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.

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.

Can “Corporate Free” Candidates Win?

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Since 2004, members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) have won ten out of the sixteen city council and mayoral races they have contested in their majority minority city of 110,000.

Should Greens Go Local?

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As Kermit the Frog, America’s most famous Muppet, says: “it’s not easy being green.”

Preliminary results of the Green Party’s latest national campaign confirm the reality of his observation. The Party’s much-touted goal was getting 5% of the vote on Nov. 8, so it could qualify for $10 million in federal funds for 2020 campaigning and maintain broad nationwide ballot access.

New Hampshire SEIU Breaks from International–Endorses Bernie

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They don't put the slogan “Live Free or Die” on New Hampshire license plates for nothing!

There has been an inspiring statewide local union response to SEIU's predictably short-sighted headquarters embrace of Hillary Clinton. This Sanders endorsement comes from public workers who know Bernie well because they live and work just across the Connecticut River from Vermont–or, in some cases, are Vermonters themselves.

Over 1,000 local union leaders and members back Bernie Sanders for President

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Grassroots labor initiative urges Democratic primary support for Sanders by AFL-CIO and national unions.

Over 1,000 union activists from around the country today kicked off Labor for Bernie 2016.

Campaigning With Bernie, Then and Now: Why Labor Should Give Sanders Strong Primary Election Support

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When I first met Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders, he was a pretty marginal figure in his adopted state of Vermont. It was 1976 and he was running, unsuccessfully and for the fourth time, as a candidate of the Liberty Union Party (LUP).

Never heard of it? Well that’s understandable because only Vermonters are still afflicted with its enduring flakiness. Liberty Union (LUP) was a radical third party spearheaded by opponents of the Vietnam War who had, like Bernie, washed up in the Green Mountain State as “the Sixties” subsided.

After Single Payer Setback: Union Members Face Multiple Threats in Vermont

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Liz Nikazmerad is a rarity in American labor: a local union president under the age of 30, displaying both youth and militancy. For the last two year years, she has led the 180-member Local 203 of the United Electrical Workers (UE), while working in the produce department of City Market in Burlington, Vermont. Thanks to their contract bargaining, full-time and part-time employees of this bustling community-owned food cooperative currently enjoy good medical benefits.

Shummy’s Surrender: Democratic Governor of VT Goes South On Single Payer

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“Vermont…is the only state with universal single-payer health coverage for its residents.”

      –James Fallows in The Atlantic, April, 2014

Police Violence is Not Inevitable

In the wake of a Missouri grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9, it can be difficult to imagine a city in the United States where a police department and a largely black and Latino population work together productively.

But it’s happening in Richmond, California, a gritty town in the San Francisco Bay Area best known for its massive Chevron refinery and, in past years, for its high crime rate. 

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