April 28, 2005
Sex, Money and Meth Addiction
There is a compelling series of articles at New West Network which on the surface is about "sex, money and meth addiction" but when one looks deeper it says a lot about the changes in our economy and society. I have quoted a few paragraphs below. Click the above link for the full article (I came to this by way of Three-Toed Sloth):
And Dick Dasen, for all his success, was struggling in the mire of a consuming addiction of his own. Sometime during his years as a volunteer credit counselor, the help for many of the women who came to him, or were sent to him by charitable organizations, became an arrangement where he would exchange cash and checks for sex. These arrangements became part of life for many of the women, and were referred to as “appointments” with the businessman they called “Mr. D.” In statements made to police after his arrest, Dasen has said there were too many of these women to count, but law enforcement officials have estimated the figure in the hundreds.
At some point in the last few years, the appointments had gotten out of hand. Huge sums of money— estimated between $1 and $5 million total — were flowing out. Dasen told police that he had paid some women as much as $100,000. The women involved referred to themselves as “Dasen girls,” and they recruited among their friends, taking payments of as much as $2,000 just for bringing in anyone new who was young, thin, reasonably good-looking, and down on their luck. Since methamphetamine is perhaps the greatest luck-destroyer on earth, many of the girls came into the circle by way of using the drug. So much of the cash flowed directly back into the methamphetamine trade, law enforcement officials say, that Kalispell, population 15,000, experienced a big-city style epidemic of addiction and all that goes with it -- crime, domestic abuse and violent conflicts over drug deals and money.
And the Dasen story is about a world that most business people and most of the New West migrants in the booming Flathead Valley -- the dotcommers, trustfunders, the ski and trout fanatics and the nature-loving urban transplants -- see only for brief moments, if at all. It’s a low-wage, no-wage world, inhabited by the children who grew up in the death throes of the old economy. Their parents worked in the aluminum mill in Columbia Falls, or in the big sawmills that ran three shifts a day. They cut the timber or ran the skidders that jerked it from the forests, or drove the trucks that hauled it to the mills.
Those were good jobs and they paid for simple houses and cars and fed families with food supplemented by gardens and by hunting in the spectacular wildlands that surround Kalispell. But those jobs are gone now, and the children of those families, all grown up, are marooned in a new economy, kicking for scraps cleaning hotel rooms, punching a till, serving coffee, hammering nails in the condo developments, or doing nothing at all.
Labor Group Tries to Address Dissent
From NY NEWSDAY:
WASHINGTON -- The AFL-CIO proposed spending more money on union organizing Thursday, trying to pre-empt a plan pushed by Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and other labor leaders.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is seeking re-election in July and a new report by the labor federation says too few unions are investing 30 percent or more of their overall budgets on organizing.
Dissidents including Hoffa, who runs one of the nation's largest unions, want to cut the AFL-CIO's budget, proposing reductions in dues paid to the federation for unions that commit more resources to organizing. The initiative will be voted on at the AFL-CIO's national convention in July.
Sweeney is proposing a $22.5 million strategic
organizing fund -- an increase of nearly $10 million over the current
amount. The fund would rebate $15 million to unions.
See the Link for the rest of the story
April 26, 2005
Update Catholic Church and Labor
In a related post Laborprof Blog reports on Ministers and Clergy unionization.
April 25, 2005
No "Free Speech" even when Willing to Pay
Last week there was a story I did not get a chance to blog about regarding the UFCW's efforts to run an anti Wal-Mart advertisement on a billboard. The billboard company rejected the Ad.
To see the rejected ad and to get the full story check out The Box Tank.
Global Watch Wal-Mart (Independent Activist) - comments allowed
Always Low Prices Always (Objective Blog focuses on more than just labor issues) -comments allowed
The Box Tank (Critical of Big Box stores with a focus on Wal-Mart) -comments allowed
Tension in Germany over Future Economic Course
Two articles in today's Financial Times caught my eye today.
In the first article the head of the organization "Invest In Germany" threatened to resign because of statements made by members of the German government. What could these politicans have said to cause such a reaction?
In parliament late last week, Mr Müntefering stepped up his attack against "anti-social" business leaders who cut jobs while increasing profits.
"There are reasons to think about regulations that do not favour people making quick money and moving on," Mr Eichel said.
The article goes on to state that opinion polls show German society to be more in tune with the thoughts of these politicians than German business leaders.
In the second article the head of Siemens, an importan German firm, called for liberal reforms in government policy to encourage business failure:
As Europe's political leaders should reduce the number of support mechanisms for poorly performing businesses, so making it easier for them to fail, an influential executive at Siemens, the German industrial giant, h said.
In a speech in Brussels at the weekend, Edward Krubasik, a senior executive credited with introducing a sharper commercial focus to Siemens, said more "run-down, old businesses" in Europe should be allowed to restructure or disappear.
While not naming any companies among those he said should be allowed to fail, Mr Krubasik almost certainly had in mind Alstom, the Paris-based engineering company which came close to bankruptcy in 2003 but was rescued by the French government.
I wonder what this spells for the future of the German economy. Will German business leaders succeed in bringing about more liberal reforms in the German economy or will German voters and workers remain unconvinced by German business economic cures?
WSJ on Government Regulation
One would assume that the Wall Street Journal crowd would look down upon government regulation. Well, when it comes to regulation of labor unions the WSJ editorial board couldn't be more happy. In today's WSJ the editorial board opines on how wonderful the Bush administration's latest regulatory attacks on labor is.
Its rare for a reader of the WSJ to find articles where the editorial board is concerned for the plight of workers much less union members. However, from reading today's editorial you would assume that the WSJ is the champion of the world's workers. I'd prefer that when the WSJ editorializes on unions they would just be honest about their intentions rather than trying to pretend they support anti-union intitiatives in the name of workers.
The editorial claims that unions and John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO are fighting against the new regulations because they are abusing members dues (they cite an alleged incident where a union had expensed a couple of mink coats). The truth of the matter is that unions are fighting these regulations because they are going to cost unions millions of dollars in reporting expenses. Unions are already one of the most regulated institutions in the country. Corruption within unions is at an all time low and the costs of the new regulations on union members will far outweigh any benefits members receive in return.
While thousands of workers in recent years have had their entire retirements wiped out because of corporate corruption (Enron, Worldcom etc) and while other retirees in the Steel and Airline industries lose benefits and pensions the Bush administration chooses to focus on how labor spends the dues of its membership.
Blogs Will Change Business
This week's Business Week magazine features an extensive story on blogs and blogging.
Click here for the article: Blogs Will Change Your Business
See Thoughts From a Management Lawyer for more articles on blogging and business.
April 24, 2005
The Catholic Church and Labor
The recent popularity in the mainstream press for the Catholic Church and with it being a Sunday (not to mention my own Catholic upbringing) has prompted me to do a post on the Catholic Church and Labor.
Pope John Paul II had strong views regarding the rights of workers: In 1981 he published the Encyclical On Human Work (Laborem Exercens: In one section Pope John Paul II specifically addresses the issue of Labor Unions.
20. Importance of Unions
All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is, to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions. The vital interests of the workers are to a certain extent common for all of them; at the same time, however, each type of work, each profession, has its own specific character which should find a particular reflection in these organizations.
The modern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers--workers in general but especially the industrial workers--to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. Obviously this does not mean that only industrial workers can set up associations of this type. Representatives of every profession can use them to ensure their own rights
One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike.
The Labor Question was adressed by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 in an Encyclical titled, On Capital & Labor (Rerum Novarum).
49. The most important of all are workingmen's unions, for these virtually include all the rest. History attests what excellent results were brought about by the artificers' guilds of olden times. They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life. It is gratifying to know that there are actually in existence not a few associations of this nature, consisting either of workmen alone, or of workmen and employers together, but it were greatly to be desired that they should become more numerous and more efficient. We have spoken of them more than once, yet it will be well to explain here how notably they are needed, to show that they exist of their own right, and what should be their organization and their mode of action.
I have yet to come across writings by the new Pope (Benedict XVI) dealing specifically with labor but I did find an internet site with his writings here:
Nathan Newman also adresses the Catholic Church and Labor in this blog post.
David Grenier reflects on his Catholic upbringing, atheism, and his support of labor in this post.
April 23, 2005
NHL Labor Dispute
Marc Edge has written a book on the NHL lockout titled Red Line, Blue Line, Bottom Line: How Push Came to Shove Between the National Hockey League and its Players.
A review of the book appears here.
An excellent article on the NHL labor dispute written by the book's author can be found here.