Friday, 27 May 2005

Whence the Labor Movement?

"The labor movement isn't dying, it's being murdered"
So said Rose Ann DeMoro in her interview this week on PBS' NOW. DeMoro related the fallout from Schwartzenegger's recent attempt to suspend a rule slated to take effect at the beginning of this year establishing a ratio of one nurse for every five patients in California hospitals. The California Nurses Association's response has been instrumental in Schwarzenegger's plummetting approval ratings.

Earlier on the show, David Brancaccio reviewed the history of the hard won successes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida to force Taco Bell and its parent company Yum to finally play a role in enforcing humane treatment and fair pay for migrant workers.

Both stories show that in spite of the war the right has been waging on the labor movement both in buying governmental favors for business and in selling the public a narrow perception of labor causes, gritty perseverence can eventually pay dividends in the direction of dignity for hard working laborers who society relies on but often fails to respect.

Consumers can play a role here. Let's not let the pendulum swing all the way back to the pre-labor dawn of the industrial age.

1 comment:

mickh said...

Maybe I watch way to much TV and need to get a life, but these two stories on NOW and last nights story on Nightline has left me conflicted in several ways.

The easy one for me was on the Nurses, what a great story. I feel they were being put down by governor Schwarzenegger and it was great to see them fight back. I agree we need a strong union but I also feel like some of the unions have lost focus and what their role should be…THE WORKERS. Instead it’s all politics all the time.

The CIW’s struggle was an inspiring story of what people can do if they fight back with honest and fair and lawful debate. I was really inspired by this story too and have decided to do some follow up and write emails to McDonalds, Burger King and the rest. It may not help but who know it can’t hurt.

The story on Nightline was really amazing. A bunch of high school kids won a national engineering competition last year against several colleges, including what might be considered the mother of all engineering universities: M.I.T in a submersible robotic contest. These were all high school kids of undocumented immigrants living in this Arizona town and going to a west Phoenix high school.

It was a great story. It now has caused me to do some rethinking about the problem of our unsecured boarder. I’m for securing them but I don’t know what the answer is for the people that are here in this country NOW. Many are just hard working people that want a life for their families and kids. I need to do some more thinking.

Or maybe watch some more TV.