Malaysia's tech manufacturing sector based on forced labor

"Hardly a major brand name" doing business in Malaysia is untainted by the use of forced labor from trafficked workers, according to a study backed by the US Department of Labor.

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Excerpt from In Real Life, YA graphic novel about gold farmers


In Real Life is the book-length graphic novel adapted by Jen Wang from my short story Anda's Game, about a girl who encounters a union organizer working to sign up Chinese gold-farmers in a multiplayer game.

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Market Basket victory: worker-friendly, fair business trounces looting klepto-investors


(WBUR)

The beloved, profitable, worker-friendly Market Basket grocery chain is back in the hands of former CEO Arthur T Demoulas, following a mass worker and management revolt at the news that Demoulas's cousin, Arthur S Demoulas, was taking over the company, bringing in a notorious former Radio Shack CEO, and getting set to break up and sell off the company in order to extract higher dividends for shareholders.

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Teacher who defended Little Brother against principal will keep her job!

A Florida principal broke his own rules when he cancelled a summer reading program to avoid kids being exposed to “anti-authoritarian themes” in Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. When Mary Kate Griffith objected, she faced misconduct charges and her job was on the line.

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Profiles of brutalized laborers building Abu Dhabi's Louvre and Guggenheim


Molly Crabapple writes, "For My latest piece for Vice, I spoke with the men paid $200/month to build the Louvre and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi."

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Unions considered helpful (economically)


A paper in Industrial Relations A Journal of Economy and Society performs a meta-analysis of a wide range of studies the impact of trade unions on productivity and finds a complex puzzle.

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Silicon Valley wage fixing: Disney, Lucas, Dreamworks and Pixar implicated


It's not just tech companies that participated in the massive, illegal "no-poaching" cartel.

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Gimpsuited greenscreen fluffer flicks shampoo model's hair


An actual job is to be a greenscreen fluffer, dressed in a chromakey gimpsuit, hidden in the background for shampoo commercials, tasked with artfully flicking models' hair. If you're very good at that job, you can level up to gimpsuited Superman cape-puppeteer.

(via Super Punch)

Starbucks employees offered free tuition at Arizona State U


Starbucks is offering to pay some or all tuition at Arizona State University for any 20+ hour/week employees, with no requirement that these employees remain with the company after attaining their degrees (employees who already have two years' credit get the remainder free; others will pay part, but are eligible for grants and aid). ASU has a very large online education offering, and Starbucks employees surveyed by the company often cite a desire to finish their degrees.

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George Orwell's National Union of Journalists card


From his work with the Tribune. I'm a proud member of the same union.

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Thai shrimp industry runs on brutal slavery and murder


A blockbuster investigative report in The Guardian reveals that the Thai shrimp/prawn fishing industry is powered by a brutal system of slavery through which trafficked workers are bought and sold by captains who starve, beat and murder them in sadistic displays intended to inspire fear in the remaining workforce. The major companies who import Thai prawns, like CP Foods, and their customers, which includes most major grocery stores, admit that there is a problem, but they do not conduct audits that go "all the way to the end of the supply chain." An anonymous Thai government spokesman claims that the problem could be easily dealt with, but there is no political will to do so.

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Red states are most dependent on federal money


Wallethub compared the direct and indirect federal subsidy to all 50 states and DC by comparing federal taxes remitted; federal funding as a fraction of state revenue; and number of federal jobs per capita and produced a ranked list of the states with the greatest federal dependency. Unsurprisingly, the top ten are overwhelmingly Republican dominated "red" states with low state taxes and low average per-capita incomes thanks to harsh labor laws -- these states necessarily depend on federal money to make up the shortfall from their own politically expedient tax-holidays, and lack the robust middle-class who pay the largest percentage of their income in tax.

The top ten in order of dependency are Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Tennessee, South Dakota and Arizona. The five states most independent of federal subsidy are (in order): Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

The article is good and full of interesting footnotes -- for example, Delaware's seeming independence is largely illusory, an artifact of its stock franchise tax drawn from out-of-state companies.

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The more your job helps people, the less you're paid (and vice-versa)


In this spectacular, long interview with Salon, David "Debt" Graeber builds on his bullshit jobs hypothesis and points out the horror of modern American work: if your job does some good, you are paid less; jobs that actively hurt people are paid more; and no one seems to want a world where no one has to work anymore. But have no fear: it ends on a high note: a proposed "revolt of the caring classes."

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A map of the worst countries in the world in which to be a worker

ITUC


ITUC

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a trade group alliance that works to improve laborers' rights around the globe, released its Global Rights Index this week. Countries are ranked from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) on a scale of how well they guard workers' rights. Cambodia, Qatar, and Guatemala were among the worst offenders.

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State GOPs: no benefits unless you shut up and obey your boss


Writing in the NYT, Corey Robin highlights the frightening trend in state GOP labor laws to deny unemployment benefits to workers who are fired for breaking the "behavioral norms" demanded by employers, from dating workers from rival companies to posting unhappy work-related remarks to the Internet. Conservative douchebag Ben Stein loves these rules, and wants high schools to help instill them by vigorously punishing "talking back" -- if you're subordinate, you need to learn not to be insubordinate.

For more background, see the Economic Policy Institute's 2013 report, The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012.

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