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WANTED: Hospitals That Fully Serve Their Communities

April 8th, 2014 by Maynard Seider Maynard Seider

What happens to a poor, working class rural community when its hospital closes  –  with three days notice?  That’s what residents of North Adams, Massachusetts and surrounding towns have been trying to figure out since the North Adams Regional Hospital closed its doors on March 28th.   While local and state politicians scurried to at least keep the emergency room open, members of the two hospital unions, a local labor coalition and other residents temporarily occupied the hospital.

Solutions for servers subsisting on tips

March 25th, 2014 by Maria Myotte Maria Myotte

There are plenty of industries out there that we wish would do better by their workers, but the restaurant industry poses a very specific problem. Here’s the largest and fastest growing economic sector in the US producing 6 of 10 lowest paying jobs in the country. Why? The majority of their workforce don’t get paychecks. The federal tipped minimum wage has been $2.13 since 1991. That wage is quickly devoured by taxes; many servers don’t even bother with picking up their check. Instead, they’re living entirely off tips. Most of us are familiar with living check-to-check, but imagine living quite literally shift-to-shift.

Relying on diners’ good will

March 24th, 2014 by Emma Israel Emma Israel

I recently started waitressing at a neighborhood sports bar, where I quickly found that my idealistic image of leaving work at the end of a shift with hundreds of dollars in hand was far from the truth. A great night for me leads to about $100 in tips, an average night is much closer to the $40-60 range.

Capitalism’s Curtain Call

March 23rd, 2014 by Paddy Vipond Paddy Vipond

There seems to be an elephant in the room when we are discussing the issue of classism. This elephant is so large, and so huge, that the overwhelming majority of us believe that it is actually partaking in the discussion. That it is a member of the debate, and so we pay little attention to it. I feel it is about time that this elephant was confronted.

A surprising class culture pattern

March 12th, 2014 by Betsy Leondar-Wright Betsy Leondar-Wright

When I was studying 25 social justice groups for Missing Class, one of my biggest surprises was a class category I hadn’t even thought to look for: lower professionals. Activists of that class had such unique ways of speaking, participating, and especially dealing with conflict that they had a notable impact on their groups.

Invisible disabilities and class

March 3rd, 2014 by Lena Rothman Lena Rothman

I’d like to open a discussion about class and invisible disabilities. I am a lower-class womyn with a disability called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I come from a poverty background in Brooklyn.I incurred this disability because of the work I did to get out of poverty in my 20′s.

Pioneering Black Class-Analysts

February 26th, 2014 by Betsy Leondar-Wright Betsy Leondar-Wright

Black History Month got me thinking about some of the African-American thinkers who have taught me the most about class/race intersections:

Black History and White History are Inseparable

February 26th, 2014 by Brian Miller Brian Miller

The schoolhouse version of Black History Month has rightfully focused on elevating African-Americans who have made great achievements in American history: writers, inventors, and public officials. Giving kids a sense of the possible is an important part of inspiring young people to strive to be the best they can be.

Humiliation at School Should Be a Thing of the Past

February 5th, 2014 by Linda Stout Linda Stout

Dozens of children at a Utah elementary school had their lunch trays snatched away from them before they could take a bite last month.  Salt Lake City School District officials say the trays were taken away at Uintah Elementary School because some students had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches, according to CNN.

Your Public Freeway: First Class or Coach?

January 30th, 2014 by Lita Kurth Lita Kurth

I have to pinch myself lately because it seems the U.S. has been infiltrated by post-Soviet Russian gangsters bent on turning every public good into a private jackpot.

SOTU: Quick reactions to class themes in President’s speech

January 29th, 2014 by Tareq Alani Tareq Alani

Half of Americans are working-class or poor, yet all I heard about in the State of the Union address was the middle class, and now I’m annoyed. I wrote down all of President Obama’s references to class issues.  Here are my quick (possibly overly sarcastic) responses to those references.

Turning down a full ride as a have-not

January 22nd, 2014 by Alysé Bigger Alysé Bigger

A full collegiate scholarship is a dream for some high school students, especially those that come from a low socio-economic status or those that are first-generation college students. While that dream is not a bad dream, it was not my dream.

The Power of Storytelling

January 22nd, 2014 by Jane Van Galen

I’ve long been interested in the complicated processes of crossing class barriers, especially when that crossing is navigated through success in school.  With British sociologist Diane Reay, I believe that we learn a great deal about class when we learn more about the experiences of “the ones who got away”.

When are you no longer a first generation college student?

January 22nd, 2014 by Adj Marshall Adj Marshall

Why was I feeling inadequate, angry, and torn between family and academia, just like first-generation college students feel? I was a graduate student with a college degree, damn it! Shouldn’t these feelings be gone by now?

“Bring Enough for Everyone”: What We Lose When We Lose Public Education

January 21st, 2014 by Lita Kurth Lita Kurth

Did your schoolteachers say, “Don’t bring [candy, toys, coveted items] to school unless you bring enough for everyone”? Mine did. Maybe they recognized how incapable children are of understanding the fundamental injustice of wealth inequality, of some people having immensely desirable things that for some reason cannot be attained by others.

400 Billionaires = Wealth of All 41 Million African-Americans

January 17th, 2014 by Chuck Collins

The racial wealth divide has reached new heights. The billionaires that make up the “Forbes 400” list have as much wealth as the entire African-American population of the U.S., over 41 million people, according to a new analysis by Bob Lord of the Institute for Policy Studies. Lord calls it “Dr. King’s Nightmare.”

Wondering how to respond to a classist guy

January 14th, 2014 by Betsy Leondar-Wright Betsy Leondar-Wright

Is there any point to engaging with someone who’s rigidly dug in to their classism, or other oppressive attitudes?

Toothpaste, Katrina and My Recovery from Classism

January 3rd, 2014 by Amanda Dye Amanda Dye

During my second week living in Boston, I faced one of those frightening moments of choosing whether or not to come out in front of a group that could go against me. I’d been faced with coming out before, but this time it wasn’t coming out as a lesbian, but coming out as poor.

The Unity of Class and the Division of Nationality

January 2nd, 2014 by Paddy Vipond Paddy Vipond

This world is divided into unrepresentative and irrelevant categories. Rather than looking at what we have in common with others, we are told to focus on the differences. It was in Austria, whilst staying with friends of mine in Vienna, that this became apparent.

Pension Cutbacks: The New Normal or Fightback?

December 23rd, 2013 by Maynard Seider Maynard Seider

We should be as wary now of the mainstream media as Marx was in 1871 when he wrote the following:  “The daily press and the telegraph, which in a moment spreads its inventions over the whole earth, fabricate more myths in one day…than could have previously been produced in a century.”

Holiday charity or year-round compassion?

December 23rd, 2013 by Katy Swalwell Katy Swalwell

‘Tis the season to be surrounded with warm fuzzy news stories about people volunteering at food banks or participating in clothing drives or raising money for non-profit groups. When a reporter for a nearby wealthy suburban newspaper called me this morning for my “expert opinion” about how to teach children a “sense of charity,” I bristled. As I responded to her, I felt a bit Grinch-like, spoiling all the fun and dampening the holiday spirit.

Trying to survive on $8.25 an hour

December 13th, 2013 by Ann Berlak and Nelson Myhand Ann Berlak and Nelson Myhand

On Thursday December 5th in 130 cities across the country fast food workers walked off their jobs calling for $15 in wages and the right to form a union.

Isn’t it Time for All Workers to Have More Job Security?

December 10th, 2013 by Rand Wilson Rand Wilson

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in allowing workers to be considered “at will” employees and dismissed for any reason – justified or not, unless protected by a union contract or individual agreement. Labor should seize the opportunity to champion the passage of “just cause” dismissal standards into state laws.

The Worker Center Boogyman

December 9th, 2013 by Michael C. Duff Michael C. Duff

Lately the Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) has been complaining loudly that Worker Centers are a kind of front group for unions.  Worker centers are community-based and community-led organizations that engage in a combination of service, advocacy, and organizing activities to provide support to low-wage workers. The vast majority of the Centers were created primarily to serve immigrant populations, but they have been expanding to other contexts. One odd thing about the Chamber’s claim is that unions are lawful (indeed union activity has been protected since 1932) and do not therefore require a front group to operate.

‘Black Friday’ has literally consumed Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2013 by Anne Phillips Anne Phillips

You can’t listen to your car radio, open your mailbox, turn on the television or watch a YouTube or Hulu video these days without being bombarded with ‘Black Friday’ mania. What was once a lazy day-after-Thanksgiving to mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season (for those who celebrate gift-giving holidays) has now become a massive event in and of itself.

Now Showing in Seattle: A Multicultural Working Class Movement!

November 26th, 2013 by Lita Kurth Lita Kurth

Any American interested in the working class should know about Kshama Sawant, an open Socialist (and immigrant), who was recently elected to the Seattle City Council.

Class in the Skies

November 25th, 2013 by Shane Lloyd Shane Lloyd

Some time ago, I read a New York Times Opinionator piece, “Class Struggle in the Sky.” Reading about the growing class divisions was particularly disheartening because I spent a fair amount of my childhood traveling in first or business class enjoying the extra leg room, the doting attention of the airline staff, and generous snack and meal offerings. The notion that oppressive dynamics were creeping into a realm that provided me with such fond memories of leisure made me very uncomfortable.

“You Don’t Look Like a Homeowner”

November 20th, 2013 by Celeste Harmer Celeste Harmer

For years my husband and I have nurtured the dream of homeownership, and when it finally came true last year, we were in heaven…but then reality caught up to us, as we ran into people who didn’t think we looked the part.

Classism is in Fashion

November 19th, 2013 by Miki Onwudinjo Miki Onwudinjo

Ever since Miley Cyrus twerked her bum on Robin Thicke’s crotch at the MTV awards, cultural appropriation has been a hot topic. But, society has been capitalizing off of minority cultures long before Miley was even conceived. High-end designers are now adopting hip-hop and urban styles to create a new IT look that has been around since the 80s.

Kanye, the Model Minority Myth, and Class

November 9th, 2013 by Tareq Alani Tareq Alani

Unlike most other days during my sophomore year of high school, I remember this one like it was yesterday: sitting on the bus, putting on my headphones, pressing play on my portable CD Player, and listening to Kanye West’s College Dropout. Since that day ten years ago, College Dropout has remained one of my all time favorite albums.

Gentrification and My New Old Neighborhood

October 29th, 2013 by Melody Chapin Melody Chapin

In 1999 my classrooms in Somerville, Massachusetts– a culturally diverse city bordering Boston– were mosaics of colors and cultures, with students from as far away as Tibet to students whose families had lived in town since the Revolutionary War.  Today in Somerville, hipsters are the name and gentrification is the game.

Debt-Shaming in Contemporary Capitalism

October 28th, 2013 by Gale Newell Gale Newell

I know that Dave Ramsey’s advice has done a lot of good things for a lot of people. There are thousands of people who are currently living debt-free as a result of Ramsey’s approach to personal finance—that’s great, and I’m not trying to take anything away from that. I’m simply saying that, even though Dave Ramsey’s advice works very well for a lot of people, it also has unintended consequences with regard to the way our culture frames poverty.

Neighborhood Class Divisions and Hope for the Future

October 24th, 2013 by Pete Daly Pete Daly

In my neighborhood, kids come around dressed as princesses, super heroes, and ghosts — nothing that would be offensive based on class, race, or religion. Why not? What is different about my neighborhood is that it is a mixture of everyone. Black, white, poor, wealthy, conservative, liberal, and pretty much all the religions common in the United States.

Parading Around in Privilege

October 24th, 2013 by Miki Onwudinjo Miki Onwudinjo

Halloween is quickly approaching and low-quality polyester costumes are flying off shelves like Tickle Me Elmo on Black Friday. In the year of the Hipster, pricey immaculate store-bought costumes are out and pricey immaculate homemade DIY costumes are in. What is now the new Halloween trend is eerily evolving into an upper-crust high cost arts and crafts activity.

9 Classist Halloween Themes to Think Twice About

October 24th, 2013 by Anne Phillips Anne Phillips

In recent years I’ve been glad to see so much coverage exposing the cultural appropriation, racism and sexism inherent in so many Halloween costumes. Students at Ohio University have built a great campaign called “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume,” that highlights real people whose cultures are caricatured around Halloween.  And one of my favorite YouTube videos from last year by the NYC duo, EmotiStyle is titled Things You Can Be On Halloween Besides Naked. This year, I wanted to add a complementary list of classist costumes. A few quick google searches made this task all too easy. (Warning: Heavy sarcasm ahead).

Why I became an adjunct (against the advice of everyone that I knew…)

October 8th, 2013 by Abby Machson-Carter Abby Machson-Carter

When I was finishing my master’s degree in creative writing I started telling my professors and family members that when I graduated I wanted to “go into teaching.”

“Revenge” and the Failures of Social Climbing

October 2nd, 2013 by Miki Onwudinjo Miki Onwudinjo

The hit ABC melodrama “Revenge” features a slinky, mysterious blonde seeking delicious, sweet, sweet revenge. Emily Thorne, who isn’t really Emily, changed her name from Amanda Clarke, the juvenile delinquent and mentally lost daughter of a convicted 9/11 terrorist. The classist stereotypes portrayed in “Revenge” are viciously ripe. Each class has social limitations keeping them from successfully climbing the social ladder. On the way up, they knock each other down with false witness statements and tampered evidence for a chance to get closer to the family at the center of it all, the Graysons.

Money Changes Everything: The Ascent of Walter White

October 2nd, 2013 by Julie Withers Julie Withers

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it, and I was alive.” –W.W.

Orange is the Newest Redneck Bashing

October 1st, 2013 by Betsy Leondar-Wright Betsy Leondar-Wright

I’m eager to talk with someone who has both read Piper Kerman’s memoir “Orange is the New Black” and seen the Netflix series based on it. I want to discuss the class and race implications of how the story was fictionalized  – and in particular, one poor white character who is turned into the most outrageous “redneck” stereotypes.

Money is No Object: Over-representing the Upper Middle Class on TV?

September 30th, 2013 by Lita Kurth Lita Kurth

As a child, I recall watching The Brady Bunch. Wow, they were rich. Although they had a large family, it never seemed to impact their finances. They had money for bikes, vacations, really nice clothes, nice cars, a gleaming kitchen commanded by a servant, a huge house in an obviously nice neighborhood. Didn’t they also have a swimming pool? While my mind followed the plot, it also created a subplot of questions: do people like this really exist? How? Where? What are those items? Where do you get them? How much do they cost? It seemed like a foreign country.

Doing the Math: Student Loan Debt and the Adjunct Equation

September 17th, 2013 by Nicole Braun Nicole Braun

One of my friends calls working in higher education a “Ponzi Scheme.”

This is how it works:

Destroying Labor Law in the “Sharing Economy”

September 3rd, 2013 by Lita Kurth Lita Kurth

Many a magazine, including the usually liberal New Yorker, has gone ga-ga about Taskrabbit, AirBnB, Elance, and other new companies that in one fell swoop make a mockery of fair labor practices, regulated consumer products, minimum wage, and taxes. In a rather lengthy article in which a New Yorker writer gushed about her Taskrabbit experiences, not once did she consider how this new setup would affect people who need to make a living, not even when describing Fiverr, a company that preys on the truly desperate by posting jobs that only pay $5! The only concern was whether this would work for the consumer and “spoiled child.”

Labor Day, 2013: Realities and Hopes

September 1st, 2013 by Maynard Seider Maynard Seider

I like to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” album from time to time, at moments when my spirits need lifting up.   In “Jack of All Trades,” the protagonist does outdoor work, carpentry, auto repair and farming (“I’ll harvest your crops”).  Given the recent one day strikes in some 60 cities by fast food workers,  I wonder if  Springsteen will soon add “I’ll serve your next meal” to a new version of the song.  Or better yet, write an original song honoring the role these low-paid employees are playing in bringing a spark to a movement sorely in need of one.

Labor Against the Next War, Too

August 31st, 2013 by Penny Lewis Penny Lewis

With the drumbeat of war sounding once again, the first petition I was sent opposing US strikes on Syria came from United States Labor Against War.

Imagining a Labor Day without a Labor Board (It isn’t Hard to Do)

August 30th, 2013 by Michael C. Duff Michael C. Duff

Recently there has been much congressional skirmishing over the funding of the National Labor Relations Board, often referred to as simply the “labor board.”  During the last year or so President Obama’s recess appointments to the labor board have also been widely discussed. But I am not especially interested in the details of the latest Republican defunding scheme or whether the President’s recess appointments were “legal.”  I have a much more fundamental question to pose. Why, exactly, does the labor board matter?  I will state up front that I believe that for workers the labor board matters very little.  If you listen to the rhetoric offered by the Democratic Party elite when the labor board is threatened in a serious way you might draw exactly the opposite conclusion.

Labor’s Love Lost Over Obamacare?

August 30th, 2013 by Steve Early Steve Early

Like many labor negotiators, I looked to health care reform for legislative relief from endless haggling with management over employee benefit costs. My own union and others worked hard for passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) three years ago.  Despite its failure to take health insurance issues off the bargaining table, as a more preferable Medicare-for-All system would do, Obamacare was widely cheered by labor.

Philly School Crisis Meets Pushback

August 15th, 2013 by Maynard Seider Maynard Seider

While a group of determined teachers, parents and community activists rallied a small crowd in front of South Philadelphia High School on a rainy weekday, the powers-that-be in City Hall, Harrisburg and D.C. did nothing to avert an educational crisis that awaits 150,000 mostly poor and working-class students when school is due to open in September.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

August 14th, 2013 by Barbara Jensen Barbara Jensen

Working with couples who hail from different class backgrounds is one of my specialties as a counseling psychologist.  I offer an example from my counseling practice to illustrate how different class backgrounds, and their cultural assumptions, can confound a marriage.  One couple met in college, where she got a para-legal certificate and he got a bachelor’s degree in business.

When Love Crosses Class Lines

August 12th, 2013 by Jessi Streib Jessi Streib

What’s it like to be married to someone who grew up in a different class? If you asked most of the 64 college-educated adults who I interviewed who did so, they would tell you that it was like being married to anyone else. Most said that they loved their partner deeply, and, like all couples, they faced some challenges – challenges that they thought were based upon their own idiosyncratic personalities. But I also interviewed college-educated adults who married a spouse who shared their class background, and their experiences were very different. The “idiosyncrasies” of each person and marriage, it turned out, were not so idiosyncratic at all. Instead, they were related to the class in which each spouse grew up.

Psychiatry and the Imposition of Upper Middle Class Values

August 5th, 2013 by Pete Daly Pete Daly

Psychiatrists do not have objective tests to confirm their diagnoses. They are often imposing Upper Middle Class values on their patients and then calling it “scientific” diagnosis.

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