100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

A couple of decades ago I was a delegate for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)…..a union organizer and activist…..and back in the early years of the 20th century when labor was starting to organize to help workers and their lives…….labor is still as despised as it was make in the day on difference is they use political games instead of baseball bats to defeat the movement…….back in the beginning  there was an organizer named Joe Hill….

In 1902, after the death of his parents, Joe and his brother Paul immigrated to America where they expected to “scrape gold off the ground.” After working various jobs in New York City, Joe moved to Chicago and found work in a machine shop. Shortly thereafter, he was fired from his job and blacklisted for attempting to organize the workers. As a result, Joel Haaglund changed his name to Joe Hill. He traveled extensively around the country before joining the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in San Pedro, California in 1910.

Joe quickly became immersed in the IWW and devoted his life to the “awakening of ‘illiterates’ and ‘scum’ to an original, personal conception of society and the realization of the dignity and rights of their part in it.” He wrote songs like “The Preacher and the Slave” and “Casey Jones – the Union Scab” to inspire solidarity in the ranks of the IWW and to recruit new members. He encouraged a “conscientious withdrawal of efficiency,” which was not a call for violence, but rather a sprinkle of sand in the workings of machinery, and, more specifically, the efforts of non-union friendly employers.

In 1914, on his way from California to Chicago, Hill stopped to earn some money in the Utah mines. There he encountered three friends who he had met while working in San Pedro: Otto Applequist and the Eselius Brothers. Edward and John Eselius allowed Joe to live at their house as a guest. Otto Applequist was one of Joe’s closest friends and may have been involved in the alleged murder of the Morrison’s. Joe Hill was eventually convicted of murdering John and Arling Morrison, and took his last breath in Utah before the firing squad. His trip to Chicago was eventually completed – in a casket.

There many things that Joe Hill teaches the labor movement……things that can be applied today….things that would make the American worker more important than they are today……

Source: 100 years later: 5 timeless lessons from Joe Hill

Never Too Young

America has had a proud tradition of fighting against child labor…….especially in the early years of the 20th century……but in case my reader needs a reminder…….

1904 National Child Labor Committee forms……… Aggressive national campaign for federal child labor law reform begins

1916 New federal law sanctions state violators……. First federal child labor law prohibits movement of goods across state lines if minimum age laws are violated (law in effect only until 1918, when it’s declared unconstitutional, then revised, passed, and declared unconstitutional again)

1924 First attempt to gain federal regulation fails……….. Congress passes a constitutional amendment giving the federal government authority to regulate child labor, but too few states ratify it and it never takes effect

1936 Federal purchasing law passes Walsh-Healey Act ………..states U.S. government will not purchase goods made by underage children

1937 Second attempt to gain federal regulation fails…………. Second attempt to ratify constitutional amendment giving federal government authority to regulate child labor falls just short of getting necessary votes

1937 New federal law sanctions growers Sugar Act makes sugar beet growers ineligible for benefit payments if they violate state minimum age and hours of work standards

1938 Federal regulation of child labor achieved in Fair Labor Standards Act……… For the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.

I know….thanks for the history lesson but why bring all this up?  I read some news the other day that made me think about the history I just wrote about………

Children are toiling in unsafe conditions, suffering everything from breathing problems to vomiting, and putting in 12-hour days and 72-hour weeks. Think we’re talking a third-world sweatshop? It’s what’s happening right now on US tobacco farms, Human Rights Watch alleges in a report today. The group spoke to 141 tobacco farm workers aged 7 to 17, and found that many came in bare-skin contact with tobacco plants. That can cause acute nicotine poisoning—and indeed, 66% of those polled reported symptoms consistent with that, including dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

“On the first day when I was working [chemicals] got on my face a lot and I didn’t know until I got home later that my face was burning,” one 13-year-old worker tells the BBC. US labor laws protecting child laborers have exceptions for agricultural jobs, the group explains, allowing children of any age to work the fields, and those 12 and older to work unlimited hours. An attempt to change that for tobacco farms died in 2012. HRW shared its findings with tobacco producers, and most expressed concern. Philip Morris, which has the toughest child labor policy, tells Reuters that it believes there’s an opportunity to impose an industry-wide standard. The complete report is here.

Child labor is something we here in the US condemn 3rd world countries for allowing to exist…..it is not something that needs to be watched in our country, right?

There was a time and a place when child labor could have made some sense…..but today a child needs to be educated….not working his ass off in some field.

Labor For Life

In my younger more impetuous days I was a labor organizer and since then I am always reading about the movement and trying to decide where it is going in this country…….

In modern politics the word labor and unions are dirty words in conservative circles……..this institution has been blamed for all sorts of woes…it has been blamed for a wide array of situations from the high cost of cars to poor educational performance to the unwanted outcome of elections…..in short…..unions are the anti-Christ in some corners.

The perfectly executed character assassination of unions has, in my opinion, has lead to a weakening of labor’s position in the workplace which in turn has slowly fueled the demise of the middle class….

Fast forward to this week……the ‘big story’ has been the union vote in a VW plant in Tennessee on whether to unionize or not….BTW the union lost out in that vote…..they voted to NOT unionize…….

The obvious loser in last week’s failed bid to unionize the Volkswagen auto plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the United Auto Workers. The union was counting on a victory at the German-owned plant, which stayed officially neutral in the unionizing effort but hinted it welcomed a platform for organizing other plants in the South.

But the vote — and the forces that had arrayed themselves against the UAW — could also represent a setback for the economy and blue- and white-collar employees, a number of auto-industry and economic experts suggested.

U.S. management and labor organizations have battled each other —with both sides wasting resources in the process — ever since Frederick Winslow Taylor used his “scientific” methods a century ago to de-skill and control production workers, explained James P. Womack, founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and a co-author of “The Machine That Changed The World.” For Womack, the acrimonious fight and vote in Chattanooga was part of a historical continuum that has often hobbled U.S. industry, especially in the face of international competitors who embraced much more collaborative approaches to management.

My personal opinion was that it would not succeed in unionizing the plant….after all it is in the South and Right To Work is strong in the region…….so was the vote a big win for VW?  I thought so until I read another article shortly after the vote…….

The head of Volkswagen’s General Works Councils in Germany is threatening to block any further investment in the southern United States, Reuters reports, after workers at VW’s Chattanooga plant voted against union representation. “I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the South again,’ Bernd Osterloh said. “We as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of one. Osterloh blames US conservatives for stirring up “massive anti-union sentiments.” He serves on a 20-member supervisory board split evenly between workers and management that could block future investments unless Chattanooga gets a German-style workers’ council. VW would still like to create a council without the United Auto Workers union, the New York Times reports, but legal experts say that might violate federal laws against company-controlled worker groups. Some anti-UAW workers have offered to set up an alternative union to get around the problem.

An interesting turn of the screw, right?  With all that info in hgand, who would you say was the big winner in this situation?

Please throwing your hat into this conversation.  I would like to have as many thoughts as possible……

Income Inequality

It seems that the more the term is used the more it is becoming the latest buzz term….a dog whistle for the Left…..the Left?  I am so tired of that term!  There is NO one in Washington that is on the Left.  At best the ass clowns are solidly in the middle….with that said I will move on……

For the last couple of months the term “income inequality” has been batted around and used for talking points……..but is any of this going to do any good?  Or is it just something to talk about until a bigger news story breaks?

Any way….the prez has jumped onto the subject……

President Obama raised this issue yesterday in a speech to a progressive audience so I think it’s a worthy topic for discussion. In the President’s view, income inequality and disparity are issues which only the government can “solve” by some sort of redistribution scheme. However, the President offered no specifics, he only encouraged congress to […]

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As an old hippie commie pinko and about a hundred other adjective that people used in the past to describe me and people like me………I have been bitching about income inequality for decades…..usually to deaf ears until recently…….there seems to be a growing concern over something that has plagued American workers for years……but what if anything will be the answer to solving the problem?  I have a plan but NO one will like it…….and then I will once again be bombarded with the insults on my political beliefs…..cool, huh?

Hire The Elderly PSA

On occasion I do what I consider a public service post….this is one.

I am an old fart and retired…..there are times I wish I could work but the accident with Katrina left me all but lame……I know I have several retired followers and some may want to work and they may not know just how to go about it…..the Week came up with a good list and I want to share it with my readers……it is an issue that not much is said…….we are aged not dead!

1. Don’t … try harder
You read that right. Don’t.

If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while, with little or no success, you may have heard this platitude: Just try harder! But according to Bob Sullivan, co-author of The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck to Success, it’s actually the worst thing that you can do in this situation.

“When you find yourself putting more and more effort into something that’s getting less and less results, it’s not a sign that you should keep trying — it’s just the opposite,” says Sullivan. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should stop putting in effort altogether. Rather, you should try something different, whether it’s re-vamping your LinkedIn profile, networking more consistently, or working with a career coach to more effectively bust through a job-hunt rut.

2. Do … make your resume ageless
Lisa Johnson Mandell was in her late 40s when she suddenly found herself without a job. Although she made sure to show off her 20-plus years of experience as an entertainment reporter on her résumé, after countless job applications went unanswered, her husband gave her the hard truth. “He said, ‘Lisa, don’t hate me, but you really look kind of old on paper,’ ” she recalls.

So Mandell removed key age indicators from her resume, such as the year she graduated from college and the lengths of time that she was employed. “As soon as I sent out this new résumé that wouldn’t tell anybody how old I was, I started getting responses — I’m not kidding you — within 20 minutes,” she says. “And, in two weeks, I had three full-time job offers.”

The result wasn’t just a new gig, either — she also wrote a book, Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want, in which she shares strategies for giving a resume a more youthful spin. “Somebody in their 20s looks at 20-plus years of experience and puts you in the same age group as a mother or grandmother,” she says. Of course, in an ideal world, experience should trump age, but Mandell adds that “if you’re really intent on getting a job, you have to make concessions.”

3. Do … brush up on your interview skills
If you haven’t interviewed in a long time, you could probably use some practice. Instead of role-playing with a too-comfortable friend, try going on a few interviews for jobs that you aren’t as jazzed about “because what you don’t want is to go on an interview for the job that you most want and screw up,” explains Art Koff, founder of RetiredBrains.com, which connects older workers with employers. “Every interview is a learning process.”

You may also want to record yourself speaking. It’s a tip that David Welbourn received while making a career switch at the age of 59 from a fundraising post at a hospital to a director role at a nonprofit. His advice: “Listen to your own voice, and ask yourself: Do I have enough emotion? Do I sound like I care?”

4. Don’t … write off temporary or part-time work
“Employers are particularly receptive to hiring the over-50 set on a part-time, temporary or project basis,” says Koff. “The employers get experienced, reliable employees, and in most cases, they don’t have to pay benefits for these positions, making these workers cost-effective.”

Koff even advises reaching out to a company that you admire and offering to work on a part-time, trial basis. “It gives you a little bit of a leg up because the employer can then say, ‘We can hire this guy, and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll let him go,’ ” he says.

In fact, that’s exactly how Evelyn Wolovnick found her way back into the workforce after being laid off from her job at an insurance company at the age of 59. After writing a few letters to companies suggesting that they hire her on a temporary basis, she landed a part-time consulting gig with a business in Chicago. Wolovnick signed the six-month contract six years ago — and she’s still happily employed.

5. Do … start a blog
Blogging about your field will help alleviate younger hiring managers’ concerns about your tech-savviness, advises Mandell. “It shows that you’re web savvy and that you’re up-to-the-minute in your field,” she says. “If you’re blogging about the latest advancements going on in your field, potential employers will say, ‘Wow, this person is really current.’ ”

6. Do … give yourself a makeover
Mandell often advises older job seekers to make an effort to look younger, like dying gray hair or shaving your head to disguise balding. “It sounds kind of vacuous, but it really can make a difference,” she says.

Welbourn received similar advice during his job hunt. “Somebody mentioned to me that I should get my teeth whitened, and dress a little less formally,” he recalls. “It doesn’t show a lack of understanding of the corporate culture — it shows confidence in being able to be a little informal with people in an informal setting.”

7. Don’t … ignore alternative ways to make money
There are a number of things that you can do on the side to earn money while you look for more permanent employment, such as freelancing in your field or even participating in market research surveys. “If you’re working a 30-hour side gig, we’re talking about making anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 on a monthly basis,” Koff says.

There’s also an added bonus to this approach: If you’re forced to step away from a full-time job, you may stumble onto something different — and even more lucrative. Koff recalls the story of one man who, after being laid off in his 50s, said to his wife, “After all these years, I’m going to finally clean out my garage.” He did such a great job that he now operates a garage-cleaning company that staffs five employees!

8. Do … view your age as an asset
While working with New Directions, a company that provides career transition training, Welbourn learned how he could differentiate himself from younger competition. “I got wonderful coaching about how to make the case for myself not as an older person,” he says, “but as an experienced individual who was less likely to be fooled by situations, and someone with a good track record of success.”

I have done #5 and now I wait for the offers to come pouring in…..I jest…..any thoughts or additions that I have missed?