WIN Week In Review October 12 – 14, 2007
By Doug Cunningham
Sixty-six percent of UAW GM workers approved their tentative deal this week on the same day as the UAW struck Chrysler. The Chrysler strike lasted just six hours before the UAW announced it had a tentative agreement there. The union says the Chrysler deal protects jobs, wages, pensions and health care. But at GM UAW Local 909 President Al Benchich says the new contract putting responsibility for retiree health care onto the union, cutting new hire pay in half and freezing wages for current workers is a giant step backwards.
John L. Lewis is probably turning in his grave. The nurses at the hospitals the legendary labor leader started to help sick miners are on strike because their managers’ policies are endangering patient care.
Some 800 nurses, members of the United American Nurses (UAN), have been on strike at nine Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) hospitals in Kentucky and West Virginia since Oct. 1. The nurses are concerned that staffing decisions and rampant mandatory overtime are preventing them from giving patients the best possible care. In contract negotiations, ARH is proposing modest pay raises, but then is demanding to cut holiday pay and increase health care premiums, effectively wiping out the raises.
Jim Lardner, a senior fellow at the progressive think tank Demos, offers the following four “curious features” of American life—observations confirmed by findings revealed in today’s Wall Street Journal:
– In his middle-class Manhattan neighborhood, The New York Times has taken to delivering a glossy, 100+ page supplement filled with advertisements for $16 million homes and similar out-of-this world real estate.
– The top floors of many hospitals now offer suites for patient care, with attendants in neat “bellmen”-like uniforms, attending to every need.
– Formerly free after-school activities, such as taking part in the school play, now cost parents hundreds of dollars.
– Skyrocketing college tuition has soared so exponentially, retirees and even residents of nursing homes still are paying off their college loans.
A federal judge yesterday issued a preliminary injunction stopping the government from enforcing a new rule that would have caused U.S. citizens and legal residents to lose their jobs because of errors in the Social Security Administration (SSA) database.
The order prevents any implementation—until the court makes a final ruling—of a Department of Homeland Security rule punishing employers if they do not take action after receiving Social Security “no match” letters.
This is a cross post from the Firedoglake blog.
When Ken Burns’ latest docudrama on “The War” first hit the preview circuit, he was rightly blasted across the progressive blogworld for excluding Hispanic Americans from his depiction of the Great War. Some 500,000 Hispanics contributed to the war effort, including more than a dozen Medal of Honor recipients. As a result of the uproar, Burns added 28 minutes of new interviews and photographs to tell the stories of two Hispanics and one American Indian.
But his 13-hour PBS series has another serious gap that should be examined. And in doing so, it’s not to single out Burns, but to highlight how “The War” illustrates a recurring narrative in popular U.S. culture: one that omits issues of America’s working class as a class or portrays them in ways that feed on common stereotypes.