Archive for the ‘Commentary by G. Namie’ Category


Wealthy & Business Groups get their laws passed, American public ignored

Friday, April 18th, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court, the Roberts court, regularly finds in favor of corporations over individuals. In two landmark cases, Citizens United (2010) and McCutcheon (2014), the court gave wealthy individuals unlimited control over the political process — electing politicians and influencing lawmakers concerning public policy laws.

Now comes an empirical analysis of 1,779 public policy laws crafted between 1981 and 2002 by two academic political scientists — Martin Gilens at Princeton and Benjamin Page at Northwestern. The conclusions suggest that oligarchy (or more technically plutocracy) better describes the U.S. than a simple electoral democracy. This is a shot across the bow to defenders of American exceptionalism.


(more…)

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), The New America, Workplace Bullying Laws | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Some French workers told to disconnect from employers while off work

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

It would be great if bosses would leave us alone at home, during family time and on weekends. But it is not the American way, nor the Brit way, nor the French way.

Recent hyperbolic mis-reporting stated that a new French “law” protected workers from bosses contacting them after 6 pm. Oops.

The real news was the inclusion in two union bargaining agreements covering about 250,000 mid-level managers in tech industries. Those workers are subject to erratic schedules, and up to 78-hour work weeks, unlike other workers (who average 39.5 hour weeks) despite a 35-hour work week limit on the books. And the terms of the agreements have not yet been approved by the Labor Ministry.

So, to reduce stress (a tiny bit), the new agreements with employers “oblige” (not order, not mandate under threat of punishment) workers “to disconnect from remote communications tools” outside of normal working hours, whatever those hours might be — not expressly 6 pm. In other words, the onus is on the worker to turn off the employer when away from work for at least 11 hours (and that includes sleeping).

This gesture is a nod to the European notion that quality of life still can matter. Workaholism is not accepted without complaint. French workers engage in strikes and work stoppages. The French take to the street to protest social injustice. However, one union official made this conciliatory remark to the NY Times

“We also wouldn’t like this to squeeze businesses and cause them problems.”

The fact that the roots of the workplace bullying movement were sown in the social democratic Scandinavian nations should not be lost on Americans.

Yet, American media scorn the French as if they are lazy and unproductive. As if an overstressed and abused work force is exemplary. I hear the chants now — We’re number 1! Americans meekly accept everything their corporate masters shove down their throats. And public sector unions, the last bastion of organized labor, are being gutted by malicious state legislatures and governors hell bent on privatizing America. Few fight back out of fear. Why?

The French are not to be mocked. In fact, French unions are trying to hold on to an eroding leverage themselves. The globalized world dominated by multinational corporations have convinced all governments to step aside and let businesses operate without rules or limits.

In Germany, Volkswagen forbade supervisors from contacting workers after hours and shut down its servers to stop e-mail and phone calls. Deutsche Telekom also invoked a communications-free time ensuring that managers have no right to expect workers to answer supervisors’ calls or e-mails while away from work.

It would be far better if Americans voluntarily unplugged themselves from their work-provided phones and devices. They couldn’t track us in our bedrooms with remotely launched laptop cameras. The NSA would have no record of our interactions. And we would sleep more peacefully. The trouble is that employers have convinced too many of us to be afraid, very afraid. Oh, well. Maybe someday.

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Obscenity defined: CEO compensation, crumbs for the rest of us

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

From our friends at Executive PayWatch …

In 2013 the CEO to average worker pay ($16.59) ratio was 331:1 and the CEO to minimum wage ($7.25) worker pay ratio was 774:1.

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, a country where hard work and playing by the rules would provide working families a middle-class standard of living. But in recent decades, corporate CEOs have been taking a greater share of the economic pie while wages have stagnated and unemployment remains high.

High-paid CEOs of low-wage employers are fueling this growing economic inequality. In 2013, CEOs of the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index companies received, on average, $11.7 million in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available data from 350 companies.

Today’s ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is simply unconscionable. While CEO pay remains in the stratosphere, production and nonsupervisory workers took home only $35,239 on average in 2013, and a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage earned only $15,080.

Even as companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Politicians should raise the minimum wage. Corporations should pay their employees a living wage. And workers should have a collective voice on the job to demand their fair share.

The Executive PayWatch site

Scroll down on the page to see that a single hour of WalMart CEO pay is equivalent to 1,372 hours of minimum wage page pay! You can’t make up stuff this outrageous.

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WBI Podcast 39: American workers under the microscope

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Hitachi technology takes worker surveillance to new extremes. Where is the employers’ confidence in, and trust of, employees? It’s called the “Business Microscope.”

Here’s a picture of the device and the tracking system:

Listen to WBI Podcast 39 by Dr. Gary Namie

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Posted in Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Podcasts, The New America, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Zinn Project: Real Irish American story

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools
by Bill Bigelow, Zinn Education Project, March 16, 2014

We cannot do justice to the article by reprinting. Read it for yourself in its original home, the Zinn Education Project. The British portrayal of the famine as a completely natural event is a shameful part of their history as empire.

Sadly, as the article points out, American school textbooks are effectively “dummying down” students.

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HS magazine tackles internal “rape culture,” censored by “adult” principal

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Our societal tendency to blame victims of all sorts undercuts our ability to make systemic changes. If individuals are responsible rather than schools, employers and man-made (sic) organizations, then nothing ever has to change.

This is one of the many forms of resistance we face in the workplace bullying movement.

An interesting case surfaced in which a Wisconsin high school principal, Jon Wiltzius, was upset with a story published in the student’s monthly magazine. The editors bravely took on the topic of rape and blaming victims in their school. Three victims told their stories anonymously. Kudos for editors-in-chief Rachel Schneider and Tanvi Kumar.

The cover story ruffled the feathers of the principal responsible for the organizational (building) culture. His reaction — to cite case law that the District has control, not the student editors, over the publication — rather than hold an assembly to have all students discuss what may contribute to the normalization of sexual assault in high school and what his school could do about it. Oops. Guess the students are more adult about this serious topic than the principal who chooses to duck his responsibility.

Watch the WBAY-TV, ABC affiliate in Green Bay report

Read the well-written, truthful article on pages 11-16 of the student publication Cardinal Columns at Fond-du-Lac High School.

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Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Commentary by G. Namie, Media About Bullying, The New America, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



The Buffalo News – City policy on workplace bullying adopted by Council in North Tonawanda

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

By Nancy Fischer
News Niagara Reporter
The Buffalo News
March 4, 2014

NORTH TONAWANDA – Bullying has gotten a lot of attention among schoolchildren, but hostile work environments and bullying behavior in the workplace are now being addressed by a bill in the State Legislature.

In advance of the proposed legislation, the North Tonawanda Common Council unanimously adopted its own measure Tuesday, updating its 2009 Workplace Violence Prevention Policy with specific language to address bullying.

The Council did not discuss the policy, but Mayor Robert G. Ortt said after the meeting that bullying is a “real deal” that goes beyond schools, even to the case involving the Miami Dolphins in the National Football League.

“I think if you are going to ask kids to behave a certain way, there’s no reason not to expect adults to behave in the same manner,” Ortt said.

“You want people to be able to come to work and do their job in an environment that is professional. Without that, morale goes down, people don’t do their jobs as well, and there are health-related issues that are additional costs to the employer, which in this case is the city and ultimately the public.”

Assistant City Attorney Katherine D. Alexander said prior to the meeting, “We are just trying to be as prepared as we can here. If something were to happen, there will be steps an employee could take.”

Like the law being proposed in the State Legislature, the city policy gives employees the definition of an abusive workplace and provides for specific consequences. The policy also requires a system for reporting incidents of aggressive bullying.

The city now has a “zero tolerance policy” regarding reports of an abusive work environment.

According to the new city policy, after an investigation by the supervisor and the city attorney, any employee who is found to have committed a violation may be disciplined – which could include discharge, and criminal or civil prosecution.

Link to the original article

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When victors claim victimhood: “War on the 1%”

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Evidence mounts every week that the American “have-nots” suffer new economic indignities. In our very unequal America (please hold off on the ‘American dream for everyone’ speech), wealth becomes might. The extremely wealthiest 1% benefited from the global recession of 2008. Of the wealth accumulated since then, the 1% won 95% while the bottom 90% of Americans grew poorer.

A disgusting aspect of our new Gilded Age (term coined in the late 19th century by Mark Twain) is the shamelessness of the uber rich. A case in point — Tom Perkins, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, is making news with provocative (read hate-filled) comments that taxation is persecution of the rich by progressive akin to Nazi persecution of the Jews and, for extra effect, voting should be the privilege earned only by those who actually pay taxes. The latest outrageous comment was made at the ostensibly “serious” and credible San Francisco Commonwealth Club event titled: War on the 1%

Really? Really? The exploiters are victims??? Sounds like the bully’s faux lament.

Matt Tiabi regularly reports on new financial scams that generate obscene gobs of cash for the inventors while screwing employees of affected companies, and of course, the public.

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Join ‘Today We Fight Back’ against unwarranted surveillance

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Join supporters of privacy and internet openness. See the 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance: including legality, necessity, proportionality, transparency and public oversight.

Call or e-mail your legislators easily from the campaign’s website.

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Americans take to the streets (finally) for justice

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

They came by the hundred thousands. You might think this is about the 750,000 Seattle Seahawks fans clogging the streets of Seattle to greet their NFL team coming home triumphant from the Super Bowl (pictured on the left). In a way, they make the point for me that it took the NFL to get people to take to the streets. But it was a feel-good parade that few could argue with. And note that the parade’s participants outnumbered the population of Seattle. Some converged on the city from far away. WBI lives 100 miles north and there were two busloads and untold car pools who made the trek. So this is what it takes to move people to act, to stand in the frigid air to make a statement of some sort.

Why don’t Americans protest in the streets? Robert Reich wrote that despite the economic pain suffered by the poor — underpaid workers, the underemployed and the unemployed — we Americans are afraid to protest corporate greed and government indifference lest we lose our jobs. He also believes that our cynicism about government, now commonplace thanks to an unrelenting message from the right for over 40 years, keeps us in our couches.

But hope springs eternal. A bit of background. North Carolina is one of several states where rabid right wingers (don’t call ‘em conservatives) control the state legislature and the governor’s seat. The politicians who seem to hate citizens have run amok, trampling voting rights, undermining public education and seemingly re-segregating the state as was done after the Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression) via Jim Crow laws. Bill Moyers produced a mini-documentary on the recent setbacks for North Carolinians.

In N.C., Rev. William Barber, pastor, PhD in public policy, State NAACP President, and organizer extraordinaire, has led what he called “Moral Monday” protests. They began with a half dozen people at his church. Barber, the smart organizer staged an event on Feb. 8 in Raleigh (see poster) that included activists for multiple progressive causes. In fact, the event had a 14-point agenda. On Sunday, the crowd estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 marchers took over Raleigh.

Moral marchers modeled for other Americans one week after the Super Bowl that other things matter beside the NFL: quality public schools, livable wage, health care for all, increased access to voting, affordable housing, end of the death penalty, immigrant rights, and redress for North Carolina’s racist past. It was heartening to see the successful event. It should remind us of our rebellious history, that our nation was forged by protest. Too bad the corporate media kinda ignored it all.

WBI salutes the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and around the nation.

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