April 5, 1989 – Remembering the Pittston Strike – Plenty of Law . . . No Justice

Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Pittston strike, a coal miners’ strike that would drag on for 14 months into 1990. On April 5, about 1,700 miners in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky struck Pittston Group’s coal mining operations. Within a couple months there were demonstrations and solidarity strikes that involved 10 times as many people.

This was a strike that provided and still provides a window into who we were as a people and what we value. It still does. Twenty years after the strike began is time to re-examine the portrait of us as a people.

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The Battle for the Citadel of Capitalism

by gjohnsit, posted with permission

“They lay there, clinging to one another and trying to shield the more vulnerable parts of their bodies from the blows of the nightsticks, while the police hauled them apart and dragged them bodily into waiting patrol wagons.” – NY Times, March 31, 1948

Every once in a while an underdog defeats a Titan.This isn’t one of those times.

It isn’t the victory of an underdog that inspires us so much as is the incredible courage is takes to even challenge the overwhelming champion.
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Bush-style Wage and Hour Enforcement – An Agency Gone Mild

Ever suspect that the Bush administration wasn’t exactly on the side of workers? Ever suspect that DOL Secretary Chao was in the employers’ pocket but have no strong proof?

Well, look no farther than a new report out yesterday from the GAO. When it comes to enforcing wage and hour laws, the DOL was definitely choosing the employer’s pocket – or at least pocketbook – over the worker’s. Indeed, under Chao, the DOL seems to have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the US Chamber of Commerce.

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“Firing is the best way to get good workers”

Is it, though? The mantrum you hear every where these days is: To get good workers and good work an employer must be able to fire workers. That means just-cause employment, tenure, and union grievance procedures are on the firing line, because, they, well, stand in the way of the “firing” line.

NPR reporter Claudio Sanchez can barely report a story that advocates this position. For example, on March 18, his story starts with:
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Employers Ordered to Post Notices about Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act

For years, people have asked why it is that employers are not required to post information about rights to organize unions in the workplace. Employers are required to post information about wages, toxic materials in the workplace, and other rights.

The omission of the most fundamental right of workers, under the National Labor Relations Act, the rights that are the source of power that has led to – and maintains the existence of – these other rights is glaring. It is a fundamental admission that at the core this country is anti-union. It is a statement that we think employers’ domains should be free of any incursion by unions. It is evidence that we as a people have not accepted the right of workers to organize.

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The Impact of Employee Misclassification

Over the years, unbossed has reviewed various studies and cases involving misclassification of workers as independent contractors. You can find those prior posts here.

The Ohio Attorney General has just issued a study of the dimensions and impact of misclassifiying workers as independent contractors. In addition to reviewing the features of misclassification in general and in Ohio in particular, the report summarizes past studies at the federal and states levels.

Here are some findings from that report.

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