The debates in labor: Lessons from our past

Read the 1946 political action program of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and much of it sounds like it could have been written for today. It is a fighting program calling for a national health care system, shorter hours, organizing the South (“Operation Dixie”), raising the minimum wage, child care programs, low cost housing, abolition of the poll tax, boosting public education, benefits for returning veterans and much more.

Medicare drug plan: Stingy benefits, high cost

The Bush administration’s top health officials have hit the road to educate (sell) seniors on Medicare’s complex new drug benefit. A recent stop in New Hampshire was like a road show, complete with a bus painted with the Medicare logo.

Sit-in to save TennCare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee health care activists have been sitting in since June 20 at the Statehouse to demand that Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) stop the threatened cut of 325,000 from the TennCare roles. Tenncare is the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Aging population no cause for crisis

Efforts to convince us that Social Security faces a crisis often start with the demographic argument: the U.S. population is aging. The White House web site says that in 1950 there were 16 active workers supporting each Social Security beneficiary, that today there are only 3.3 workers for each beneficiary, and that by 2050 only 2 workers will be supporting each beneficiary.

The railroad spirit and apple pie

The railroad worker has his own special psychology. His sense of control over the long trains, his feeling that he occupies a strategic position in industry, his meeting with many new scenes and people daily, his relative freedom on the road from the spying presence of the boss, his realization that he is a member of a strong labor union — all combine to give him a sense of sturdy independence. He has written many glorious pages in labor history.

World Notes

Vietnam: CP conference emphasizes economy; S. Africa: Cosatu to organize ‘informal economy’ workers; Colombia: Soldiers arrested, charged; Finland: Long paper strike ends; Afghanistan: Officials accused of war crimes

More calls to free former Haitian prime minister

Despite mounting pressure for his release, deposed Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune remains in custody and is continuing a prolonged hunger strike in protest against his yearlong detention without trial. After going before a judge on May 25, he still has not been charged with committing any crime.

UN group faults U.S. on Cuban 5

An agency of the UN Human Rights Commission recently criticized the U.S. government’s handling of the case of the Cuban Five, five men arrested in Miami in September 1998 on various charges, including, in three cases, conspiracy to commit espionage. At the time of their arrest, the five were working to foil Florida-based, right-wing acts of terrorism committed against Cuba.

Congress caves in to right wing on Cuba travel

In a noteworthy turnabout, the House of Representatives rejected several measures on June 29 that would have eased some of the Bush administration’s restrictions on travel to Cuba.

South African Communists continue the struggle

CHICAGO — Ben Dikobe Martins represented the South African Communist Party at the 28th National Convention of Communist Party USA here, July 1-3. Martins is a senior leader of the SACP and an elected member of South Africa’s Parliament.

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