by Noam Chomsky
In These Times
May 2, 2011
In most of the world, May Day is an international workers’ holiday, bound up with the bitter 19th-century struggle of American workers for an eight-hour day. The May Day just past leads to somber reflection.
A decade ago, a useful word was coined in honor of May Day by radical Italian labor activists: “precarity.” It referred at first to the increasingly precarious existence of working people “at the margins”—women, youth, migrants. Then it expanded to apply to the growing “precariat” of the core labor force, the “precarious proletariat” suffering from the programs of deunionization, flexibilization and deregulation that are part of the assault on labor throughout the world.
By that time, even in Europe there was mounting concern about what labor historian Ronaldo Munck, citing Ulrich Beck, calls the “Brazilianization of the West—the spread of temporary and insecure employment, discontinuity and loose informality into Western societies that have hitherto been the bastions of full employment.”
The state-corporate war against unions has recently extended to the public sector, with legislation to ban collective bargaining and other elementary rights. Even in pro-labor Massachusetts, the House of Representatives voted right before May Day to sharply restrict the rights of police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees to bargain over healthcare—essential matters in the U.S., with its dysfunctional and highly inefficient privatized health-care system.
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MoxNewsDotCom on May 2, 2011
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