THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME

Happy Labor Day!

Having just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Hamlet chicken plant fire in which 25 workers died (mostly low-paid immigrants willing to do unpleasant work) because the plant owner chained all of the exits shut from the outside, workplace safety inspections are happening less frequently than ever.

Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria wonders why Americans don't take more vacations. Because we're working incessantly by choice, and it never previously occurred to us to take the dozens of paid vacation days we have accrued.

Finally, read up on Joe Hill if you're stuck in the office today.

CNN also has a terribly brief piece on what labor conditions were like before the reforms of the 1930s. It also gives us a glimpse at what they will look like in a few more years.
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30 thoughts on “THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME”

  • The unemployed have endless vacations.

    In this country, workers and unions, and Joe Hill, were and are always suspects. Fareed and his colleagues, Ezra, Matt, Glen and more successfully miss the point. They almost always do. Vacations are not our problem now. Unemployment, decreasing wages, less working hours per week and houses under water are. Workers are under constant attack from the rich oligarch and no one, no Democrats and obviously not Obama, does anything for us.

    Did working conditions changed that much from CNN's description? If one considers the progress in technology and human right, it's 1929 now.

  • My father is an airline pilot. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and immediately became unable to work (in the technical sense, anyway; he's been using his new-found free time to do yard work, painting his fence, shrimping in the river, and catching a baseball game). The cancer is a slow-growing, non-aggressive variety which has not gone beyond his prostate, and he has a very good prognosis upon completion of radiation therapy. He will have to go through a process to get back his medical certificate so he can go back to work once he is free of the cancer, and he may possibly have to take medical retirement at a percentage of his pay on the off chance the therapy doesn't work. The ones who will be helping him with this process and assuring that he gets treated fairly by the airline are representatives from ALPA, the pilots' union.

    Dad watches a lot of Fox News and has sounded an awful lot like a Tea Party advocate for the past couple of years (although at least he's not one of those idiots who goes to rallies carrying moronic signs and wearing tricorner hats; thank Goddess for small mercies). He says he really likes Rick Perry for president. *facepalm*

  • I guess Zakaria's address was made to employers, not employees, since "paid" vacations were at issue. Doubtful whether employers heard him, however, since he's not on Fox and doesn't appear in the WWJ or Fortune Magazine, as far as I know.

    The CNN piece is indeed brief but at least it's CNN. An unusual history lesson from an increasingly simplistic, rightward-lurching beast.

    Thanks for the URLs, Ed. And enjoy the day off, all, if you've got one.

  • Sarah –

    I'm an airline pilot, also an ALPA member, and you'd be amazed at how many tea party types I end up flying with.

    Some of it I suspect is demographics. I work almost exclusively with white, middle-aged, upper middle class, males. Most of which are ex-military.

    Not sure how they get over the cognitive dissonance of being in a union.

    Sometimes a pilot that I've known for literally 10 minutes will launch into some right-wing political statement and I'll say something like "What made you think I wanted to have this conversation and what made you think I agreed with you?"

  • How interesting, Major Kong. The military connection with pilots makes their political leanings understandable now. I've never understood why our armed forces and their families are so gung ho Republicans. Republicans have generally evaded military service, routinely cut military benefits and start wars recklessly. Yet the military folks generally seem to view Democrats as anti military, crazed leftist, Commie loving hippies. My brother-in-law will turn purple in the face explaining to me how John Kerry was a traitor, but no worries that no contemporary of George W. can say they served with him in Alabama. Just don't understand and I guess I never will.

  • mother earth:
    I was in the Army in the early Nineties and even then it was an excercise in brainwashing ( this was before FOX News and Limbaugh were piped into the televisions and radios of the Armed Forces 24/ 7). The professional military that replaced the conscript one after the Vietnam War imbues into its recruits a peculiar psychology of victimhood, nationalism, and a utter contempt for civilian authority. A lot of military personell view the Republicans as being " one of them" because they use the same bellicose language towards The Other ( foreigners, leftists, women, pick one ).
    So they continue to get fucked over by the GOP, in and out of the service, but like most conservatives, their thought process goes no deeper than the American flag lapel pin on Gov. Perry's jacket.

  • Back in my Air Force days I got so tired of hearing it that I told one of the commanders "Did I accidentally join the Soviet Air Force? When's the Political Officer going to show up to tell me how to vote?"

  • Of course there are the F-104 flight logs (hundreds of hours) for W , but we all know they can be faked. More to the point, we can't find a contemporary of BHO who blew a J w/ him at Columbia back in the eight ohs…

    //bb

  • Don't worry, pretty soon shadowy and poorly understood Market Forces will cause these companies to self-regulate and do a whole bunch of expensive things like offer paid vacations, awesome health insurance, and retirement plans to their employees. They'll also voluntarily submit to things like independent, third-party workplace safety inspections. Soon, banks won't engage in dangerous and ambiguously legal financial practices, even though they're incredibly profitable.

    Fuck yeah, Market Forces.

  • Shrub was in F-102s, a more survivable aircraft than the F-104. BTW, George McGovern flew B-24s, in a somewhat more hostile environment than Texas, so Liberals can fight to.

  • Right you are! The F-102, in which he logged 336 hours. This was not about Lib vs Conservative fighting courage (W never fired a hostile round)

    You could also add the late Pat Tillman to a long list of brave, Liberal, fighters

    This was about a slam on Bush's service per 'mother earth.' He started well (no strings pulled to get into the ANG pilot program), performed well in the middle part of his service (got promoted), but there is data that suggests he skated on the last part of his obligation to the National Guard. If so, that is reprehensible.

    //bb

  • I have to take exception to the phrase, "low-paid immigrants willing to do unpleasant work". Americans are more than willing to do unpleasant work — just not for pennies. See oil rigs, road crews, sandhogs, etc. Plenty of people were happy to work in meat-packing plants when the trade-off was a middle class paycheck. The problem is the gutting of the unions, not the work ethic of our people.

  • @Amy K

    Well put. My grandfather worked in a steel mill.

    It was hot, dirty, dangerous work but he owned a modest house, drove a Buick back when a Buick was considered a nice car, put two sons through college and even had a modest pension to show for it.

  • Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria wonders why Americans don't take more vacations.

    Reminds me of when a clueless George W Bush called the woman who worked three jobs "uniquely American!" Like, "isn't that swell!" If looks could kill. Fucking moron.

  • bb you need to read better. What MotherEarth said was no one can verify serving with Bush in Alabama. She never claimed Bush had not flown in Texas, which he did up until he failed to show for a physical, but "that no contemporary of George W. can say they served with him in Alabama." which was after he became unable to fly due to not taking his yearly physical. So your pointing to his Texas flight records has no relevance to her claim about serving in Alabama

  • @Major Kong: Thanks for speaking up about not agreeing. Not long ago I was subjected to the Fox News View of the World, and when I wasn't agreeing (I was completely quiet), the mindless parrot had a *meltdown* because was…saying nothing. They've been trained to interpret anything short of full, spittle-flying agreement to be an ATTACK on them, because they're SO PERSECUTED IN AMERICA. @@

  • BillCinSD:

    You are absolutely correct. My lack of comprehensive reading skills in this case probably colored by my attitude…

    But late breaking:

    Who let the dogs out? Hoffa's calling for 'war' y'all against the eeeevil Rs. (If I read that correctly :-)) What does that mean to all the big union supporters here? How can you participate in 'taking those sons-of-bitches out.' as Mr. Hoffa offered his sword to our Dear Leader.

    I hope this is rhetorical/electoral, but it sure has a brown shirt 'rang' to it…

    //bb

  • @bb – You did not read that correctly (a shocked silence sweeps the g&t auditorium).

    Hoffa said that a war is being waged *against* workers. Also, while he did say 'let's take these sons of bitches out', he also said 'there's only one way to do this' – voting.

    I read the hysterical Faux coverage, too. I like it better when you make up your own bullshit, rather than just parroting theirs.

    Yours in mutual passive-aggression,

    Eau.

  • I'm halfway through the book Triangle by David Von Drehle. It's a fascinating account not only of the tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, but also of the struggles between labor and business in the early 20th century.

  • Eau:

    I should have also stated I saw a video clip of Mr Hoffa too…more to get wrong :-).

    I believe I faithfully "parroted" what Mr. Hoffa said and further "Mr Obama, this is your army and we are ready to march. Let's take these sons-of-bitches…etc."

    Now you can slather "He said it's all about voting" on it if you want to, but the Right never gets your generous benefit of the doubt in these matters.

    Your side finds a few freaks w/ nasty signs (most of whom were denounced on the spot by other TP demonstators) out of thousands and generalizes that to the movement.

    "Why, the TP is fixin' to storm the WH and hang our Dear Leader …, because they just don't like melanin."

    Then we have one of the top labor leaders in the whole country gone on a violent language laced rant against TPs and Rs and we 'sposed to accept that its all about voting…talk about your bullshit

    //bb

  • bb:

    The Tea Parties probably get less benefit of the doubt because they do things like bring automatic weapons to political protests. Little things like that can color peoples' perceptions of other statements.

  • Jack:

    Please don't think me too pedantic:

    No known 'automatic weapons' at any rally. One instance that I know of was a Black gentleman brought an AR-15 (quite legal in Arizona) semi-automatic rifle to rally in Phoenix or Tuscon (I forget).

    Oh BTW, MSNBC went to extreme editing lengths to conceal that:

    a.) A Black Man was at a TP rally on the Pro side of the argument
    b.) That Black individual was carrying (shoulder sling) a legal firearm by avoiding focus on anything but the weapon in a tight shot on it revealing nothing else.

    Ironic you would use the word 'color'

    I don't know all the provisions of the FFLs related to fully automatic weapons. The Federales might have rules about carrying them to public gatherings that could supersede State Law. You know, Federal supremacy and all…

    //bb

  • It gets touchy when a long gun is carried in public. Since in many parts of the country a rifle is still not a shocking thing to see (hunting etc. being common pastimes) simply carrying one, either open or in a protective case, is not necessarily illegal in many jurisdictions. ”brandishing” is generally what is considered a threat, though good luck making such a distinction with a law enforcement officer bearing down on you. Of course, since the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban people are generally terrified of anything black and plastic, while an old-timey rifle or shotgun is often met with bemused curiosity. That is, until some numbskull decides to rob a bank with a flintlock. Then they'll come for our black powder too.

  • Gahh! Dang machine et my comment…

    @ bb – Let's play "Hoffa or Bachmann?"

    “Everybody here has a vote … If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize. Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to America where we belong.”

    “I am the No. 1 target for one more extremist group to defeat this November … We need to have your help for candidates like me. We need you to take out some of these bad guys.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/the-tea-partys-ridiculous-hissy-fit-over-jimmy-hoffa/2011/03/03/gIQAST2C7J_blog.html

    Which is which? And which do you think is clearer? Neither make a lick of sense to me, but at least of 'em mentioned the word "vote".

  • Eau:

    Number 1 is Hoffa
    Number 2 is Bachmann

    Look, I know that Hoffa isn't really wanting people dead.

    He's a Tough Guy(tm) and that's how them Yankee Union tough guys talk. He does it a lot better than Biden :-) Some asses kicked and cars keyed would be OK with Jim and that fits with his union background.

    Hospital Yes! Morgue, Not so much!

    However, the pisser for me is the "civil discourse" marker laid down by our Pres after the Giffords shooting came after a four day she-ite storm on Palin et al in the aftermath as being the reason during which our BHO was stone cold silent.

    Loughner was found to be crazy but mostly apolitical tending to liberal in his incoherent rants as told by those who knew him.

    We have had an almost unbroken abuse parade since the Pres remarks mostly from the Left. I know, "wah wah' get over it.

    //bb

  • @bb –

    OK, so it seems we both just feel that MY side has a few isolated incidents of ass-hattery, and YOUR side is the 'unbroken abuse parade'. I would counter that the examples on the left are union bigwigs and bloggers and such, while those on the right are running for Prez., but I'm happy to just let this one fizzle out if you are.

    However, for this –

    "Hospital Yes! Morgue, Not so much!"

    – I think the points decision would go your way. I LOL'd. A little bit.

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