto Workers. "The Flint Sit Down Strike of 1936-37"

Why a sit down strike?  Silly, don't you think?

Well, they the laborers at the GM Flint plant didn't have a choice.  They received word that GM was about to remove the 'dyes' from Fisher plant #1.

To protect their jobs, they occupied the plant and invoked a strike.

While occupying the plant the laborers maintained the plant in good working order.  Elected a mayor and civic leaders to organize the community that was not living inside while sympathizers carried out protests outside.

The laborers were supported by the community.  THAT is an integral part of the union movement.  Communities that 'gather' around the unions help a great deal to support their right to work and their right to a decent wage.  Communities would provide support because it also insured their existence.  As an example, grocers would supply food to strikers and their family on credit.  Store credit.  When the strike was over, the grocer was assured to have his clientele and his income while the laborers, now back to work, paid off their credit accounts.

It worked well.  It worked out well for local governments that were successful in keeping their tax base.  A tax base that included the plant and its profit margin once it was anchored in a contract with the union.

It was Americana through and through.  It was an enforced 'jobs structure.'  Companies stayed and towns did well.  FDR was no fool.

The Labor Movement gets 'relief' from FDR.

Unemployment During the Great Depression

The Great Depression of 1929-1930 was a massive economic downturn, worldwide. The implications of the largest economic depression in the 20th century, included unemployment to an unprecedented scale...

 We have all seen this picture. 

Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother depicts destitute pea pickers during the depression in California, centering on Florence Owens' Thompson, a mother of seven children at age 32, March 1936.

FDR saw the Dust Bowl.  He had his environmental issues as well.

But, he was the People's President.  He wanted the USA 'back.'  And of course the much maligned "New Deal."  Will Social Security ever be safe under Republican influence?  Why would the citizens of the USA ever trust a Republican with that again?  Makes no sense.

At any rate, besides all the great legislation of FDR which was backed by a supportive Congress, he passed the National Labor Relations Act.

There it was.  The one federal law that would bring collective bargaining and union clout to a pinnacle. 

The Great Depression. How could a union survive this?

The stock market crash of October 1929 would leave the USA with an unemployment rate of 25%.

Besides lost union members, the members that remained fell on hard times trying to support more family than they had before and could not afford to pay their union dues.

Oddly enough, the unions did not rally behind the extremist that was over taking the populous movements.  They stood by until 1932 when "The Norris - La Guardia Anti-Injunction Act was passed.

President Herbert Hoover recognized the need for unions to protect workers more than ever and passed stringent laws against injunction laws during labor disputes.  These new laws would apply to the federal courts, but, many states would follow.  It gave a reassurance to the labor movement which gained the confidence of the American public and a nod from government to protect its laborers.

The Boston Telephone Strike of 1919

The cost of living was rising.  The average telephone worker's income was half that of a government clerk and about 65% of the average female industrial worker.

The 'thing' was this.  The New England Telephone Company had just raised it rates for what seemed no other reason, except, profit driven ambition.

Imagine that.

Julia O'Donnell, President of the Boston Telephone Operators' Union proposed a new wage scale.  Well, guess what?  It was rejected.

Go figure.

6000 Boston operators walked off the job, followed by 3000 operators throughout New England.  They shut it down.  The entire New England Telephone system was out.  Their strike was accompanied by every male plant worker as well.  Support was offered by the Cook and Waiters Union when they refused to serve any 'student' strikebreaker that was injured due to angry strikers.

Julia O'Donnell went on to become a national leader that was instrumental in bringing about fair wages for all telephone workers throughout the country.

Oh, the men that accompanied the women operators?

They received a thirty cent per day increase.  Remember now, this was 1919.  

Now that is the way to run a union !

Women, I am tellin' ya.  Women !

Not to be minimized. As time went on Public Education would become an integral part of the 'worth' of American Labor.

Horace Mann.  Of course, everyone has heard of him.  But, in case you haven't.  He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 to 1833.  He then was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1834 and hung out there until 1837.

He was the brother-in-law of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  (click here)  You'll remember him.  He wrote that racy romance novel called, "The Scarlet Letter."

But, Horace was an interesting guy.  He served as the Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education.  In 1848 he would enter the US House of Representatives.

Today, Horace is called "Father of the Common School Movement." 

His Massachusetts model would be adopted all over the country as a method to educate children into responsible citizens.

Oh, yeah.  The guy wasn't some 'knee jerk' reformist.  His first schools were to educate teachers.  Imagine that.  Before he could educate children he knew he had to have the teachers to do it.

With a Public School education the American Laborer would become the most valuable and most productive worker on Earth.

Social unrest has always accompanied severe economic conditions.

The Pullman Strike of June 26, 1894 was the first national strike in the history of the USA.

Here again over financing of the railroads caused insecurity in the markets.  As a result the railroad companies began to reduce wages.  

The first to cut wages was the Pullman Palace Car Company.  Many of the workers were members of the American Railway Union.  Back in the day, and at 'first breath' of an economic downturn for workers, there was strong loyalty that had built among union labor.  

The owner of Pullman refused to speak to the workers.  The union launched a boycott.  Within four days, 125,000 workers from 29 railroads had quit.  

There was a racial element that entered the game when African Americans were recruited to replace the union members.  

Of course, violence followed and there was mayhem at most union meetings. 

President Grover Cleveland would send in US Marshals and 12,000 US Army troops since it interfered with mail delivery.

Clarence Darrow entered the scene as one of the first attorney to defy the USA government.  He eventually gets conspiracy charges dropped against the union leader and he only serves six months for violating a court injunction.

So it was never easy to be a union leader.  They have a long history of being pursued by the federal government in one method or another.  And today, with companies being international corporations with large sums of income on the line on a daily basis, the unions are always receiving injunctions for their strikes to send them back to work.

Modern day unionism is more or less watered down in its ability to successfully conduct itself with strikes and opposition of unfair labor practices that leads to downsizing and outsourcing.  Modern Day USA has sincerely turned its back on laborers and sold out to Wall Street.

Today, when the Obama Administration sought to infuse the American economy with new labor jobs, there were dearly few manufacturing plants to produce trains, wind turbines and solar panels for the new energy economy.  Luckily, we have had some willing Governors rush to the forefront of 'seizing the moment' and recruited manufacturing into the USA.  Let's hope the trend continues in strongly Democratic states where American labor is still valued as the best in the world.

Oh, yeah, the Pullman strike.

Well, he was "W"rong.  He was capitalizing on every aspect of his employees lives.  The Illinois Supreme Court would divest Pullman of his 'company town' and it was annexed by Chicago.  It was declared Un-American.

Oh, George Pullman.  He was eventually buried in a lead lined and concrete vault to prevent any labor person from desecrating his body.  He was mostly hated.

Then came Mother Jones.

She was born in Ireland.  Mary Harris Jones was born to Freedom Fighters in Cork, Ireland.  She would  become known as Mother Jones.

Her father, Richard Harris, would immigrate to the USA to work on the railroad.  His work took him all the way to Canada where Mary would be raised after being brought to the USA from Ireland.

Her life would not be a simple or easy one.  She was educated as a teacher and began her teaching career in Michigan.  As time went by she would move to Chicago and work as a seamstress.  After traveling a bit to better her lot in life she eventually would marry and have four children.  

Through her spouse she was exposed to the labor movement and once stated, "The wife must care for what the husband cares for, if he is to remain resolute."

She would become the lone survivor of her family after Yellow Fever in 1867,  That wasn't all of it and in a way she is an example of the lack of compassion of a Plutocratic America.  She would return to Chicago and return to a dressmaking business which was burned to the ground during the Chicago Fire of 1871.  Again, for the second time in her life she would loss everything except her life.

She returned to dressmaking, but, also to a union movement.  

"By 1880," she said in The Autobigraphy of Mother Jones,
"I became wholly engrossed in the labor movement. In all the great industrial centers the working class was in rebellion. The enormous immigration from Europe crowded the slums, forced down wages and threatened to destroy the standard of living fought for by American working men."
She would participate in a violence ridden demonstration of American Labor called "The Haymarket Demonstration," to demand eight hour work days.  The demonstration would be marred by criminals hired by Pinkerton.  Bombs went off within the crowd, police attending the rally were killed.  Eventually some of the demonstrators would be arrested for the deaths and hanged because of it.

Mother Jones would not stop at that and she also went on to participate in organized rallies for the United Mine Workers.  It would be there she would find her most frequent place of involvement focusing on the high mortality rate of West Virginia mines in the years 1890 to 1912.  

She would become a focus of investigation and was declared a danger to the country after a demonstration when she marched with coal miners children.  She was arrested and convicted to conspire to commit murder and sentenced for 20 years.  She was 68 years old and in ill health.  Governor Henry D. Hatfield would pardon her and order an investigation into the deaths in the coal mines.  The Governor would go on to issue settlements in the coal strikes ordering nine hour days and the end of coal miner owernership of every aspect of the laborers lives, allowing them to shop freely for goods wherever they chose.

Mother Jones would die at the age of 83 and be buried in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois.

Mother Jones is testament to the voracity of the American Labor Movement and the dedication of its founders.

In actuality the price of labor would continue to be an issue for the aristocracy for millenium to come.

As a matter of fact, shortly after the famine the English Aristrocracy would be faced again with a waning labor force and a return of high wages with The Black Death.  

And these weren't mechanized jobs.  These were agricultural jobs.  The laborers really had the aristocracy by 'the balls.'  I mean do you actually think Edward was going to work in his fields?  Heck, no.  He'd go hunting for deer, but, pick up a hoe?  Never.  So the market came to bear and in some instances the common laborer got what he asked as their numbers dwindled.

See, if it weren't for modern medicine we might not be facing all these issues today when it comes to outsourcing.

In a way, health care legislation is indirectly helping the Plutocrats.

Oh, well.

Labor movements are as old and human nature itself.

King Edward III of England drew up Ordinance of Laborers, 1349 (click title to entry - thank you).

Poor Edward, literally, through stresses of famine among his people was short of laborers.  His tax revenue was fading because the Lords of his Kingdom had to pay handsomely for laborers.  

To reduce the labor cost to his Lords and increase the King's treasury, he drew up the Ordinance of Laborers of 1349.  

Heck of a way to become valuable as a laborer.  Survive a famine and ask a handsome price for your services.  


As with most movement for equality, the labor movement would begin with women in the early 1800s shortly after the Revolutionary War .

There were sweatshops in the USA as early as the 1800s.  Trade unions for men were not uncommon in Europe at this time.  But Europe was more developed economically, so their 'fairness and equality' movements began far earlier than in the USA.  Europe, however, would come to influence the laborers in the USA and give them a 'leg up' on organizing.

In Europe the unions would be called trade unions, but, throughout the region  and long before the 19th century the average village would have 'guilds' of trade practices.  The concept of 'guilds' still persists today in many of the arts.

It was mechanization that would bring about poverty while replacing laborers and cause society to re-examine its values and the value of human labor.  In the 19th Century organized labor unions would seek to protect only 5% of the workers in the USA.  That would hit an all time low after any economic depression as hungry people would gladly work for a mere existence.  So to say economic collapse for whatever reason it occurred isn't desirable by the wealthy is a gross misunderstanding of such events in history.

In time, labor unions would not only seek good wages for labor but also better working conditions.  After all what good was a fair wage if one's life wasn't valued enough to enjoy it.  The laborer would become the backbone of the American Middle Class and the primary driver to its consumer based economy.

Not very far behind the Civil War was the movement to change the face of 'fairness' in the USA.

Mine workers clash with soldiers during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 in Baltimore.

Large corporations could no longer have 'retained workers' to carry out labor intensive industries.
The Civil War was preceded by consciousness raising in the Antebellum Movement in the USA.  It was primarily viewed as a southern movement.  The Antebellum Movement spawned much sympathy for the poor and victimized.  It also carried forward a woman's movement which preserved equality of women and ownership of their own property rather than it becoming a possession of their spouse.

There were other religious movements that included such things as The Second Great Awakening.  All these consciousness raising movement brought a sense of fairness to the poor and eventually to labor.

The railroad strike lasted for 45 days and had to be broken up by local militias. It spanned many states and involved all the railroads that line the "Monopoly Game Map," including Reading, B&O and Pennsylvania.  

Citizens assisted striking rail workers and there was sincere unrest and mayhem over the fact the fiscally failing railroads cut the wages of workers for the second time in a short period of time.  Jay Cooke and Company was the major banking-investment firm at the time and the railroads required heavy investment to make it all happen.  The investment bank had failed and hence in retaliation of fiscal losses to investors the wages of workers were cut.

The losses of the railroad strike was significant.  Workers lost about $600,000 US and the railroads sustained losses into the millions.  

After the riots and strikes were suppressed, the sincere labor movement of organized unions began and collective bargaining began to take on a civilized face of 'organized labor' to insure the people of the country a good wage.

It's Sunday Night

"Workin for a living" by Huey Lewis and the news

Somedays won't end ever and somedays pass on by,
I'll be working here forever, at least until I die.
Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't
I'm supposed to get a raise week, you know damn well I won't.

Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin'
I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.

Hey I'm not complaining 'cause I really need the work
Hitting up my buddy's got me feeling like a jerk
Hundred dollar car note, two hundred rent.
I get a check on Friday, but it's all ready spent.

Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin'
I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.

Ooh, Workin' for a livin'
Ooh, taking what they giving
Ooh, Workin' for a livin'
Ooh, ooh

Bus boy, bartender, ladies of the night
Grease monkey, ex-junky, winner of the fight
Walking on the streets its really all the same
selling souls, rock n' roll, any other day

Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin' (workin')
Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin'
I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.

Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin'
I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin'.
Workin' for a livin', livin' and workin'

I like it. It is a vast improvement over the yellow stuff. I am really tired of the American press continually running this President into the ground.

I wish someone would have an interview with the First Lady to talk about the new digs for the Obama's Oval Office.

I like the warm, neutral colors.  I like beige and brown.  I helps highlight the flags and the outdoors in the windows.  

Really, really nice.  I was hoping President Obama was going to put his personal touch on the Oval Office.  It was done with a great deal of reverence to our heritage and I am very proud of the initiative to place so many wonderful words within the close proximity of a great President.

There is no misquotes on the President's rug.  Martin Luther King, Jr. is attributed in stating the words,  "The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Toward Justice."

I know it seems a little silly to rely on a 'bumper sticker' but the quote made by King is a populous issue as well. 

It is referenced in the book below in Chapter 5.   Dr. King quoted many sources of inspiration, including the Bible.  I would not be surprised if he quoted another minister while making his own statements regarding Civil Rights.  I also believe President Obama has stated those words in some of his speeches.   

Beyond Political Liberalism: Toward a Post-Secular Ethics of Public Life [Paperback], authored by Trop Dostert. 

So, Jamie Stiehm of The Washington Post owes the Obama White House a sincere apology and should be suspended from "The Post" for his angry and arrogant assessment of a beautiful decor change to the Oval Office.