Fast-Food Workers, Ethics, and More on Detroit

(1) Fast-Food Workers Strike:  I posted the other day about the campaign to embarrass McDonald’s about its low wages and condescending personal-finance program for its employees. Fast-food workers across the country are also holding one-day strikes for higher pay and for a higher minimum wage.  Today’s Times has a piece on the strikes, A Day’s Strike Seeks to Raise Fast-Food Pay; and Slate had a piece yesterday, Fast-Food Employee Strikes: McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Other Companies Should Double Their Wages.  Walmart workers have also been engaging in work-stoppages; according to Labor Notes (After a Pause, Walmart Strikes Back) Walmart has (illegally) fired some of the strikers.

Our Sept/Oct issue, which is our annual labor issue, will include a feature article by Nicole Aschoff on organizing among low-wage workers, including reporting and analysis on fast-food workers and Walmart workers.

(2) Revolutionizing Ethics:  In our May Day post, I nominated Slate’s Matt Yglesias for the “Rana Plaza Hall of Shame” for posting shortly after the factory building collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh (when the death toll had reached 87, but not yet 1,000) entitled Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and Thats’ Ok. (In our upcoming annual labor issue, John Miller’s Up Against the Wall Street Journal column will talk about the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse, and why U.S. clothing retailers are (shamefully) not following European retailers in signing on to a binding agreement on safety and wages for clothing factories there.)

That post by Yglesias is revisited in an interesting article by David V. Johnson in Jacobin, Revolutionizing Ethics: Moral sentimentalism rules the ethical landscape. For radical change, the Left should take morality back.  The article starts with an interesting analysis of the New York Times Magazine column “The Ethicist,” and goes on to characterize the moralism of much of political discourse these days as amounting to something he calls “moral sentimentalism.”  I need to think a bit about whether Johnson is right that leftists need to “take morality back,” but the article is definitely thought-provoking.

(3) More on Detroit:  Our upcoming labor issue will include an interview with economist and deindustrialization expert Barry Bluestone, discussing Detroit’s bankruptcy.  Here are a couple other items on Detroit that I’ve come across:

That’s it for now.

–Chris Sturr


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