Workers & Economic Inequality

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Belabored Podcast #59: Labor Rights as Civil Rights, with Moshe Marvit

TCF fellow, Moshe Marvit talks about labor rights as civil rights, in an interview for Dissent Magazine.

Unionization has always been about labor rights—but is the right to form a union also a civil right? How might the politics and culture of organized labor change if society saw unionization not simply as an exercise of collective power in the workplace, but as an individual entitlement, part of one’s economic citizenship? We explore this question with Moshe Marvit, a Century Foundation fellow who recently helped turn the idea into legislation now pending in Congress. We also discuss minority unionism, technology and labor exploitation, and how our concepts of labor rights are evolving in response to economic shifts and intensifying legal attacks on the labor movement.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

Tags: unions, unionization, union rights, labor rights, labor organizing as a civil right, labor organizations, labor movement, civil rights

The New Volkswagen Model: Minority Unionism

TCF fellow, Moshe Marvit writes about United Auto Workers "minority union" at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee, in a piece for In These Times.

When the workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted in February on whether to unionize, the stakes were high. A victory would create a foothold for labor in the elusive South, while a defeat could be interpreted as a sign of the labor movement’s inexorable decline.

The vote went against the union—712 to 626—and labor was left to figure out its next move. Under U.S. labor law, another vote cannot be held for a year.

Read the full article.

Tags: volkswagen, united auto workers, unions, union movement, labor unions, labor protest, labor movement

Civil Rights and Union Organizing

TCF fellows, Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit have been mentioned in an article about the Ellison-Lewis Bill, in an article published on The New Crossroads.

With unions nearing extinction in the private sector and under relentless attack in the public sector, making union organizing a civil right could help revive the battered U.S. labor movement.

A bill recently proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D- Minn.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) would extend that right to union organizers.

By defining organizing a fundamental right, the bill would provide workers with the protection against discrimination now enjoyed by minorities. Under the legislation, workers who are fired for organizing would have the right to sue their employers for damages in federal court.

Read the full article.

Tags: unions, union organizing, union movement, labor rights, labor organizing as a civil right, labor organizing, labor laws, civil rights

Moms against Walmart

TCF fellow, Amy B. Dean, writes about how women are fighting back against stagnant wages and uncertain work schedules, in a piece for AlJazeera America

Raising the minimum wage is, for the most part, framed as a matter of economic justice. But it also concerns feminism.

From Walmart moms who work at the retail giant to domestic workers, women are significantly overrepresented in low-wage jobs. This chronic concentration of women in low-paying positions is one of the primary reasons for the lingering pay gap between the sexes. Currently, 55 percent of workers who are stuck making $7.25 per hour — the federal minimum wage — are women. Even those who earn slightly more are often still mired in poverty.

Read the full article.

Tags: women's rights, strikes, minimum wage increase, minimum wage, labor movement, feminism

Mathis, Boychuck: RedBlueAmerica: Should union organizing be a civil right?

TCF fellows, Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit, have been mentioned in an article on The State about the Ellison-Lewis Bill.

Big Labor in the United States has been on the wane for decades. About 6.7 percent of American private-sector workers belonged to a union in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics. Public-sector union membership topped 35.3 percent.

Democrats in Congress would like to change that. A bill by Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, and John Lewis, D-Georgia, would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to make labor organizing a “fundamental right.” They argue that the law should make it easier for workers to band together against unfair treatment from employers.

Read the full article.

Tags: unions, union rights, union movement, labor unions, labor rights, labor organizing as a civil right, civil rights

New Bill Defines Labor Rights As Civil Rights

TCF fellows, Richard D. Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit have been mentioned in an article about the Ellison-Lewis Bill, in an article published on In These Times.

On Wednesday, a handful of Democratic Party lawmakers introduced a bill to turn the slogan “Labor Rights are Civil Rights” into the law of the land. While admitting the proposed legislation has little chance of passage in the current anti-labor environment, supporters say they hope shifting political winds may favor the bill sometime in the future.

A civil right is any right enshrined in the Constitution or legislation, such as freedom of assembly or freedom of the press. The new measure would affirm that labor rights are equally fundamental.

Read the full article.

Tags: unions, union organizing, union movement, labor unions, labor organizing as a civil right, labor organizing, civil rights


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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