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Mar/Apr 2001 issue (#50)


'60s Dream Lives On

Party Troopers

Suit Filed Against George W. Bush

"Friends in High Places"

Baby Bush Bombs Baghdad

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

Biblically-Grounded Movements For Progressive Change In Washington

How to Run for City Council

Mad Cow: Coming to the U.S.?

Monoculture and Mad Cows

Itching to Ride Light Rail

Is Work Killing You?

Escaping the Globalized Gym

Seattle's Clattering Poets

A Puppetista Manifesto

Living Outside Empire

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

ACORN's Falling

Social Transformation Explained? Technogod

Spokane Free-speech Battle


Reader Mail


Urban Work

Media Beat

Nature Doc

Rad Videos

Do Something!

Reel Underground

Urban Work

by Ross Rieder

Aussie McDonald’s Does Something Good

(The following is by Paul Robinson, The Age workplace editor, 14 November) In a first for Australia, an international hamburger chain has granted its casual workers the right to parental leave. McDonald’s announced yesterday its 40,000-strong casual workforce would be entitled to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave provided they had served the company for more than a year.

The Queensland (Labour) Government has enshrined in law parental leave for long-term casuals, but McDonald’s is the first company operating Australia-wide to embrace the entitlement. McDonald’s’ move also follows an national labor organization announcement that it would mount a test case in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission seeking parental leave rights for casuals in all awards.

Labor leader Sharan Burrow welcomed McDonalds’ move. She said it reflected a growing belief that the (federal) government’s refusal to grant casual workers national rights was “unjust and out of touch with community sentiment. One in three Australian women workers is employed as a casual. Without the right to maternity leave, many of these women are being left with no option but to resign or be sacked if they become pregnant. McDonald’s has recognized the injustice in this and should be congratulated for doing something about it. I think the Australian community is beginning to recognize that no worker should be forced to lose her job to have a child.”


Labor Acts on Burma

In a global first and a historic decision, the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 17 November agreed to impose sanctions against Burma over the country’s use of forced labour.


UW Teaching Assistants: What Next?

It’s sort of old news now, but the teaching assistants and their various comrades in training at the world famous research institute known as the University of Washington reached enough of an agreement before a strike deadline Monday December 4 to prevent a walkout at grade time.

What has occurred is mostly good. What needs to be pointed out is some of the steps taken and their real effects.

For instance, the Graduate Student Employee Action Coalition, UAW-AFL-CIO, backed away from a strike and accepted management’s offer, which had been on the table for at least a week—if I read the local press correctly. GSEAC members accepted what we in the teachers’ union used to call “meet and defer”—only management calls it “meet and confer.”

The only way to make that work is to exercise worker power in spite of what the boss says.

Speaking of the boss, I want to say that one of the reasons I have to admit to deep sighs about some academicians is that they are such litigious and legislative folk. Look, no one needs a law to obtain collective bargaining. And, for the benefit of the great intellects at the top of the UW, as far as I can remember the law does not prohibit them from bargaining collectively with GSEAC. Silence in the law is not prohibition.

The GSEAC has agreed to go hand-in-hand (I’d be careful) to the legislature (one with a dicey majority in the Senate and a gridlock tie in the House) to appeal for inclusion in the existing public employee statute. I would be happy to have my prediction of failure be proved wrong.

Even if the law was already on the side of GSEAC in terms of bargaining rights, given the already exhibited reluctance to use good common sense, UW administration will not give up the “divine right of the King” easily. A strike will probably be necessary to get a decent first contract anyway.

So, I suggest that, at every opportunity, GSEAC be mobilizing the minds and hearts of their consumers (known to some as students) in preparation for accepting a strike at the most inopportune time: test and grade time.


Guthrie Exhibit

The Washington History Museum is hosting a special exhibit of the life and work of Woody Guthrie, featuring his writings, songs, and drawings, in a Smithsonian Institution exhibit from the last week of March to the end of September.


Labor Music Series

PNLHA member Mike Honey is teaching a University of Washington, Tacoma, course on African-American, Labor and Protest Music in American History. It will be a series of open classrooms on Thursday nights in April and May. The classes will be free and open to the public at the museum auditorium. You are invited to attend.

So far, we have a session called living the blues, with the extraordinary musician Chic Street Man, on April 12; Bettie Fikes of Los Angeles sings gospel and freedom songs of the South on April 19; a session on labor troubadors is on April 26; possible guest lecture by the director of the Experience Music Project museum, and protest songs from the 1960s and beyond by Charlie King and Karen Brandow of Connecticut on May 10; a kids concert on Saturday morning May 5; songs of struggle, from the Seattle Labor Chorus and friends on May 17; and Woody’s Columbia River songs on May 24. There are other things in the works too, including a special Woody Guthrie style concert in Seattle on May 23.

For info, contact Michael Honey, Professor, UW, Tacoma 1900 Commerce St., Tacoma, WA 98402, 253-692-4454 phone, 253-692-5718 fax.


Buy Books, Support Labor

Powell’s Books Local 5 website has a link to the Powells.com Partnership. Ten percent of sales generated through the site will go to workers in the bargaining unit of the only union bookstore in the western US. Type in www.ilwulocal5.com or www.powellsunion.com.


Get ‘em While They’re Young

Youth, Unions and You: a Practical Teaching Resource on Labour for Secondary Schools is a new teacher-friendly resource guide currently being developed to help teachers in achieving the prescribed learning outcomes of the Social Studies, Career and Personal Planning, and Humanities/English related to labor studies and working lives.

The project is a joint initiative of the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Federation of Labour in partnership with the Ministry of Education. For info email lspteam@bctf.bc.ca.


Communicate in Portland

Working Out West: A Conference for Labor Communicators, Historians and Activists is a unique opportunity for unionists, scholars, labor communicators, and labor educators to meet and examine the rich heritage of working class solidarity in the Western region, and to discuss the challenges labor faces in the 21st century.

It meets May 3-6 at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. It’s co-sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, the Southwest Labor Studies Association, and the Western Labor Communications Association. Regular Registration fee: $50 U.S./$75 Canadian. Deadline is Monday, April 23. For further info 503-725-3295 or www.mem-bers.home.net/pnlha.u

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