United States

The pink slips are piling up, and jobs are getting a lot harder to find. That’s the unmistakable conclusion of the US government’s employment report for December.

During the war against Vietnam, it was not until 1970 that the US union movement took protest action in an organised manner. And even then, it was a pro-war demonstration called by New York’s Building Trades Council in support of President Richard Nixon. However anti-war unions responded to that demonstration — held on May 20 and drawing 50,000 workers (many of them paid to attend) — with a protest of their own. While it only drew half as many people, it was a significant milestone — it was the first time that US unions formally organised an anti-war demonstration.

The US Department of Energy announced January 30 that it is pulling out of the Futuregen Project in Mattoon, Illinois — the United States’ US$1.8 billion “clean coal” demonstration plant, scheduled to start construction next year. The DoE had committed to paying 74% ($1.3 billion) of Futuregen’s costs.

After starting contract negotiations on January 12, the Directors’ Guild of America reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on January 17. It was expected that the DGA and AMPTP would come to an agreement, but the swiftness of the deal was a surprise, especially because there were six months remaining on the existing contract.

The current crisis could well turn out to be the most devastating since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It manifests profound, unresolved problems in the real economy that have been — literally — papered over by debt for decades, as well as a shorter term financial crunch of a depth unseen since World War II.

As Hollywood enters its award season, the 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) continue their strike that has shut down the majority of the US film and television industry since November 5. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has also begun to renegotiate its contract.

Voters’ desire to see political change has become the undisputed theme of the 2008 US presidential election scheduled for November following a strong surge of support for contender for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama that has caused other candidates, even Republicans, to adopt similar rhetoric.

Push Comes to Shove

Music by John Hammond

Only Blues Music, 2007

12 tracks, $23.99

Airport security workers at the Oakland airport held an organising meeting on November 21 and received food in a food distribution organised by Filipino Association of Workers and Immigrants; Filipinos for Affirmative Action; Service Employees Local

More than 4,000 striking members of the Writers Guild of America and their supporters rallied on November 9 outside of Fox Studios. The crowd was fired up as strikers came together for the first time in one place since the WGA’s strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began on November 5.

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