Jake Blumgart

Jake Blumgart is a freelance reporter-researcher living in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter.

Recent Articles

Taxing Matters

Maine and Washington voters are considering initiatives that would limit their state governments' ability to raise taxes -- and provide crucial social services.

In 2005, the people of Colorado made a counterintuitive move: They approved a referendum that basically guaranteed higher state taxes. With the support of 52 percent of the population, Coloradans suspended the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), a budget-slashing 1992 law that dramatically lowered taxes but severely restricted government's ability to function. A favorite of libertarians nationwide, TABOR left Colorado mired in the early 2000s recession and constrained spending on infrastructure and social services. Funding for higher education dropped and roads were left in disrepair, dissuading businesses from investing in the state. As a result , Colorado's average job growth between 2001 and early 2006 was a minuscule 0.2 percent; the other Rocky Mountain states averaged 8.3 percent. These shocking numbers, coupled with the defeats of TABOR initiatives in Maine, Oregon, and Nebraska the following year, should have completely discredited the program nationwide. Alas, not so. This year...

Organizing the Unemployed

During past recessions, collective action among laid-off workers was common. Will this financial crisis foster a similar movement?

At last count, conservatively speaking, 13.2 million Americans were unemployed, and according to Paul Krugman, we can expect the numbers to keep rising through 2010. The spirit-crushing reality of those figures has led several commentators to pen editorials bemoaning the passive state of the American worker. While laid-off French workers bossnap (kidnap their bosses) and the Chinese Commerce Minister warns of unemployment-related unrest, Americans have exhibited few signs of protest. It hasn't always been this way. During the Great Depression, the unemployed -- often led by political radicals -- engaged in militant action. They restored gas heating to those who could no longer afford it, reinstated broke families in their homes, and pressed government for more aid. In 1975, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project was launched in order to organize the poor and unemployed. But where is such outrage and organization today? "Before protest reaches the scale where it makes its way onto the...


Last year, the workers of Republic Windows and Doors successfully brought back the sit-down tactic , providing one of the few sunny spots in the unrelenting gloom that is the American labor movement. The maneuver seems to be catching on as factories close and jobs become vulnerable. Last week, unionized workers at Hartmarx Suits in Chicago -- where Obama gets his impeccably tailored threads -- voted to stage a sit-in if the factory isn’t sold to someone who will preserve their jobs. On Friday, textile workers in Rochester, New York, also voted to occupy their plant. And earlier this year, in another display of militancy, non-union workers in Rhode Island reacted to their jewelry plant’s surprise closing by obstructing the entrance to the bankruptcy sale, an action which resulted in multiple arrests. After the Republic Windows victory, labor gleefully speculated that this display of worker activism might augur a return to the fighting spirit of the movement's heyday. They might have...


The recent judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality in Iowa , Vermont , and soon (possibly) D.C have again brought same-sex marriage to the forefront of the national discourse. Unfortunately, the myopic media focus on the marriage wars has eclipsed every other LGBT issue. Given all the coverage of this topic over the last year, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the only injustice bedeviling the LGBT community. That simply isn't the case. While the media, public, and mainstream gay right's movement are focused on marriage equality, attention and resources are not being directed toward other pressing issues. Among them: Recent studies have shown that the HIV/AIDS rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) is still disproportionately high, comprising 71 percent of U.S. male HIV infections, even though only 5 to 7 percent of the male population identifies as MSM. " Stonewalled ," an Amnesty International report from 2005, reports disturbing levels of...

The New Terms of the Labor Dialogue

TAP talks to Kate Bronfenbrenner, a labor specialist at Cornell, about what EFCA means for women, the media war over the bill, and Obama's trade team.

Labor studies departments and professors are popular targets for right-wingers, and many academics prefer to avoid the risk and wrath of corporate-connected trustees. That's why Kate Bronfenbrenner is organized labor's go-to professor. She has not backed down from her dizzyingly thorough research, despite having been sued by anti-union corporations for slander and libel (they even demanded that she turn over her research notes). Bronfenbrenner, who is director of labor education research at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, has close ties to both the AFL-CIO and the Change To Win federations, both of which rely heavily on her research. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA or "card check"), which will be one of the more controversial bills of this legislative session, is based in part on her work. For the labor-obsessed, many of the depressingly familiar statistics on organizing -- that employers will fire at least one worker during 25 percent of unionization...