Cubicle workers of the world — unite!

I don’t work in a cubicle, but I am a fan of the labor movement and thought this ad from ThinkGeek was funny:

Fellow cubicledwellers, join us in solidarity against The Man. OfficeMax estimates there are 80 million cubicle workers worldwide. And they’d know, cause they’re trying to sell them all one of those mousepads that stinks. Imagine the collective bargaining power of 80 million people crying out for one thing: doors.

POEM: Luxury Hotel

Luxury Hotel

Room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.
So many liftings of the mattress, so many bends of the knees.
Then there are the chemicals, the solvents, the cleaners.
Scrubbing with your face right down in the fumes,
breathing deeply from the exertion.
Cracked skin, aching muscles, arms like rubber.
You can’t even lift your baby girl for a kiss.
Other people’s pubic hair, other people’s vomit and blood.
One time there was a man hiding in the closet.
He put one finger to his lips and told you to be quiet,
but how could you be quiet when there was a man in the closet?
So you screamed and ran and they gave you half a day off.
Another time you begged and begged for shoes,
the kind with the special soles so you wouldn’t slip.
After days and weeks and months, they ordered them
on the very day your head hit the tile floor,
the same day they cornered you in the manager’s office
and nobody called for a doctor, the same day
you passed out waiting for the bus and a passerby
took you to the emergency room. A stranger had to do that.
There are seven Dominicans and three women from Jamaica
and five Senegalese and one Vietnamese lady in the laundry
with no English who keeps to herself in the mouth of the furnace.
Eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours if it’s busy.
Then it’s home to cook and do your own laundry and help
Javi and Lisa with their homework. Make the lunches
for the next day. Shrink into the bed and fall asleep
to the throbbing in your joints. The alarm at 4 a.m.
Then it’s room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.

Tasini to Paterson: Are you insane, Dave?


Labor writer and activist Jonathan Tasini

Jonathan Tasini has written a simple and compelling piece about NY Gov. David Paterson’s call for pension givebacks for state employees. Here’s the core of Tasini’s argument:

We could wipe out the budget deficit–or, certainly trim it down to something trivial–by raising taxes on the very wealthy and going back to a more progressive taxation system that we had in the 1970s. You know this: if the state replaced the existing rate structure (consisting of 5 brackets with rates ranging from 4.0 to 6.85%) with one consisting of 14 brackets with rates ranging from 2.0 to 15.0%, we could bring in $6-7 billion more, and perhaps as high as $11 billion.

Under this plan, 95 percent of the state’s taxpayers—95 percent of the people—would receive a tax cut. Like the proposals championed by President-elect Barack Obama, a more progressive taxation system would be easing the burden on the people who are the most at risk in our economically troubled times. The top one percent of taxpayers—whose average income is $2.685 million—would see their taxes go up about 5.4 percent. The four percent below that top one percent—those people whose average income is $326,000—would have their taxes rise 1.4 percent.In fact, the top five percent would have their dues burden slightly reduced because higher state taxes would lower their federal obligations.

Everyone else would realize a reduction in their taxes.

I highly recommend the rest of the article, too.

UNITE HERE prez on Obama’s victory

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A UNITE HERE election volunteer

I work for the labor union UNITE HERE. Our president, Bruce Raynor, put out this statement on Barack Obama’s victory:

STATEMENT FROM UNITE HERE GENERAL PRESIDENT BRUCE RAYNOR ON OBAMA VICTORY
November 4, 2008

New York – Barack Obama’s victory is a victory for working people across this country. Regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation – all working people have taken a giant step forward today.

Barack has renewed our faith in what is possible for those who are trying to stay in the middle class and for those who are seeking to become a part of the middle class.

With great vision, he talked with us about what he wants to accomplish for the American people. And with great candor, he called for every person to become engaged in the effort.

As the first labor union to endorse Barack, UNITE HERE took that call seriously. From the strength of our nearly one million members and retirees, we mobilized thousands to get out the vote in more than a dozen states. We knocked on more than 350,000 doors; and during this past weekend alone, we had more than 3,000 volunteers talking with voters in battleground states.

Barack’s insight and leadership drive a policy agenda that supports those working people who have formed a union, as well as those who have not yet formed a union. He is committed to ensuring that working families have wages that enable them to put food on the table, cutting taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families, securing healthcare for all Americans, promoting fair trade and not “free trade” that sends good jobs overseas, defending the right of workers to freely join unions by passing the Employee Free Choice Act, establishing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, fighting the growth of income inequality, and guaranteeing retirement security for all workers so that growing old does not mean growing poor.

With Barack’s victory, as well as Democratic gains in both the House and the Senate, we can make real reforms to improve the lives of every union member in this country and every worker who wants a union.

To be sure, the current economic crisis will present great challenges. But we are inspired by the change that is possible. And we believe in Barack Obama – a man who understands the experiences of working people. A man who, more than twenty years ago, took a job as a community organizer in Chicago to fight for families devastated by steel plant closings – to fight for working people.

UNITE HERE is a labor union representing 465,000 workers in the apparel, textile, hotel, food service, gaming, and laundry industries.

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John in his UNITE HERE hat