Category Archives: Politics

Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? Political Articulation and the Canadian Comparison, 1932-1948

Source: Barry Eidlin, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Department of Sociology, August 1, 2013 (under review)

Why is there no labor party in the United States? This question has long stood at the heart of debates about the shape of American politics and social policy. Existing explanations use a “reflection” model of politics, whereby parties reflect pre-existing differences in political cultures, institutions, and cleavages. But an analysis comparing existing U.S. electoral data with newly compiled Canadian data challenges reflection models: instead of difference, the data shows similarity prior to the 1930s, then divergence. Labor party support collapsed in the U.S., and took off in Canada. To explain this, I propose an “articulation” model of politics, which emphasizes the role of parties in assembling and naturalizing different class coalitions. I show how struggles surrounding working class political incorporation during the Great Depression reconfigured class alliances in both countries. In the U.S., FDR and the Democratic Party made the Great Depression a class issue, and used state policy to articulate a liberal-labor alliance that undermined labor party support. In Canada, mainstream parties excluded agrarian and labor constituencies, leaving them available for an independent left political coalition. This foreclosed the possibility of a liberal-labor alliance and allowed the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) to take root as a farmer-labor party.

Capitalism on Trial: Explorations in the Tradition of Thomas E. Weisskopf

Source: Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin (eds.), Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), July 2013
(purchase required)

From the abstract:
In Capitalism on Trial, edited by Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin twenty-nine economists reflect on and explore the range of Thomas Weisskopf’s research. Chapters cover the economics of developing countries, U.S. imperialism, Marxian crisis theory, contemporary economic history and institutional development, affirmative action, and the potential of socialism as an alternative to capitalism. In addition, the book includes a chapter by Weisskopf in which he reflects on his career in economics and the state of the U.S. and global economies.
See also:
Download the working papers from the Weisskopf Festschrift Conference

Working papers include:
Social Structures of Accumulation, the Rate of Profit, and Economic Crises (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – David M. Kotz
How Big Is Too Big? On the Social Efficiency of the Financial Sector in the United States (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Gerald Epstein and James Crotty
Confronting Those Affirmative Action Grumbles (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – William Darity
Screening for Honesty and Motivation in the Workplace: What Can Affirmative Action Do? (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Elaine McCrate
A Stimulus for Affirmative Action? (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Jeannette Wicks-Lim
The Rising Strength of Management, High Unemployment and Slow Growth: Revisiting Okun’s Law (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Michael Reich
Reducing Growth to Achieve Environmental Sustainability: The Role of Work Hours (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Kyle Knight, Eugene A. Rosa, Juliet Schor
The Wealth-Power Connection (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Arthur MacEwan
The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Capitalism (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Nancy Folbre
Economic Growth: The Great Slowdown (1980-2000) and Recovery (2000-2010) (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Mark Weisbrot

The United Front Against Austerity

Source: United Front Against Austerity, 2013

From about UFAA:
…Occupy Wall Street named the right enemy, but lacked the methods and will to defeat them. Our methods are simple: 1) A United Front representing a defined set of broadly popular demands; 2) A Program of economic demands, starting with a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax and Nationalization of the Federal Reserve System; 3) Leadership and an Organization that continually develop as the United Front grows.

Who will be the victims of this crisis – poor and working families, or the financial parasites who stole our jobs, our homes, our government and our future? The choice is yours. The United Front Against Austerity has the methods, program and resources you need. Spread the word – No Austerity, Make Wall Street Pay!

Pages include:
Organizing Reports
Articles and Podcasts
Meetups
Downloads

Programs include:
1. Emergency Measures
2. National Banking
3. Economic Protections
4. Economic Rights

“The Feminine Arm of the Law”: Police Wives, Policewomen, and Gender Politics in the Chicago Police Department, 1950 – 1984

Source: Megan Adams, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 10 no. 2, Summer 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In the late twentieth century, rank-and-file members of the Chicago police struggled to organize civil rights and labor protests against the city and police department. Police wives joined them in this effort and, because they were not subject to department rules or discipline, often served as proxies for the police during workplace disputes. Developing their own series of organizations, police wives staged protests and ran petition drives in support of their husbands’ initiatives. They also focused on improved police safety—an effort they said would keep police wives from becoming police widows. When Chicago policewomen went out on patrol with policemen for the first time in 1974, Chicago’s police wives rallied to oppose gender equality for policewomen. Arguing that policewomen posed a safety hazard to policemen on the job, police wives also feared that the allure of policewomen would destroy their marriages. As defenders of male privilege in the police department, police wives supported a sex-segregated workplace where policewomen did their jobs as “mothers.” At the same time, they demanded an equal voice in police department politics by drawing on their status and power as wives.

A Bagful of Cash: How the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Orchestrated a Corporate Takeover of Government

Source: Carl Gibson, ShuttheChamber.org, July 16, 2013

From the abstract:
The US Chamber of Commerce– a 101 year-old organization formed as corporations’ first union—is the chief agent behind Congress’ kowtowing to corporate interests, the Supreme Court’s favorability to corporations in its rulings, and presidents of both parties’ insistence on accommodating the wishes of multinational corporations at the expense of working-class people all over the world. This report outlines how the Chamber first formed, their blueprint for ultimate success as revealed in the confidential Powell Memo, how that blueprint has been realized in the 40 years since its writing, and the devastating effects of that agenda on small business. Despite the US Chamber purporting to be pro-jobs, pro-small business, and pro-growth, they have consistently lobbied for policies that kill jobs, stall economic growth, and take competitive advantages away from small businesses to enrich their corporate members. The Chamber of Commerce’s unchecked power over government will only continue to worsen unless the American people build a movement to mobilize against them.

Defending Public Education: An Interview with Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union

Source: Josh Eidelson and Sarah Jaffe, Dissent, Vol. 60 no. 3, (whole no. 252), Summer 2013
(subscription required)

In 2010, a slate led by Karen Lewis ousted the incumbent leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, promising deeper community engagement and a more aggressive defense of teachers and public education. In 2012, with Lewis as president, CTU mounted the city’s first teachers’ strike in a quarter-century, and the most dramatic recent challenge to the bipartisan education reform consensus. For the inaugural episode of Dissent magazine’s podcast series, labor journalists Josh Eidelson and Sarah Jaffe sat down with Lewis to discuss teaching and gender discrimination, professionalism and solidarity, unions and the Democratic Party. An edited version of the transcript appears below. The full interview can be heard on the Dissent website. The interview was conducted in April, before the Board of Education voted to close fifty public schools in Chicago.
Related:
Belabored Podcast, Episode 1: “We will shut down your city”
download the podcast

Review of Administrative Law Judge Decisions by the Political Appointees of the NLRB, 1991–2006

Source: Cole D. Taratoot, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 23, Issue 3, July 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The ability of unelected bureaucrats to shape public policy in a democracy has prompted scholars to try to understand the factors that affect agency decision making. The conclusion from this research has been that political ideology plays a substantial role in the policy decisions and outcomes of political appointees at independent agencies. However, researchers have largely ignored the role and influence of lower level decision making. In order to study how lower level decisions affect public policy, I examine how administrative law judge (ALJ) decisions impact subsequent decisions by the political appointees of the National Labor Relations Board. I examine the Board decisions for the period between 1991 and 2007 as a function of the ALJ decision, the attitudes of the Board members, exception filing, economic factors, external political influence, and case characteristics. Results demonstrate that the decision of the ALJ is the most important determining factor in predicting Board outcomes in both routine and difficult cases. These results alter previous perceptions that ideology was the most important determining factor of independent agency decision making.

Worker Cooperative Creation As Progressive Lawyering? Moving Beyond the One-Person, One-Vote Floor

Source: Gowri J. Krishna, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Vol. 34 no. 1, 2013
(subscription required)

Community Economic Development (CED) scholars posit that creating worker cooperatives – businesses owned and managed by their workers – is a progressive approach to CED with the potential to go beyond job creation and spur grassroots political activism. Yet many workers’ rights organizations and workers’ rights advocates, especially those serving low-wage immigrant workers, struggle with connecting worker cooperatives to broader efforts for economic, political, or social change. This Article argues that forming a worker cooperative that acts as a change agent requires more than simply structuring the business as a worker cooperative. Although cooperative corporation laws and cooperative principles set a floor – typically, one person, one vote – that floor alone does not guarantee political activism or broader change; collective organization does not inherently lead to collective action. Worker cooperatives face challenges in connecting to broader movements and serving as more than job-creation vehicles. These challenges include the inherent tension between a co-operative’s identity as a business and that of a values-oriented association of people, the limited scale of cooperatives, the significant resources required to start and maintain them, and concerns over member priorities and retention. Creating worker co-operatives as progressive institutions requires surmounting these challenges and actively prioritizing broader aims when incubating, recruiting for, structuring, governing, and operating cooperatives.

United States of ALEC

Source: Bill Moyers, June 21, 2013
(video & transcript)

From the summary:
A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”…

….Following up on a 2012 report, this update includes new examples of corporate influence on state legislation and lawmakers, the growing public protest against ALEC’s big business-serving agenda, and internal tactics ALEC is instituting to further shroud its actions and intentions….