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Denver Newspaper Guild Website Has Moved

27 Apr

The Denver Newspaper Guild website has moved to denvernewspaperguild.org. Hope to see you there.

Los Links | Unions: The End is Nigh

25 Jan

IN CASE YOU missed it, unions are in their death throes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing in 2012 union membership declined by 400,000 to 14.3 million workers, or 11.3 percent of the workforce, down from 11.8 percent in 2011.

That the decline that began in the 1950s is continuing isn’t really earth-shattering news.

A collection of somewhat random links and snippets:

Share of the Work Force in a Union Falls to a 97-Year Low, 11.3% | The New York Times

Labor specialists cited several reasons for the steep one-year decline in union membership. Among the factors were new laws that rolled back the power of unions in Wisconsin, Indiana and other states, the continued expansion by manufacturers like Boeing and Volkswagen in nonunion states and the growth of sectors like retail and restaurants, where unions have little presence.

Al Lewis: America hates unions more than CEOs | The Denver Post

Americans hate organized labor, but somehow they do not hate organized management.

As the labor unions have declined, professional corporate managers have formed increasingly powerful guilds of their own. They belong to elite groups, such as the Business Roundtable or the Trilateral Commission, to name a couple. Many are even having a little cabal in Davos, Switzerland this week.

Raw Data: The Union Premium | Mother Jones

To give you an idea of what this means in real-life terms, here’s the latest data on the difference in wages between unionized and nonunionized workers.

Was the decline of American unions inevitable? Not if you ask Canada | The Washington Post

Between the 1920s and 1960s, both countries saw a similar surge in union membership, thanks to changes in labor law and the growth of sectors ripe for organizing, such as automobile manufacturing. But around 1965, something changed. The two countries diverged. Union membership held steady in Canada, but plummeted in the United States.

Labor Unions: Declining Membership Shows Labor Laws Need Modernizing | The Heritage Foundation

Such sharp drops in union membership indicate that U.S. labor laws are out of step with the modern economy. Traditional unions no longer appeal to workers the way they did two generations ago. Outdated restrictions in labor laws are now seen as holding back both employers and employees.

If Labor Dies, What’s Next? | The American Prospect

For many Americans, the death of labor would doubtless seem the natural order of things, the dinosaur finally shuffling off to the graveyard. Unions have no presence in the hottest and hippest sectors of the economy, in high-tech, fashion, and finance. The public’s image of labor is a memory of a memory that’s anywhere from 50 to 100 years old—the Yiddish- and Italian-speaking seamstresses of the Lower East Side, the goons in On the Waterfront, and, for the historically sentient, George Meany puffing a cigar and damning the Vietnam peaceniks.

It doesn’t seem to matter that these images don’t conform to present reality. Today, there are millions more unionized teachers than unionized truckers. Of the six unions with more than a million members, two are headed by lesbians and one by an African American, a level of diversity in these troglodytic institutions not to be found on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley.

But labor’s anachronistic image persists, and for a reason: It stubbornly represents blue-collar workers long after they’ve gone out of style and their numbers have diminished. It speaks for autoworkers and steelworkers, for the cutting-edge industries of 1935. To the young, even to most campus activists, unions are a holdover from their great-grandparents’ generation, speaking a language as incomprehensible as Old English: solidarity, shop stewards, seniority, strikes. Where are unions in the new economy? Can a union do anything for a temp? A part-timer? A software writer? A barista? Will anyone under 30—will anyone over 30—even notice if unions cease to be?

Perhaps not. But everyone will notice the consequences. Absent a substantial union movement, the American middle class will shrink. Absent a substantial union movement, the concentration of wealth will increase. Absent a substantial union movement, the corporate domination of government will grow.

Union Membership In America Continues Its Long Decline | Business Insider

But if you’re thinking about this like an economist, you may be thinking, a) we can’t support these union premiums in a competitive, global economy, and b) the declines in unionization I bemoan here must be associated with more job creation, right? We’re squeezing out an inefficient market interference and thus moving down a demand curve, getting workers’ wages more aligned with their efficient market wage and thus generating more jobs.

I disagree. There are many other advanced economies with far more union coverage that are extremely competitive—more so than we are.

Unions, inequality, and faltering middle-class wages | Economic Policy Institute

If we want the fruits of economic growth to benefit the vast majority, we will have to adopt a different set of guideposts for setting economic policy, as the ones in place over the last several decades have served those with the most income, wealth, and political power. Given unions’ important role in setting standards for both union and nonunion workers, we must ensure that every worker has access to collective bargaining.

The Data | Bureau of Labor Statistics

And since you made it this far you deserve a song. Hint: It’s from the Simpsons.

Cleveland Plain Dealer to Slash Newsroom Staff by One-Third

5 Dec

Plain Dealer

OWNERS OF THE Cleveland Plain Dealer have announced plans to gut the newsroom staff by one-third — 58 positions from a newsroom of 168. The number of days the paper is published might be cut, too.

If that playbook sounds familiar, it should — the owner is Advance Publications, the same outfit that laid off some 600 people at the New Orleans Times Picayune and its three papers in Alabama, and ended daily publication.

[After Advance announced that plan, Digital First CEO John Paton wrote “In Defense of the Times-Picayune.”]

Staff at the Plain Dealer knew cuts were coming and started a “Save the Plain Dealer” campaign | Facebook page. There also is an online petition at change.org.

In a post on the Facebook page, organizers of the campaign say:

Friends and supporters, we wanted to let you know that The Plain Dealer has told the Guild it plans to reduce the number of Guild members in the newsroom to 110 next year. Guild members are the heart of the paper. They report, photograph, copyedit, design, draw, create graphics, archive information, edit and so much more. The reductions, which represent about 1/3 of our membership, would be devastating to the news-gathering operation.

One a Day Keeps Ignorance at Bay

Christine Haughney wrote a good piece about the Plain Dealer’s situation in the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog, including this hoppy tidbit:

Among the more lively efforts to stave off a reduction in the print schedule is a “Save The Plain Dealer” party planned for Thursday night at the Market Garden Brewery and Distillery. The brewery is releasing a new beer, 7-Day Lager, which it says is “best when enjoyed daily, because one a day keeps ignorance at bay.”

The Guild is Looking for a Few Good Stewards

29 Nov

A ONE DAY training session for current union stewards and those who would like to become a steward is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Communication Workers of America District 7 office at 8085 E. Prentice Ave. in Greenwood Village (I-25 and Belleview Avenue). Lost-time pay will be available for anyone wishing to attend the training.

If you are interested in attending, please contact the Denver Newspaper Guild office at 303-595-9818 or dng@denvernewspaperguild.org by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

From the FAQs section of the DNG website:

What is a Steward?
Stewards are employees who volunteer their help to make sure the contract is followed. They do this by answering your questions, helping you find solutions to problems and representing you in meetings with your managers. Wondering what your rights and responsibilities are? Check with a steward. They should be your first contact if you have a problem on the job.

When Should I Ask a Steward to Represent Me?
You have the right to have a steward present at any meeting that could affect your relationship with the company — whether it is a disciplinary meeting or not. If a manager asks to speak with you in private, ask a steward to go with you. Why? Not because you can’t stand up for yourself, but because a steward standing beside you makes you a stronger employee, one who won’t be taken advantage of, intimidated, or treated inappropriately. A steward also can help you and your manager work out solutions to problems. Managers know you have the right to a steward, and cannot prevent you from exercising that right. You will find that encounters with managers are far more fair and productive when a steward is present. If you go into a manager’s office alone, it’s your word against theirs if any information from that meeting sparks an issue.

For more information on union stewards, click here.

A Race To The Bottom

2 Jul

From theatlantic.com

Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.

— Molly Ivins

Turning Our Backs on Unions
In his New York Times column, Joe Nocera writes about The Great Divergence, a book about income inequality by Timothy Noah. Noah makes the argument that the decline in middle-class wages corresponds with the decline in union membership. Noah writes, “Draw one line on a graph charting the decline in union membership, then superimpose a second line charting the decline in middle-class income share, and you will find that the two lines are nearly identical.” Nocera writes that this makes perfect sense — “company managements don’t pay workers any more than they have to.”

In their heyday, unions represented a countervailing force that could extract money for its workers that helped keep them in the middle class. Noah notes that a JPMorgan economist calculated that the majority of increased corporate profits between 2000 and 2007 were the result of “reductions in wages and benefits.”

Labor’s Decline and Wage Inequality
Last year in the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse wrote about a study that tied the decline in union influence to an increase in wage inequality. The study’s authors also assert “that the decline of organized labor held down wages in union and nonunion workplaces alike.”

The study noted that from 1973 to 2007, union membership in the private sector dropped to 8 percent from 34 percent among men and to 6 percent from 16 percent among women. During that time, wage inequality in the private sector increased by more than 40 percent, the study found.

Dems Go AWOL in Class War
In a piece for Politico that appeared in an abridged version on the Post’s opinion pages Sunday, Jonathan Martin writes the decline in populism can be tied in part to the decline of organized labor, and asks, “What the hell ever happened to populism in the Democratic Party?”

Populism — with its rowdy zeal to brawl against economic elites on behalf of the working classes — was for decades the party’s defining cause. … In language that highlights the tameness of contemporary class warfare, FDR railed against “economic royalists” and the “forces of organized greed,” and, of his business opponents, he gloated, “I welcome their hatred.”

Lastly, here’s a table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows median wages by occupation for union and nonunion workers. In 2011, union workers in “arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations” had median wages that were nearly 30 percent higher than their nonunion counterparts.

Bring Back The 40-Hour Work Week

19 Mar

THIS COURTESY OF Jim Ludvik …

From Salon.com, March 14:

If you’re lucky enough to have a job right now, you’re probably doing everything possible to hold onto it. If the boss asks you to work 50 hours, you work 55. If she asks for 60, you give up weeknights and Saturdays, and work 65.

Odds are that you’ve been doing this for months, if not years, probably at the expense of your family life, your exercise routine, your diet, your stress levels and your sanity. You’re burned out, tired, achy and utterly forgotten by your spouse, kids and dog. But you push on anyway, because everybody knows that working crazy hours is what it takes to prove that you’re “passionate” and “productive” and “a team player” — the kind of person who might just have a chance to survive the next round of layoffs.

This is what work looks like now. It’s been this way for so long that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.

>snip<

The most essential thing to know about the 40-hour work-week is that, while it was the unions that pushed it, business leaders ultimately went along with it because their own data convinced them this was a solid, hard-nosed business decision.

>snip<

These were the early morning-in-America Reagan years. The unions — for 150 years, the guardians of the 40-hour week — were falling under a conservative onslaught; and in their place, the new cult of the entrepreneur was ascendant. All the old paternalistic contracts between employers and employees were torn up. Where companies once hoped to hire people young and nurture their careers through to a pensioned retirement — a lifelong relationship that required managers to take the long view about how to keep their workforces sustainably healthy and happy — young Gen Xers were being given a 401k and told to expect to change jobs every three to five years. Even while employers were demanding new levels of “passion” and commitment, they were also abdicating their old obligation to look after the long-term well-being of their employees.

>snip<

The original short-work movement in 19th-century Britain demanded “eight for work, eight for sleep and eight for what we will.” It’s still a formula that works.

>MORE