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World Wide Work - May 2010
Source Matt Witt
Date 10/04/25/03:32

This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.

Even the inadequate reforms contained in the federal health care bill would not have been achieved without thousands of protests outside insurance company offices and other grassroots action. During this event in Medford, Oregon, a local TV reporter interviewed a leader of Oregon Action who said too many of us are left uncovered when we need care. Information about pushing for further federal and state action can be found from Health Care for America Now, which supported the Democrats' bill and is now organizing to enforce and improve it.

New and worth noting...

Outrage. This hard-hitting 89-minute film focuses on closeted gay politicians who cynically take strong stands against gay and lesbian rights. One who is featured is Florida Governor Charlie Crist, now a candidate for U.S. Senate. The film discusses Crist's history of having gay relationships, carrying out anti-gay policies, and suddenly acquiring a female partner during election campaigns, only to "break up" immediately after the votes are counted.
On the Road to Tel-Aviv. A brilliant 15-minute short shows Israeli Jews getting on a bus not long after another bus was blown up by suicide bombers. An Arab woman carrying a large bag gets on the bus, and the passengers panic. The story provides a great starting point for discussion about profiling and about actions individuals will take when in a group seized by fear.
Objectified. In this wide-ranging 76-minute documentary, cutting edge designers of consumer goods from around the world show how they do their work. They also talk about being caught between corporations' short-term profit motive and their own desire to design products that are sustainable and that serve the needs of the great majority of humanity that is not wealthy.
The Four-Faced Liar. This endearing and clever 84-minute feature artfully adds 21st century dimensions to the coming of age genre as an uptight young woman soon to be married finds that her true love is female.
The Solitary Life of Cranes. Unusual footage in this 27-minute documentary shows what crane operators see from high above London, although not as much as it might about the actual work they do.
Garbage Dreams. In Cairo, 60,000 people made their living collecting the city's garbage and recycling 80 percent of it. Now, foreign firms have been brought in, using modern equipment but recycling only about 20 percent of the waste. The makers of this 60-minute documentary are encouraging community groups to use the film in local events to provoke discussion.

Moving Millions by Jeffrey Kaye (Wiley). As the national debate about immigration heats up again, a former reporter for PBS NewsHour shows that the policy changes being discussed do not address the underlying reasons that cause people to emigrate in the first place, including their own poverty and powerlessness and the hunger of multinational corporations for cheap and exploitable labor.
Everything but the Coffee by Bryant Simon (University of California). This thoughtful, in-depth study of Starbucks and its customers concludes that Americans want what the company claims it offers €“ community, fair treatment of workers and food producers, and protection of the environment. But it questions whether consuming the products of big corporations like Starbucks actually yields those outcomes.
Working edited by Hart, Mangino, Murphy, and Taliercio (New City Community and Syracuse University). A diverse group of working people in Syracuse took part in writing workshops and produced this powerful anthology of stories, poems, and photographs about the lives of postal workers, waitresses, electricians, truck drivers, telemarketers, firefighters, nurses, and others.
If The Church Were Christian by Philip Gulley (HarperOne). A Quaker minister suggests that if churches more closely followed Jesus' values and teachings, it would focus more on inclusion rather than exclusion, reconciliation rather than judgment, meeting needs rather than maintaining institutions, and inviting questions rather than insisting on rigid answers.
Rematerial by Alejandro Bahamon and Maria Cimla Sanjines (W.W. Norton). One step toward sustainability is to design buildings using materials that have previously been considered "waste." This includes converting existing structures to new purposes rather than tearing them down, recycling used building materials, and making use of waste products such as paper cups and scrap wood and metal. This book combines text and photos to show examples from all over the world.
Revolt on Goose Island by Kari Lydersen (Melville House). The sit-down strike by workers at Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago in December, 2008, became a symbol of working people's frustration with the increasing gap in wealth and power in America. A Washington Post reporter was on the scene and makes the story come alive.
If We Can Change the White House, We Can Change the Hog House by Gene Bruskin ( In a 20-page, pocket-size booklet, the former director of the successful campaign to win a union contract for mostly Latino and African American workers at the Smithfield meatpacking plant in North Carolina tells the story in the form of a rap-style poem.
At the Altar of the Bottom Line by Tom Juravich (University of Massachusetts). Four case studies show how corporations' profits-before-people mentality is affecting working people in the U.S. The stories focus on a Verizon call center, a fish-processing plant staffed by undocumented workers, Boston Medical Center, and a machinery factory that was closed despite the best efforts of a highly skilled workforce. The book comes with a CD that includes four original songs by the author, a well known musician.
Working for Justice edited by Ruth Milkman, Joshua Bloom, and Victor Narro (Cornell University). Los Angeles, once one of the country's most antiunion towns, is now a center of innovative organizing strategies, as shown by these 11 case studies.
Hazard by Gardiner Harris (Minotaur). As the recent Massey mine disaster in West Virginia reminded the nation of the dangers of coal mining without union safety protections, the public health reporter for the New York Times released his new mystery novel about corporate and governmental abuses in the mines of eastern Kentucky.
Cesar Chavez: A Photographic Essay by Ilan Stavans (Cinco Puntos) tells the story of Chavez's role in United Farm Worker organizing, using photos and a small amount of text aimed mainly at young people.

The Big To-Do by Drive-By Truckers (ATO). A number of the tracks center on crime and the burdens of substance abuse, but songs with other themes are mixed in, including "This F---ing Job," whose point can be gleaned from the title, and "Eyes Like Glue," reflecting the songwriter's thoughts about his life as he's being watched by his young son.

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