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Oklahoma pushes yet again for 'right to work' legislation.

The facts about Bush's tax cuts are being kept from the public.

Courtney Love's plea to fellow recording artists
to join her in the creation of a new musicians' guild, printed below,
is the latest blow to the beleaguered "Big Five

Finally, President Bush is "deeply worried" about the economy. Yep, in remarks last week, he even went so far as to observe that "the recovery is very slow in coming."

Nothing in modern times has symbolized the scourge of racism--and the potential for overcoming it--more than South Africa's recent history.

John Sweeney sees the AFL-CIO through some growing pains.

Unions know what has to be done. Now they have to do it.

When The Red Queen boasts in Through the Looking-Glass that in her country, "it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place," she could have been talking about today's labor movement. To turn their long slide into a winning streak, unions need to add millions of new members each year. The terrain seems only to get more treacherous, with a White House in thrall to business assaulting labor at every turn, a worldwide economic slowdown, increasing layoffs and plant closings, growing economic inequality.

But hold the sympathy cards. As various reports in this special Labor Day issue attest, unions have been organizing more boldly and effectively in recent years, making inroads into new constituencies, like immigrants, and opening up the once-scorned service sector. Election 2000 aside, more adept political organizing has boosted the union-household share of the electorate from 19 percent in 1992 to 26 percent in 2000. Unions have forged promising new alliances with students, religious communities, anti-WTO activists and environmentalists. There have been tactical stumbles--and most unions have yet to shake old bureaucratic habits--but the stepped-up investment in organizing by the AFL-CIO and its aggressive affiliates has begun to show the way forward.

The challenge now is for all unions to wield their resources and power more strategically, to engage their members as organizers and campaigners, and to articulate a social vision that will inspire hard daily slogging but also elevate eyes to long-range goals beyond paycheck issues, important as those are. Such a vision can impart unity and strength to the progressive movement. Teamsters can't be expected to hug a sea turtle daily, but their embrace of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was destructive, as was the United Auto Workers' endorsement of the weaker fuel-efficiency standards in the Bush Administration's energy plan.

The "blue green" coalition is currently facing another important test in George W. Bush's demand for fast-track trade promotion authority. Big business will spend $20 million lobbying for fast track, which would grease the way for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas through Congress. The crucial fight is in the House, where the Administration will dangle all sorts of phony "side agreements" before Democrats and moderate Republicans. Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch is on the road, fanning out into home districts of key representatives. Labor is ready to jump into the fray, guns blazing. Recent ruptures notwithstanding, progressives have formed a united front to block fast track twice before, under Clinton, and they can do it again.

But labor's political success will be short-lived unless it is driven by an energized rank and file and animated by a morally compelling mission that resonates with workers at home and abroad. Labor will thrive to the extent that it acts not as a "special interest" but as a new civil rights movement--rallying union and nonunion workers alike around their rights to dignity and democracy in the workplace, to economic justice and a living wage, and to the voice and power that union representation can bring. The rest of us can't stand on the sidelines. Despite its frustrations, the labor movement remains the backbone of progressive politics in this country.

Responses by Adolph Reed Jr., Kim Moody, Andrew E. Stern, Jorge Mancillas, Jennifer Gordon, Sherrod Brown, Bruce Colburn and Nelson Lichtenstein.

Milwaukee's home-care workers discover each other.

Blogs

As the Democrats hysterically reel away from heath care reform in the wake of Scott ("My daughters are available") Brown's win in Massachusetts, I'd like to suggest the sort of personnel change President Obama needs to make in order to recoup his populist mojo: fire Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and replace him with Conan O'Brien. Why? Because Conan clearly has a grasp of exactly what you should do when, after years of grueling effort, the Man jerks your chain just as you're on the brink of realizing a long-cherished goal.

January 21, 2010

What to do about the decision by U.S. Supreme Court to -- in the words of Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold -- "(ignore) important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent" in order to make corporations the dominant players in American politics?

January 21, 2010

A suddenly populist Barack Obama tore into the Republicans for siding with banks rather than consumers and taxpayers Sunday in Boston, hoping that his fiery rhetoric would revive the candidacy of embattled Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley.

January 17, 2010

Did you know that diapers are not covered by public assistance programs like WIC or food stamps? And did you know that diaper companies do not make significant donations to shelters or outreach programs, as infant formula manufacturers do? That makes diapers one of the scarcest resources for poor families.

January 8, 2010

As national banks soak up bailout dollars, cut lending, and exploit overdraft fees, a number of Americans have decided to move their money to local banks.

January 5, 2010

 Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault.

December 21, 2009

Rep. Barney Frank is in the process of bringing a package of banking reform bills to the floor. Today represented a small victory as the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Frank, voted to approve legislation that would prevent financial institutions considered "too big to fail" from inflicting damage on the overall American economy.

December 3, 2009

The discussion about deficits and debt in Washington is so colossally stupid and disingenuous that even engaging it makes me despair. But today's Politico so expertly packages together every conceivable Beltway Establishment inanity about "spending" and "deficits" into one glib little piece of analysis that I can't help myself.

November 13, 2009

Just a few weeks ago, a book talk by ACORN founder Wade Rathke wouldn't have drawn much press attention, but the organization's recent notoriety as a conservative boogeyman has thrust Rathke back in the spotlight.

September 30, 2009

The AFL-CIO's recent rally on Wall Street was about more than economic inequality, it was part of an ongoing campaign to attract new young members.

September 30, 2009