CLEAT Walks a Beat in the House of Labor

The Working Stiff Journal Spotlight on Labor Vol. 2 #1, February 1999 by Jackie Dana Despite the historic use of the police against labor unions and the politically conservative nature of law enforcement, CLEAT, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas has challenged such contradictions to become the state’s largest union of police officers and a political powerhouse in less than twenty-five years. CLEAT was formed in 1976 by former members of the Texas Municipal Police Association. Arguing that the TMPA was reluctant to consider itself a union, CLEAT founders Ronald G. DeLord and John Burpo wanted an organization that was less conservative when it came to labor matters. From the start, CLEAT pushed for full legal representation, collective bargaining, and a more confrontational style of organization. In its first year it signed up 600 members, and two years later it could boast 3,000. In 1992 CLEAT became affiliated with the AFL-CIO as Local 6911 of the Communication Workers of … Read more…

Labor 101: What Is a Union?

The Working Stiff Journal Vol. 1 #4, Winter 1998 Column: Labor 101 by Jackie Dana Unions exist in many industrialized countries in the world as collections of workers who have something in common: they work within one industry, possess similar job duties or skills, or share a common employer. In simplest terms a labor union, as the dictionary defines it, is “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members’ interests in respect to wages and working conditions.” Before the 1800s, unions were unknown in the United States. Instead, skilled craftsmen and artisans formed guilds, associations of all workers within a specific trade. Guild members protected and promoted their own crafts, including overseeing apprentices, and the guilds themselves had competitive requirements to join. Workers outside of guilds, particularly manual laborers and those in cottage industries, had few legal protections and lacked the support of a collective that the guild provided. At the opening of the nineteenth century, … Read more…

Galbraith Challenges Wage Gap

The Working Stiff Journal Vol. 1 #3, November 1998 By Jackie Dana Review of Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay James K. Galbraith New York: The Free Press, 1998 If you work for a living you aren’t probably greatly surprised that an enormous gap in wages exists in this country but what you may be surprised to find out that this is no accident. In his new book, Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay, James K. Galbraith explains why the rich are getting richer while the working class keeps falling further behind. Dr. Galbraith, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin, argues that low wages and underemployment are the results not of market forces but of deliberate governmental policy. Galbraith shows how the US federal government can be blamed for wage inequalities by favoring the needs of the wealthy over those of the poor. As he explained at a book signing at BookPeople on … Read more…

The Law of the Baseball Bat

[This is an article I wrote back in 1998 after meeting Tony Friel and Mickey Donnelly and hearing their stories. It was published on a couple of websites back then but since none of the sites are currently operational, I have republished it here. It is the same article as I wrote back in 1998, though I did take the liberty to break up a few of the paragraphs. –Jackie] Friday, 10 July, 1998 Many Irish republicans have recognized the inherent flaws in the so-called Irish “peace process” and have presented an alternative perspective on the “Good Friday Agreement”. The Irish Republican Socialist Party, Republican Sinn Fein, and the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, although they differ ideologically in certain respects, all are republican political organizations. They have all publicly opposed the Agreement and encouraged Irish people to vote “no” and oppose it in the referendums that were to approve or discard the terms of this Agreement. There are many who … Read more…