The fabulous Pursuit of Harpyness has a conversation about girl lawyers and their boy-lawyer colleagues.
Yup, men are the standard and women are the deviation from that. Occupationally, medically, …. whatever. After all, it’s in the bible.
I think the “Men as Default” worker paradigm is disappearing more rapidly in the rank and file than in professional or para-professional areas. And that’s where progress starts on labor issues, in the rank and file.
More women are working now than men. The gap is the largest since records started being kept in 1948. The good news is this puts women in a position of power in the workplace.
Professional and para-professional working women need to organize through representative associations, seek affiliation with national organizations, and become more active in pressing for change…real change…not the male dominated “pick-up lines” as described in the article. Professional and para-professional women traditionally have the resources to use the courts and legislation to achieve substantive progress.
More rapid change is coming to the rank and file. Working women are causing significant turbulence in all the major unions. Stern of the SEIU is facing an outright revolution bolstered by the newly formed nurses national. Trumka of the AFL-CIO is giving the appearance of being willing to go to the mat for workers, having recently gone to jail demonstrating for hotel workers of a national chain. (He took the healthcare issue directly to Obama and the faux Progressives on Capitol Hill but came away with….surprise, surprise, surprise….a compromise. But at least he went to the mat.) The Teamsters continue to be troubled by corruption and regional power plays. But one thing the Teamsters are good at is organizing. As working rank and file continues to diminish, Teamster leadership will work for greater solidarity with AFL-CIO organizations with both eyeing the only union showing real growth in the critically down economy…the SEIU.
If the California regionals of the SEIU could unseat Stern and seat a woman as the head of the International….look out, baby…an American Labor Party is a real possibility.
The rank and file in general, but particularly women in the rank and file, are becoming angry over the failure of union leaders and politicians to deliver on issues they see as crossing party lines:
Discrimination, just to name a few.
Neoliberals and neoconservatives alike will be seeking to exploit populist themes with their empty rhetoric. But one more round of broken promises, compromise and capitulation and Labor will be looking for more power to take to The Hill. Like their own American Labor Party.
I know….the argument is a little….wobbly….but it could happen. Nothing feeds solidarity like distress. And another year of corporatists’ empty promises and it could burst forth like a spring…
“I think the “Men as Default” worker paradigm is disappearing more rapidly in the rank and file than in professional or para-professional areas. ”
I was thinking about this. I wondered if it started with “mail carrier” “police officer” “fire fighter”
These are the terms my children know.
“American Labor Party.” Sounds good to me!
Having already established that there is no more “middle class,” if indeed it ever really existed, we’re all labor now.
“…we’re all labor now.”
Except for those we work for…….
I’m running out of time again…but try not to think Labor Party as Labor Union….two completely different animals.
And I love Bangeant, but I’m not completely on board with the distinct line he draws between “working class” and “elites.”
The image of a Middle Class, wether a false consciousness or not, is as engrained into the American psyche as guns and automobiles and rock’n’roll. It’s part of our national identity. It’s impossible to just say it isn’t there and disregard it.
(I’m being WoWed again!!!!!)
I hope you survive this latest WoWing. I agree with you that there’s not a lot of subtlety in Bageant’s line drawing but some days, dammit, I like to read him, anyway.
I Love Joe.
And I certainly wouldn’t want him turning on me. So if you’re reading this, Joe….I love you, man!
And I’m not saying his observations, his reporting, is inaccurate. But the drawing a line and saying, “here is working class and here is elite” leaves too many people in a grey area.
“The image of a Middle Class, wether a false consciousness or not, is as engrained into the American psyche as guns and automobiles and rock’n’roll. It’s part of our national identity. It’s impossible to just say it isn’t there and disregard it.”
It is ingrained, but maybe it was all a mirage to begin with. How much of it was created by borrowing? The bass boat and the SUV to pull it that Bageant writes about were probably not bought with cash, although I suppose they could have been. In my entire adult life, I’ve only ever met one family that had no credit cards and paid cash for everything. The only loan they had was the mortgage on their house. And this was in Fairfield County, to boot. I thought they were very odd.
(Then there’s my aunt and uncle, who had credit cards that they paid off every month, but no mortgage, because in 1949 they paid cash for their house. But that’s another story.)
I’m not saying that the American consumer was responsible for the fall of Lehman Bros., but I am saying that maybe Bageant is right, and the whole “middle class” thing was an illusion to begin with. Or, maybe, there really was a middle class, but it was the blue-collar workers who made the steel and who built our highways and bridges and televisions and appliances and electronics and airplanes, and when we allowed those jobs to go overseas, we also exported the “middle class.”
Just thinking out loud….
Actually, for just off the top of your head/thinking out loud? This is pretty good.
Yes. I am odd. Thank-you for noticing. :}!
I haven’t had a credit card in more than 25 years. I pay cash for everything. (Which probably means I’m classified as an enemy of the state.)
The family I live with hasn’t had a credit card for more than 20 years. The only credit they use is car and home loan.
I know many people in the same situation. They live that way by choice, refusing to be exploited by usury.
I know many more who have credit cards but rarely use them. Emergencies and major purchases only. They don’t pay for necessaries with credit and worry about paying the mortgage Visa holds on their lifestyle months down the road. They work hard to live within their means.
The illusion of wealth created by too-easy credit is the illusion of the “middle class.” The easy acquisition of material possessions the television says you need to have to be seen as successful. Cheap consumer goods designed to be discarded and replaced with more easy credit buying more discardable goods. The ability to acquire a mass of material possessions with someone else’s money and calling it wealth has become the illusion of the “middle class.”
“drawing a line and saying, “here is working class and here is elite” leaves too many people in a grey area.”
Well there you have it.
I think “working class” evokes an image of blue collar workers leaving white collar workers in that grey area. It might be better than “proles” or “proletariat” but it still seems a little exclusive for me.
There has to be better, more inclusive terminology we can use to frame the discussion on victims of corporatist domination of the economy.
United citizens? No, wait. That’s been done before…
Wow. This is an interesting website.
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