Author: Steve Early

STEVE EARLY is a labor journalist, lawyer, organizer, or union representative active since since 1972. For 27 years, Early was a Boston-based staff member of the Communications Workers of America. He finished his CWA career in 2007, after serving as administrative assistant to the vice-president of CWA District 1, which represents more than 160,000 workers in New York, New England, and New Jersey.

A Mon Valley Memoir: Lessons From The Last Stand Of Steelworkers in Homestead

In his lively new memoir, Stout argues that younger activists still have much to learn from past rank-and-file struggles in blue-collar industries even if they are now entering workplaces in “a neo-liberal world.”

VoteVets for Buttigieg: Who’s Really Keeping Us in The Dark About Campaign Funding?

In a Democratic primary field that once featured four military veterans, only two are still marching toward the White House.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s “anti-war” candidacy has sunk nearly out of sight, but Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, became . . .

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How General Strike Rhetoric Became A City-Wide Reality

A review of Radical Seattle: The General Strike of 1919 by Cal Winslow (Monthly Review Press, 2020).

Rank-and-File Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild/CWA in Re-Run Election

After a much contested election process, the largest union of journalists in North America has chosen a 32-year old reporter at the Los Angeles Times to be its new leader, in the U.S. and Canada.
Jon Schleuss helped win union recognition and a . . .

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‘Other Than Honorable’? Veterans with ‘Bad Paper’ Seek Long Overdue Benefits

On Veterans Day this year, in a nation now reflexively thankful for military service of all kinds, nearly 500,000 former service members are not included in our official expressions of gratitude.
These forgotten men and women had the misfortune to leave . . .

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The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)

When I was working with the Teamster reform movement forty years ago, truck drivers concerned about union corruption had to proceed warily.
In the late 1970s, too many affiliates of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) were run by grifters or . . .

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One Member/One Vote: CA Health Care Workers Show How To Endorse, Democratically

At the national, state, and even local level, union political endorsements are often made with insufficient membership involvement.
Union leaders and legislative/political directors like to get their favorite candidates endorsed, without too much debate or discussion.
Instead of giving every member a . . .

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A GI Rebellion: When Soldiers Said No to War

Fifty years ago this fall, a campus upsurge turned opposition to the Vietnam War into a genuine mass movement.
On October 15, 1969, several million students, along with community-based activists, participated in anti-war events under the banner of the “Vietnam Moratorium.” . . .

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A Plant Closing War, Viewed From Inside

Last winter, protesters wearing yellow vests commanded center stage in France. Their grassroots challenge to the neoliberal regime of President Emmanuel Macron drew on a long tradition of labor militancy, including factory closing fights. When these protesters still had blue . . .

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Can the Military Be Reformed?

Six Unusual Veterans Ponder Active Duty and Its Aftermath

It happens all the time in small towns and big cities across the country. A young person from a poor or working-class family can’t find a good job or afford to pay for higher education. Other family members, a teacher, . . .

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An Election Challenge: Time for Change at NewsGuild?

The 21,000-member NewsGuild, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is a rarity in organized labor. It’s one of the few national unions that lets all members vote for its top officers, instead of choosing them at a convention . . .

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A Trusteeship Diaspora: How SEIU’s Self-Inflicted Loss Became Labor’s Gain

Ten years ago this month, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) shot itself in the foot, big time.

The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It

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Randy Shaw, Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. University of California Press, 2018. 304 pp.

When millennials head home for the holidays this month, many who are city dwellers will be hosted by parents or grand-parents whose housing is far more spacious and financially secure than their own. Even guests with well-paid jobs in relatively stable rental markets will cast an envious eye at the benefits of baby boomer house buying decades ago.

"They Count on You Not Knowing"

East Bay DSA Blows The Whistle On Corporate Dem Donor Class

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Wealthy Bay Area investor David Crane is a leading promoter of the neoliberal agenda within the California Democratic Party. A former advisor to Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Crane is a widely-published critic of state and local tax initiatives, publicly-funded health care, public education, public employees and their pensions. He raises lots of money for “courageous” candidates willing to put “citizen interests” ahead of such “special interest” causes.

A Call Center Coup: Ex-Teamster Boots Riley Tackles Telemarketing And its Discontents

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When I was a union rep, one of my most challenging assignments was assisting a Communications Workers of America (CWA) bargaining unit at a Boston-area telemarketing firm. Most CWA members in New England had call center jobs at the phone company, with good pensions, health insurance, and full-time salaries. As service reps, they fielded in-coming calls from customers with problems, questions, or new orders to place. In contrast, the telemarketing staff only interacted with the public, on behalf of various clients, via out-bound calling. Like the workers depicted in Boots Riley’s hilarious new film, Sorry to Bother You, they made cold calls to people who did not want to bothered, at dinner time or anytime, with a pitch for a new product, service, or donation to a political cause.

Requiem for a Steelworker

Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie

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In progressive circles in the upper midwest today, if you’ve heard the name Sadlowski, it’s probably because you were involved in the Wisconsin labor uprising of 2011, where you might have linked arms with AFSCME organizer and state capitol occupier Edward A. Sadlowski. Or maybe you applauded the electoral victory of his sister, Susan Sadlowski Garza, when she won a Chicago city council seat four years later, as a standard bearer for her union, the Chicago Teachers.

Flush With Cash: Will Buffy the Bernie Slayer Win in Pro-Sanders District?

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In a political culture shaped by big money, entrepreneurial candidacies, single-issue campaigning, and union dis-unity, you can run but not hide from crowded fields of Democrats. In many current primary races, they are all claiming to be “progressive,” even as they raise and spend millions of dollars competing against each other—money that might have been better spent on actual movement building?

A Working Class Mayor Is Something To Be

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Review: Winning Richmond: How a Progressive Alliance Won City Hall by Gayle McLaughlin. Hardball Press, 2018.

Well before the Trump era, U.S. presidents from both major parties failed to address urban problems or made them worse. Congress, state legislatures, and governors weren't much better. The job of fighting poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation shifted to the municipal level, where activist mayors have tried to mobilize the limited resources of local government on behalf of neglected constituents and causes.

From Jackson to Richmond: How Radical Mayors Left Their Mark

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Well before the Trump era, U.S. presidents from both major parties failed to address urban problems or made them worse. Governors, members of Congress, and state legislators didn’t perform much better. So the difficult job of fighting poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation shifted to the municipal level, where activist mayors have tried to mobilize the limited resources of local government on behalf of neglected causes and constituents.

Weinsteins in the Workplace: Will Unions Be Part of the Solution Or the Problem?

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The exploding national debate about workplace harassment of women by powerful bosses or male co-workers is a great opening for unions to demonstrate their importance as one form of protection against such abuse.

Unfortunately, when unions are not pro-active on this front in their dealings with management or, worse yet, allow bullying or sexual harassment among staff or members, their credibility and appeal as a sword and shield for women (or anybody else) is greatly reduced.

Book Review

A Tale Of Many Cities: Potholes in the Road To Municipal Reform

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Juan Gonzalez. Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and The Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities.  New York: New Press, 2017.

There is no better role model for aspiring radical scribes than Juan Gonzalez. The country’s leading Latino journalist is cohost of Democracy Now!, a former columnist for the New York Daily News, and twice winner of the Polk Award for his investigative reporting. Not many veterans of campus and community struggles in the Sixties and workplace organizing in the 1970s later moved into mainstream journalism with such distinction, Gonzalez has managed to combine daily newspapering with continued dedication to the cause of labor and minority communities.

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