The topics are mainly organising, work, unions, technology, economics, superannuation and tax.
Agitators and organisers: untold histories of Chinese migrant workers in Australia
Osmond Chiu on the history of Chinese workers in Australia which is far more complex than the cultivated image of compliance and exploitation. (TL)
Workers Seize the Shipyard That Built the Titanic, Plan to Make Renewable Energy There
Shipbuilders in Belfast are occupying their workplace and calling for nationalisation to prevent the last shipbuilding yard in the city from closure. (MH)
Peaceful march was change of strategy for Hong Kong protesters
Interesting article on the strategy decisions behind the Hong Kong protests and how the protest movement is bridging the differences in tactics between its different parts. Hat tip to Amanda Tattersall and the @ChangeMakersPodcast for thoughtful coverage and commentary on the protests. (MH)
SEIU has an ambitious new plan for workers’ rights. Democratic candidates should take notice.
Central tenants include industry bargaining and government procurement. And Democratic candidates aren’t going to get SEIU support unless they sign on to the plan. It appears Bernie Sanders is listening… (MH)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Sweeping Labor Plan With Sectorwide Bargaining
Sanders this week unveiled his plan to overhaul U.S. labor law by expanding workers’ rights to organise and strike and establishing a new system of sectorwide bargaining. (TL)
Labor’s Bill of Rights (US)
Long piece from 2017 on US labor laws and the need to move on from the National Labor Relations Act to a Labor Bill of Rights. (TL)
Rising capital share and transmission into higher interpersonal inequality
This paper argues that policies to share income from capital more equally would decrease overall inequality. We have the tools to do this, but policymakers lack the political will. Wonky. (TL)
The YouTubers Union is demanding change. That's nothing new for Google
Old dog tries new tricks. (TB)
Frank Luntz, the GOP’s message master, calls for climate action
The evil genius behind “death taxes” and “border security” turns his attention to climate action. His advice isn’t bad. (MH)
This summer as you hurry into the airport, know that it's a workplace war-zone—and labor is winning
Union gains in the airline industry are symptomatic of a resurgent labor movement. Does capitalism have a sense of irony? (TB)
Sara Nelson: “People Are Ready to Fight”
More from the US airline industry. The Flight Attendants union providing leadership - and an effective model of building and exercising power – for the rest of the US labour movement. (MH)
Making Technology Work for Workers
Coping with the rapid technology-driven transformation of labour markets, without sacrificing dignity, autonomy, or ambition, will require a combination of economic mobility and financial security that can be delivered through a new kind of social safety net. (TL)
Hong Kong Protests: Leader Warns of ‘Crisis’ as Strike Disrupts Subways and Leads to Cancelled Flights
Unions step up their participation in the Hong Kong protests with strikes across the city. (MH)
Grattan rolls: “Australia now running a low-skilled migrant visa system”
Interesting analysis on migration and labour market impacts. (TB)
Discriminating algorithms: 5 times AI showed prejudice
Artificial intelligence is supposed to make life easier for us all – but it is also prone to amplify sexist and racist biases from the real world. (TL)
Building up the bundle of sticks: new ideas for union organising
A series of blogs presenting new ideas for how unions can organise and engage with the workforce. (MH)
Trump Hired Robert Lighthizer to Win a Trade War. He Lost
The Trump administration’s obsession with trade threats, tariffs, and bullying both allies and rivals into submission was based on an ambitious theory. It turned out to be a fallacy. (TL)
Jo Grady: the miner’s daughter preparing for university picket lines
The incoming general secretary of the UK University and College Union warns of autumn strikes over pensions, pay and job security. (TL)
How Germany closed its coal industry without sacking a single miner
A look at how Germany shut down its black coal industry while investing in former coal-mining towns and retraining and redeploying its workforce. (MH)
The Fight for $15 has created a road map for change
Hat tip to Karma Lord for this analysis of how the Fight for $15 (and a union) has gone from fringe idea to reality for many US workers.
How poverty in modern Britain echoes the past
With 4 million British workers living in poverty, this analysis finds that the extent and causes of poverty are much the same now as in 1900. (TL)
A Nobel Prize-winning economist thinks we’re asking all the wrong questions about inequality
Interesting – unfairness or inequality? (KC)
NDWA and Sen. Kamala Harris Introduce Bill To Protect Domestic Workers
The excellent National Domestic Workers Alliance has teamed up with Democrat representatives to introduce a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights in Congress which would give US domestic workers basic labour protections for the first time ever including a guaranteed minimum wage. (MH)
Dissecting Australian media's Trump moment
Interesting analysis of how the media got it so wrong in the lead up to the 2019 Federal Election. (TL)
Onward! Another #GoogleWalkout Goodbye
Really interesting post by one of the organisers of the Google Walkout. (TL)
The Catholic Case for Communism
What Catholics (still) don’t understand about communism. (TL)
101 Notes on the LA Tenants Union
You can’t do politics alone. (TL)
Amazing ‘Prime Day’ brings out wave of protests and activism against Amazon
Demonstrations happened in Minnesota, New York, Seattle and San Francisco, as well as across Europe. (TB)
Adani’s silent partners
Inside Story on what is happening with Adani a month after it received final approvals for the Carmichael mine. (TL)
Temporary skilled migration has not undercut Australian jobs or conditions
How to Change the World
A cracking read on cults, Overton’s window and changing minds. (TB)
Human Nature Is Created, Not Discovered
A fascinating, slightly off topic read by the same author ^. "It’s not the economy that shapes how we understand the world, it’s how we understand the world and ourselves that shapes our thinking about economy." (TB)
The 3.5% Rule: How a small minority can change the world
Research confirms that civil disobedience is not only the moral choice; it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics – by a long way. (TL)
A Religion of Unity
For black meatpacking workers, multiracial class politics was the path to economic and social advancement. (TL)
Unions Go Digital: What It Means for Labor to Embrace the Internet
Organising online is no longer a choice, but a necessity. (TB)
How the 1999 World Cup champions' biggest win came at the bargaining table
In an extract from a new book on the US women’s national team, the author explains how the 1999 squad’s victory tour changed the relationship between the team and their ‘boss’ forever. (TL)
A hospital introduced a robot to help nurses. They didn’t expect it to be so popular
And so it begins in caring industries! Meet Moxi, a robotic nurse assistant with heart eyes. (KC)
Does Apologizing Work? An Empirical Test of the Conventional Wisdom
TL;DR Never apologise is scientifically proven. (TL)
Time – article by an NZ union member
Who says workers only care about their own job? A great read by a E tū delegate in New Zealand who’s been involved in Just Transition Taranaki 2050 and whose work is directly linked to oil & gas (petrochemicals). Kudos to organisers at E tū who have taken the time to engage their members in the politics of a debate that is predictably skewed towards benefiting the few over the many. Thanks for sharing Sean and Jen. (KC)
A Progressive Approach to Movement Tech
Why tools like Action Network and Strive Digital stand out from those built by Silicon Valley and other outside entities. (MH)
The strange and elusive life of trade union community organising
A thoughtful examination of trade union community organising. (TL)
The Green New Deal is fracturing a critical base for Democrats: unions National US labor leaders oppose the Green New Deal but some state unions endorse it. That’s a challenge for unions and presidential contenders. (MH)
Letting go of Technochauvinism
The idea that computers are superior to people, or that a technological solution is superior to any other, is one that needs to go. (TL)
Millions to lose benefits under Trump’s proposal to change how poverty is defined, new study shows
Trump’s bold new solution to poverty… change the definition. (TL)
Uber’s Path of Destruction
An examination of Uber’s unsustainable economics and the lopsided business model it uses to kill off competitors. (TL)
NY Union Protest Can Keep Using 'Scabby'
For those following the ongoing saga of Scabby the rat… Scabby lives to fight another day ($) (TL)
First, the result of our web poll on best Hot Take about the Federal election result. The winner was Frank Bongiorno for Inside Story for the piece “Clearing the Scrub – Labor’s next leader faces the job of rebuilding the party in a low-growth world.” The pieces by Shaun Ratcliff, Godfrey Moase and Eleanor Glenn deserve notable mentions.
Say My Name: On the Importance of Taking Up Space and Making Noise
Thanks to Chanda Parmar Bonta for this article on being an Asian American woman.
UK Union Membership is Rising.
The Resolution Foundation paper asks if the trend will last. (TL)
The shock of the financial crisis is still being felt
Poor children have poor outcomes — but income is only half the story. (TL)
There is still social mobility, it’s just that most of it is downward.
In the UK, the post-war decades saw a remarkable degree of upward social mobility, with large numbers of people getting higher-status jobs than their parents. Not anymore. (TL)
Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Polical Allegiance and Inequality
Fascinating paper by Thomas Pikkety. Using post-electoral surveys from France, Britain and the US, the paper documents a striking long-run evolution in the structure of political cleavages – in particular the rise of left voting by educated elites. (TL)
I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle.
Keep cups are fine but individual choices aren't going to fix this. Stop obsessing over your environmental sins. Fight the companies responsible instead. (MH)
Tesla Suppressing Workplace Complaints
Blind is an anonymous social network that has been used by tech workers to speak freely about grievances related to the workplace, among other concerns. Thousands of Tesla employees have signed up for the service, but now the company is trying to suppress its workers from joining the network. (TL)
Briefing Note from the Resolution Foundation in the UK on housing costs and labour market mobility. (TL)
Fair Work Ombudsman Says Uber Drivers not Employees
Unlike courts overseas, the Fair Work Ombudsman has found the Uber drivers are contractors. FWO saying employment means "obligation for an employee to perform work when it is demanded by the employer" is odd given their own website notes that "a casual employee also does not commit to all work an employer might offer." (MH / TL)
Monopsony in the UK
The growing prominence of giant companies in advanced economies has raised concerns about the increase in monopoly power when selling. But it’s also a factor when they buy labour. Wonky. (TL)
Women’s Soccer Inequality
The US women’s soccer team’s fight for equal pay. (MH)
Better Schools Won’t Fix America
Many well-off people think educational investment could heal the (US’s) ills. But fighting inequality must come first. (TL)
Why Truth Doesn’t Change People’s Minds (and What Does)
An interesting poke around in the psychological imperatives of group think. Anti-intellectualism, fake news, and how to actually change your mind. (TB)
Why the UAW lost again in Tennessee
For anyone interested in distracting themselves from sifting through the ashes of our own recent efforts, here's a hot take on who is to blame for a symbolic, depressing defeat from somewhere else. (TB)
Red and Green Coalition
How unions and climate organisers learned to work together in New York. (TB)
The Bright Side of Unionization: The Case of Stock Price Crash Risk
Study examines whether and how labor unionisation influences stock price crash risk. Finds that unions constrain managerial resource diversion and over-investment, demand less risk-taking, and facilitate transparent information flow, which in turn reduces crash risk. Wonky. (TL)
Welcome to the Post-Election Wash-up Edition of Reads for Radicals.
Thank you to everyone who sent in nominations for their best and/or worst takes of the 2019 election including: Elizabeth Humphreys, Nick Crowther, Tim Dymond, @econodel, Eleanor Glenn, Emma Dawson, Ahri Tallon, @Dan_Gerr, Paul Harders, Godfrey Moase and @redrabbleroz.
Once you’ve had a look through the list below, you can vote for your best take here.
And for those who are sick of the election analysis, there are a couple of good, non-election Reads below.
Labor’s bitter lesson: change is hard to come by in this country
Sean Kelly in the SMH received a few nominations.
It's a myth that Aussie battlers handed the Coalition its election victory
Shaun Ratcliff unpacks the data in The Guardian. Another that received quite a few nominations.
Retired NSW coal miner: The seeds of Labor's shock Hunter vote last weekend were sown long ago
From the Illawarra Mercury.
A Landslide of the Political Imagination
The Piping Shrike for Meanjin.
The eight charts that help explain why the Coalition won the 2019 Australian election
Nick Evershed in the Guardian.
We live in anti-political times
Elizabeth Humphreys in Overland.
Aussie Rules: Trade Unions and Capitalist Realism
Godfrey Moase in the Social Review (and for the record, he didn’t nominate his own article).
2019 Federal Election Debrief: Where next for Australia’s unions and the ‘change the rules’ campaign?
Anthony Forsyth in Labour Law Down Under.
Clearing the Scrub – Labor’s next leader faces the job of rebuilding the party in a low-growth world
Frank Bongiorno for Inside Story.
ScoMo wins the 'Trump Australians'
‘Interesting data but the headline is wrong IMO’, by Bo Seo in the AFR.
Making Sense of the Election + What’s Next
By Eleanor Glenn from Common Cause with a focus on framing and values.
Australian Labor’s Shock defeat
Osmond Chiu in Policy Network.
Surprise: the status quo election (podcast)
George Megalogenis on the new Schwartz Media podcast, 7am. This was nominated for both best and worst take so is probably worth a listen on that basis alone!
The Queensland articles warrant their own section:
It's easy to dismiss Queenslanders as coal-addicted bogans, but it's more complex than that
Dr Amanda Cahill on moving beyond calls for a #Quexit.
Don't denigrate rational regional Queensland
Kate Galloway in Eureka Street
North Queensland is just at the sharp end of what’s happening across Australia
Why Taxing The Ultra-Rich Is Having a Moment
Interesting US perspective on tax policy debate. Might be timely in the shadow of our election loss, for all those contemplating whether a tax conversation has any useful place in civil discourse. (TB)
Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence
Dunning-Kruger but for class… People who come from a higher social class are more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills — even when tests proved that they were average. This unmerited overconfidence is interpreted by strangers as competence. (TL)
When employees are ideological misfits
Both conservative and liberal misfits report being marginalised, but they react differently. (TL)
Walmart workers invited a special guest to crash the company’s annual meeting: Bernie Sanders
Some more cheeky goodness from our comrades at United for Respect. (TB)
Tech Companies Love Pretending to Save the Planet
Aside from the weird little personal wealth fantasy about a third of the way in, this is a pretty good take down. (TB)
The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich
A bit of a profile piece on some economists doing some heavy lifting on not just quantifying and explaining inequality trends, but also addressing them. (TB)
Working hard to make work fairer
University of Melbourne researchers have developed a model that helps the Fair Work Ombudsman find unscrupulous employers exploiting or underpaying workers. (TL)
How the 'rebel women' of Broken Hill helped shape the early union movement
From leading marches on horseback, to insulting police officers and starting their own hospitals, 'rebel women' in Broken Hill helped shape the mining town and the union movement in Australia. (TL)
Uber drivers strike and the future of labor: 4 essential reads
A handy little collection and exec summary of four recent future of union think pieces. (TB)
Federal Election Primer, Part 2: Enterprise Bargaining
This is the second in a series of postsdiscussing the major aspects of workplace relations policy in the lead-up to the election. (TL)
If Labor wins the 2019 federal election, what role will unions play?
Part of an election serieson wages, industrial relations, Labor and the union movement ahead of the 2019 federal election. (TL)
The Dutch East India Company was richer than Apple, Google and Facebook combined
How rich was the Dutch East India Company? This old Dutch company was the first ever to do business in a modern way and get filthy rich with it. (TL)
The impact of precarious employment on mental health: The case of Italy
Large study investigating the link between precarious employment and mental health. TL;DR precarious work significantly increases the probability of mental health problems. (TL)
Building Tech for Progressive Power, Not Profit
Action Network’s partner-driven not for profit tech model is creating powerful organising tools for progressives. (TB)
How railways aided early democratic social movements
Rail transport enabled the movement of individuals and the ideas they carry. (TL)
Financial crisis 'scarred' younger workers
A generation has been left scarredby joining the workforce just as the financial crisis hit. (TL)
Samuel Brittan (1980): Hayek, the New Right, and the Crisis of Social Democracy: Weekend Reading
This—written forty years ago—is still the best short summary of left-neoliberalism. (TL)
This river in New Zealand is a legal person. How will it use its voice?
Probably a bit of an abstract point- but I love the idea that a more holistic approach to our views can bring justice and opportunities for stronger community. (KC)
Discrimination in hiring based on presence of children or perceived “risk” of pregnancy
Not surprising but disappointing nonetheless. (TL)
Tennessee Governor Leads Anti-Union Captive Audience Meeting at VW
When the Governor gets directly involved in VW's union-busting. (TL)
How women are transforming (US) organised labour
Maybe not the deepest analysis, but an encouraging read. A gendered saunter across the US labour activist landscape. (TB)
Companies track staff emails to monitor dissent and predict unrest
Firms are using linguistic algorithms to analyse staff emails to “uncover social networks.” Some fairly obvious anti-union potential here. (TL)
The world's largest hedge fund breaks down how the US workforce got screwed
When even the hedge funds are pointing to the decline in the labour share of income and the decline of union power, you know we have a problem. (TL)
Brexit and the Misremembered Empire
Both the left and right of British politics have built up an imaginary idea of what the UK used to be. (TL)
What’s the school cleaner’s name?
How kids, not just cleaners, are paying the price of outsourcing. (TL)
Sacked by the Algorithm
Amazon's warehouse-worker tracking system can automatically fire people without a human supervisor's involvement. (TL)
Groceries & Gadgets.
The Robots Coming To A Supermarket Near You - something to listen to and read - can’t help thinking of my own reaction to Marty…… (KC)
Where Do Good Jobs Come From?
Many regard the falloff in the creation of high-wage jobs as the inevitable result of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics. It isn’t. Technology can be used either to displace labor or to enhance worker productivity. (TL)
The economics of suicide reduction
Unions and the Rise of Workplace Technology
Most businesses are oblivious to employees’ increasing worries about tech. But workers are their unions are pushing back. (TL)
In Praise of a Higher Minimum Wage
Raising the minimum wage helps low-paid workers without damaging the broader economy, the authors of two new research papers find. (TL)
A new social contract: expert report on digitalization of labour markets
A new report which argues that the European social model needs to be updated to ensure workers are protected in the new labour market, including changes to social insurance and the introduction of portable benefits. (TL)
Why the labour movement has failed and how to fix it
More analysis from the US on the failures of the labour movement but also the growing number of green shoots. (MH)
Facebook is redesigning its core app around the parts people actually like
For those interested in Facebook’s organising potential, details of some significant changes currently being rolled out. (MH)
From the Union Hall to the Church
A slightly terrifying analysis of Brazilian political context. Bolsonaro's election marked the decline of trade unions as the primary site of working-class organization; and the rise of Evangelical churches in their place. (TB)
Worker exploitation a core issue for super funds
Katie Hepworth and the NUW’s Tim Kennedy on why workers' rights need to be core business for super funds. (MH)
The Effect of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs
What do minimum wages do? *Wonk warning* New paper quantifying the overall effect of US minimum wages on low-wage jobs. TL;DR increasing minimum wages does not cost jobs. (TL)
After the Supreme Court Said Unions Can’t Force Non-Members to Pay Dues, Almost All of Them Stopped
A hostile, anti-union take on the impact of the Janus decision on SEIU and AFSCME. Commentary is interesting in understanding counter arguments, and figures are interesting in and of themselves. (TB)
Red is the new black: Support for and attitudes towards socialism in Australia and the United States
Socialism is back. Comparison of attitudes to socialism by age groups and between the US and Australia. (TL)
Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores
An amazing essay on sex work that is really about class and race as well. (TL)
How the French rose up against a huge Amazon logistics centre
The yellow vest protestors turn their attention to Amazon… and get results with the French Government announcing a new tax on tech companies. (MH)
Climate Chaos Is Coming — and the Pinkertons Are Ready
The firm that once protected stage coaches in the American West is ready to capitalise on climate chaos and lawlessness. (TL)
Before we ossify: on forgetting, radical histories and the Anthropocene
Challenging piece on the need to remobilise ‘radical histories’ in order to generate the grieving and hope necessary for survival in the face of climate change. (TL)
The Highlander Idea
For decades, the Highlander School in the South of the US has nurtured some of the most important radical movements by pushing a simple idea: ordinary people can act as agents of change. This idea continues to threaten the Right. (TL)
New trade union targets overworked junior lawyers
A new trade union branch for legal sector workers in the UK has been launched and wants solicitors and barristers in training to sign up and help fight oppression and inequality. (TB)
Longer working hours do not mean higher profits, say economists
As campaigns in the UK and US push for shorter working hours, economists agree that working people to the bone is bad for business as well as workers. (TL)
Your income tax questions answered in three easy charts
Labor and Coalition proposals side by side. (TL)
Models of Worker Owned Enterprises
Policy paper with proposals for new ways to support worker owned enterprises. Includes polling showing very high levels of public support for workers having first right of refusal to take control of a firm / site slated for closure. (TL)
Superannuation and ESG Issues
Debates in Australia about superannuation funds raising labour practices at BHP are 15 years behind much of the world. (TL)
Forget Your Middle-Class Dreams
When it comes to workplace organising, there's no such thing as a "privileged" worker. Interesting piece on white collar organising. (TL)
Coalition and Labor Voters Share Policy Priorities When They Are Informed About Inequality
A well-timed new study reveals that once Australians are better informed about inequality, they become far more supportive of the Government prioritising the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor. (TL)
Incentivising Pro-Labour Reforms
A look at the impact of pro-labour reforms in Vietnam and Bangladesh as a result of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership… and the subsequent unwinding of those reforms when Trump was elected. (TL)
A wave of strikes is spreading across Mexico
Also linked to trade agreements, and to the election of a far more worker friendly President, workers in Mexico are organising and demanding significant pay rises despite some of their pro business unions. (MH)
Uber and Lyft drivers strike over pay and conditions
More green shoots. (TB)
An interesting article on the morals and ethics of technology and its role in society. (TL)
Shorten uses budget reply speech to reframe the economic debate
An analysis of Shorten’s budget reply that situates Labor’s pitch about fairness and equality within a broader historical context. (MH)
Climate change and the new work order
An excellent piece by Frances Flanagan on reshaping work in the face of climate change to value the jobs that are crucial to a flourishing planet and society. (MH)
Ultra low wage growth isn’t accidental. It is the intended outcome of government policies
The first in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment by The Conversation and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. (TL)
Don’t Trust the Adults in the Room on Climate Change
How do we marry up the energy and ideas of the next generation of activists with some wisdom of experience? Surely we can do this? (KC)
What if Workers Owned Their Workplaces?
The cooperative movement is showing that worker-owned businesses can not only survive, but thrive. (TB)
And an excellent local example from the ACT of a new, union-supported, worker cooperative in action. (MH)
Strike! Why industrial action in NZ is up under Labour
Some of the author’s analysis is questionable but still an interesting overview of some of the recent industrial action in NZ. (MH)
A Clinton-era centrist Democrat explains why it’s time to give democratic socialists a chance
A really interesting take on the current debate within the Democrats. (TL)
Out of the Shadows
Hope! In the form of the excellent National Domestic Workers Alliance in the US. (KC)
Here’s What Beto Could Unleash on Trump
Mass mobilising with volunteer activism through the lens of US politics. Insights into tensions between breadth and depth, speed and sophistication in campaign decisions. (TL)
Move fast and build solidarity
There are many challenges for tech workers to organise - not least of which are the tech giant’s capacity to cut off the means of communications. Will old fashion relationships be the answer for organisers ready to try? (KC)
Networked but Commodified: The (Dis)Embeddedness of Digital Labour in the Gig Economy
Good journal article on labour in the gig economy. With thanks to Michael Walker for sharing.
Discrimination in the age of algorithms
Using discrimination as an example, this piece looks at algorithms as both a threat to be regulated and a potentially positive force for equity. (TL)
Is public debt a cheap lunch?
Review of a paper by a former IMF chief economist. The paper argues that, under certain conditions, higher public debt might have limited welfare costs and no fiscal costs at all. (TL)
Holy Voodoo, Batman! Superheroes, arsenic and Trump economics
Analysis of the supposed economic payoffs of the Trump tax cut. (TL)
White Entitlement is Part of the Very Structure of Australian Society
Written in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack, this is an excellent but sobering piece on the pervasiveness of white entitlement in Australia and its role in fuelling nationalism and violence towards people of colour. (MH)
Economics After Neoliberalism
Contemporary economics is finally breaking free from its market fetishism, offering plenty of tools we can use to make society more inclusive. (TL)
Protecting Worker Power with Antitrust
A look at antitrust laws as an area with untapped potential to build worker power. (TL)
On Academic Precarity as Ongoing Anxiety
Very good Australian blogpost from @hmberents on the academic precariat and the situation of early career researchers. (TL)
Strikes at highest levels in over a decade
A couple of interesting things here: One, in a society the size of the US, just 20 strikes in a year is enough to get public attention as a wave of historical proportions. Secondly, that the second most militant industry is hospitality.
Some more on hospitality organising, this time in Scotland. (TB)
Rising Tides Will Sink Global Order
Global warming will produce national extinctions and international insurgencies—and change everything you think you know about foreign policy. (TL)
The Myth of the Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire
Book review of a new book by political scientist Spencer Piston that dismantles the myth of a class-blind public. (TL)
Paradoxically, platforms like Uber and Deliveroo could be good for labor unions
A call for unions to embrace online platforms and the opportunities they present to organise workers. (TB)
When you click ‘buy now’, this is what happens inside Amazon Australia’s warehouse
Ramsay's Long March Backwards
Professor @patstokes on the Ramey Centre using our unis ‘to train up a corps of hand-picked Western Civilization shock-troops’. (TL)
The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time
On the importance of quiet time and how to create more of it. (KC)
Can a new Nordic online portal help protect digital economy workers?
Sweden’s Unionen trade union is adapting to the changing labour market with an online portal that could serve as a model for others. (TB)
From the need for an Australian Green New Deal to the green shoots emerging from US organising, there is a definite US-tinged theme to the articles we’ve been reading over the last fortnight – and some interesting lessons for the Australian union movement.
A movement to crack down on companies that don’t share the wealth is building as US corporations are forced to start reporting pay ratios
Australian Unions could easily emulate a bargaining claim around CEO pay ratios. As good organisers already know, education and information are critical to an effective campaign. (KC)
Australia needs its own Green New Deal
After a blisteringly hot summer of droughts, floods and fires, Osmond Chiu has a well-timed piece on Australia’s need for our own Green New Deal. (TL)
A reborn American labor movement is coming - if unions are bold enough to change
Dan Schlademan from OUR Walmart providing hope, and a road map, for the rebirth of the US labour movement. An older piece that keeps getting more and more relevant. (TB)
Toys R Us workers are training Sears workers to fight for severance
Dan’s theory in action as workers made redundant by Toys R Us are now organising across the retail sector supported by OUR Walmart. (MH)
The resurrection of US labor
And another article on US workers - and OUR Walmart - finding interesting ways to organise and win. (TL)
Tech capitalists won’t fix the world’s problems – but their unionised workforce might
Wonder of wonders! A look at recent workplace organising efforts in the US tech sector. (KC)
Why the Seattle General Strike of 1919 should inspire a new generation of labour activists
An attempt to draw some lessons and inspiration from the past. Not sure it quite lands as a strong motivational piece but it pulls on a couple of strings. (TB)
Let’s not forget unions and collective action when discussing victories on workers’ rights
It seems obvious but too often in our public discourse, the crucial role of labor unions and the legal right of workers to take collective action to improve their working conditions is forgotten or ignored. (TB)
Is Facebook censoring the School Climate Strikers?
An article by one of the school strike leaders on Facebook’s ‘mistaken’ censorship of event pages and information promoting the upcoming March 15 school strikes for climate change. (MH)
Ruskin the radical - why the Victorian critic is back with a vengeance
Why the thinker who believed that inequality was an outrage and that capitalism leads to aesthetic degradation speaks powerfully to our times. (TL)
Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them
Facebook continues its stellar run with the revelation that it paid teenagers to install an app that spied on them by sucking in all of their phone and web activity. (TL)
A White Working Man’s Country
Interesting, but slightly jaundiced traipse across ALP notions of class across the decades. (TB)
The Shutdown is Reminding Everyone of the Good Things Government Does
On the recent US govt shutdown. I think Australians are potentially more aware of the role of government but why don’t progressives (me included) remind them more often just how many institutions it takes to have a smooth-running society like ours? (KC)
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor by Virginia Eubanks
Book review of Virginia Eubanks’ new book that outlines the life-and-death impacts of automated decision-making on public services through case studies on welfare provision, homelessness and child protection services. (TL)
Australia’s rich keep getting richer
Oxfam report finds yet another record increase in the number of uber rich Australians. (TB)
What LA Teachers Have Already Won (and what it means for the labour movement)
Teachers continue to lead the charge for change in US politics and the labour movement. (MH)
Google Urged the U.S. to Limit Protection For Activist Workers
While Google publicly supported its employees who recently protested company policies, it quietly asked the government to narrow the right to organise over work email. (TL)
Who Will Win the Race for AI?
Uneasy read on the new superpower arms race – the AI race – and the possibility of ‘data colonialism.’ (MH)
When The Real Threat Is Worker Surveillance - Not The Robot Apocalypse
New technology and modern legal practices are reinforcing old-fashioned worker surveillance. (TL)
Death to Scabby: The Trump Labor Counsel wants the protest icon deflated
Scabby continues to inspire strong feelings amongst the overly sensitive in positions of power. (TB)
Can millennials save the labour movement?
This research report analyses some interesting case studies to understand the key elements at play when young workers in predominantly insecure work have successfully organised.
TL;DR Yes, if unions are open to working with younger workers (TL)
Who Cares for the Care Workers?
Good article on the excellent National Domestic Workers Alliance in the US. The new attention to equal pay must inevitably consider the way in which productivity assessments leave important work like caring and domestic work stranded. (TL)
What is a digital department?
Useful discussion on the role of digital in organising and campaigning and where it should fit within an organisation. (MH)
Economic Piety is a Crisis for Workers
An interesting take on what a move away from a consumer based economic system could look like. The role of social institutions receives a pretty light touch in this critique of current economic thinking. (KC)
A History of Violence
A scary look into the white nationalist movement in the US in the lead up to, and aftermath of, Heather Heyer’s murderer being found guilty. (TL)
The Effect of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs: Evidence from the United States Using a Bunching Estimator ($)
The authors of this paywalled paper use a novel method that infers the employment effect of a minimum wage increase by comparing the number of excess jobs paying at or slightly above the new minimum wage to the missing jobs paying below it.
TL;DR: little effect on jobs from US min. wage hikes to date (TL)
"The workplace is killing people and nobody cares"
Q&A with Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer on the healthcare crisis resulting from workplace stress that is the subject of his new book ‘Dying for A Paycheck’. (TL)
Australia's low-paid workforce a threat to wages growth
What Australia’s enormous and growing low-paid workforce means for wages growth. (TL)
Why Australia’s comparatively high corporate tax rate works well for us
New figures put it beyond doubt. When it comes to company tax, we are a high-tax country, in part because it works well for us. (TL)
On the Brink: The crisis in private sector collective bargaining
The Centre for Future Work with a new report and more evidence of the collapse in private sector enterprise bargaining which on current trends, will cover just 2% of the workforce by 2030. (TL)
We must rethink the purpose of the corporation
All is not well with the corporation. Good article on the need to radically rethink the role of corporations (includes links to some good additional reading). (TL)
How Facebook’s local news algorithm change led to the Paris riots
More on the Yellow Vests protests and the particular role that Facebook is playing in prioritising the local news stories that have fanned the protest movement via decentralised Facebook groups. (MH)
Walmartism and its Discontents
Article on a new book about organising Walmart workers that analyses the work of OUR Walmart. You can buy the book here.
TL; DR organising succeeds when it leverages networks of trust, which can be transformed into tools to build workers’ power. (TB)
Why social policy counts
Before phrases like “budget repair” came to dominate discussions of social policy, there was greater recognition of the positive role social policy plays in meeting economic challenges. This article charts trends in Australian social policy spending and the change in attitude. (TL)
Rising inequality is hollowing out the Australian middle class
New ABS figures show that Australia’s tradition of social mobility is under threat as the wealthiest Australians undermine the middle class. (TL)
The Triple Jeopardy of a Chinese Math Prodigy
How a secretive hedge fund used the British court system to punish an IP thief‚ even though he was already in jail. (TL)
How the American economy conspires to keep wages down
Is this the start of a growing recognition of the role of unions? Or is this such a long-held understanding that an analysis like this doesn’t sound any alarm bells? (KC)
The Myth of the Benevolent Postwar Corporation
How union power and industrial action delivered the good wages and conditions of the US postwar era. (TB)
How undocumented immigrants are using Facebook Messenger to build a movement
Interesting case study in how immigrant communities are using Facebook, Whatsapp, and peer to peer text messaging to organise in the US. (MH)
Heston Blumenthal, the tax havens and the ripped-off workers
Celebrity chefs continue to outdo one another in their dodgy employment and business dealings. (TL)
4 days Trapped at Sea with Cryptos Nouveau Riche
A snapshot of a community that is far more misogynistic, get rich quick scheme than peer to peer utopia. (TL)
Artificial intelligence for international economists
An economist’s take on why it’s difficult to comprehend the explosive advancement of digital technology. (TL)
Amazon warehouse workers push to unionise in NYC
Amazon employees and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union have announced their plans to unionise and challenge Amazon’s union-busting. (TB)
Australian publishing’s pay problem
Low pay has entrenched publishing as the domain of wealthy white people and our literary culture suffers as a consequence. (MH)
Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates
With job numbers increasing across the US, employers are upset that workers are leaving without notice or failing to turn up… Newsflash: “Employees leave jobs that suck”. (TL
Australia’s Wages Crisis: What it is and what to do about it.
Australian wage growth has decelerated in recent years to the slowest sustained pace since the 1930s. This new collection of 20 essays by leading labour market experts and commentators in Australia explores the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to this problem and is written for a general audience. Tim contributed the Chapter on Minimum Wages. The book is published by University of Adelaide Press as a free eBook and in paperback.
Good overview of the yellow vests protests in France. (MH)
How to Suck Money Back From Private Equity Vampires
Toys R Us died this year after being bankrupted by private equity firms leaving tens of thousands of workers unemployed and owed millions in entitlements. Worker activism supported by the Organisation United for Respect means there is now at least the beginning of a happ(ier) ending to this story of corporate greed. (MH)
An NUW activist writes about how to organise in environments like a call centre. (TL)
Brexit and who will pay the price
A blistering takedown of the men who led the UK into the Brexit mess by an eloquent and angry Scot. (MH)
When Janus Backfires: A Test Case In Labor Solidarity After Fair Share
A little glimpse into the emerging impact of the dismantling of closed shop remnants for US public sector unions. Not entirely encouraging. (TB)
The distribution of wealth is about power not productivity
Probably not something that comes as a surprise to our readers but an interesting article for opening up how others outside labour circles are thinking about the issue of income distribution. (KC)
Creating Confusion: Socmed, Fake News and Political Actors
New paper from Chris Edmond of Melbourne Uni develops a model that examines the rise of social media and the invectives for politicians to spread misinformation to voters. (Wonky) (TL)
The Suffocation of Democracy
A fine essay in the NYRB on Trump, the 30’s rise of European Fascism and the future of American Democracy. (TL)
Really interesting empirical work on labour market friction caused by workers lacking information about options other than their current job. (TL)
What happens we you increase the retirement age? It results in lower wages and less employment of younger workers in a firm (i.e. intra-firm bargaining). This in turn reduces some of the savings to Government of the measure. (TL)
I lost my job for shit-posting…
‘I Lost My Job Over a Facebook Post – Was that Fair?’ Discipline and Dismissal for Social Media Activity. Wonky piece on the social media activity and what, if any, limitations there are on managerial prerogative. (TL)
The Third Way Isn’t Dead Yet
Die-hard opponents of Corbynism can look to the Australian Labor Party as a model of non-radical social democracy. That’s exactly why the party needs to change. Thoughtful piece (as usual) from Osmond Chiu. (TL)
How to build tech with, not for, movements
Good op ed from Action Network founder and developer Brian Young on the need for collaboration in developing technology for progressive movements. (MH)
Assessing the Quality of Reasons in Government Budget Documents
New IBP paper analyses the quality of reasons in Government budget documents. (TL)
The App as a Boss? Control and Autonomy in Application-Based Management
This research uses interviews with Deliveroo and Foodora delivery riders to investigate how the apps impact worker autonomy and indicate employment and the implications for collective mobilisation. (TL)
The spirit of the teacher walkouts lived on in the midterms
For anyone wondering what happened to all the teachers running for election in Red states after the US teacher walkouts earlier in the year. (MH)
Why am I unhappy? A new study explains America's unhappiness epidemic.
TL;DR: Log off and delete your account. (TL)
More on the Google walk-outs
Good explainer on background to and demands of #GoogleWalkout from the organisers. (TL) Also: The Google walkout is a watershed moment in 21st century labour activism (TB)
Lost in Translation: Rana Plaza, Loblaw, and the Disconnect Between Legal Formality and Corporate Social Responsibility
How impressive sounding corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs utterly failed to protect supply chain workers. (TL)
Graduated Freedom of Association: Worker Voice Beyond the Wagner model
Tinkering can achieve a lot. Politics isn’t broken
ANU PhD’er Emily Millane on the value of gradualism. Très Fabian. (TL)
A decade of collective bargaining under the Fair Work Act
More Bang for Your Buck: What Makes People Less Willing to Pay Tax?
Fascinating article via ANU Tax and Transfer Policy Institute on cultural differences and willingness to pay tax: “Italians seem just as willing to pay taxes to abstract institutions as Americans, but are less willing to pay taxes when that money goes to their real public institutions” (TL)
Where Despots Rule: Workplaces
The American workplace is marked more by hierarchy and domination than democracy and freedom. Jacobin interview with Elizabeth Anderson, author of the terrific book Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don't Talk about It) (TL)
Can the Tech Industry Do What the Dems Can’t?
Democrats are notoriously bad at turning out for midterm elections. Silicon Valley is directing money and muscle to finding solutions outside the party structure. (TB)
What the West Virginia Teachers Can Teach Us!
Enterprise bargaining is out of reach for most workers.
Australia's workplace bargaining system is designed for workplaces that no longer exist. We need a better system. Suspect most of you have seen this great piece by @joshbborstein but just in case you haven’t. (TB)
Tech Employees, Pay Equity & Transparency,
Fascinating analysis on wages in Silicon Valley - fascinating in the sense that it acknowledges some of the problems of an unequal power dynamic between employees and employers, especially for women, posits some old solutions that Australians would be familiar with (transparency through Awards) but ultimately holds onto a libertarian view of work! Tech progressives are a curious breed. (KC)
Free speech and Australia’s race debacles.
@mdavisqlder one of our leading public intellectuals writes on how "Australia lurches from one race debacle to the next: Steve Bannon, Serena Williams, 'it’s okay to be white' … racism always justified in some way, prosecuted by implausible arguments under an incoherent theory of 'free speech'." (TL)
Why Companies Won’t Let Bad Projects Die.
On sunk cost and other fallacies. Business language, but interesting and relevant concepts for union leaders. Thanks to Beth Mohle of QNMU for pointing this out. (TB)
How Work Is No Longer a Pathway to a Better Life
A job that provides rising living standards is a thing of the past. Now the route to wealth is through property and pensions. (MH)
Domestic workers in one of the most interesting US mid-term races.
Insights into one of the most interesting election races in the US. Domestic workers in Georgia tap into their activist roots to provide the heart, soul and legs of the push to elect Stacy Abrams as the first black female Governor. (MH)
Twilight of the Racist Uncles: the “feculent holding tank” that is Facebook.
Very strong piece on what Facebook has become, and is doing to people. "It’s everything you could ever want, if you are old, white, and incoherently angry for no good goddamn reason at all." (TL)
Wave of worker activism in Philippines
Interesting piece on how strikes are up under the Duterte, who also plans to overhaul labour law. (MH)
@GoogleWalkout This Twitter feed is worth a look if you're interested in following the action as Google staff around the world walk out of their offices demanding action to address sexual harassment and pay inequity. (MH)
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