Join Us: AlterNet Expands its Coverage of Labor and Workers' Rights
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There has been a long war on workers and unions in this country, led by conservatives who want to lower wages, eliminate benefits, and limit workers' rights to organize.
In response, AlterNet is ratcheting up our worker coverage by establishing a unique Labor special coverage area (sign up to receive our weekly newsletter).
This anti-worker crusade gained a lot of momentum in 2010 as conservatives swept into control of state houses and legislatures in the American heartland – in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and most recently in Indiana, where a so-called "right to work" law was just passed – a law that dramatically restricts workers' rights.
There has been plenty of pushback – in Ohio and Wisconsin particularly – reminding Americans what a real protest movement looks like, and kicking off a fight for working people's rights that rippled across the country.
But the war on workers continues unabated, as we're seeing now with a fresh attack in Arizona. Workers face pressure from their bosses every day to work harder for less money and fewer benefits. Corporate America is running a "race to the bottom," intent on eliminating middle-class conditions and driving workers into poverty in order to “compete” with the developing world. Too many new jobs in the so-called economic recovery are being created in the low-paid, non-union service sector while the 1% pockets more of the wealth.
As we know, membership in unions has fallen, and the fact that workers who have unions are consistently better paid and protected is one reason for fighting back on their behalf. Part of the challenge of defending worker's rights is that labor unions and working people's issues are given short shrift by the corporate and mainstream media, whose economic coverage usually focuses on the stock market, IPOs, corporate profits, and ignores the plight of workers in America.
Which is why labor coverage by AlterNet (and other independent progressive media) is so important. And that's why we are establishing a Labor special coverage area, with its own web page, and newsletter, edited by staff writer Sarah Jaffe, who has been covering economic and social justice issues since the summer. We have a small amount of seed money from our recent end-of-the-year fund raising campaign to get us going, but over time we will need support to keep it going.
As Jaffe explains, "Covering labor isn't just about covering strikes and organizing campaigns, though of course that's part of it. It's also about covering how Americans work– how our wages have been falling but also how our jobs are changing, how the latest battle in Congress is going to impact working people, and, of course, the still-too-high numbers of unemployed and underemployed in this country. We'll talk to leaders and to rank and file workers, those in unions and those without union protections.
“Only 12 percent of Americans belong to a union, but millions more of us work for a living, and as the economy remains sluggish, it's more important than ever to keep focus on labor, on working people."
So I invite you to sign up for our Labor newsletter, which will be launching next Monday, and be part of the discussion and coverage of what's too often missing in media coverage of workers and labor in our society.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.