Thursday, May 31, 2007

Give Workers a Voice

Dale Charles, President of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has a forceful op-ed column in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He cites solid data to show that union members earn more and have better benefits than non-union workers, and he shows that this is even more important to African-American workers. He makes the case for the Employee Free Choice Act and asks our Senators to support it.

"For decades, unions have helped women and people of color bridge the wage gap. Through the power of collective bargaining, union workers have been able win access to health insurance and other benefits for themselves and their families. In fact, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, African American workers who belong to unions earn 36 percent more than their nonunion counterparts and are more likely to have employer-provided health coverage and pensions. . . .

"Most people in America don’t know that labor law in this country has been so twisted that it is now virtually impossible for workers to form a union without running the risk of employer harassment and even termination. Seventy years of labor law amendments, court decisions and a ballooning multi-million-dollar union-busting industry have effectively robbed workers of their constitutional and human right to choose whether to form a union to bargain for improved working conditions. . . .

"There is a new bill before Congress that would make it more difficult for employers to interfere in their employees’ efforts to organize for a better life. Approved by the House in March, the Employee Free Choice Act would give working people back their freedom to form and join unions by stiffening penalties on employers who violate the law. . . .

"Sadly, the debate on this worker rights bill is being hijacked by sound-bite arguments from the all-powerful business lobby, which falsely claims that the bill will eliminate union elections. The bill doesn’t eliminate anything. It simply gives workers another choice to form unions when a majority signs authorization cards. Such procedures have been in place since 1935, but today the choice is up to the boss. It should be up to workers.

"Simply put, a union contract gives some power to working people in circumstances where they otherwise have relatively little control. Employers don’t like that. It’s time we let workers control their own destinies, without interference from greedy corporations that care more about their bottom lines than their employees."

From Poverty to Prosperity

The Center for American Progress last year convened a diverse group of national experts and leaders to examine the causes and consequences of poverty in America and make recommendations for national action. In this report released last month, the Task Force on Poverty calls for a national goal of cutting poverty in half in the next 10 years and proposes a strategy to reach the goal.

Our nation has seen periods of dramatic poverty reduction at times when near-full employment was combined with sound federal and state policies, motivated individual initiative, supportive civic involvement, and sustained national commitment. In the last six years, however, our nation has moved in the opposite direction. The number of poor Americans has grown by five million, while inequality has reached historic high levels.

The Center for American Progress recommends 12 key steps to cut poverty in half, but they also make sense for national, state, and local public policy to help all working families:

1. Raise and index the minimum wage to half the average hourly wage. At $5.15, the federal minimum wage is at its lowest level in real terms since 1956. The federal minimum wage was once 50 percent of the average wage but is now 30 percent of that wage. Congress should restore the minimum wage to 50 percent of the average wage, about $8.40 an hour in 2006. Doing so would help nearly 5 million poor workers and nearly 10 million other low-income workers.

2. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. As an earnings supplement for low-income working families, the EITC raises incomes and helps families build assets. The Child Tax Credit provides a tax credit of up to $1,000 per child, but provides no help to the poorest families. We recommend tripling the EITC for childless workers and expanding help to larger working families. We recommend making the Child Tax Credit available to all low- and moderate-income families. Doing so would move as many as 5 million people out of poverty.

3. Promote unionization by enacting the Employee Free Choice Act. The Employee Free Choice Act would require employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers signs cards authorizing union representation and establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights. The increased union representation made possible by the Act would lead to better jobs and less poverty for American workers.

4. Guarantee child care assistance to low-income families and promote early education for all. We propose that the federal and state governments guarantee child care help to families with incomes below about $40,000 a year, with expanded tax help to higher-earning families. At the same time, states should be encouraged to improve the quality of early education and broaden access for all children. Our child care expansion would raise employment among low-income parents and help nearly 3 million parents and children escape poverty.

5. Create 2 million new “opportunity” housing vouchers, and promote equitable development in and around central cities. Nearly 8 million Americans live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty where at least 40 percent of residents are poor. Our nation should seek to end concentrated poverty and economic segregation, and promote regional equity and inner-city revitalization. We propose that over the next 10 years the federal government fund 2 million new “opportunity vouchers” designed to help people live in opportunity-rich areas. Any new affordable housing should be in communities with employment opportunities and high-quality public services, or in gentrifying communities. These housing policies should be part of a broader effort to pursue equitable development strategies in regional and local planning efforts, including efforts to improve schools, create affordable housing, assure physical security, and enhance neighborhood amenities.

6. Connect disadvantaged and disconnected youth with school and work. About 1.7 million poor youth ages 16 to 24 were out of school and out of work in 2005. We recommend that the federal government restore Youth Opportunity Grants to help the most disadvantaged communities and expand funding for effective and promising youth programs—with the goal of reaching 600,000 poor disadvantaged youth through these efforts. We propose a new Upward Pathway program to offer low-income youth opportunities to participate in service and training in fields that are in high-demand and provide needed public services.

7. Simplify and expand Pell Grants and make higher education accessible to residents of each state. Low-income youth are much less likely to attend college than their higher income peers, even among those of comparable abilities. Pell Grants play a crucial role for lower-income students. We propose to simplify the Pell grant application process, gradually raise Pell Grants to reach 70 percent of the average costs of attending a four-year public institution, and encourage institutions to do more to raise student completion rates. As the federal government does its part, states should develop strategies to make postsecondary education affordable for all residents, following promising models already underway in a number of states.

8. Help former prisoners find stable employment and reintegrate into their communities. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We urge all states to develop comprehensive reentry services aimed at reintegrating former prisoners into their communities with full-time, consistent employment.

9. Ensure equity for low-wage workers in the Unemployment Insurance system. Only about 35 percent of the unemployed, and a smaller share of unemployed low-wage workers, receive unemployment insurance benefits. We recommend that states (with federal help) reform “monetary eligibility” rules that screen out low-wage workers, broaden eligibility for part-time workers and workers who have lost employment as a result of compelling family circumstances, and allow unemployed workers to use periods of unemployment as a time to upgrade their skills and qualifications.

10. Modernize means-tested benefits programs to develop a coordinated system that helps workers and families. A well-functioning safety net should help people get into or return to work and ensure a decent level of living for those who cannot work or are temporarily between jobs. Our current system fails to do so. We recommend that governments at all levels simplify and improve benefits access for working families and improve services to individuals with disabilities. The Food Stamp Program should be strengthened to improve benefits, eligibility, and access. And the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program should be reformed to shift its focus from cutting caseloads to helping needy families find sustainable employment.

11. Reduce the high costs of being poor and increase access to financial services. Despite having less income, lower-income families often pay more than middle and high-income families for the same consumer products. We recommend that the federal and state governments should address the foreclosure crisis through expanded mortgage assistance programs and by new federal legislation to curb unscrupulous practices. And we propose that the federal government establish a $50 million Financial Fairness Innovation Fund to support state efforts to broaden access to mainstream goods and financial services in predominantly low-income communities.

12. Expand and simplify the Saver’s Credit to encourage saving for education, homeownership, and retirement. For many families, saving for purposes such as education, a home, or a small business is key to making economic progress. We propose that the federal “Saver’s Credit” be reformed to make it fully refundable. This Credit should also be broadened to apply to other appropriate savings vehicles intended to foster asset accumulation, with consideration given to including individual development accounts, children’s saving accounts, and college savings plans.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Honor Our Fallen Service Members

An American soldier serving in Afghanistan recently wrote an op-ed piece which has stirred up a national debate. The soldier asked an important question: Why we do not lower the flag to half mast when a soldier dies at war?

Here at AFSCME, we could not agree more. In Afghanistan the U.S. has suffered 390 military deaths, and in Iraq the number of troops killed has now reached 3,452, including 21 members of the Arkansas National Guard. We should honor our fallen service members.

Sign our petition to amend the US Flag Code to have flags lowered for a day each time an American service member dies at war.

Just click HERE and fill out the form to let our Congressman know you are in support of this petition to amend 4 USC 7 to include that the flag will be flown at half-staff for one day when a service member dies at war.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Increase in the Federal Minimum Wage

Democrats in Congress handed a major victory to low-income workers last night by approving the first increase in the federal minimum wage rate since Bill Clinton was in office. By a vote of 348 to 73, the House approved the measure. Less than two hours later, the wage increase was approved in the Senate, where the vote was 80 to 14.

The measure would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three stages over two years. The bill also includes $4.84 billion in tax breaks for businesses, so President Bush said he would sign the measure.

It has been a decade since the federal minimum wage was raised, but four months ago Democrats regained control of Congress. Seven states already have minimum wages higher than $7.25 an hour, but the Arkansas minimum wage is only $6.25. It's time to give Arkansas workers a raise! Now.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer Reading at the Union Shop

Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It,

by Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann, hardcover.

America’s middle class has been systematically dismantled over the past 25 years to line the pockets of the super-rich and big corporations. Here’s how it happened and what we must do to re-create a prospering middle class and keep America strong.

Memorial Day
, the unofficial start of summer, is almost here. So kick back, relax and enjoy the summer with these and other good books from The Union Shop Online:
  • Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive, by Bill Lofy. In this biography of the late senator, Lofy tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics. The book chronicles Wellstone’s life and political career and includes an afterword by Bill Bradley.

  • Taking on the Big Boys: Or Why Feminism Is Good for Families, Business and the Nation, by Ellen Bravo, paperback. Bravo reports what’s really happening in today’s workplace with stories from offices, assembly lines and schools. She unmasks the patronizing, trivializing and minimizing tactics employed by “the big boys” (the powerful people who maintain the status quo) and their surrogates.

  • The Global Class War, by Jeff Faux. Faux, the founding president of the Economic Policy Institute, explains why America’s governing class has become so indifferent to the fate of its people. Faux argues that they now can find workers and investment opportunities elsewhere, America’s rich and powerful are abandoning the social contract that, until recently, had united the economic interests of all Americans.

  • Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign, by Michael Honey. The definitive history of the epic struggle for economic justice that became Martin Luther King Jr.’s last crusade. Honey describes King as undertaking a Poor People’s Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America.

  • The Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of America’s Largest Labor Uprising, by Robert Shogan, covers a 10-day battle that included at least 10,000 men, erupting in 1921 when West Virginia coal miners, who had been subjected to brutal exploitation for many years, marched against the powerful mine owners.

  • The Chasm: An American Globalization Story, by David Ainsworth. If you liked the TV series “The West Wing,” you will love this book. It is the only novel that dissects the growing impact of the global economy on Americans. America is a sitting duck, and the American Dream is the first casualty of the trade war that has already begun.

  • Mother Jones: Fierce Fighter for Workers’ Rights, by Judith Pinkerton Josephson. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was once known as “the most dangerous woman.” This biography—aimed at young readers, ages 12 and up—is an account of the life and work of the outspoken labor organizer and reformer loaded with her own fiery words and indomitable spirit.

  • Dreamland, by Kevin Baker. A dazzling masterpiece of literary historical fiction, Dreamland delivers a sweeping, yet intimate, portrait of immigrant New York in the early part of the 20th century.

  • ¡;Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can!, by Diana Cohn. This inspirational children’s story about the 2000 janitors’ strike in Los Angeles reminds us that victories can be won and the future lies with the children we can inspire.

Keep shopping for more books from The Union Shop Online—click here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Affordable Child Care for Working Families

The need for quality child care, preschool, and after-school programs is a daily concern for thousands of Arkansas working parents. Quality child care and constructive after-school programs are too often unaffordable or simply not available. Many working parents and non-traditional students at the University of Arkansas struggle to find quality child care that they can afford.

According to the Department of Labor, over 70% of all women with children under 18 work outside the home. Because the majority of working women need to work in order to support their families, access to affordable child care is essential. Without it, women risk unplanned disruptions in their employment that can affect job performance, restrict opportunities for their advancement in the workforce, and result in lower wages or even job loss.

Child care is often the most costly household expense after shelter and food. For families with children between the ages of 3 and 5 at all income levels, child care is the third greatest expense after housing and food. Full-day child care easily costs $4,000 to $8,000 a year per child -- at least as much as college tuition at the University of Arkansas. For low-income families, child care can represent 50% or more of their net pay.

AFSCME Local 965 has become increasingly concerned about the lack of child care options for members of the UA community—students, staff, and faculty. During the next six months we will be conducting research on options and developing an action plan to secure affordable quality child care for our members. The first step will be to make information on local child care resources available to our membership, but we also will be exploring the possibility of establishing additional child care options near campus.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

May Monthly Meeting Today

The May monthly membership meeting of AFSCME Local 965 will be today at 4:15 at Jim's Razorback Pizza on West 6th. Pizza provided; beverages on your own. Bring a new member.

The agenda includes keynote speaker Jim Nickels, Executive Director of AFSCME State Council 38, and a discussion of the upcoming AFL-CIO Convention. We will also be discussing the union's plans to challenge the University's practice of paying female faculty less than their male colleagues. We have not yet received a response from the UA administration to our questions last month, so we will consider asking assistance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cynthia Nance Receives Fletcher Award

AFSCME Local 965 member Cynthia Nance received the Arthur A. Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association for Affirmative Action, presented at the association's annual conference last month in Austin, Texas. Nance was also a keynote speaker at the conference.

The award is named after the "Father of Affirmative Action," Arthur A. Fletcher. Fletcher served as assistant secretary of the U.S. Labor Department during the Nixon administration and is given credit for creating the Philadelphia Plan, the first affirmative action program that established employment goals for federal contractors in the construction industry. He devoted his life to preserve the promise of the Constitution for all Americans. The Arthur A. Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award was established to recognize individuals who, like Fletcher, have devoted a lifetime of service and dedication to the principles of affirmative action - access, equity and diversity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

City Planners in Fantasyland

Leif Olson, long-range planner for the city, yesterday said attainable workforce housing in Fayetteville would have a maximum price range of about $131,000 to $197,000. City Council members from Wards 1, 2, and 4 disagreed.

Olson said that according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the 2007 median family income for a family in Benton or Washington counties is $53,100. He chose not to use Fayetteville residents for the calculation, saying there were many students but ignoring the huge salaries paid to UA administrators and football coaches who it seems almost outnumber students. Instead, he chose to throw in Benton County with thousands of Wal-Mart executives and suppliers, J.B. Hunt trucking executives, and the McMansions in gated communities like Pinnacle where even one UA administrator maintains a home.

Using Planner Olson’s chosen two-county area, the definition proposed for attainable workforce housing bracketed that median income with ranges of 80% to 120% — or $42, 480 to $63,720. Possible house prices for those groups, based on the proposed definition and applying conservative amounts to a mortgage calculator, ranged from about $134,000 to $204,000.

Here’s something Leif Olson and whomever hired him need to consider. Real jobs held by real people. The following seven job openings are currently advertised by the University of Arkansas.

Custodial Worker II Annual Salary: $16,125.00

Library Supervisor I Annual Salary: $24,131.00

Maintenance Worker II Annual Salary: $16,500.00

Public Safety Officer I Annual Salary: $22,859.00

Skilled Trades Worker Annual Salary: $24,131.00

Secretary II Annual Salary: $18,903.00

Accountant Annual Salary: $25,897.00

How much can these folks pay for housing? What is the average price of a home they could afford, and how many of those do you think are currently available in the Fayetteville city limits?

We face three options: (1) Pay employees a living wage; (2) build housing that working families can afford; or (3) turn Fayetteville into an enclave for the wealthy who are serviced by a commuting workforce.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Fayetteville's Affordable Housing Crisis

AFSCME Local 965 has long been an advocate for affordable workforce housing in Fayetteville, a cause championed by Alderman Lioneld Jordan. The Fayetteville City Council will consider this week a report on Fayetteville Attainable Workforce Housing Policy and consider available policy options. Past discussions have been about affordable housing, attainable housing and workforce housing, now combined into attainable workforce housing. One of the possible policy alternatives combines all three. It calls for the city to ensure that attainable workforce housing remains affordable.

At past Council and Planning Commission meetings, developers have talked about affordable, moderate, workforce or attainable housing price ranges from less than $120,000 to $150,000, depending on the development. One area banker identified the $150,000 to $175,000 range as affordable, and a local developer said that $180,000 homes were not affordable but were more attainable than some of the other homes built in the city.

An individual earning 80% of the area median family income could afford a home costing about $100,000 to $115,000, according to Tim Conklin, planning director for the city. HUD identified median family income for the Fayetteville Metropolitan Statistical Area as $47,400, so the 80% to 120% range of that is an annual family income of $37,920 to $56,880 per year.

The generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million households now pay more then 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing, and a family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. The lack of affordable housing in Washington County (and specifically in Fayetteville) is a significant hardship for low-income households preventing them from meeting their other basic needs, such as nutrition and healthcare, or saving for their future and that of their families.

The lack of affordable housing is also a hardship on Fayetteville city employees and UA staff who cannot buy a home in town near their jobs. This means higher fuel and transportation costs, as well as increased parking fees. All indications are that the affordable housing shortage in Fayetteville will continue to grow. The longer the City waits to address this issue, potentially the more painful it could be to resolve. We need bold leadership and immediate action to solve this crisis.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Local Union Helps "Stamp Out Hunger"

The Fayetteville Local of the National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) announced that the nation’s largest food drive to combat hunger will be conducted this year on Saturday, May 12 in all 50 states. On that day, local letter carriers will collect non-perishable donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

NALC President William H. Young noted that the upcoming summer months “are a particularly critical time for millions of children whose school lunch programs are suspended until fall and their families must find alternate sources of nutrition. Letter carriers see these families every day as they deliver the mail,” Young said. “This food drive is one way we can help alleviate their plight and we encourage our postal patrons to participate by leaving donations by their mailbox on May 12.”

AFSCME Local 965 supports this effort by our brothers and sisters in the local letter carriers union, and we ask our members to leave non-perishable donations – such as canned meat, fish and soup, and cereals, pasta and rice – in a bag near their mailbox on Saturday, May 12 before their letter carrier arrives. It will be taken to the local post office and then delivered to a local food bank, pantry or shelter.

The 15th annual NALC National Food Drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. The food will be collected in over 10,000 communities by nearly 1,500 local branches of the postal union, along with rural carriers and other volunteers. Since its inception in 1993, the nationwide drive has collected and delivered over three-quarters of a billion pounds of food—765.5 million pounds—to help hungry families.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Even the UA Students Get It

The UA student newspaper, the Arkansas Traveler, published a front-page article yesterday with the headline: "Report finds equal pay for equal work still an issue at UA." The lead paragraph said, "On Equal Pay Day, April 24, UA Chancellor John A. White found out from the Arkansas Public Employees Union that pay on the UA campus was not equal at all. In fact, the union believes that there is some sort of sex discrimination present at the UA."

The student reporter noted , "
The Committee to the Faculty Senate revealed that there is an increasing gender-based wage gap among UA faculty members in positions ranging from instructor to professor. The wage gap for women is worst at the assistant professor level, which includes most hires within the last seven years."

There was no comment from Chancellor White or any Administration functionary. Neither has AFSCME Local 965 received any reply or explanation requested in the April 24th request to John White.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

NWA Times: UA Short-Changes Women

The Northwest Arkansas Times editorial today comments on the salary disparity for women faculty at the University of Arkansas. This is an issue of serious concern for AFSCME Local 965 and all UA employees. The UA Administration that created and perpetuated the situation seems to think they can ignore the problem and continue business as usual. The questions we asked more than a week ago have gone unanswered, but those questions remain on the mind of both taxpayers and the media. Here's what the NWA Times has to say:

"The UA — THE bastion of liberal thought and theory in Northwest Arkansas. THE supposed safe place where citizens of every shape and size are sure to fit in. Everyone but women, that is. A recent report presented to the UA’s Faculty Senate suggests the pay gap between the sexes at the state’s flagship university is actually widening. For instance, the report cited an $ 11, 000 difference between male and female assistant professors. This suggests an imbalance that’s reflective of a national trend that goes well beyond conspiracy theorists who believe the UA is out to get its female employees. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, women who work full-time jobs in America earn 75 cents for every dollar that a man earns,
and the gap is larger for women of color. ...

"Fayetteville students taking courses in American government might be especially confused, since they may have recently read about the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which was supposed to make it illegal to pay women less than men for work that is “ substantially equal” unless differences in pay are based on extenuating circumstances, such as experience or seniority. Apparently much of America has yet to get Uncle Sam’s drift. Equally aggravating is that universities and corporations can’t realistically snap their fingers and do away with pay inequity just like that. A problem such as this is a generational affair, with pay inequity building upon itself so that women never come close to catching up. The nation has made progress, but nobody should assume gender discrimination has disappeared. Make no mistake about it, though: It is particularly embarrassing that a major campus in a university town is paying some of its female employees less than their male peers. With all the supposedly progressive thinking college campuses are known for, it seems UA officials should know better. ...

"Today America, and the UA, make due with inequalities in pay, but future generations may look back at such practices as warped in its sense of justice. Someone needs to offer an explanation of why disparities continue and what it will take to fix them. Someone being paid less based solely on gender surely cannot be expected to display patience and understanding while a system of inequity continues to exist. Surely men can understand how unjust this is. How many men can honestly say they’re comfortable that their daughters will be paid unfairly simply because of who they are? None we can think of."

Solidarity Supper

No ticket to buy, no need to dress up. All you need to do is go enjoy a festive dinner of great Mexican food between 5 pm - 9 pm this Wednesday, May 2, at either location of Oseguera’s restaurant -- 1100 48th Place in Springdale or 3223 North College in Fayetteville

Thanks to the generosity of the Oseguera family, 10% of the night’s receipts will go to benefit the Northwest Arkansas Interfaith Worker Justice Center, Please help the cause and support this effort by dining out in solidarity with NW Arkansas’s immigrant workers and in support of International Labor Day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Forgotten History of May Day

May Day: The holiday of the workers. In days gone by, when men, women and children often worked 10 or more hours a day, seven days a week, May Day was an assertion on the part of wage-slaves that they were sovereign human beings with control over their own lives and destinies. They celebrated the day with marches of tens and hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

May Day was an expression of the international solidarity of the working class. "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains," was not just a slogan. It was a battle cry in the war between classes. Their marches and rallies, with fiery speeches, impassioned poetry and stirring anthems, gave them a sense of their collective strength. It was an act of defiance of the combined forces of employers and public authorities. Often their gatherings were brutally attacked by police or thugs with clubs and guns.

Although not often taught in American history classes, May Day originated in the United States during the campaign for an eight-hour day. The Knights of Labor, the nascent American Federation of Labor and various anarchist groups designated May 1, 1886, for nationwide demonstrations for the eight-hour goal.

The response of the "bosses," political and economic, was extreme repression to silence the most vocal and active labor advocates. An increasingly conservative Samuel Gompers and AF of L had by the mid-1890s distanced themselves from May Day and embraced the legally sanctioned Labor Day, which was observed the first Monday in September. The aspiration for the unity of workers was shattered by these developments.

Meanwhile, the Bolshevik Revolution turned out to be a Trojan horse in the socialist camp, as the Leninist-Stalinist regime proved to be a ruthless dictatorship presiding over state capitalism. May Day was hijacked by the Soviet Union with its displays of military prowess in Red Square. The association of May Day with Soviet Communism has given it a bad name to this day.

In this age of globalization, when workers are pitted against each other, across oceans and continents, we have returned to conditions of pitiless exploitation of human beings. If greed ever was constrained by patriotism, it certainly is not today. It is time to revisit May Day in the spirit in which it was conceived over a hundred years ago. Only an international labor movement can hope to match the prowess of the amoral trans-national capitalist system.

Excerpt from Rudolph J. Vecoli, "Mass Amnesia Makes Americans Forget the Story behind May Day,"
Barre Montpelier Times Argus, April 26, 2007