'We're a Movement Now': Fast Food Workers Strike in 150 Cities (NBC News)

Fast food workers walked off the job nationwide on Thursday, as police arrested dozens who engaged in civil disobedience. Organizers said workers in an estimated 150 cities were expected to take part in the strike, which they said marked an intensification of their two-year campaign to raise hourly pay in the industry to $15 and to win workers’ right to form a union. Organizers said dozens of workers had been arrested in cities including Kansas City, Detroit, and New York.

Fast-Food Workers Turn Up the Heat (In These Times)

“Paddy wagon’s on its way,” announced a Chicago Police tactical officer over his radio early this morning. Shortly thereafter, a crowd of about 300 demonstrators—including over 100 striking fast food workers—began chanting “Take the street!” and proceeded to do just that. Marching between a McDonald’s on one side of the road and a Burger King on the other, the crowd blocked 87th street traffic on Chicago’s south side for about 20 minutes. The action was the latest escalation in the fast-food workers’ campaign for a $15 minimum hourly wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. Two dozen workers proceeded to link arms and sit down in the road in an act of civil disobedience, prompting the police to take them away in handcuffs.

Hundreds of Fast-Food Workers Striking for Higher Wages Are Arrested (New York Times) 

Hundreds of fast-food workers and labor allies demanding a $15-an-hour wage were arrested in sit-ins around the country on Thursday, as the protesters used civil disobedience to call attention to their cause. Organizers said nearly 500 protesters were arrested in three dozen cities — including Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Little Rock, Ark. All told, the sit-ins took place in about 150 cities nationwide, the organizers said.

Arrests as Fast Food Workers Strike Across the Country for $15 an Hour (Newsweek)

Thousands of workers at fast food restaurants across the country went on strike Thursday, demanding better wages and the right to unionize without retaliation. Organizers said strikes would take place is around 150 cities and would include workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, and more. In addition to the right to unionize, workers are demanding a $15 hourly wage. “There has to be civil disobedience because workers don’t see any other way to get $15 an hour and a union,” Kendall Fells, organizing director of the organizing group Fast Food Forward.

50 arrested in local fast-food wage protests (Chicago Tribune) 

Hundreds of fast-food workers held strikes and protests in Chicago and other U.S. cities Thursday, the latest step in their push for a $15 hourly wage. In the Chicago area, 50 were handcuffed and taken into custody in two separate events, one in the city’s Chatham neighborhood and one in Cicero. Cicero charged the protestors with disrupting traffic, a misdemeanor, while Chicago issued citations to the 19 it detained earlier in the day. The Fight for $15 campaign said that 436 fast-food workers had been arrested nationwide as of Thursday afternoon.

Police ticket, arrest 30 Detroit fast-food protesters (Detroit Free Press)

More than 100 demonstrators shut down an east-side Detroit intersection Thursday as part of a labor-organized national fast-food strike. Detroit police said they ticketed and released 24 demonstrators for disorderly conduct and another six arrested for outstanding traffic warrants. Officers said protesters sat in the roadway at Mack Avenue and Canyon and refused to leave. The protesters blocked traffic for about a half hour, police said. “They didn’t have to leave — they just had to get out of the roadway — and they refused,” said Detroit Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt. “As long as you’re peaceful, we’re good, but you can’t block the roadway.”

Little Rock police arrest 11 in McDonald’s wage protest (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Little Rock police on Thursday morning arrested 11 protesters demonstrating for higher pay for fast-food workers. Officers got a call from protesters about 8 a.m. and responded to ensure order. By that time, demonstrators were blocking the thoroughfare at Seventh and Broadway, eventually moving to Third and Broadway, where some were arrested. “To my understanding they are protesting the minimum-wage law,” Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Sidney Allen said in an emailed statement. About 50 to 60 were demonstrating peacefully, Allen said.

Fast-food protests lead to 8 arrests in Wilkinsburg (Pittsburgh Business Times) 

A strike by fast-food workers seeking $15 an hour in pay has resulted in arrests in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in Wilkinsburg. Kyndall Mason, a spokesperson for One Pittsburgh, a labor support organization that’s been working with fast-food workers in their ongoing fight for higher wages in the region, said that eight protesters were arrested Thursday when they sat down on Penn Avenue in front of the restaurant, disrupting traffic. “They were arrested and taken away,” said Mason, who participated in the strike, which she said started at 5:30 a.m. “The rest of the crowd was dispersed.”

Five arrested in Houston fast food wages protest (Houston Chronicle) 

Five protesters were arrested Thursday afternoon in front of a McDonalds in Southwest Houston as part of a one-day protest in 150 cities to boost the minimum wage of fast food workers to $15 an hour. In a scene that has become increasingly familiar, Houston police were standing nearly with an armful of handcuffs and as soon as the protesters flooded into the intersection and sat down in the middle of the roadway, the police began making the arrests.

Three arrested at Denver protest outside McDonald’s (Denver Post)

Three people were arrested Thursday for blocking traffic during a demonstration in favor of paying fast-food workers $15 an hour. McDonald’s worker Christian Medina, the Rev. Patrick Demmer, the senior pastor at Graham Memorial Community Church of God in Christ, and college student Tucker Plumlee sat down in crosswalk on busy Colfax Avenue during a lunchtime protest outside a McDonald’s. They were taken into custody to cheers from around 100 protesters after police warned that they would be arrested if they refused to leave.

Fast food workers strike outside McDonald’s in Gretna, kicking off day of demonstrations (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

At 29 years old, Shaunta Richardson looks back at more than a decade of working in the fast food industry, starting when she was 16. Richardson, a Burger King cook who moved back to New Orleans from Texas this year after fleeing Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, said something is familiar between her teenage years and today — the numbers behind the dollar sign on pay day. “It seems like the checks look the same from then, to now,” Richardson said Thursday morning. Richardson joined in a rally outside McDonald’s in Gretna early Thursday morning, as strikes, demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience unfolded nationwide, part of the “Fight for $15” movement seeking $15-per-hour for fast food workers and the right to unionize, without fear of retaliation.

Charlotte fast-food workers join national protest (Charlotte Observer)

Priscilla Hoyle says she is raising her three children in a hotel room. When she’s not working three days a week at Bojangles’, she supplements her income by asking strangers for money, she said. “The only thing I can do is get out here and panhandle just to keep a roof over my children’s heads,” said Hoyle, 22. On Thursday, she joined about 20 Charlotte fast-food workers who walked off their jobs and demanded higher wages as part of a national push that featured protests in dozens of cities. 

Solidarity protest in Cleveland with home health aides leading effort (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Customers got a little something extra when they ordered from the breakfast menu at a local McDonald’s on Thursday morning. Well, the super-size portion of protest wasn’t exactly on the menu. Still, it was offered — for free — beginning at 6 a.m. to anyone within earshot of the McDonald’s on St. Clair Avenue, near East 105 Street, in the city’s Glenville neighborhood. Cleveland was one of more than 100 cities participating in the latest effort to get a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers. Supporters in Cleveland protested in solidarity with those holding strikes for higher wages in other cities. This is Cleveland’s third protest since 2013.

Fast-food workers stage national protests for better pay (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) 

Protestors march up Ponce de Leon Avenue on the way to protest in front of a McDonald’s restaurant. Ten people were arrested for blocking Ponce de Leon Ave. as protestors participated in a nationwide protest and strike for better pay near a McDonald’s in Atlanta, Thursday afternoon September 4, 2014. Calling for higher pay and the right to form a union without retaliation, fast-food chain workers and community supporters protested as part of a wave of strikes and protests in 150 cities across the U.S.

Labor’s New Groove: Taking the Struggle From Streets to Legislatures (The American Prospect)

The campaigns for minimum-wage raises aren’t confined to Democratic strongholds, however. Initiatives that would raise the state minimum wage are on November’s ballots in Arkansas and Alaska, where they may produce the kind of working-class turnout that would help the re-election bids of Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Mark Begich, respectively. That’s largely why Democrats gathered signatures to put the measures on the ballot. But no such Democratic strategy is responsible for the presence of such an initiative on Nebraska’s ballot this November. Quite apart from political calculation, it seems a fair number of Nebraskans just believe it’s time for a raise. Similarly, in Kentucky, a measure to enact a minimum wage ordinance is before the Louisville City Council, where it’s favored to pass.

Why Labor Matters in the Fight for Racial Justice (In These Times)

This was a period when black workers still were relegated to the most dirty, dangerous and grueling positions in industry. They were frozen out of transfers and promotions to what were considered white men’s jobs, even at union plants. But, as Fred says, “Even the worst union in the world is the best for black folks.” He explains, “For the first time, you were in an environment where you could speak against the union and against the company.” In the union, black workers had the power of collective voice, and they used it to change the union itself.

Why I Support the Fast-Food Workers Strike (The Nation)

In Washington, the agenda of corporations too often trumps the agenda of America’s middle class. Corporate leaders call and politicians answer. But when the working class calls to tell its representatives about the jobs that have disappeared because of bad trade deals or the paychecks that are smaller than they were twenty years ago, no one answers. Workers have stopped calling. They know the only way politicians see the light is if they feel the heat. Today, thousands of fast-food workers will be out in the street demanding a higher wage, dignity and the opportunity for a better life. They’re doing it because they have families to feed, parents to look after and basic needs that can’t be met at $7.25 an hour.

Photos: 1 (Source); 2 (Source); 3 (Source); 4 (Source); 5 (Source); 6 (Source

"Strong, responsible unions are essential to industrial fair play.  Without them the labor bargain is wholly one-sided.  The parties to the labor contract must be nearly equal in strength if justice is to be worked out, and this means that the workers must be organized and that their organizations must be recognized by employers as a condition precedent to industrial peace." .. (Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis)

Union busting was a big part of Ronald Reagan’s legacy. Go figure Reagan rose to prominence via heading the actors’ union.

Classic conservative: I got mine, now go screw yourself while I break the game.

Despite being a millionaire it turns out Robin Williams not only knew the value of solidarity but came out in support of the Writers Guild strike in 2007.

We saw this picture of him on the picket line on the We are not Leaving page and checked into the story behind it. It’s from the picket line at the Time Warner Center in New York, Nov 8th 2007. Williams along with other actors had brought bagels to the picket line of the two labor unions that represent film, television and radio writers working in the United States. Over 12,000 workers were effected.

The strike was to demand a share for the writers of the new income that was coming from internet sales. On the picket line Williams told the Hollywood Reporter that;

"This is not about millionaire screenwriters. They don’t need to be on strike. This is not about me, I’m fine. This is about a large amount of people who are simply trying to get their fair share."

His death has affected millions, and, his solidarity and activism with people is to be commended. His statement ‘I’m fine’ speaks volumes about the stigma attached to depression and suicide and how it is dealt with in Society as a whole, and has undoubtedly raised awareness of these not often enough talked about issues for all of us, and how these issues can be dealt with and challenged.

Via Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone .. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.” .. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

From our archives on Labor Day: A collection of our posts on work.

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. Though many think of it mostly as a last long weekend for recreation and shopping before the symbolic end of summer, the federal holiday, officially established in 1894, celebrates the contributions of labor.

Here are some SocImages posts on a range of issues related to workers, from the history of the labor movement, to current workplace conditions, to the impacts of the changing economy on workers’ pay:

The Social Construction of Work

Work in Popular Culture

Unemployment, Underemployment, and the “Class War”

Unions and Unionization

Economic Change, Globalization, and the Great Recession

Gender and Work

The U.S. in International Perspective

Just for Fun


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Three Reasons Why The Labor Movement Should Matter To Feminists On Labor Day


By: Ally B.

When you think about Labor Day, you probably don’t think about feminism. Perfectly situated at the start of September for one last end-of-summer hurrah, just exactly how the holiday fits into social justice work is likely the last thing on your mind. 

But Labor Day is a feminist holiday, and it should matter to you.

The roots of the holiday can be traced all the way back to the 1800’s and the growing labor movement thriving at the time. Although who actually started the holiday is oft-disputed, it was originally conceived by unions as a day to honor and celebrate those whose work often goes unnoticed but provides the backbone of the country- laborers. 

We’ve come along way in protecting our workers and laborers since the 1800’s— but not as far as you might think. Those in the Labor Movement and beyond are still fighting for the basic rights of many workers, and that is why today and everyday Labor Day and all it represents should still matter to you. 

This Labor Day, here are three reasons why these things should matter to feminists:

1. Low-Wage Workers Are Disproportionately Less Likely To Receive Benefits From Their Employers

Health insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick leave, vacation days— you name it and low-wage workers are less likely to have access to them. 

Part-time workers have it even worse. Take healthcare for example: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 23% of part-time workers have access to health insurance through their employers.

With little flexibility, low-wage workers struggle to care for their families, take time for themselves and make ends meet. 

Many with privilege may not even know that these benefits are something not everybody receives. We often think about things like healthcare and paid time off as necessities and overlook that many don’t have access to them.

Access to these benefits should be a right, not a privilege, and that is why the Labor Movement continues to work to protect these benefits.

2. Minimum Wage Is Not A Living Wage

Many laborers and low-wage workers are only making the federal minimum — and that is hardly a living wage

And the workers who make the minimum wage are likely not who you think they are. Although the media frequently portrays low-wage earners as teens or lazy people, this is far from the truth. The Economic Policy Institute found that 88% of minimum wage earners are over age 20, 56% are women and 28% have children. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) notes that if the federal government were to implement the proposed minimum wage increase to $10.10 per hour, about 16.5 million Americans would see a rise in income which would pull at least 900,000 people out from beneath the poverty threshold. 

Not making a living wage has serious consequences. It means not being able to afford housing, food, healthcare, or just about anything else. It means not having the ability to care for yourself or your family. 

Not making a living wage impacts low-income workers’ ability to simply live, and if that isn’t a feminist issue, I don’t know what is.

3. Wage Inequality Is Still Running Rampant

Although the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, the fight for equal pay for women is far from over. In fact, women are paid just 77% of what men in the United States are paid.

It is even worse for women of color: Black women make 64 cents and Latinos 55 cents to a white man’s dollar. 

You’ve heard all of the myths about the gender wage gap: That this gap can be attributed to different occupations, age, experience, or women taking time off to care for children, but these excuses just don’t pan out.

In reality, this gap exists throughout occupations, at all ages and experience levels and for women who don’t have children.

But the Labor Movement is on it. In unionized work places, the gender wage gap shrinks to just 9.4 cents and shrinking.

Now that is something to celebrate.

atheistinhiding said:

Coming from someone who works at McDonald's: there's a reason the minimum wage is so low. It's because the work we do at McDonald's and any other fast food restaurant, while it may be exhausting, is not hard. It is not hard in terms of the skills needed to do it. Virtually anybody could work there and do a decent job. To make more money, skills are required. Become valuable. Become someone worth paying more, and find an employer that will.

I also worked at McDonald’s in my youth back when it was $4.25 an hour.  They raised it during that time and it was laughable.  I ended up moving on to a better paying job within a year.  

Working at McDonald’s was pretty greasy, lousy work; but it still paid enough that I could fill up my tank full of gas, go out on the town with friends on the weekends, and save up for big purchases down the road.  Plus, a bunch of my buddies worked there with me and we were constantly involved in shenanigans like secretly concocting new recipes, shooting each other with tarter sauce & Big Mac sauce guns, and deep frying happy meal toys which helped make the hours a little less horrible.

Since I’ve received a ton of messages regarding the minimum wage, I’m going to take this time to answer as many as I can:

homeworksaslut said:

So apparently McDonald workers across the country are on strike and demand a 15$ dollar minimum wage and no penalty in become a union member. May I ask what this is a had idea? Thanks!

Yes, but they’re not all workers.  Most of the strikes you are seeing is all union thugs orchestrated by groups like the SEIU.  You see, unions have slowly been dying a miserable death thankfully, so they’re trying to whip up minimum wage employees into a frenzy so they’ll be open to organizing.  They have a bunch of splinter groups like ACORN, Fast Food Forward, and Jobs with Justice which are nothing but a bunch of rabble rousers trying to start a movement.  Only a handful of the truly clueless employees would go protest their job.  Most fast food workers actually want or need to keep their job.

osamasfavoritegoat said:

Wouldn’t raising the minimum wage up also possibly cause inflation? To me, it seems like it probably would. Side note: I am completely against the raising of it.

Well, inflation is a bit more complicated than that but prices will most certainly increase which is like inflation.  I rather see it as a tax on the “middle class” (for lack of a better term), because while bottom earners see their pay increase at about the same increase in costs, those who already earn a wage above the new minimum wage will see an immediate cost increase.

Anonymous said:

but what happens when the cost of living raises and minimum wage doesn’t?

That’s up to the economy in general, despite the minimum wage.  Our current stagnation of wages and dragged out high unemployment are making the misery index rather high.  However, the majority of those that are working are earning above minimum wage, although wages aren’t increasing as quickly as they should.  Then again, many people are having to work multiple part-time jobs thanks to Obamacare.

Anonymous said:

To be honest, I don’t think it’s fair that people who flip burgers for a living, and have no educational back ground want to make more than I do. I’m currently working towards my bachelors degree and I’m working at a retail store making 9 bucks an hour. It isn’t great, but it’s not bad either. Just doesn’t make sense to me.


Anonymous said:

I’d just like to say that the current minimum wage isn’t the issue, it’s people not able to manage their finances properly. Everyone could easily live off of 8.50 an hour or whatever it is now….

Well, the minimum wage differs from state to state, but you do bring up an interesting point that makes me curious.  I wonder how many of those legitimate fast food protesters hav cell phones, have cable television, own video game consoles, eat out constantly, buy music, drink Starbucks, etc.  Today’s poor isn’t like the poor of yesterday.  Heck, I remember being so broke that I ate dry spaghetti with peanut butter.

Some of these people don’t appear to be starving if you know what I mean…


mr-gus-the-mighty said:

Since raising the minimum wage seems like a bad idea to you, what do you suggest as an alternative?

Getting rid of the minimum wage all together.  Let’s get rid of all these burdensome regulations on businesses so they can start hiring more people and paying them more money.  Dump a bucket of gasoline on the Obamacare legislation and throw a match.  Stop toying with interest rates and quantitative easing at the Fed.  Time to turn off the free food and other government subsidies.  Let’s replace the progressive income tax rate with a flat or fair tax so you can keep more of your hard-earned money and more wealthy people will start investing more of their money in the market.  Businesses aren’t investing in labor right now because confidence in the market is low.  Everyone is restructuring just so they can…


This is what happens to business when government gets involved.  We don’t need a federal mandated minimum wage because lower paying jobs will still need to compete with other businesses for even unskilled labor positions.  If McDonald’s is only paying $5 an hour but Burger King is paying $7, more people would want work for Burger King naturally. Cheaper labor means more opportunity for growth, more jobs, better costs, more advancement, and more competitive wages.  Anyone that believes a market must have a minimum wage is either a coward or ignorant.  You don’t have to work at a place for a $1 an hour.  It’s called free choice.  That business will most likely fail if it does not pay a competitive wage worth the opportunity.

Anonymous said:

After seeing all these posts about the minimum wage being increased and what not I decided to give my 2 cents. What these people don’t understand is that these jobs are meant to be part time or entry level jobs for high school and or college kids. These jobs paying minimum wage are not careers and are not meant to support a family. Maybe if instead of staying at McDonald’s or whatever for their whole life they should maybe try and get an education of some kind. Just a thought.


Anonymous said:

If the wage of fast food workers goes up then the wage of people with actual marketable skills needs to go up which will make the price of goods increase. Thus keeping the cycle of inflation moving.

Again, inflation is a bit different.  When wages to the bottom earners is increased, that does not necessarily equate to higher wages for those above that new minimum wage.  Odds are that employers will not raise the wages of the higher wage earners because of the new labor increases to lower group.  Higher minimum wages are another reason progressivism is so lousy.

Anonymous said:

For the people who don’t know how a business works, and how forcefully raising the minimum wage HURTS a business, especially one based on horticulture, not food. Besides paying employee salaries, I am obligated to pay taxes, social security, etc. If the government forcefully raises minimum wage, I am going to have to weigh in if my employees salaries + various tax are worth keeping them. Then, If I HAVE to raise prices and nobody buys - I will HAVE to let them go. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?


That’s another excellent point we aren’t talking about enough - the government’s benefit out of this deal.  When wages and prices are increased, tax revenues are also increased.  Not only that, but many low wage earners on the government dole are going to get it much worse than they know or understand (then again, if history has proven anything, the government will raise the eligibility requirements to receive government benefits when they start losing too many people.)

seriouschild said:

It may be true a small portion of adults are on minimum wage, but if they get paid 5 cents more an hour, they are removed from the minimum wage statistics. So if it was raised, they would be forced to at least pay them the amount which would most likely be higher than what they already get paid, no?

You are correct.  When the minimum wage is increased it will raise anyone that falls under that new minimum.  So, $8.50 an hour will be bumped to $10.10, etc.  I’ve explained about the negative unintended consequences of this before as well.

Anonymous said:

The little thing you don’t tell your followers about the minimum wage is that the government not only forces minimum wage, but they also get tax breaks for paying more than minimum wage. That being said, your figures about how many people are on minimum wage are just deceit because a lot of companies just pay .25c over minimum wage so that they don’t look like they pay their employees the minimum. It’s a trick - nothing more. If you accounted for this, the numbers would be staggering.


Staggering?  Not quite.  You have the numbers at your fingertips actually, you just don’t bother to look them up before opening your mouth.  Here’s a graph from 2012 when is the last census numbers could be attained:


You’ll notice that the medium individual income is at $26,989, which is much better than even $10.10 an hour.  So, that blows your staggering claim out of the water.  What you really want to look at however, is the percentage of household income distribution:


If you earn anything between the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and $10.10 an hour and are the only source of income for your household (which isn’t likely), you make up 11.5% of the country.  That’s not a big number.  Then again, those numbers are offset by federal subsidies as well.  It also doesn’t take in account any other sources of income or wealth that were not filed.  In other words, we are talking about a relative few.

I’ve never heard of any special business tax deductions for paying more than minimum wage.  You’re going to have to share that with me, because I’m only aware of the regular employee tax deduction.

People…raising the minimum wage has proven over and over to be a complete joke and insult to hardworking people.  It makes no economic sense, but progressives keep using it as a temporary band-aid to give the illusion that they are helping fight poverty and low incomes.  They’re only hurting people however.  That is the honest truth.  Don’t be a patsy.


Mann depicted these cost-effective female educators as angelic public servants monitored by Christian faith: wholly unselfish, self-abnegating, and morally pure.” Women weren’t just cheaper to hire; they were also assumed to be naturally nurturing and pious enough to teach godly behavior. “Teaching,” Goldstein writes, “was promoted as the female equivalent of the ministry: a profession whose prestige would be rooted not in worldly rewards, such as money or political influence, but in the pursuit of satisfaction that came from serving others.” In other words, you can pay teachers in work.

One of the tensions that runs through The Teacher Wars, as well as the teaching profession in general, is that between the angelic volunteer and the hardened union negotiator. By original design, American teachers aren’t supposed to be in it for the money. The U.S. education system was built around a historically specific moment in the development of women’s relation to the workplace: Teaching was high-prestige and intellectually demanding, compared with other career options available to women in the 1830s. Our heavenly ideal teacher still resembles Mann’s vision:

How divinely does she come, her head encircled with a halo of heavenly light, her feet sweetening the earth on which she treads, and the celestial radiance of her benignity making vice begin its work of repentance through very envy of the beauty of virtue!

Compare this to the introduction of Miss Jennifer Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda:

Their teacher was called Miss Honey, and she could not have been more than 23 or 24. She had a lovely pale oval madonna face with blue eyes and her hair was light-brown. Her body was so slim and fragile one got the feeling that if she fell over she would smash into a thousand pieces, like a porcelain figure.”

From our Back To School issueNot For Teacher: a review of Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars by Malcolm Harris

Meet Ai-jen Poo, the domestic workers advocate who just won a MacArthur grant

On Tuesday, the MacArthur Foundation announced this year’s MacArthur Fellows — 21 creative individuals who receive a no-strings-attached cash sum to advance their projects. 

One fellow, Ai-jen Poo, has spent years working to advance the rights of domestic workers in the US. 


Read more about Ai-jen Poo  at Fusion.net

A way for feminism to overcome its “class problem.”

By Nicole Woo

The Nation sparked a robust discussion last week with its incisive online conversation, Does Feminism Have a Class Problem? The panelists addressed the “Lean In” phenomenon, articulating how and why Sheryl Sandberg’s focus on self-improvement – rather than structural barriers and collective action to overcome them – angered quite a few feminists on the left.

While women of different economic backgrounds face many different realities, they also share similar work-life balance struggles. In that vein, the discussants argue that expanding family-friendly workplace policies – which would improve the lives of working women up and down the economic ladder – could help bridge the feminist class divide.

A growing body of research indicates that there are few other interventions that improve the economic prospects and work-life balance of women workers as much as unions do. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), which I co-authored with my colleagues Janelle Jones and John Schmitt, shows just how much of a boost unions give to working women’s pay, benefits and workplace flexibility.

For example, all else being equal, women in unions earn an average of 13 percent – that’s about $2.50 per hour – more than their non-union counterparts. In other words, unionization can raise a woman’s pay as much as a full year of college does. Unions also help move us closer to equal pay: a study by the National Women’s Law Center determined that the gender pay gap for union workers is only half of what it is for those not in unions.

Unionized careers tend to come with better health and retirement benefits, too. CEPR finds that women in unions are 36 percent more likely to have health insurance through their jobs – and a whopping 53 percent more likely to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Unions also support working women at those crucial times when they need time off to care for themselves or their families. Union workplaces are 16 percent more likely to allow medical leave and 21 percent more likely to offer paid sick leave. Companies with unionized employees are also 22 percent more likely to allow parental leave, 12 percent more likely to offer pregnancy leave, and 19 percent more likely to let their workers take time off to care for sick family members.

Women make up almost half of the union workforce and are on track to be in the majority by 2025. As women are overrepresented in the low-wage jobs that are being created in this precarious economy – they are 56.4% of low-wage workers and over half of fast food workers – unions are leading and supporting many of the campaigns to improve their situations. In an important sense, the union movement already is a women’s movement.

Education and skills can get women only so far. It’s a conundrum that women have surpassed men when it comes to formal schooling, yet women have made little progress catching up on pay. Many women who do everything right — getting more education and skills — still find themselves with low wages and no benefits.

With unions already playing a central role in helping to meet the needs working women and their families in the 21st century economy, anyone concerned about the well-being of women should also care about unions.

Nicole Woo is the director of domestic policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.  This post is based on her new study,  “Women, Working Families, and Unions,” and originally appeared at Girl w/ Pen!

Watch on roryphelan.tumblr.com

Well made documentary about Ronald Reagan. Worth a gander if you’ve nothing better to be doing.

More Evidence Uber Keeps People From Drunk Driving

Ever since innovative ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft started gaining popularity, people have made the intuitive assertion that these services could cut down on drinking and driving. People will choose an affordable, safe alternative to drunk driving if that alternative is readily available. 

Just a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh resident Nate Good published aquick study that offered the first hard evidence that DUI rates may be decreasing in cities where Uber is popular. An analysis of Philadelphia’s data showed an 11.1 percent decrease in the rate of DUIs since ridesharing services were made available, and an even more astonishing 18.5 percent decrease for people under 30. 

As everyone knows, however, correlation does not equal causation. Good’s quick number-crunching was too simplistic to draw any overarching conclusions, but it did open the door for future studies. A recent, deeper analysis from Uber makes the case even stronger that ridesharing services may be responsible for a decline in DUIs.

The first thing Uber did was use its own data to see if people disproportionately called for Uber cars from bars in comparison to other venues. And indeed:

Requests for rides come from Uber users at bars at a much higher rate than you might expect based on the number of bars there are in the city. The fraction of requests from users at bars are between three and five times greater than the total share of bars.

Next, they used government data to find out when deaths from DUIs are most likely to occur. Fatalities due to drunk driving start to peak at midnight, are the highest from 12:00-3:00 AM, and happen much more often on the weekends. Uber then gathered their own internal data and found that Uber transactions spiked at the times when people are most likely to drink and drive (as depicted in the chart above).

There remains plenty of room for more studies on how Uber is affecting transportation trends. But early evidence for a positive impact—an impact that goes far beyond mere consumer convenience—is already compelling.

Affordable, convenient, and, apparently, making people safer - all reasons why taxi unions are fighting so hard to protect their cartel, since that means they’d have to compete (egads!). Like all the kerfuffle regarding Ex-Im “Bank,” the ride-sharing fight has served to expose many democrats (who scramble to defend the unions, corporations, and other special interests - see here, here, here, and here) to be the very crony capitalists they pretend not to be. And that the service can serve such a significant “public safety role” and still be met with political resistance, also shows whose priorities are met when government(s) get involved