December 1, 2006 Volume 107 Number 23

Wake Up!
Left, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 staff leaflet the Wood Village Wal-Mart Nov. 21 to try to turn anti-union Wal-Mart into a socially-responsible corporate citizen. UFCW's Web site reports the retailer’s latest anti-worker actions:converting 200,000 full-time jobs to part-time, capping pay for all but top executives, and eliminating low-cost health insurance for new hires.

Union Shopping Guide for the holidays
Consumers will spend upwards of $60 billion for holiday gifts this year and much of that money is earmarked for apparel, computer equipment, consumer electronics and books, according to government sources and commercial polling firms. It turns out there are union-made, competitively priced sources for all the items on the typical shopper’s wish list.

U.S. corporations lobby against workers’ rights in China
Earlier this year, China’s National People’s Congress proposed changes to China’s labor law that would strengthen the power of unions and grant Chinese workers much greater job security. Groups representing U.S. corporations notified the Chinese government that they opposed the changes, even warning of disinvestment if the government passes the law.

Hope in Venezuela, fear in Colombia
A Portland labor delegation finds two neighboring nations that could hardly be more different for workers rights. In the Venezuela of populist paratrooper Hugo Chávez, they found unions surging in numbers and power, while in neighboring Colombia, assassinations and death threats are on the verge of driving unions underground.

Upcoming NAFTA-style trade deals may be DOA
The long march of NAFTA-style trade agreements may be nearing an end. The new Democratic majority in both houses of Congress will make it harder for the Bush Administration to win approval for trade agreements that don’t do anything to improve the labor and environmental standards of trading partners. And resistance to several already-negotiated trade treaties may prevent their passage during the remainder of the “lame-duck” session of Congress.

Think again
By Tim Nesbitt
Minimum wage: A triumph of common sense over conservative ideology
The November election did more than send a lot of new Democrats to Congress and state legislatures. It also delivered a resounding affirmation of a values-based economic justice agenda.