BTS 9/7/09: Labor Day Special

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We celebrate Labor Day today with Canada – isolated from workers all over the world who celebrate labor on May 1st -- commemorating the bloody repression of workers in Chicago’s Haymarket Square (1886) who were fighting for the 8 hour day. After decades in the wilderness we have a labor friendly administration – but how goes labor? We’ll ask Maria Elena Durazo and Steven Greenhouse.

Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of labor (AFL-CIO), the largest labor council in the country, makes no apologies for continuing to push her cause: fighting for union workers. The state may be going broke, jobs may be vanishing like the morning mist, and the nation may be enduring its worst economic stretch in decades. But Southern California's top labor leader says this is not the time for unions to beat a retreat. On the contrary. She joins us to talk about the state of labor today.

Steven Greenhouse, labor correspondent for the New York Times and author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker regularly reports on the state of labor, showing how employers have been squeezing the life out of American workers – most recently by cheating low wage workers out of hard earned pay – but also how workers are fighting back, and how consistently their friends in government back them up in the fight they say they also champion.

Plus: Vintage clips from labor heroes Walter Reuther and Eugene V. Debs.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Maria Elena Durazo is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). Before leading the Federation, Maria Elena was elected as President and built the hotel workers union UNITE-HERE, Local 11, into one of the most active unions in Los Angeles County. Her hard work led her to become the first Latina elected to the Executive Board of HERE International Union in 1996 and eventually in 2004, she became Executive Vice President of UNITE-HERE International. Maria Elena has also served as National Director of the Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride, Vice Chair to the 2008 Democratic National Convetion Committee and National Co-Chair for Barack Obama's Presidential campaign. Currently she serves as Chair of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's appointee to the Los Angeles Economy and Jobs Committee, Board of Directors for LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and the California League of Conservation Voters.

2. Steven Greenhouse is the labor and workplace reporter for the New York Times and author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker. Based in New York City, he has covered workplace issues for the Times since late 1995 and is one of the few remaining full-time labor reporters in the country. Greenhouse began at the New York Times in September 1983 and has covered stories for the Times as a business reporter, the newspaper’s European economics correspondent, and a correspondent in the Times Washington bureau, and since 1995 as the Times' correspondent on labor and workplace issues. He has also appeared on National Public Radio, PBS (“The News Hour”), MSNBC, CNN, and the BBC.