November, 2008

>Wall Street vs. Detroit


When our parents were learning to drive in the 1960s & 70s, American car companies were roaring industries raking in incredible sales and profits. Auto workers demanded a fair share of the profits, fought for the benefits they deserved, and the middle class in America grew strong. Blinded by their successes, the American car companies continued with their trend of building big gas-guzzling cars, and in the 1990s, this business model culminated with the SUV. Over the last few years, with the downswing in the economy, auto workers sacrificed many of their previous benefits in order to keep the car companies afloat, but they couldn’t save the auto industry on their own. Then things really got tough, with the mortgage crisis and the credit crunch.

You may remember that Wall Street was bailed out not too long ago. Some people groaned about the bailout, but it was seen as necessary to keep the financial institutions going.

So why are the same people who suppoted the Wall Street bailot against the auto bailout? Why so much talk about letting people “learn their lesson the hard way”? The difference is Wall Street represents the interests of the rich, and Detroit represents the interest of hard-working middle-class America.

In these times of real economic hardship, the people with all the power in these companies still don’t quite seem to understand what it means to suffer. When they went to Congress last week to ask for a $25 billion bailout, the CEOs of these giant companies each flew to DC in a private jet! In case you missed it on the Daily Show, here are the chiefs of America’s floundering auto industries, unwilling to part with their private jets:

The good news is that GM is now giving up two of its five corporate checks. Apparently “G.M. says the timing is coincidental since it was already in the process of returning the two jets.”

>Jeff the Trucker


Forget Joe the Plumber. One of America’s real working class heroes is Jeff the truck driver.

Jeff Wallace, 43, has been on the picket lines for six weeks. He’s fighting for good healthcare for his kids and to make sure he has something to walk away with when he retires from his grueling job for Oak Harbor Freight Lines in Seattle, where he’s worked for about 14 years.

This week Jeff was hit on the picket line by a replacement worker in a pick-up truck who then drove away. Jeff went to the hospital but said he’s still not giving up. He’ll stay out on the line as long as it takes.

Huffington Post

Oak Harbor workers, members of the Teamsters, have been on strike now for over 8 weeks. This holiday season, send a message of support. Tell Oak Harbor to do the right thing, stop violating worker’s rights.

>Pop Quiz

>A historic election just took place – but what does that really mean? Civics is the study of citizenship and government, and some basic knowledge is necessary for citizens of this great democracy. Know where your rights came from, like the right to form a union? Here are 2 ways to test your knowledge:

1. American Labor History Quiz! What do you know about unions and the history we share? What is the labor movement? Test it out, comment with your scores!
2. Civic Literacy On average, Americans taking this quiz scored only 49%. Can you do better? Comment with your score.

Should schools be doing more to teach us our shared heritage?