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All People Matter

Labor Day History And Facts—Labor Day In 2011 Is September 5

Labor Day for 2011 is Monday, September 5.

All work merits respect. We should treat all working people with respect. How we treat our fellow working people is a mirror of the extent to which we respect ourselves.

A good way to treat working people with respect on Labor Day is to tip at a time-and-a-half rate if you eat out or ride in a taxi or do anything else that normally merits a tip on this upcoming Labor Day. People workng on Labor day merit the same time-and-a-half rate of pay that you would expect for working a holiday.

( The picture above of people working at sea was taken by Danny Cornelissen for the portpictures.nl website.)

Here is a history of Labor Day from the U.S. Department of Labor.

From that history–

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our countryMore than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

File:Construction worker.jpeg

Here is the web home of the AFL-CIO.

Here is an American labor movement history timeline from the AFL-CIO.

Here is a series of article from the liberal magazine The American Prospect about where American workers stand today, and what can be done to improve how working people are treated in our nation.

Here is a history of women in the American labor union from New York State United Teachers. 

Here is a history of black Americans and the labor movement.  

The history of labor in the United States is your history. Work is the time and effort of your life. We need the wages and benefits we earn at work to be able to live decent lives.

There is also an International Labor Day.  International Labor Day, or May Day, marks the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886. Please click here to learn more about the Haymarket Riots and the Haymarket Trial.

Respect for working people involves understanding that the goods you buy must be sold for a fair price if the people who make and sell those goods are to receive a decent wage and good benefits. Selling goods at a fair price also helps your own employer stay in business.

Respect for working people does not stop at the American border. Cheap goods we purchase in America are often produced by underpaid and poorly treated workers in other nations.

Labor Day is, for many at least, a time to get a break from work.

It is also a time to reflect upon what it means to be a working person at a time when the rights of workers—to the extent they exist at all—are under ceaseless strain.

( Photo above by Holger Hubbs.)

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cactus Reads Art Book—Two Texas Regional Artists Of Note

Blogger’s Note—Because I have some other projects I want to take on, I’ll be offering up shorter and more formulaic posts for the remainder of August. These posts will still be quite good and will merit your visiting the blog each day. Yet at the same time, shorter posts will allow me time to accomplish other objectives. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

Book Of The Day— Cactus is reading American Realism by Edward Lucie-Smith. This book has Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler and more. There is also an interesting chapter on American regional realist art that goes beyond Grant Wood and gets into some New Deal-era Texas artists, such as Jerry Bywaters and Alexandre Hogue, who merit attention in Texas and beyond.

Link Of The Day–The liberal magazine American Prospect is marking 20 years of great reporting. Check out the magazine and consider becoming a subscriber. I’m a subscriber because everything just can’t be for free online.  Content takes money to produce.

Texas Link Of The Day—  Below you’ll find the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance blogger round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

The Round-up—

Off the Kuff continued his interview series with Congressional candidate Ted Ankrum and State Representatives Senfronia Thompsonand Garnet Coleman.

Staggering levels of formaldehyde in Barnett Shale air and the attempted cover up, breaking news by TXsharon on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS. Continue reading

August 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are American Workers Overpaid?—We Need To Find A Viable Economic Future

A recent New York Times story suggests that the wages Americans earn for manufacturing work may have to decline as much as 20% to remain competitive with global rivals.

From the story—

“Of course, workers in the United States should earn more than their peers in China, Moldova or Vietnam. Americans take advantage of the higher productivity that makes their country rich: better education and infrastructure, abundant capital and a strong work ethic. But how much higher should American wages be? The answer depends in large part on two measures: the difference in productivity in making goods that can be traded across borders, and the quantity of such goods. Both measures point to a narrowing wage gap. Many factors are raising productivity in poor countries. Fast development, cheap capital and more efficient shipping all help. Cheap communication via the Internet reduces costs and makes it easy to trade many more goods and especially services.The global wage gap has been narrowing, but recent labor market statistics in the United States suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.

One indicator is unemployment, which has risen unexpectedly rapidly. The 7.3 million jobs lost are more than triple the 2 million during the 1980-82 recession. Some of that huge increase reflects the sharp decline in gross domestic product, but there could be another factor: the recession shows that many workers are paid more than they’re worth. Another possible sign is the huge surge in reported productivity, which has begun while output is declining. That suggests that some production is being outsourced, often to lower-paid foreign workers.

The big trade deficit is another sign of excessive pay for Americans. One explanation for the attractive prices of imported goods is that American workers are paid too much relative to their foreign peers.

Global wage convergence is great for the poor but tough on the overpaid. It’s possible to run the numbers to show that American manufacturing workers should take average real wage cuts of as much as 20 percent to get into global balance. The required cut may be smaller. But if American wages get stuck above global market-clearing levels, as in the 1930s, the result could well be something approaching Depression-era levels of unemployment. Anything would be better than that. Both moderate inflation to cut real wages and a further drop in the dollar’s real trade-weighted value might be acceptable.”

It is hard to look at the future and see good prospects for the average American worker. Most folks are never going to be able to find jobs in “knowledge industries” or whatever term is used at the moment to denote jobs for the relative articulate and skilled few in a country that has no real interest in educating all people. Why would our elite pay the taxes needed to create competitors for their children for the shrinking supply of good jobs? Where would a fully educated workforce find jobs?

This fact of a hard-pressed American labor force is one of many reasons the health care reform “debate” is so maddening. Where do people think they are going to find good benefits in the future? If government does not help provide good health insurance, where do people think it will come from as employers cut back?

The American Prospect, a liberal magazine of politics and views, has a series of articles that discuss the role regulation,  organizing by workers, and sound public policy can play in helping maintain a supply of good jobs in our country.

Regardless of one’s politics, how can anybody in this country look at the economic future and feel hopeful about the path ahead? The issue is not people in other countries who have a right to decent lives no different from anyone in the United States. The issue is what we do as working people here in America to make sure that we have  a viable future in a changing world.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Links To Learn About Ted Kennedy And The Causes He Supported

Here are links to help recall the life of Senator Ted Kennedy and to look ahead to the battles still to be fought and won.

(Above–Ted Kennedy running for the Senate in 1962.)

Here is the link to Senator Kennedy’s official government website

Tedkennedy.org is a good memorial site.   

Ted Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 46 years. Here is the link to the Art & History page of the U.S. Senate web home. If you look around, you’ll learn a lot. It’s a site to bookmark and visit many times.

Health care was Senator Kennedy’s leading cause. Here is the White House Health care reform web home. President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress must keep faith with Senator Kennedy’s lifelong work for health care for all. 

Here is the web page of Physicians for A National Health Program.  This group supports single payer national health insurance. This is the public option that has been in the news.

Here is Senator Kennedy’s obituary in the New York Times.

Here is coverage of Senator Kennedy’s passing in his hometown Boston Globe.

The American Prospect and The Nation are good liberal magazines. These magazines are strong resources to learn about many of the causes Senator Kennedy fought for and to renew your own commitment to political liberalism. 

To win the fights still to come, we need leaders like Senator Kennedy and we need the hard work of average citizens.  

( Below–Senator Kennedy in the 1990’s.)

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dry Cleaner Loses Three Days Wages Due To Hurricane—Where Is Her Bailout?

My dry cleaner told me that she a few days of wages after Hurricane Ike because her shop was closed due to a lack of power. And, also, because the owners of the shop decided not to pay her.

Many people in Houston and in other areas affected by Hurricane Ike have lost wages due to the storm.  ( Some benefits are in fact available to people in this circumstance. Though they will not make up all lost wages. Also, most people will not, in all likelihood, be aware of such benefits.)

The dry cleaner is a hard working employee who makes sure people’s clothes are clean. When she told me she was not being paid for missed hurricane days, I immediately thought of the giant Wall Street Bailout currently under debate in Washington.

I, regretfully, support the bailout is some form. Here is a liberal take on the issue from The American Prospect. And another liberal view from The Nation. Here is coverage of the bailout from The Huffington Post.

A big problem with it all, beyond the people we are bailing out, is that you can’t trust anything that comes from President Bush’s team and you can barely trust Democrats to protect the interests of average folks.

The whole thing is a big racket and people on every side of the ideological divide see it as such.  We might well save the global economy from collapse—so we are being told—but nothing here is going to make the lives of people across the country better than it was before this 700 billion dollar taxpayer financed deal.

We see that when the big guys fall they are picked up. When most working people take a fall they are not just left to pick themselves up, there is often somebody around kicking them while they are down.

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments