Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Globalism for the Rest of Us

A mere 157 years and six months after two European political philosophers concluded a pamphlet with the words “Workers of the world, unite,” it may actually be beginning to happen. Last Thursday, August 25, a number of unions from around the world came to Chicago to announce that they are forming a new alliance that will fund and coordinate the organizing campaigns of janitors and security guards in (initially) India, Poland, Holland, Germany, South Africa, and the United States. As recently as two years ago, it was unlikely that any labor-force futurologist would have predicted that the first de facto global union would consist of the people who guard and clean office buildings and factories. But in the past couple of years, cleaning and security contractors from all over the planet have been purchased by a handful of chiefly European-based multinationals. The two largest -- Securitas, based in Sweden, and Group 4 Securicor, a British-Danish amalgam -- employ 600,000 workers between...

What Have We Wrought?

It looks increasingly as if President Bush may have been off by 74 years in his assessment of Iraq. By deposing the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Bush assumed he would bring Iraq to its 1787 moment -- the crafting of a democratic constitution, the birth of a unified republic. Instead, he seems to have brought Iraq to the brink of its own 1861 -- the moment of national dissolution. No, I don't mean that Iraq is on the verge of all-out civil war, though that's a possibility that can't be dismissed. But the nation does appear on the verge of a catastrophic failure to cohere. The more the National Assembly deliberates on the fundamentals of a new order, the larger the differences that divide the nation's three subgroups appear to be. It's not the small stuff that they're sweating in Baghdad. They can't agree on whether the new Iraq should be a federation, with a largely autonomous Shiite south and Kurdish north, or a more unified state, which the Sunnis prefer. They can't agree on just...

Their War, Too

In the information age, wars are not made by governments alone. This is especially true of wars of choice. When America has been attacked -- at Pearl Harbor, or as on September 11 -- the government needed merely to tell the people that it was our duty to respond, and the people rightly conferred their authority. But a war of choice is a different matter entirely. In that circumstance, the people will ask why. The people will need to be convinced that their sons and daughters and husbands and wives should go halfway around the world to fight a nemesis that they didn't really know was a nemesis. That's why a war of choice is different. A war like the Iraq War, whose public support before the idea was seriously discussed started out well below 50 percent, needs to be sold -- “marketed,” as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card once put it -- needs, well, marketers. And, in the information age, an administration can't, and doesn't, market alone. It takes an army of salespeople -- it takes...

Solidarity Creeps Back In

The most acute problem faced by the labor movement in the wake of the disaffiliation of three of the AFL-CIO's largest unions -- the decimation of the local AFL-CIO bodies that run labor's electoral campaigns -- seems abruptly closer to solution this morning with a forthcoming announcement from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney that would permit the locals of the three departing unions to retain their membership in the local labor councils. The announcement marks a change of course for Sweeney, who indicated at the federation's convention in late July that he'd oppose such a solution (though he also made clear he didn't know if he was speaking for his incoming executive council). “The [AFL-CIO] constitution is pretty clear on this [prohibiting locals of unions not affiliated at the national level from belonging to local labor councils], and we will enforce the constitution,” he said at a July 27 press conference. Speaking to a convention of the federation's Building and Construction...

Off Duty, On Notice

They'll be bowling alone at Guardsmark tonight. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) doesn't want the employees chatting it up off the job. On June 7 the three Republican appointees on the five-member board that regulates employer-employee relations in the United States handed down a remarkable ruling that expands the rights of employers to muck around in their workers' lives when they're off the job. They upheld the legality of a regulation for uniformed employees at Guardsmark, a security guard company, that reads, "[Y]ou must NOT . . . fraternize on duty or off duty, date or become overly friendly with the client's employees or with co-employees." The board majority held that the guards probably would interpret this to be a no-dating rule, pure and simple. In her dissent, member Wilma Liebman wrote that the rule plainly specifies both dating and fraternizing, a term that covers a range of activities that go well beyond (or fall well short of) dating. That certainly was the...

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