Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the executive editor of The American ProspectHis email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

JUPITER RISING, WAGES...

JUPITER RISING, WAGES STUCK. In all innocence, I went on to the Washington Post 's home page on Wednesday afternoon to see who voted how in the Senate vote on raising the minimum wage. I found what I was looking for: the eight Republicans (Chafee, Coleman, Collins, DeWine, Lugar, Snowe, Specter, Warner) who voted along with the Democrats to raise the wage. (That gave the forces of good 52 votes, but the Republicans had structured the vote to require 60.) Then I noticed that the Post had the vote broken down not just by party but by state, region, gender, and boomer and pre-boomer (not a very revelatory category: boomers backed the proposal by a 24 to 21 margin; pre-boomers, by a 28 to 25 margin). What to my wondering eyes should then appear but one more category: Astrological sign . Yes, the Post lets you know the vote breakdown among all those Cancers and Geminis. The most pro-raise sign was Sagittarius (6 yes, 3 no); the most anti was Virgo (2 yes, 6 no). For anyone with a double...

Hard Labor

It's a cool, smogless noontime at the Los Angeles-long Beach harbor, and the guys who could be the future of American labor have lined up for lunch. Three weeks earlier, on May 1, the day that immigrants had stayed away from work, these truck drivers had shut down the port -- America's busiest, through which 43 percent of all containerized U.S. imports flow. Fully 90 percent of the drivers had kept their rigs at home that day, as impressive a display of worker power as this nation has seen in a very long time. Not that you'd know it when you talk to them, however. The truckers tell tales not of power but exploitation. Leonadez, a Salvadoran immigrant, has driven at the port for seven years -- six days a week, 12 hours a day, moving two or three loads a day. He gets paid $175 for each load, but $100 of that is deducted by the guy to whom he's paying off his truck, who also makes him pay for his gas, tires, cell phone, and insurance, while providing Leonadez no benefits at all. The...

Hard Labor

It's a cool, smogless noontime at the Los Angeles-long Beach harbor, and the guys who could be the future of American labor have lined up for lunch. Three weeks earlier, on May 1, the day that immigrants had stayed away from work, these truck drivers had shut down the port -- America's busiest, through which 43 percent of all containerized U.S. imports flow. Fully 90 percent of the drivers had kept their rigs at home that day, as impressive a display of worker power as this nation has seen in a very long time. Not that you'd know it when you talk to them, however. The truckers tell tales not of power but exploitation. Leonadez, a Salvadoran immigrant, has driven at the port for seven years -- six days a week, 12 hours a day, moving two or three loads a day. He gets paid $175 for each load, but $100 of that is deducted by the guy to whom he's paying off his truck, who also makes him pay for his gas, tires, cell phone, and insurance, while providing Leonadez no benefits at all. The...

Till Death Do We Organize

Over the past 15 years, the trade agreements that the United States has entered into with other nations have been, when it comes to ensuring the rights of workers in those nations, merely outrageous and inadequate. Now the administration is about to send up to Capitol Hill a new accord that takes our trade agreements to a whole new level. The proposed agreement is with the government of Colombia, and it's ridiculous. Colombia, you see, has a bit of a workers' rights problem. It's not just that more union leaders, activists and members are killed in Colombia than in any other nation. It's that, year in and year out, more unionists are killed in Colombia than in all other nations combined. In 2004, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which produces an annual tally of people killed because of their union activities, 145 unionists around the world were murdered. Of these, 99 were killed in Colombia. Colombia's labor college, the Escuela Nacional Sindical (...

A Not-So-Super Tuesday

LOS ANGELES -- Lord, but California is election-weary. America's mega-state endured the dreariest of gubernatorial contests in 2002, followed by the most surprising of gubernatorial recalls in 2003, the drama of the presidential race in 2004 and, just last November, the who-asked-for-it special election in which business and labor spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars fighting over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's wildly unpopular ballot initiatives. No wonder something like 70 percent of California's registered voters elected not to vote in Tuesday's primary, which was essentially a sliming contest between the two leading Democratic candidates for governor. If the states are laboratories of democracy, as Louis Brandeis called them, then Californians have become guinea pigs in a vast failed experiment. Hold a major election every year -- complete with a torrent of attack ads and mailings and recorded phone messages from a startling array of personages attesting to the virtues of your...

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