Our own bluebarnstormer, sometimes known as Mike Hummell, is keeping up his crusade to get out the workers' side of what happened in the Hostess bankruptcy. Working In These Times' Bruce Vail covers Mike's fight to be heard, which he's waged in the media, in the diaries here, and with Kagro on Daily Kos Radio, because "It was incredible to see the strike portrayed in the media as the union forcing the company out of business." It's a great story whether or not you're already familiar with what he's been doing.

Keep reading below the fold for much more working people's news.

The War on Education

  • Teachers and other staff at Michigan's Cesar Chavez Academy, one of the largest charter schools in the state, voted to unionize, 88-39.
  • Adjuncts at CUNY are letting students know that the adjunctification of higher education is not a good thing, with some including a long statement about the situation on course syllabi:
    More than half of courses at CUNY are currently taught by adjunct instructors; this was not always the case. CUNY presently employs 6,541 full-time faculty, counselors, and librarians. Despite record breaking enrollment, that is 4,512 fewer of such positions that it provided in 1972. CUNY’s reliance on adjuncts impairs the conditions under which courses are taught and the quality of your education. Adjuncts are not regular members of the faculty; we are paid an hourly rate for time spent in the classroom. We are not paid to advise students, grade papers, or prepare materials or lectures for class. We are paid for one office hour per week for all of the classes we teach. We are not paid to communicate with students outside of class or write letters of recommendation. Out of dedication to our students, adjuncts regularly perform such tasks, but it is essentially volunteer labor.

    To ensure that we remain conscious of the adjunctification of CUNY, we ask that you do not call us “Professor.” We are hired as adjunct lecturers and it is important that you remember that. You deserve to be taught by properly compensated professors whose full attention is to teaching and scholarship.

  • Data is not objective, no matter what Bill Gates thinks.
  • One of the hot trends in corporate education policy is to shut down "failing" schools—if they're traditional public schools, anyway. Charter schools have been getting a free pass on the closures front, and people are starting to notice. But while there shouldn't be a double standard, that doesn't mean continual school closures are good policy. Anthony Cody argues that churn is a bad policy for charters, just as it is for public schools.
  • In Rick Perry's Texas? Surely not!

A fair day's wage

  • Mmmm ... candy.
  • An FYI from the marvelous Sarah Jaffe:
    No, that waitress isn't flirting with you.

    Neither is the barista at your local Starbucks, nor the counter server at the Pret A Manger near your office, and you might be surprised to learn that the stripper at your local club doesn't have a deep fondness for you, either.

    In fact, for many service workers, women in particular, pretending to be happy and flirting are a key to keeping a job and making a living. If you're tempted to think of that as an "of course" kind of thing, think again. That's real work, to smile through the asshole saying things to you that under any other circumstances would be unpardonable sexual harassment, to smile on the worst day of your month when you really just want to cry, to laugh at the lamest jokes. And it tends to be work that the lowest-paid workers, especially women, have to do most.
  • Also, you are an asshole if you don't tip your server, and tip well. In most restaurants in most states, those workers are making $2.13 an hour before tips. The tip is part of the price of the meal, not some reward for making you feel all special inside.
  • The appeals court decision overturning President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board would have similarly overturned hundreds of recess appointments since Ronald Reagan's first term, the Congressional Research Service found.
  • The National Nurses Union is pushing for a safe staffing ratio law for Washington, D.C., hospitals.
  • When someone says "human trafficking," does your mind go straight to sex trafficking? It shouldn't:
    Some 78 percent of forced labor is based on state- or privately-imposed exploitation, not forced sexual exploitation. [...]

    Immigration officials may categorize immigrant workers who are trafficked as undocumented workers and deport them. Police and labor inspectors may view involuntary servitude or debt bondage in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manual labor and manufacturing as "mere" worker rights abuses, and so not justifying a remedy. Prosecutions for forced labor are far fewer than those for trafficking for sexual exploitation (and even those are low).

  • New York Times editorial:
    Part of an effective agenda would surely include a higher minimum wage, which is overdue. It is one of the most effective ways to lift wages because raising the floor also raises wages higher up the income scale. Union membership can also push up wages through collective bargaining. In 2012, even as the share of American workers in a union fell to its lowest level in nearly a century, the median weekly earnings of full-time unionized workers was $943 versus $742 for comparable nonunion workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Yet the administration’s support for unions has been more rhetorical than real. Mr. Obama failed to keep a campaign promise from 2008 to advance legislation to make it easier for workers to unionize and made scant use of the bully pulpit as unions have come under prominent attack in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:55 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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