NCAA should be Unionized Despite Coach Fitz's Position  

I'm visiting a friend today. She had been a shop steward in the school she taught in before she decided to be a stay at home mom. We had an interesting discussion last night about the Northwestern players union. And of course I had to google it... Surprise, surprise, the coach is against a union. Every year, I complete tax returns for my daughter who has a work study job and also for myself. When completing the forms, I'm asked if she received a scholarship. Last year, she got $1500. Which had to be included in my tax information. I had heard on a radio show recently that athletes who are students don't have to claim the scholarships, but you do. It is calculated in your FAFSA allocation. Students leaving colleges leave with but loads of debt. Athletes on scholarship do not. They don't have loans and they don't have work study jobs. They have 1 job in college, to win games. School is a side line for many of them. Anyone remember the Minnesota Basketball cheating scandal?

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press first broke the fraud story in March 1999, reporting that office manager and team tutor Jan Gangelhoff had admitted writing more than 400 papers for at least 18 players over a five-year period. The story prompted a nine-month, $2.2 million investigation by the university. The NCAA report echoed the finding of Minnesota's internal investigation that former coach Clem Haskins and academic adviser Alonzo Newby participated in the fraud and helped cash to help a student after she was ordered to stay away from the team.
Why cheat? Because the players had 1 and only 1 job in school, to win games. That meant a lot of time on the court, practicing. They didn't have access to the academics that other students do. Some of the athletes are strong students. It's not as if all the students cheat. But the pressure on the coaches to win at all costs force non-student like behaviors. In most places, these football and basketball coaches are the highest paid state employees. In a few, it might be the dean of the university. When students face permanent injury with no means of obtaining insurance from the universities and colleges in which they play for, it's bizarre how coaches like "Fitz" contend that they have players best interest at heart:
"I believe it's in their best interests to vote no," Fitzgerald said Saturday following a team practice. "With the research that I've done, I'm going to stick to the facts and I'm going to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going to do that. We'll give them all the resources they need to get the facts."
The facts are that Northwestern and colleges and universities like them, make boat loads of money off football. So much money that they can pay multi-million dollar salaries to the coaches and provide scholarships to nearly all the players. That these colleges recruit these kids with promises of playing college ball and being spotted by the NFL. They deserve more. And they especially deserve to join a union and obtain benefits that can impact their lives after their playing time is over, because the toll on their bodies, that will last forever. Unionization is just one step toward equity for these players. And I for one hope they think long term and not just about this next season. I hope they actually get the facts and take a stand despite the massive pressure on them right now, it's not much different than the pressure that was on the VW workers in TN recently. At least right now, politicians haven't stepped in to declare that Northwestern will close the football program. I wonder how many more days we have to wait until we start hearing that. I wonder....

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I wonder...  




I wonder if these students, who are doing an amazing job, know precisely what it all means. I hope that with the song, they also got the history behind it. But they really do a great job, don't they?

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Hostess: A Tale Of Vultures  

I was over at Dkos reading about Wonder Bread (yum, grew up on this stuff and their calcium rich bread was the first bread my daughter ate) and Vulture Capitalism at Hostess. Then, I got an email about a Salon article and found that the food of my childhood suffered not from worker intransigence but bloat caused by GREED, Debt and in-excusable managerial malfeasance. From Salon:

Hostess (then known as Interstate) initially entered bankruptcy in 2004, with uncomfortably close to half a billion dollars in debt. Sixty percent of the debt was owned by hedge funds Silver Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital, the rest by an assortment of other lenders. No one who was paying attention to the company’s fortunes was surprised by the move. During the nearly five years of its initial bankruptcy, the company accrued even more debt.
Then, they come out of BK only to:
As a result of management that still hadn’t really attempted to adapt itself to new market realities, the company earned profits in 2011 of $2.5 billion: That’s 11 percent less than in 2008, before Ripplewood took over. But thanks to debt approaching $1 billion, Hostess ended 2011 with a loss of $341 million. The CEO who led the company back into bankruptcy? He got a pay raise — while Hostess pushed a 30 percent salary and benefit cut onto its employees. (A previous failed chief executive, Brian J. Driscoll, was pushed out, but only after the board tripled his pay package to $2.55 million.)
Emphasis is mine, of course. But there it is, the Romney economy in display at Hostess. Screw the bakers, screw the truck drivers, screw the janitors, and give pay outs to the top guys to LEAD the COMPANY INTO LIQUIDATION. Why is CEO pay not pegged to the performance of the company? Why do they get pay outs when they screw over investors, workers and everyone else but themselves? Bakers Rock, Vulture Capitalists Suck.

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FAA is About Workers  

There's a difference between fighting for Workers rights and fighting for unions. Mostly, for me, it's about expanding the middle class through increasing the advantages to those struggling to rise to a higher standard of living. Fighting for unions, is about fighting for the structures that makes these gains possible. I'm probably splitting hairs here, but it's my blog and I'll split them if I want. So, today, in Congress, there will be a vote on the FAA re-authorization. And, Democrats and REpublicans are selling workers out for the profits and advantages of the top 1% of this country, again. So here's what is about to pass (from talking points memo)

Democrats and Republicans have been unable to pass a long-term reauthorization because Republicans insisted it include a provision that would change mediation rules such that workers who abstained from unionization votes would be counted as if they’d voted “no.” Democrats held their ground, and the provision was stripped. However, what went in was this: a new union-busting measure would make it harder for workers to trigger a union election by increasing the percentage of workers who must declare interest in unionizing from 35 to 50.
If jobs are the agenda, then workers need to be paramount to that agenda. We can't continue to have wages decrease for the profit margins of the top 1% or their companies. Limiting workers ability to unionize, to work together for better working conditions or pay, Congress further enhances the division between the middle class and the top 1%. It's not fair to the middle class and it's not fair to workers. Now, I'll get back to work from my lovely 15 minute break, afforded me by my bargaining unit rules.

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Murder of Workers' Activists Cheered By Wingnuts  

I don't get to post often anymore. Mostly, it's the darn Master's Degree, just months away now for my fingers to grasp. Today, I can't help but take my lunch time to point out something pretty freaking disturbing. In The Hill today, there's a post up on a letter from the AFL-CIO to Congress on the possible Colombian Free Trade Agreement. The crux of the letter is this:

Included with the letter was a list of names of the 22 union leaders who have been killed in Colombia, 15 of those after the United States agreed to a labor action plan with the South American country in April to improve its labor rights record, according to the AFL-CIO. Labor has long vehemently opposed a trade deal with Colombia because of its record of violence against union activists.
Colombia kills union activists. And this, is somehow, reason to celebrate in the comments section on The Hill
Could we get them to do it here? There are more than enough union thug bosses already. BY David on 09/27/2011 at 10:52
yeah, I believe this guy is a CEO, right:
I serve as President of a major corporation in the U.S. All these people want to do is create trouble for us. I look forward to the day we have a government that is sympathetic to the job creators and allow us to handle the unions like Columbia has done.BY RG Brewer on 09/27/2011 at 11:08
I wonder if those killing the labor slugs in Colombia can outsource that work here.BY canuck on 09/26/2011 at 19:00
There are worse comments. They are mostly a jumble of thinly veiled threats against union activists from folks who use pithy comment names like: hateslibs, Holyman, imam obama, Justice For All and Tea Party Patriot and of course the thinly veiled racist comments like the one referring to the President as a "pimp" and the person who thinks "imam obama" was a pithy by line, an out right reference to Obama being Muslim. As of now, the most vile and offensive of the posts have finally been moderated by the hill, but the stench from reading the vile comments can't be removed. If you feel you need to see how horrible and violent and offensive, head over to Dave's post today. He has some of the worst, even ones I would not reprint here. In a world that is increasingly inter-connected and complex, the only salvation we really have is to see each other as human beings. When people degrade and "joke" about violence or cheer the death of others, it makes me sick and it horrifies me to think of the kind of world my daughter is going to inherit. I had really hoped we'd found a way to turn down the violent rhetoric, but apparently, I'm wrong, dead wrong.

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DC Final Stop of Wal-Mart Worker Truth Tour  

Live in DC and want to join me on Monday night at GWU for some truth about what Wal-Mart creates for workers from actual workers in the supply chain to the stores? Here's a little teaser about the SweatFree Communities tour:

The tour will raise awareness about the deliberate system created by Walmart -- the world's biggest company -- that keeps workers in a cycle of low wages, no voice on the job, and dangerous working conditions. This impacts all of us because without good jobs, taxpayers and consumers are left with paying the bill for Walmart workers’ healthcare, concerns about product safety resulting from the lack of enforcement in factories, and a driving down of wages and working conditions across industries in an effort to compete with Walmart.


I'm planning to be in attendance on Monday night:
WASHINGTON DC: Monday, April 4, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
George Washington University, Gelman Library
IBT Labor History Research Center (Room 702)
2130 H St NW, Washington D.C. 20002
RSVP optional on
facebook

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Open Call for Public Art to Replace Maine Labor Mural  

The things you can find on the Interwebs, like this piece, on The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research:


In collaboration with The Portland Phoenix, The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research is issuing a call for public art: Mural depicting the glorious contributions of the Maine businessperson.

Seeking designs for a 36-foot-long, 8-foot-tall mural to replace a degenerate, “one-sided” mural at the Maine Department of Labor office in Augusta. Please e-mail jpgs to jinglis@phx.com, or if you insist to us.

Submissions are encouraged to honor Maine’s grand business history, from logging to ship building, from the brave executives who put down the 1937 women’s strike to steadfast proponents of child labor, from the paper mill bosses who purified our waters with dioxins to those who intrepidly called in the National Guard to restore order in the face of wrong-thinking mobs and crybabies, and surplus and salvage company CEOs who selflessly offer damaged goods for retail sale before giving it all up for public service.


Labor history as one sided, it's a fascinating concept, since Labor history in general is about, LABOR. It's totally one-sided. But then again so is the history of slavery, so is women's history, and so is the history of mental health care in the US. History about a given topic is about that topic, as was this art work. It was about workers for a building catering to workers, not the businesses that abuse, disregard or even love the workers. It was about the workers and their struggles, not the businesses and their struggles.

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