Atlas shrugging?

An early report shows organized labor might be withdrawing its financial support for candidates for federal office:

Union donations to federal candidates for the first three months of 2011 are far lower than donations during the same period in 2009 and in 2007, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Unions’ political action committees have contributed $4.75 million to federal candidates this year through the end of March, according to the Center’s research. In 2009, union PACs donated $8.44 million — and in 2007, union PACs donated $6.77 million — through the same period.

It is still not clear why donations are down 40 percent, although a fraction of this percentage may be due to PACs who have not yet filed any paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. The biggest PACs file monthly campaign finance reports with the FEC, but PACs that file semi-annually in 2011 won’t submit their first reports to the FEC until next week.

Even if Union PAC money were eventually proven to be higher than the sum revealed by the Open Secrets report, the decrease now evident may be the first sign of organized labor withdrawing its financial support for the Democratic Party. This change should not be too surprising given the structural features of the current economy, which promote high-unemployment and low-wages, and the role the Democratic Party has played in the creation of this situation. Why, after all, would labor support a party like the Democratic Party, a party that has adopted anti-labor policies for a while?

It should not support the Democratic Party unless, of course, it supports candidates that promise to support a labor agenda and do eventually deliver on their promises.

I cross-posted this article at Fire Dog Lake

We’re not party animals

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka informs the party duopoly that Labor has an agenda and a movement which will work to achieve that agenda:

And we’ll build up our labor movement — in the workplace and in political life.

We want an independent labor movement strong enough to return balance to our economy, fairness to our tax system, security to our families and moral and economic standing to our nation.

We can’t simply build the power of any political party or any candidate. For too long we’ve been left after the election holding a canceled check and asking someone to pay attention to us. No more! No more!

Our goal is not to help candidates or parties, our goal is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country, and that’s what we’re going to do.

When it comes to politics, we’re looking for real champions of working women and men.

And I have a message for some of our “friends.” It doesn’t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside — the outcome is the same either way.

Super-exploitation at the Huffington Post

Mike Elk, a journalist recently ‘fired’ by the Huffington Post for annoying a fraction of the nabob set, wrote:

Last week was a milestone in journalism, as the Huffington Post exceeded the New York Times in Web traffic and cemented its role as a main rival to the Gray Lady. It was also noted that the combined AOL-Huffington Post newsroom staff of 1,300 people is now bigger than the Times‘ 1,200 person newsroom staff. While much of the debate about the rivarly [sic] has focused on Huffington Post’s adoption of savvy Internet tactics versus the much more old-school New York Times, very little of the discussion has focused on where the two newsroom differ the most: their labor practices.

The Times’ newsroom staff is entirely unionized, while the AOL-Huffington Post staff is entirely nonunionized. Also unlike the Times, which insists on paying every professional writer (even op-ed contributors), the Huffington Post has relied on a network of over 8,000 unpaid bloggers to establish itself and drive traffic to its site. In a Forbes magazine article, AOL executives were quoted as saying that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong “talked a lot about the importance of recruiting hordes of free bloggers…. “It was always, ‘Arianna does it. That’s what she’s built her business on. Why don’t we do it, too?'” says a former AOL editor-in-chief.”

Labor leaders claim that with 11,000 journalists having lost their jobs due to newsrooms cutbacks in the last three years, AOL-Huffington Post has risen to its stature by exploiting journalists desperate to establish names for themselves as writers, and thus willing to work for free in the hopes that they may someday find paid work. They say that the fact the Huffington Post doesn’t pay its writers is an unfair business advantage that is sure to lower the standards of journalists.

Unpaid labor! Ms Moneybags should be so lucky.

In response to what labor leaders see as an exploitative situation, on March 17th, the Newspaper Guild and the National Writers Union both called for bloggers to refuse to blog at the Huffington Post and join an electronic picket line against the Huffington Post.

The unions are demanding that a pay schedule be established for compensation of all unpaid Huffington Post bloggers and that unpaid bloggers at the Huffington Post be given greater editorial control over how their works at the Huffington Post are used.

The unions requested a meeting with Arianna Huffington to describe labor practices at the Huffington Post. So far, Arianna Huffington has not granted their request for a meeting, but union officials are in discussion with people close to the Huffington Post hoping to secure one.

The upshot: I support and advocate supporting the unionization of Huffington Post.

Legitimacy be damned

Mary Spicuzza and Clay Barbour of The Wisconsin State Journal report:

In a surprise move late Wednesday, Senate Republicans used a series of parliamentary maneuvers to overcome a three-week stalemate with Democrats and pass an amended version of the governor’s controversial budget repair bill.

With a crowd of protesters chanting outside their chambers, Senators approved an amended version of Gov. Scott Walker’s bill, which would strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees.

The new bill removes fiscal elements of the proposal but still curbs collective bargaining and increases employee payments in pension and health benefits. The changes would amount to an approximate 8 percent pay cut for public workers.

The House will pass the amended bill tomorrow. But the law will likely need to pass a number of legal and political tests. These tests may include: A general strike, new demonstrations and multiple legal challenges based upon the legally suspect parliamentary maneuvering that enabled the Senate to overcome the quorum problem created by the Democrats.

This event also reveals with undeniable clarity Wisconsin Republicans to be shameless hypocrites. It shows that the union-busting component of Walker’s Budget Repair Bill was a non-fiscal and decidedly political goal.

A video clip of Saturday’s Madison Protest

Thanks to Mike Whitney for posting this video at FireDogLake.

Pastor Martin Niemoller recalls a troubled time

A demonstrator recalls Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.