Alex Gourevitch

Alex Gourevitch is currently a graduate student at Columbia University studying international relations and a former American Prospect writing fellow.

Recent Articles

A Cautious Opposition

W ill George W. Bush's decision to seek congressional approval for invading Iraq slow down the war juggernaut? Up to now, Democrats have only been willing to declare, as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) observed after President Bush's Sept. 4 address to congressional leaders, that "To date, the administration has not made the case for military action in Iraq." Even so, these voices have yet to swell into a chorus of serious opposition. Bush seems to be gambling that a month of hearings, ultimately, will produce more support than dissent. Guarded criticism by Democrats first emerged at hearings held on July 31 and Aug. 1 by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. These hearings, which included testimony by Richard Butler, former executive chairman of the United Nations Special Committee (UNSCOM), and Khidir Hamza, former Iraqi nuclear engineer, failed to convince committee members of the urgent need for a preemptive attack. Although Hamza testified about Saddam Hussein's pursuit of...

Planet of the 8th

M ark Kennedy Shriver is all hustle: This is his virtue and his vice. Christopher Van Hollen is all ease, which is also his virtue and his vice. Shriver, whose square and eerily familiar Kennedy features hang on a thin but lively frame, campaigns with the eagerness of a young politician with big-name support. Standing outside a Bethesda, Md.-area supermarket -- on the final Saturday of a tight primary campaign for the right to challenge eight-term U.S. Rep. Connie Morella (R) in Maryland's 8th District -- he is quick to greet voters ("Hi, I'm Mark Shriver") and quick to pass them to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who has joined him ("Have you met President Sweeney?"). He exudes the desire and earnestness of youthful ambition; he also betrays the nervousness and impatience of someone who has always been around the game of politics but is not yet quite of it. He speaks rapidly and confidently, but when he loses concentration he can sound scattered and unfocused. The key to his campaign...

When Low Wages Don't Add Up

E lena, a single mother living in San Diego, is well aware of the pressure to get off welfare and take whatever employment is available. "Get a job, get a job, then get a better job" was the message she got from her welfare caseworker. "I didn't buy that," she says. What was the point of taking a job if it meant losing ground financially? "If I am going to get off of welfare, it's because I can support my kids and support myself," she adds. Elena faced a problem many poor mothers face: inadequate wages for available jobs and a lack of qualifications for something better. Resisting the "work first" demand of current welfare reform, she has concentrated on dealing with those problems that keep her locked in poverty. While on welfare, she has earned a GED and four secretarial certificates, with the hope of qualifying for a secretarial position that would pay a livable wage. It's not that people like Elena are unwilling to work hard. "I worked one time from 8:30 to 4:00," she recalled, "[...

No Justice, No Contract:

The conditions at the Korean owned Kukdong apparel factory in Atlixco, Mexico were appalling. They included use of child labor, physical abuse, refusal to provide maternity leave and benefits to pregnant workers, locking workers in during lunch and providing rancid food, and paying less than livable wages. Some workers had been beaten with hammers and screwdrivers, and leaders of a movement to establish an independent union were threatened and fired. The factory manufactures Nike, Reebok and other brand name clothing to be sold to universities and retailers. On January 18, 2001, four workers at the factory submitted a complaint about the abuses to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent monitoring firm. Over the course of four days -- January 20-23 -- the WRC, which inspects supplier factories of companies licensed to produce university apparel, conducted a fact-finding investigation that revealed abuses of international and Mexican law, and many universities' codes of...

Awakening The Giant:

The first union negotiations at Harvard since the student-led 21-day sit-in have yielded a promising new contract with the local union representing food service and dining hall workers, including significant wage raises. While there are still flaws with the package -- future raises are not indexed to inflation, and there are still many workers in the union who start with wages under the $10.25 that constitutes a "living wage" in Cambridge -- the pay increases and other concessions set a high standard for the other near-future contract negotiations. Much has been made of the courageous sit-in, conducted in the University's Massachusetts Hall, which demanded raises for approximately 1,400 of Harvard's employees paid less than a living wage. But on top of giving these workers a shot at a better life, the broad support the sit-in garnered suggests that the Harvard Living Wage Campaign stands as a promising model for nationwide, grass-roots, progressive coalition building. In addition to...

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