After U.S. President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the battle for health care reform truly began to build in the United States of America. In fall of 2009, Mobilization for Health Care for All began a campaign for a single-payer health care system, soon known as “Patients Not Profits.”
In 2004, Western Michigan University outsourced its custodial labor to a private company called Commercial Sanitation Management. The contract cut costs for the university by $1.1 million dollars a year and eliminated 58 positions. Commercial Sanitation Management did not pay what the national living wage movement deemed a living wage: $9.50 an hour with health insurance or $10.50 without health insurance.
On 20 June 2010 Greenpeace kicked off
their campaign targeting Costco wholesale super market’s seafood policies by
floating a blimp with the words “Costco: Wholesale Ocean Destruction” over the company’s
corporate headquarters in Issaquah, Washington.
According to Greenpeace, Costco was selling 15 out of 22 “red-listed”
seafood species, including critically threatened orange roughy and Chilean sea
bass. Greenpeace demanded that Costco:
immediately stop selling these two fish; implement a policy refusing to sell
On 4 April 2004, Casey Sheehan, an American soldier, was killed in the Iraq War. Upon hearing the news, his mother Cindy Sheehan was completely devastated and questioned the value of the war.
Following the rise of global food prices in 2007-2008, international investors began buying or leasing large tracts of land in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. In these deals, called the “Great Land Grab,” local governments and private landholders sold over 203 million hectares of land. Organizations, such as the Oakland Institute, have brought these exchanges to public attention through studies and media coverage.
Hawaiian workers attempting to organize unions in the 1920s and 1930s faced enormous difficulties. They met stern opposition from an alliance of plantation owners and large companies, including the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company. Hawaiian workers were also divided into various ethnic groups, which made it easy for the companies to use a policy of divide-and-rule.
The Ohio State penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio, houses approximately 450 prisoners, with all of them under maximum security or administrative maximum security. Most inmates attend the penitentiary for the most severe sentences, for they have committed the most severe crimes. Yet, these prisoners have had a history of campaigning for basic human rights and for improving living conditions.
By 26 January 1949, negotiations between the International Longshoreman’s Worker Union (ILWU) and the longshoreman employers had reached a standstill. Leaders Jack Hall, Harry Bridges, and Louis Goldblatt negotiated for pay raises for the Hawaii longshoremen. Workers were aware that longshoremen on the west coast of the U.S., who were employed by the same company and loading/unloading the same cargo, were being paid $1.82/hour whereas the Hawaii longshoremen were only being paid $1.40.
On 31 January 2008, the Walt Disney corporation's workers represented by the union Unite Here Local 11 found themselves without a labor contract. Workers held meetings with management to discuss new contract plans, but the talks fell through. Most importantly, the workers hoped to secure a health-care plan in which they would not have to contribute their own wages. However, Disney favored a health care plan that would include worker contributions.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is best known for the unique fashion blouse they produced and the horrific fire that killed 146 workers, women who might have lived if the owners had been forced to ensure safety standards in the factory. Historically, the 1911 tragedy defined the Triangle workers as the victims of disaster.
By spring 1967 some of the legal barriers to racial equality in the U.S. had been struck down. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities and women, in workplaces and in facilities that serve the general public. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discrimination in voting.
Unemployed Detroit auto workers conduct Hunger March to protest Ford Motor Company's policies, United States, 1932
During the Great Depression, Detroit, Michigan, and its auto-industry suffered an exceptional amount. After the stock market crash of 1929, around 80 percent of the industry was no longer producing and by 1932 large numbers of Detroit's citizens were dying of starvation. The Ford Motor Company, one of the richest employers, had laid off two-thirds of its employees. The Unemployed Councils, United Auto Workers, and communist union-organizing groups decided to organize a march against the Ford Motor Company and its employment policies.
The Great Hawai'i' Sugar Strike was launched against the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association and the “Big Five” companies in 1946. The “Big Five” were made up of a handful of corporate elite companies: Alexander & Baldwin, American Factors, Castle & Cooke, C. Brewer, and Theo. Davies. They exercised complete control over Hawai'i's sugar plantation workers and the majority of the island’s multi-ethnic workforces.
On 1 June 1961, Isaac Coggs, the only African American Member of the Wisconsin legislature, introduced a Humans Rights bill with two civil rights provisions: a fair housing law and a plan to reorganize the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Though Governor Gaylord Nelson supported the bill, it was met with resistance in committee, facing amendments to kill or cripple it. Opponents of the bill argued that real estate
brokers and home sellers should have the right to decide to whom they should sell homes.
In October of 1998, environmental groups organized protests against Home Depot, the world’s largest do-it-yourself hardware and supply store. The protests were in response to the purchasing and selling of old-growth wood (OGW), or wood from endangered, never before forested regions. In part the impetus for this campaign was that Home Depot had not fulfilled a promise made to Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and other environmentalist groups one year prior to stop the selling of OGW.
Undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison founded the Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) in 1994 after watching a video in a sociology course about the lockout of 700 workers at A.E. Staley, a sweetener company in Decatur, Illinois. They formed the organization to support the workers’ campaign there, and later spread to university campuses across the country.
In the fall of 1998, Harvard students began a Living Wage Campaign that would last for almost four years. The Campaign was headed by the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) and aimed to help all Harvard employees receive a “living wage”. The demands of the LWC were that each Harvard employee (janitors, security guards, cafeteria workers, etc.) receive a wage of $10 per hour or more. Most workers were receiving the minimum wage at the time, which was around $6.50. In 1998 Cambridge, MA, this was not enough to get by individually, let alone to support a family.
Beginning in late 2005, students at the University of Vermont (UVM) were involved in a movement to increase the wages of school employees such that workers could be given a "living wage." Primarily focused on food-service employees contracted by Sodexho, the nonviolent campaign sought out and acquired support from local officials, faculty, and even state legislators. The students believed they needed in intervene in order to secure a wage that was equal to the state standard of a living wage as established by the state legislature.
Political dissident Young Sam Kim stages hunger strike to solidify the dissidents in pro-democracy movement, 1983
Doo Hwan Chun filled the power void in South Korea through his military coup right after the assassination of the former President Jung Hee Park in 1979. He became the president after amending the Constitutional Law that turned the presidential election into an indirect election—one that he could easily manipulate.
After months of organizing (primarily using contraband cell phones purchased from prison guards), thousands of Georgia prisoners launched a strike on 9 December 2010 when prisoners assigned to the earliest breakfast shift refused to leave their cells. This was the first major multi-racial prison strike and largest prison strike in American history.
The target was the Georgia State Department of Corrections.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. This program has repeatedly been criticized for allowing employers to take advantage of guest workers, and in response, the U.S. Congress passed the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act in June of 2011.
In 2006, University of Virginia students launched an intensive campaign to raise minimum wages at their institution. Discontented with the minimum $9.37 an hour, these students urged the school’s administration to provide fairer wages, wages that they determined to start at $10.27 an hour.
Students at University of Notre Dame started a living wage campaign at their school in September 2005 after learning about similar campaigns happening at Harvard University and Georgetown University. A living wage was defined as a family of four being able to live above the poverty line on the working parent’s salary. The Notre Dame students campaigned to raise the minimum pay wage from $8.25 up to $12.10 per hour. The group felt that it was the responsibility of the institution as social Catholics to understand the importance of achieving a living wage for workers.
Swarthmore College is a small liberal arts college close to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the spring semester of 2006 campus workers at Swarthmore began to organize a union. For the union to be established a significant number of the workers had to vote in favor. However, some workers felt that the election method at the college, the standard National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) method, did not support a safe environment for the workers to freely express themselves.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. The program was being expanded and supported in 2006, and Signal International, LLC (a subcontractor of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation), which works with oil rigs in Southern Gulf Coast of the US and in Texas, asked to hire around 550 Indian metalworkers to repair damage done after Hurricane Katrina.