New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Remembering the Lawrence Strike

January 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Jerry Elmer, Politics

On the Centennial of a Nonviolent and Decisive Workers’ Victory

by Jerry Elmer

January 12, 2012 is the one hundredth anniversary of the commencement of one of the most important labor strikes in American history – the bloody 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike that lasted 63 days. The strike represented the organizing apogee of the radical, syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies); the strike has also become associated (albeit erroneously) in popular lore with the slogan “Bread and Roses” (the phrase originated in a poem by James Oppenheim published in 1911, but was apparently never used by the Lawrence strikers in 1912).

On January 1, 1912, a new Massachusetts law had gone into effect that cut the maximum work week to 54 hours. Mill workers’ pay was given out on Fridays, not for the week just ended but for the previous week; thus, on Friday afternoon, January 12, 1912, workers received their pay for the work week of Monday, January 1 through Saturday, January 6. Workers found their pay to be an average of 32¢ short, representing the fewer hours that the mill workers had toiled. (more…)

Right to Work

December 13, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Harry Targ, Politics

Anti-Worker Laws Violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

by Harry Targ

The massive atrocities of World War II led nations to commit themselves permanently to the protection of basic rights for all human beings. Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of the wartime President, Franklin Roosevelt, worked diligently with leaders from around the world to develop a document, to articulate a set of principles, which would bind humankind to never carry out acts of mass murder again. In addition, the document also committed nations to work to end most forms of pain and suffering.

Over 60 years ago, on December 10, 1948, delegates from the United Nations General Assembly signed the document which they called “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” It consisted of a preamble proclaiming that all signatories recognize “the inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as the “foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” The preamble declared the commitment of the signatories to the creation of a world “in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.” (more…)

From Planton to Occupy

December 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Bacon, Economy, Politics

Unions, Immigrants, and the Occupy Movement

by David Bacon

When Occupy Seattle called its tent camp “Planton Seattle,” camp organizers were laying a local claim to a set of tactics used for decades by social movements in Mexico, Central America and the Philippines.  And when immigrant janitors marched down to the detention center in San Diego and called their effort Occupy ICE (the initials of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement agency responsible for mass deportations), people from countries with that planton tradition were connecting it to the Occupy movement here.

This shared culture and history offer new possibilities to the Occupy movement for survival and growth at a time when the Federal law enforcement establishment, in cooperation with local police departments and municipal governments, has uprooted many tent encampments. (more…)

The Ghost of Excepted Labor

September 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Devon G. Pena, Economy

An Undocumented Multitude Resists Further Demonization

by Devon G. Peña

Reports from across the country over the past year continue to confirm the damaging economic effects of policies adopted by some twenty states (and counting) that have passed and adopted extremist anti-immigrant legislation (e.g., Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, etc.). Civil rights lawsuits and Justice Department actions against these “exceptional” laws also continue to unfold.

As predicted by myself, and in numerous other sources including studies by academic organizations cited in the May 2010 NACCS Letter to Governor Brewer on SB1070, these unconstitutional state laws are “political play,” but they have exacted fairly immediate economic damage on capitalist interests, especially in the agribusiness sector. Farmers and large growers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of laws that demonstrably interrupt or eliminate the availability of the largely undocumented workers that harvest our food crops. (more…)

Protest, Don’t Parade

September 05, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert Reich

Workers Deserve a Better Deal for Labor Day

by Robert Reich

Labor Day is traditionally a time for picnics and parades. But this year is no picnic for American workers, and a protest march would be more appropriate than a parade.

Not only are 25 million unemployed or underemployed, but American companies continue to cut wages and benefits. The median wage is still dropping, adjusted for inflation. High unemployment has given employers extra bargaining leverage to wring out wage concessions.

All told, it’s been the worst decade for American workers in a century. According to Commerce Department data, private-sector wage gains over the last decade have even lagged behind wage gains during the decade of the Great Depression (4 percent over the last ten years, adjusted for inflation, versus 5 percent from 1929 to 1939). (more…)

Fighting the Firings

August 31, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, David Bacon, Economy, Politics

Communities Push Back Against Workplace Audits and ‘Silent Raids’

by David Bacon

When the current wave of mass firings of immigrant workers started three years ago, they were called “silent raids” in the press.  The phrase sought to make firings seem more humane than the workplace raids of the Bush administration.  During Bush’s eight-year tenure, posses of black-uniformed immigration agents, waving submachine guns, invaded factories across the country and rounded up workers for deportations.

“Silent raids,” by contrast, have relied on cooperation between employers and immigration officials.  The Department of Homeland Security identifies workers it says have no legal immigration status.  Employers then fire them.  The silence, then, is the absence of the armed men in black.  Paraphrasing Woody Guthrie, they used to rob workers of their jobs with a gun.  Now they do it with a fountain pen. (more…)

Ready to Rumble?

August 17, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Guest Author, Politics

Let’s Agitate for Jobs — Not War and More Weapons

by Judith Le Blanc

Something is missing in the swirl of news reporting on the debt ceiling deal struck on August 2 by the Congress and the President for close to $1 trillion in cuts in discretionary programs over the next decade.

Will the 58% of discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon take a hit in the name of deficit reduction?

The short answer is not necessarily, not unless we are ready to rumble.

Even the Senate Armed Services Committee leaders Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain have no idea what the deal does to the Pentagon budget.

The cruel irony is the debt ceiling deal exempts spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though war costs are one of the biggest factors driving up the national debt by over a trillion dollars. (more…)