Monday, September 01, 2008


This August marks the 61st anniversary of the Taft-Hartley Act, one of the great blows to American democracy, going into effect.

The Act, which was drafted by employers, fundamentally infringed on workers' human rights.

Legally, Taft-Hartley:
impeded employees' right to join together in labor unions;
undermined the ability of unions to represent workers' interests effectively; and
authorized an array of anti-union activities by employers.

Among its key provisions, Taft-Hartley:

Authorized states to enact so-called right-to-work laws. These laws undermine the ability to build effective unions by creating a free-rider problem -- workers can enjoy the benefits of union membership in a workplace without actually joining the union or paying union dues. Right-to-work laws thus increase employer leverage to resist unions by undermining individual workers' incentives to join a union; and thereby vastly decrease union membership, thus dramatically diminishing unions' bargaining power.

Outlawed the closed shop, which required that persons join the union before being eligible for employment with the unionized employer. (Still permitted are provisions that require any member of a bargaining unit to pay a portion of dues to that union, though not to join the union.)

Defined "employee" for purposes of the Act as excluding supervisors and independent contractors. This diminished the pool of workers eligible to be unionized, and has become an increasingly serious problem as courts and the National Labor Relations Board have authorized ever-expanding employer definitions of what constitutes a supervisor. The exclusion of supervisors from union organizing activity meant they would be used as management's "front line" in anti-organizing efforts.

Permitted employers to petition for a union certification election, thus undermining the ability of workers and unions to control the timing of an election during the sensitive organizing stage, forcing an election before the union is ready.

Required that the employer be able to demand hearings on key matters of dispute -- such as what constitutes an appropriate bargaining unit -- before a union recognition election, thus delaying the election. Delay generally benefits management, giving the employer time to coerce workers.

Established the "right" of management to campaign against a union organizing drive, thereby scuttling the principle of employer neutrality.

Prohibited secondary boycotts -- boycotts directed to encourage neutral employers to pressure the employer with which the union has a dispute. Prior to 1947, secondary boycotts had been one of organized labor's most potent tools, for organizing, negotiating and dispute settlement.

The political damage of Taft-Hartley was just as severe. In addition to starting an era of red-baiting with the American labor movement which led to harmful internal division (a now-invalidated provision of Taft-Hartley required union leaders to sign anti-communist affidavits), the Act sent a message to employers: It was OK to bust unions and deny workers their rights to collectively bargain.

In short, Taft-Hartley entrenched significant executive tyranny in the corporate workplace, with ramifications that are more severe today than ever. Union membership is at historic 60-year lows, with only 8 percent of the private economy's workforce unionized. Employer violations of labor rights are routine, and illegal firings of union supporters in labor organizing drives are at epidemic levels.

Major unions in the United States have rallied around the Employee Free Choice Act, which would begin to repair some of the damage caused by Taft-Hartley and the anti-union culture it engendered. They should also speak out for abolition of Taft-Hartley, and not concede this monumental employer usurpation, during this period of giant multinational corporate power.

Once again, neither the AFL-CIO nor other major unions have rallied against what they believe to be the most anti-labor law ever enacted by the federal government. Such chronic resignation would never be the case within the business community were there a similar law on the books stifling their organizational powers for so many years.

It is past time for the repeal of Taft-Hartley. That would be one important step in restoring workers right to organize into unions, achieve a living wage in the Wal-Marts, McDonald's and other workplaces, and in revitalizing American democracy.

Will any members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduce long overdue repeal legislation?

That's independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader from "Nader Slams 1947 Anti-Union Law" (Nader-Gonzalez '08). Nader is now on the ballot in Wisconsin and geared up from Louisiana. Nader is for troops out of Iraq. All troops, not some semantic word-game of "combat troops."

Iraq? Saturday the New York Times ignored it. Sunday they punished it -- assigning Michael Gordon to cover it is punishment -- we can skip his garbage, he filed from DC. Two days in a row with not one story filed from Iraq. That's pretty damn awful, isn't it? Know what's worse? Monday's paper? Nothing filed from Iraq.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has been on a roll, and American officials are getting worried," Leila Fadel reports in "Maliki's growing defiance of U.S. worries allies and critics" (McClatchy Newspapers). Fadel continues:

Once perceived as a sectarian Shiite Muslim leader, the U.S.-backed Maliki has won over Sunni constituents in recent months with offensives to curb Shiite militias in southern cities such as Basra and Amara and in the Baghdad Shiite slum of Sadr City.

That's only surprising if you're unaware of how, for the bulk of the 20th cenutry, certain authoritarian regimes in Latin America successfully played the US off the USSR and vice-versa. I'm thinking of one country in particular that gave Time magazine fits from the 1920s to the 1930s because Time supported authoritarian regimes and it was one thing after another each year. Reading over it today, you can only laugh as then-right-wing Time bent over backwards to minimize USSR involvement and gushed breathlessly whenever it looked like that country and the US really were best friends forever! (Time today is a centrist magazine. It's roots are in right-wing and authoritarian.)

al-Maliki is the White House puppet. He wasn't the choice of Iraq. (He wasn't even the first-round pick in the puppet pageant.) But most puppets have some form of brain. Bully Boy's on the way out. Bully Boy can't protect him. Whomever the next president of the US is, it won't be Bully Boy. All you're seeing is a puppet realize he can pull on his own strings a little harder.

Like that country's leader, al-Maliki's playing the game for himself, not for the citizens of Iraq. And with BBC reporting that "Awakening" Council members are now "securing Baghdad," he better hope he's a better player than puppet.

McClatchy reported on Iraq all weekend.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy reported Saturday a Baghdad roadisde bomb wounded two Iraqi service members and a Baghdad car bomb wounded two people. Hussein Kadhim reported Sunday on a Baghdad car bombing that wounded three, a Mosul roadside bombing wounded two. Laith Hammoudi reports a Monday Baghdad car bombing that wounded three people, a Baghdad assassination attempt via bombing on Emad Sa'id Jasim al Mish'hadani ("Awakening" Council) that wounded him, a Kirkuk roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 child and left two more wounded, a car bombing outside of Kirkuk that targeted "Abudl Ameer Mahdi, the judge of Tuz Khurmatu court" and left five of his bodyguards wounded as well as five civilians and a Diyala Province bombing (in a farm's water pump) that claimed 3 lives ("two brothers and their nephew").


Mohammed Al Dulaimy reported a Saturday home invasion in Diyala Province which 4 people were killed (an "Awakening" Council member, his wife and two children). Hussein Kadhim reported Saturday on the shooting death of a male "empolyee of Baghdad municipality," 2 Iraqi military service members shot dead in Baghdad and an armed attack in Diyala Province which "destroyed dozens of houses and displaced 46 families from their own houses".


Mohammed Al Dulaimy reported 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad Saturday. Hussein Kadhim reports 2 corpses were discovered in Baghdad, the corpse of Dr. Tariq Muaeen was discovered in Mosul (following his kidnapping), and two more corpses were discovered in Mosul. Today Laith Hammoudi reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad

Charles Levinson (AP) reports that Al Anbar Province has been handed over to the puppet government (in reality, nothing's been handed over -- hey, when do the British leave Basra for real, not in yet another for-show handover, but actually leave?). No US service member has yet been reported dead over the weekend; however M-NF refused to make an announcement of a death so the death toll increased by one when the Defense Dept named a service member who had died (repeating, a death M-NF never announced). This death increased August's death toll to 23 which is not only an increase of July's, it's ten more. It is highly unlikely that will be front page news that way Operation Happy Talk splashed July's death toll everywhere (and splashed it as 'good news'). 4151 is the current number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
Truest statement of the Week II
Truest statement of the Week III
A note to our readers
Editorial: Ignoring the only news out of Denver
TV: The endless non-news
MSNBC's Weiner Dog
The overview of Gutter Trash's attack
How it started and who started it
A rare moment when John Edwards told the truth

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hussein kadhim
the third estate sunday review