Labor Day: brought to you by the folks who brought you the 8-hour workday and the weekend.

Happy Labor Day, friends!  Today’s post is another lazy (but I hope entertaining) holiday-appropriate pictorial.  I hope you’re all planning to do some relaxing and resting to celebrate the labor movement’s great history and (sadly) dubious future.

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Remember when smog meant jobs?  Now I guess we’re looking at jobless smog!

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A U.S. postage stamp from 1956:  “Labor is Life.”

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Wages will go up!, courtesy of the International Workers of the World.

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Welcome home, girls and boys!  The jobless rate for young veterans in 2011 is about one-and-a-half times the overall unemployment rate.

15 thoughts on “Labor Day: brought to you by the folks who brought you the 8-hour workday and the weekend.

  1. For my family, labor day stands tall among the significant days of the year. In a country where way too many reject evolution, workers and their unions are enemies. The country, embodied by the president and congress, are at war with these enemies. The casualties, i.e. unemployed, lie in fields and no one cares.

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  2. Well, yesterday I made dough for cookies to sell at the fundraising “bake sale” for a strike hardship fund. Last night I talked with my children about what it means to go on strike. I’ve recently had the misfortune to become (temporary) management but I won’t cross a picket line. What’s the worst they can do? Send me back down the rank and file!

    My favorite verse from a favorite song:

    Is there aught we have in common with the greedy parasite
    Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
    Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
    For the union makes us strong!

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  3. It’s hard to *find* a (faculty) picket line in academia because the predominant view in bargaining units seems to be that it just wouldn’t work anyway and there’s probably a law against it and they’d just get an injunction and send us to bed without supper. So, we huff and puff and rattle sabers and grieve what’s grievable and actually win one once in a while–when your state is running billion dollar surpluses–but not many. The better alternative might be a “work-to-rule” form of “job action,” framed on the recognition that there really aren’t too many legible rules and there are a lot more “managers” than there are supervisors. The edu-system could probably be fairly quickly paralyzed coast-to-coast with a slowdown regime of “I would prefer not to….” This would come at the cost of reifying the popular impression that faculties don’t do any work anyway. But you can’t un-do that impression, so reifying it isn’t really that much of a cost.

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  4. I love unions, having both been in one (as a cashier) and worked “against” one (as a manufacturing engineer in a factory). I didn’t particularly care about my union as a teenager in a grocery store, but I did deeply appreciate the factory union despite running into occasional conflicts. It was really helpful to have a set of rules and responsibilities that everybody (union or not) abided by. Was it perfect? No, but few things are.

    The parent company closed that factory, deciding it was more economical to shift production to overseas (e.g. low-wage, non-union) facilities. I was sorta pleased when they ended up going bankrupt shortly after putting us all out of work (although mostly angry, since the long-time employees are all now struggling both with unemployment and having their pensions mostly gutted).

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  5. “It’s hard to *find* a (faculty) picket line in academia because the predominant view in bargaining units seems to be that it just wouldn’t work anyway and there’s probably a law against it and they’d just get an injunction and send us to bed without supper.”

    The unionized faculty where I work have a no-strike clause in the contract (I am among that number). If there is any kind of faculty protest involving *not teaching*, we are in fact required to meet our classes, though we can otherwise support it (i.e. showing up at rallies once we’ve, um, taught). The faculty who can “strike” frequently don’t (is it a strike if there’s no union?); they talk a lot instead–symposia and blogs and op ed pieces (there’s even a workshop coming up on writing effective op ed pieces).

    I don’t mean to diminish the work of some of the bloggers, as the work is intelligent; I only note with hopefully misplaced cynicism that in some cases, it feeds directly into research interests.

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  6. About work to rule: we’re on overload this semester because a full time instructor and a part time adjunct both quit two days before classes started. University still wanted the classes given and ordered it done. My idea was, just say no, or else do it but cancel other classes. People thought it was a really weird idea. But is it?

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  7. Z. My colleague’s wife can’t get past a 49% appointment at her school because then they would have to supply benefits. The other adjunct abruptly quit a couple weeks ago and now two faculty are teaching an overload instead of hiring colleague’s wife (for a single semester!) full time.

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  8. Yay Labor Day! Except, um, I was working, ’cause in my Right to Work State, we work on Labor Day! On a practical level, it doesn’t bother me that much, (although oh! the headaches of mismatched holiday schedules between work and schools), but the symbolism of it was bitter indeed, especially after the year that unions have had.

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  9. @wini, we see that same sort of nonsense in the private sector, too- when you hire someone fulltime, you pay benefits, so a lot of places use more contract labor. I remain puzzled as to why more wasn’t made of this during the health care debate. The expense of paying benefits could be argued to be a job killer. (And it is a pretty big expense- when we estimate the cost of a full time employee for a cost-benefit analysis, the estimate is generally 2x salary, due to benefits.)

    Anyway, I always thought that in a saner political climate, a solid case could have been made for the business-friendly decoupling the cost of health insurance from the cost of hiring an employee. But that case was only occasionally and weakly made during the debate. Instead, we argued about non-existent death panels.

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  10. @wini: it was way before my time but somehow I know how to sing the song, to the tune of Joy to the World:

    Joy to UC
    the world has come.
    Clark Kerr has called us Reds.
    If you are 49%
    you can’t work for the government
    the university
    turns out more GNP
    without your subversion on
    its property!

    ***

    p.s. to the tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem:

    UC administration, your clumsy, punchcard mind…

    Yet in the dark night shining, an Oakland cop’s flashlight
    Will settle all your arguments, and prove your cause is right.

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  11. Pingback: The wind at his back: or, effortlessness in academia « Feminéma

  12. Pingback: Happy Labor Day! | Historiann

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