WORLD WIDE WORK
This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the
American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in
Smoking gun. In a stunning development, Wal-Mart Watch has obtained
and released to the New York Times an internal company plan prepared for
Wal-Mart’s board of directors that dramatically captures big
corporations’ cynical vision for the future of our society.
In plain language, Wal-Mart makes clear that to be profitable it needs to
not employ anyone who gets sick, anyone who becomes middle-aged or old,
or anyone who needs to make higher wages as their seniority at the
company increases. It also says it needs to shift even more jobs to
part-time in order to avoid providing health coverage.
At the same time, the company is consumed with how to disguise this
business strategy at a time when the company faces “reputation issues”
because of “well-funded, well-organized critics.”
No document written by those critics could possibly express as eloquently
as Wal-Mart’s own strategy memo the mammoth gap between the company’s
definition of its role as the largest employer in America and the
middle-class-building, standards-raising role once played by the
unionized giants of the economy such as General Motors, U.S. Steel, and
Links to the Wal-Mart memo and the New York Times story may be found at
Information is also provided there about how to get involved in the week
of Wal-Mart Watch activities planned for Nov. 13-19.
New and worth noting…
has useful new content, including a simple tutorial on how to design
leaflets using MS Word, and new tip sheets on paid advertising, doing
news releases, effective direct action tactics, and the use of surveys.
All of TheWorkSite’s tools and tips are available free and are
downloadable so they can be adapted for particular uses.
*When Affirmative Action was White by Ira Katznelson (W.W. Norton). A
revealing book that casts new light on today’s debates about affirmative
action by showing how key “universal” programs of the New Deal and Fair
Deal, including Social Security, the GI Bill, and basic labor laws were
set up and administered in such a way that they brought middle-class
prosperity to millions of white families but not to blacks.
*Working Toward Whiteness by David Roediger (Basic). Explores the
role of the labor movement and other institutions in the transformation
of Eastern European, Italian, and Jewish immigrants – who were not
originally treated as part of the “white” American majority -- into the
“white ethnics” of today.
*Impossible Subjects by Mae M. Ngai (Princeton). Traces the
development of the concept of the “illegal alien” in the U.S. and the
evolution of public attitudes and public policy on immigration.
*The Fox in the Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy by
Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich (Berrett-Koehler). A collaboration by an
organizer and philosopher examines in depth the effects of the takeover
of vital public services by corporate special interests. One bonus is
that the book is sprinkled with song lyrics by Kahn, an accomplished
songwriter and performer.
*The Great American Job Scam by Greg LeRoy (Berrett-Koehler).
Documents in plain language the ways that corporations play off one state
or city against another in order to get special subsidies in return for
the promise of jobs. These subsidies that often equal more than $100,000
per job are virtually never conditioned on actually producing and
maintaining jobs, let alone jobs with good pay, health coverage, and
*The Scorpion’s Tail by Sylvia Torti (Curbstone). A novel based on
the author’s own experience as a scientific researcher who happened to
find herself in Chiapas when the Zapatista revolt began. Has the ring of
truth that comes from “writing what you know.”
*Watercolor Women Opaque Men by Ana Castillo (Curbstone). A novel
in verse built on archetypal images of the experience of working class
Mexican immigrant women.
*“Stories From Where We Live” Series (Milkweed Editions). A series
of collections of stories, poems, and historical writings in which each
volume focuses on a particular region of the U.S. Geared toward and
intended for use in schools. See
* The New Division of Labor by Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane
(Princeton/Russell Sage). Explores the impact of computerization on the
future shape of the job market and the skills workers need.
* Restore the American Dream by Thomas Kochan (MIT). Explores
policy proposals to help working people cope with today’s economy.
*Labor Embattled by David Brody (Univ. of Illinois). Focuses on
the deterioration of labor laws in the U.S.
*The People’s Tycoon by Steven Watts (Knopf). A more than 500-page
biography that explores the contradiction-filled life of Henry Ford,
including his fierce opposition to unions even as he proclaimed that
working people had to be paid enough to be good consumers.
*A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver (Compadre). A memorable and moving
collection of live performances by Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe
Ely, Todd Snider, and many more in honor of the Texas singer’s 65th
*Childish Things by James McMurtry (Compadre). Country rock that
includes “We Can’t Make It Here” (see excerpt below).
*Rolas de Aztlan (Smithsonian Folkways). A collection of
original recordings of songs of the Chicano movement during the 1960s,
including songs of the Farm Workers movement and early recordings by Los
*Waves. The Street Was Always There. One More Shot (Appleseed).
The first two CDs are by Eric Andersen, applying his fine voice to
hard-hitting songs by songwriters of the 1960s. One More Shot is a
reissued 2-CD collaboration by Andersen, Rick Danko of The Band, and
Norwegian singer Jonas Fjeld. Danko brought a light and melodic touch to
the arrangements that is often missing in the Andersen-only
*Bound for Glory (Smithsonian Folkways). Getting in on the wave of
Bob Dylan publicity these days, Folkways has put out a sampler of 9
recordings by Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson, Leadbelly, Brownie McGhee, and
others who Dylan listened to when he was starting out.
*Don’t Mourn – Organize! (Smithsonian Folkways). An
historical collection of songs by or about legendary organizer and singer
Joe Hill. The highlight is Paul Robeson singing “I Dreamed I Saw
Joe Hill Last Night.”
information about Military Families Speak Out, an organization of
veterans of the invasion of Iraq and their families, including how to get
involved in their activities and how to make a donation. MFSO was founded
by Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson, both longtime leaders in the
occupational safety and health movement in the U.S. Their son, Joe,
served as a Marine in Iraq.
www.whorulesamerica.net is a site that tries to make social
scientists’ thinking and findings about power and wealth accessible to
students and activists.
[From “We Can’t Make It Here” on the CD “Childish Things” by James
McMurtry (see above)
…Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are workin’ two jobs and livin’ in cars
Minimum wage won’t pay for a roof…
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far $5.15 an hour will go
Take a part-time job at one of your stores
Bet you can’t make it here anymore
Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
‘Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can’t make it here anymore
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away…
Their kids won’t bleed in their damn little war
And we can’t make it here anymore
Tax-deductible contributions to the American Labor Education
Center are welcome and may be sent to 1835 Kilbourne Place NW,
Washington, DC 20010. Thank you.