David Moberg

David Moberg is a senior editor at In These Times.

Recent Articles

Wisconsin: From Protest to Movement

Organizers see We Are Wisconsin as less aligned with the Democratic Party, and more like a "Tea Party of the left."

During the wintry months of February and March, it was easy to imagine the soaring, marble rotunda of the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, as the epicenter of a new American political earthquake. Encircled by marchers, often many thousands on weekdays and 60,000 to 100,000 (and probably more) for Saturday rallies, the Capitol came to symbolize an improbable mass public cause -- the defense of public workers' rights to join a union and bargain collectively with employers. But can this movement be sustained? Can Wisconsin unions both defend worker rights effectively and take the offensive to expand unions and empower workers in politics and at work? And can progressive groups use the movement's energy to win both elections and progressive policy changes? The great Wisconsin earthquake started on Feb. 11, when the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, unveiled his "budget repair" bill. It shifts much pension and health -- insurance expense to state and local workers (even as Walker...

How Wal-Mart Shapes the World

Will the economy follow Wal-Mart’s race to the bottom—or will social 
counterweights and other business models demonstrate a better way?

W al-Mart casts a global shadow across the lives of hundreds of millions of people, whether or not they ever enter a Supercenter. With $405 billion in sales in the last fiscal year, Wal-Mart is so big, and so obsessively focused on cost-cutting, that its actions shape our landscape, work, income distribution, consumption patterns, transport and communication, politics and culture, and the organization of industries from retail to manufacturing, from California to China. Yet other paths are possible, and the company would not be so influential had the world not changed to enable its metastasized growth. Had unions been stronger, especially in the South, and more devoted to organizing the growing service sector, Wal-Mart might not have become such an obstacle to labor renewal. If antitrust enforcement had not been narrowed, Wal-Mart could never have grown as big as it did. There would be no such mega-stores if state governments had not repealed Depression-era fair-trade laws. And Wal-...

Our Town, Updated

New census figures show that racial integration in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park is holding strong, but old segregation patterns may be replicating in other key neighborhoods.

(Flickr/Gravitywave)
Ten years ago, the population of Chicago, the country's third-largest city, increased by nearly 113,000. At the time, city advocates heralded the trend as a sign of a local urban renaissance, driven partly by young, mainly white, well-educated professionals who moved to the city and stayed to start families. The most recent figures from the 2010 census, however, show a different picture. Even as the metropolitan region grew during the past decade, Chicago shrank -- by 7 percent to 2.7 million residents. The city lost 200,000 people, including 181,000 African Americans (a 17 percent decrease) and 52,000 non-Hispanic whites (a 6 percent decrease). For those who hoped that Chicago's urban renaissance might lead to enhanced neighborhood diversity throughout the metropolitan area, the census contained mixed if ultimately dispiriting data. On a positive note, the suburbs as a whole, however, became more ethnically diverse. Numerous African Americans, Latinos, and Asians moved from Chicago...

Our Town

A Chicago suburb proves that America's neighborhoods don't have to be drawn across racial lines.

(AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
Malaika Jenkins, a 36-year-old African American marketing director, recently moved from Southern California to Oak Park, a racially diverse first-ring suburb at the west edge of Chicago. It's a community where Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie-style homes mingle with grand Victorian houses and the condos and apartments that make up half of the city's housing units. Jenkins enjoys strolling past the boutiques and bars that dot her neighborhood and seeing people of different backgrounds. "I feel comfortable. ... I like diversity," she says. "I don't want to be in some place where everyone else looks like me, but I want to see some people like me." Other residents also appreciate the community's character. After leaving what he described as a "boring, pretty homogenous" white Chicago suburb, Tom Helms, 28, an editor, and his roommate Shaun Husain, 27, a Web developer, welcomed Oak Park's diversity. Their new, modestly priced and large apartment is on the eastern edge of town, conveniently...

Translating Solidarity

As SEIU organizes on a global scale, it must adapt its approach to accommodate cultural differences.

After a decade working for food concessions operated by the French multinational Sodexo at Ohio State University sports arenas, 58-year-old Marcia Snell decided she and her fellow workers -- including more than a dozen of her extended family members -- needed a union. And she has done more to get a union than just join and sign up her co-workers. Up against a company that employs 380,000 workers in 80 countries, she went global, like her employer. She marched down High Street in Columbus last April with British and French union supporters, then got arrested for blocking the street. She traveled to France for the January shareholder meeting, where European unions publicly supported her cause. Sodexo, which says that it "has always recognized and respected trade union rights," is fighting Snell's attempt to organize a branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Human Rights Watch concluded that the company's U.S. operations had frequently violated the same international...

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