BTS 9/3/10: Labor Day Special

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On tonight’s program we look at the state of labor on the eve of this Labor Day Weekend. Jobless numbers are up, foreclosures are increasing, union representation keeps going down, and wages are under attack while workers are paying more for employer based healthcare. Economic policy still looks to monetary fixes rather than the economic restructuring that would increase jobs, reduce inequality and stimulate demand. But policy doesn’t get made in a vacuum or simply because one solution is more rational than another: political pressure determines the outcome and street heat increases the pressure. So where is that vital coalition of labor/community/students – those most affected by policies and priorities that put them at the bottom of the heap, and what makes it so difficult to get their voices heard?
We being with the frontal attack on teachers and teachers unions; what began as a study to find ways to improve education and make more effective teachers has instead vilified teachers, treated education as a business model in need of cost cutting and efficiency measures and continues to short-change students whose economic future is on the line. UTLA VP Joshua Pechthalt joins us to talk about teacher bashing in the guise of education reform, the LA Times series that seems to be leading the effort and the UTLA vision for better schools that effectively prepare and educate students.
Then Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO joins us to assess the labor movement and its prospects in the worst of economic times. She is the first woman and youngest officer ever elected to the AFL-CIO top leadership. Her article “Sorry Kids, No Jobs Here” is posted on The Nation’s website.
And finally on tonight’s program we talk to Nelson Lichtenstein, Labor Historian at UCSB about the state of labor during this epic, great recession. This is the worst labor day for decades despite a labor friendly President. Rather than policies that increase jobs, reduce inequality and stimulate demand, policies that would help workers unionize and fight for better wages and benefits, we instead see continued attacks on public sector unionized workers. We’ll ask Nelson what he thinks it would take to reverse labor’s fortune.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Joshua Pechthalt UTLA/AFT Vice President, Also serves as UTLA/AFT Local 1021 President

2. Liz Shuler Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO joins us to assess the labor movement and its prospects in the worst of economic times. She is the first woman and youngest officer ever elected to the AFL-CIO top leadership. In 1998, she led the AFL-CIO's successful effort to defeat California Proposition 226, which would have denied dues check-off to public employees belonging to unions and required all union members in the state to annually give their assent before any portion of their dues could be used for political purposes. Her article “Sorry Kids, No Jobs Here” is posted on The Nation’s website.

3. Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara