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Martin Luther King Jr. Gave His Life Supporting Workers’ Rights

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Image: James ParksMartin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate this weekend, died fighting for the freedom of Memphis sanitation workers to form a union with AFSCME. For King, economic justice went hand in hand with civil rights and the right to join a union was critical to gaining economic justice.

Writing on AlterNet, Laura Flanders says:

King saw public workers as the first line of defense. That’s why he went to Memphis to stand by striking sanitation members of AFSCME, the public workers’ union. In his view they led the way in the fight for fair pay and benefits…and in the fight for dignity for those who shovel our snow and clean our streets.

Read her full column here. Read about the AFL-CIO’s 2011l King Day celebration here and here.

King also recognized that the anti-union politicians in the South were the same people who opposed civil rights for all Americans. That’s why he opposed union-busting ”right to work” for less laws. In fact, in 1961, he said:

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as “right-to-work.” It provides no “rights” and no “works.” Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining….We demand this fraud be stopped.

This article was originally published on AFL-CIO Now Blog.

About the Author: James Parks had his first encounter with unions at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.

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The State of Native America: Very Unemployed and Mostly Ignored

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R.M. ArrietaAs the new year begins, it’s as good a time as any to look at a topic almost completely ignored by mainstream media: how Native American people are faring in the U.S. labor market. The economy and its paucity of jobs dominated U.S. headlines throughout 2010, but news media overlooked the particularly difficult experiences of native peoples.

In late November, the nonpartisan think tank Economic Policy Institute released a report looking at unemployment figures among American Indians. According to Algernon Austin of EPI, unemployment in Indian Country is bleak.

For instance, the national unemployment rate among Native people spiked from 7.7 percent in the first half of 2007 to 15.2 percent in the first half of 2010. Whites experienced a 4.1 percent and 9.1 percent unemployment rate respectively, in the same time period. In his brief “Different Race, Different Recession: American Indian Unemployment in 2010,” Austin writes that:

We find some of the largest disparities in employment between American Indians and whites in Alaska, the Northern Plains, and the Southwest.

These are also the regions of the country where the ratio of the Native to non-Native population is among the highest.

The unemployment numbers are different from those released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Labor Force Report, whose sample and methodology is different than that used by EPI. The BIA bases its numbers on the American Indian and Alaska Native population that lives on or near the reservation and are eligible for BIA-funded services.

This population, however, according to Austin, is only about one-third of the total American Indian and Alaska Native population.

Austin’s report, based on statistics from Current Population Survey (CPS) data, uses the total American Indian and Alaska Native population, including biracial individuals. Here are his research’s key findings:

  • By the first half of 2010, the unemployment rate for Alaska Natives jumped 6.3 percentage points to 21.3%—the highest regional unemployment rate for American Indians.
  • Since the start of the recession, American Indians in the Midwest experienced the greatest increase in unemployment, growing by 10.3 percentage points to 19.3%.
  • By the first half of this year, slightly more than half—51.5%—of American Indians nationally were working, down from 58.3% in the first half of 2007.
  • In the first half of this year, only 44% of American Indians in the Northern Plains were working, the worst employment rate for Native Americans regionally.
  • The employment situation is the worst for American Indians in some of the same regions where it is best for whites: Alaska and the Northern Plains.

This year, President Obama made efforts to work toward building a better relationship with native people, ordering his administration to seek the advice of native people on the best ways that federal programs and policies could serve them.

In 2010, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Indian and Native American Program awarded $53 million to 178 grantees to provide employment and training services geared toward unemployed, under-employed and low-income Native American adults.

And it awarded an additional $13.8 million in grants to 78 tribes, tribal consortiums, and tribal nonprofit organizations to offer summer employment and training activities for native youth to offer basic and occupational skills training and job placement assistance.

As outlined in the 2010 White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report, Obama requested $55 million in his 2011 fiscal year budget for the Indian and Native American Program, which grants funding to tribes and Native American nonprofits to provide employment and training services to unemployed and low-income Native people.

That’s a 4-percent increase over fiscal year 2010. Whether it will be approved or not is another matter, of course.

This article was originally published on Working In These Times.

About The Author: Rose Arrieta was born and raised in Los Angeles. She has worked at three dailies and two television stations. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she is editor of the Bay Area’s independent community bilingual biweekly El Tecolote. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Former Massachusetts Reform Head Warns HHS Not To Overreach On Essential Benefits

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Igor VolksyThis morning, the Institute of Medicine began its second day of deliberations into defining what would constitute “essential health benefits” under the Affordable Care Act. Even though the law identifies general categories that insurers will have to cover beginning in 2014 — emergency services, mental health care, outpatient and inpatient care — these meetings are designed to help HHS reach more specificity on the issue. The agency is also required to ensure that the scope of essential health benefits “is equal to the scope of benefits provided under a typical employer plan.”

During the second session, John Kingsdale — the former director of the Massachusetts Connector Authority — predicted that defining “essential health benefits” will be “one of the more challenging parts in implementing the ACA” and warned the agency against “overreaching” in detailing which benefits insurers will have to provide:

KINGSDALE: The nation is highly divided by this and so whatever is put into the essential health benefits package that can be portrayed by those who tend to oppose ACA as unfairly burdening those employers or individuals, who want a different benefit package will be used as political fodder to tear down the ACA and I strongly believe that overreaching…could doom implementation. […]

There is a tendency to think about benefits in the context of negotiation for something more someone else would pay for and I think it continually surprises people to understand, ‘oh there are real people who cannot afford what we consider to be an ideal benefit package and they actually have to pay for it in premiums. ….This was very much about giving people decent coverage as opposed to primarily a policy of it just being about raising the standards of coverage and it seems to me when you have to make close calls about benefits, it’s important to return to that principle. Secondly, obviously, most benefits cost dollars no matter what you will hear about how they will save money and that the ACA will live or die on affordability. And thirdly, that there is a fair degree of consensus about minimum benefit steps and so that you will find most states don’t even mention most of the things that are covered typically by commercial insurance and there are additionally very few benefits that significantly improve [inaudible] or save dollars. So, I think it’s not difficult to find that essential minimum benefits package and then, as you can tell from my other principles, I would advise you to be very conservative about adding on to it. […]

My experience suggests revisiting and learning from cases and some flexibility and even phasing in would all be very helpful as you go down the path of defining a minimum benefit that will be extremely controversial.

Indeed, as CQ Healthbeat reported, it’s still unclear “if officials will seek a specific list of treatments or ask insurers to mirror benefits in particular plans, such as the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.” Either way, they will have to balance Kingsdale’s suggestions with the concern that too loose of a definition would allow insurers to design plans differently — possibly even in such a way that would lead to adverse selection.

IOM will publish recommendations for HHS “by September, and HHS will issue its proposed rules by the end of the year, giving insurance companies time to adjust plans before the provisions take effect.”

This article was originally published on Wonk Room.

About The Author: Igor Volsky is Health Care Editor for and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. He also writes on LGBT Equality issues. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform. Prior to joining the Center, Igor blogged at and interned with ThinkProgress, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), and the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College. Igor grew up in Russia, Israel, and New Jersey. Igor has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Business, and CNBC television, and has been a guest on many radio shows.

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Jobless Rate Falls, But Job Creation Falls Short of What Nation Needs

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Image: Mike HallThe new year started with better but not great news on the jobs front. The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Labor released this morning show that unemployment dropped from 9.8 percent in November to 9.4 percent in December.

Even with the expected holiday season hires, only 103,000 net new jobs were created last month. Economists had predicted 150,000 to 175,000 new jobs for December. The number of jobs created is a drop from November, when 151,000 jobs were added.

The jobless rate has been at 9 percent or more for the past 20 months—the longest it has been this high since World War II, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz says the drop in the unemployment rate is somewhat misleading. 

Around half of the improvement was due to 260,000 people dropping out of the labor force, leaving the labor force participation rate at 64.3 percent, a stunning new low for the recession. Incredibly, the U.S. labor force is now smaller than it was before the recession started, though it should have grown by over 4 million workers to keep up with working-age population growth over this period.


According to the report, 14.5 million are officially jobless, down by 556,000 from last month. Long-term joblessness did not change from last month, with 6.5 million workers jobless for six months or more. That represents 44.3 percent of all unemployed workers.

The economy needs to add about 150,000 new jobs each month to keep up with the growth in the labor force. But to lower the nation’s unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2013 and make up for the more than 8 million jobs lost due to the Bush recession, the economy needs to add 350,000 jobs a month.

The nation is in dire need of a battle plan to create jobs and revive the economy. But instead of tackling job creation out of the gate, the new Republican majority in the House is playing cheap partisan politics by devoting its first week of action to repealing health care reform.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that while the drop in December’s unemployment rate is welcome news, “net job growth is still not enough to accommodate our growing population, let alone close the 11-million job gap left by the Bush recession.”

The cuts being proposed by Republicans in Washington and around the country, including undermining Social Security and Medicare and cutting transportation spending, are the wrong remedies at the wrong time and threaten our economic future. We need dramatic action to invest in America and give states and cities breathing room to prevent further layoffs and create jobs.

Manufacturing gained 10,000 jobs in December, contributing to a gain of more than 100,000 jobs since December 2009. Construction jobs fell by 13,000, while retail jobs increased slightly by 12,000. But that follows November’s loss of 28,000 retail jobs. State and local public employee jobs fell by 20,000 last month.

The health care and leisure/hospitality sectors continue to be the strongest areas of job growth, with leisure/hospitality jobs increasing by 47,000 and health care employment expanding by 36,000 in December.

Earlier this week, Michael Snyder took a dispiriting look at how working families have been battered in recent years, especially with vanishing middle-class jobs and blue-collar jobs that pay decent wages. These jobs vanished in large part because of Bush-era trade and economic policies that encouraged U.S. firms to export jobs and gave Wall Street and Big Banks free rein to recklessly ride the economy off a cliff.  Snyder writes:

More than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the recession began in December 2007.

Since the year 2000, we have lost 10 percent of our middle-class jobs. In the year 2000, there were about 72 million middle-class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle-class jobs. Meanwhile, our population is getting larger.

One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

Income inequality continued to grow with the richest 20 percent of working families taking home 47 percent of all income and earning 10 times that of low-income working families.

This article was originally published on AFL-CIO Now Blog.

About The Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

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Image: Bob RosnerSince technology today is mostly synonymous with business, your intrepid blogger decided to journey to the bleeding edge of technology, the annual Consumer Electronics  Show (a.k.a. CES), in Las Vegas. It’s a rough job, somebody has got to do it.

I’ve read a lot of articles on this year’s conference. Most talk up tablet computers and 3D everything. And yes, both were here in abundance. But to discuss CES and spend most of your time discussing two types of technology is like obsessing how many cup holders are in a car you’re thinking about buying. Factually correct, but mostly missing the point.

CES is wretched excess in a place that invented the term, Las Vegas. Vegas is one of the few places today that allows people to smoke anywhere and then charges you for a hit of oxygen.

It feels like the amount of floor spaced dedicated to the world’s leading technology trade show is somewhere between the size of the State of Iowa and New Jersey. But it felt more like the size of Texas to my poor feet.

Sure there are 3D TVs, amazingly small devices of all types, cars with more technology than the average office building and more languages being spoken than the United Nations. Along with high-technology cigarettes, “iGrill” an application that gets your iPhone and iPad involved in grilling your steaks and a variety of hi-tech bidets.

But that is barely scratching the surface. There are entire hotel ballrooms filled with switches, cable and plugs of all sorts. Think of it as everything related to all the technology that most of us devour at work on a regular basis.

Which all got me thinking about the famous line from the movie Spinal Tap. “There is a thin line between clever and stupid.” I’ve never been in a place where that line is more porous than CES. The brilliant is right next to the craziest thing you’ve ever seen. The only problem is that you don’t always know which side of the line YOU are on.

Let’s face it, we’ve all made fun of technology that we quickly find essential, stuff that we made fun of only weeks earlier (yes iPad, I’m talking to you). CES is interesting for it’s glimpse of new technology, but it’s even better as your own personal Rochard test, about who we are and where we’re all going.

But the best part of being in Las Vegas for CES is what else is going on in town. No, I’m not talking about Elvis impersonators, the ubiquitous leafletors on the Strip, seeing if Cirque du Soleil has hit double digits on the number of shows it has in Vegas or the buffets (my favorite is the $39.99 all day pass at eight different buffets, turning gluttony into a science here).

No, my favorite is how Vegas manages to pair people like Guy Kawasaki and Ron Jeremy, both spoke in Vegas this weekend. Kawasaki is the former evangelist with Apple Computer and he spoke at CES on his big ideas about the future of technology. Jeremy also has had the word big tossed his way a time or two, and he spoke at the annual Adult conference, also in Vegas this same weekend.

Nerds, porn stars and Vegas. Okay, it may sound to you like the end of civilization at you know it, but it makes for a very entertaining weekend. Back to CES…

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]

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Why We Need A Job Party–Today’s Jobs Figures

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Jonathan TasiniIt is still very grim out there for those people who want decent paying work. Not just a job–but a job that pays a fair wage. Today’s numbers make even more clear–we need a Job Party.

I’ll talk about the Job Party a bit more. But, first, let’s look at the numbers:

While the overall picture showed improving job growth, the additions in the private sector in December were not enough to significantly reduce the ranks of the unemployed or keep pace with people entering the work force. The outlook remains bleak for many workers. More than 14.5 million people were out of work in December.

The Department of Labor says the “official unemployment rate” is now at 9.4 percent. Even The Wall Street Journal points out:

The U.S. unemployment rate has now been above 9% since May 2009, or 20 months. That is the longest stretch at such an elevated level since the Second World War. In the recession of the early 1980s, the jobless rate crept to 9% in March 1982 and remained above that mark until September 1983.[emphasis added]

But, the depth of the crisis is better seen here by looking at the U-6 level, which measures “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force”.

That number is at 16.7 percent.

And that doesn’t even reflect how bad things are. I have pointed out that the minimum wage–which millions of people work for–is a poverty-level wage and a national scandal that covers up the depth of the economic crisis. It should be more than $19 an hour if we took in account the productivity rises over the last 30 years–that is, how hard people have worked compared to the rise in wages.

So, it isn’t just the number of jobs but the QUALITY OF JOBS.

I’m guessing that at least one in five Americans–20 percent–in the U-6 and minimum wage categories does not have decent full-time paying work. And I think the crisis is far bigger if you really look at what it takes to get by in today’s world of higher prices.

Which brings me to the Job Party. Several of us concluded recently that we needed a movement that is focused entirely on the job crisis:

The Job Party is a nationwide grassroots movement to demand an Emergency Jobs Bill for 15 million jobs so every unemployed American can go to work, feed their families, and put a roof over their head.

In December, Congress passed a $900 billion tax bill for 2 years that will produce only 1 million jobs through “trickle-down” economics for the rich. For that same $900 billion, Congress could create 15 million jobs paying $30,000 per year for 2 years!
Not only is that morally right, but it’s economically right too – because those 15 million paid workers would massively increase consumer spending, fuel growth for the whole economy, and greatly reduce the national debt.

It’s a revolutionary change from the failed “trickle-down” policies of the past 30 years that created the Great Recession that’s killing us. We call it “gusher-up” and we demand the politicians in Washington DC embrace it before we all starve and the nation goes broke.

And if this current Congress doesn’t act, we’ll elect a new Congress in 2012 that will.

Move over, Tea Party – the Job Party has arrived. Join us today!

We would like to have people help build this. This is the economic crisis of our times. We can’t wait for the current political system to act.

We are gathering together the best ideas for creating jobs–and we want your ideas. Please contribute YOUR IDEAS.

We are collecting YOUR storiesabout your experience trying to get a decent job.

We are gathering the people who will take to the streets to demand that we start creating real jobs in this country. Sign up!.

This article was originally posted on Working Life.

About the Author Jonathan Tasini: is the executive director of Labor Research Association. Tasini ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in New York. For the past 25 years, Jonathan has been a union leader and organizer, a social activist, and a commentator and writer on work, labor and the economy. From 1990 to April 2003, he served as president of the National Writers Union (United Auto Workers Local 1981).He was the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. The New York Times, the landmark electronic rights case that took on the corporate media’s assault on the rights of thousands of freelance authors.

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Don’t Count on Tomorrow: The New Credo for the Unemployed

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Stephen FranklinLong ago, on New York City’s docks, Frankie drilled into me the American credo about climbing the ladder to a better life. “Kid, you gotta finish college,” he would say. “You gotta do better than this. All you need is to work harder and you can get there.”

Frankie, a massive fellow who had spent his life on the Manhattan docks, was my protector and career advisor. He would find a clean place to hide my college books in the mornings when I showed up. And when a fight broke out, he would warn me.

If you ever worked in a steel mill in Ohio, a lumber camp in Alabama, a diner in Maine, a cotton mill in North Carolina, or any blue-collar, back-breaking job anywhere and it was clear that you had a good chance to move on, you probably heard the same lecture about the American worker’s credo: “If you get knocked down, stand up and try again. Yeah, life’s is tough. So what. You have it in you. Set your goals high and you’ll wind up somewhere near where you want to be.”

One of the many things we seem to have lost in the Great Economic Bust is a widespread belief among those down and out that they will ever get back up on their feet. This finding comes from a recent survey on the unemployed called “The Shattered Dream: Unemployed Workers Lose Ground, Hope and Faith in their Futures” (PDF link).

It was produced by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

How deep is the disappointment of the unemployed?

Nearly 60 percent of the unemployed polled by the organization said that hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most persons.

Ironically, a similar poll conducted at the same time by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard University and the Washington Post found that 60 percent of people say that most persons who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard.

It seems to me these different points of view of the road ahead for American worker offer a good reflection of the baffling disconnect shown by many Americans toward an economy of crippling and unprecedented dead-ends for millions of workers.

How do the unemployed, according to the survey, view their future?

  • Only one-third think they will recover financially.
  • Two-thirds think the economy is undergoing fundamental and lasting changes.
  • More than half think it will be harder for young people to afford college.
  • Nearly half say they will never feel as secure at work as they once did and they will have to take jobs paying below their skill levels.

Some of what the jobless tell us is the bitter taste of feeling cut off from the a paycheck, a job interview and the chitchat about an economy on the mend. But some of it also is quite realistic. What made this economic collapse so different was the disappearance of so many jobs, and the downward pressure on wages and benefits that crossed over into jobs where there is no justifiable reason for such reductions.

Indeed, among the unemployed tracked in the Rutgers study, only one out of four has found work in the 15 months since they were first polled. And nearly all of the newly employed were taking home less pay or wages.

Remember the economic collapse of the 1980s, when auto and steel workers fled their rust belt Midwest towns for jobs? Many found new jobs and many wandered home eventually. Remember the bust about a decade ago? Many of those folks floundered, but many also wound up back on their feet.

What’s different today is that the past is a painful memory for many workers whose industries have collapsed, whose skilled are no longer needed or who are more defenseless on the job to protect their livelihood than ever before.

They are like the dockworkers I knew decades ago, before machines took their jobs and the docks themselves vanished.

This article was originally posted on Working In These Times.

About The Author: Stephen Franklin, former labor and workplace reporter for the Chicago Tribune, is ethnic news director for the Community Media Workshop in Chicago. He is the author of Three Strikes: Labor’s Heartland Losses and What They Mean for Working Americans (2002), and has reported throughout the United States and the Middle East. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

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Story of an Unemployed Executive – With a Hidden Message for Survival

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Don  StraitsJust read a story on AOL about a CEO of a small construction company. (Actually two stories…the original and her update).  Link at the end of the post.

Even though she doesn’t acknowledge it….or maybe even recognize it, within her stories there is a message for how to survive and find the next job.

Simply stated:  write, write write.  As a result of getting her story published on AOL she has gotten ten opportunities to apply for positions.  She is in that process right now.  But she got those opportunities because she took the time to write.  Now there is no guarantee you will get on AOL, but I can guarantee there are many other places that will publish your writings on your expertise, vision and leadership

So begin writing.

1.  Start Blogging:    It is easy and you can do it for very few dollars….even free.  If you want help, there are services like ours that can make it even easier.  But start getting your message out there.  Write about your expertise in your industry.  Address emerging trends, industry challenges, industry opportunities, government and regulation issues, technology applications and on and on and on.  Apply SEO and SEM to your blog.  If you don’t know how….learn!!  Send a link to your blog to everyone you know.  Include a link with every job application.  Put a link on your Linkedin and Facebook page.  Join Linkedin industry groups and provide them with a link to your blog.  All of this is free and it can produce great results.

2.  Write on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and many others.   Communicate your message  through social networks.  Write about your situation, your leadership and vision, your expertise.   Show your expertise by answering questions regarding your industry or areas of skill….as posted by other members of Lindedin.  When answering several questions, the algorithms of Linkedin will recognize you as an expert.

3.  Write Articles.  These are not just blog articles or posts, but rather articles for publication in online trade journals.  There are also many online article publication websites that will publish every article you write….for free.  Their sites success is predicated on a huge volume of content on many topics.  They want your articles.  The articles will be picked up by search engines and you will gain extraordinary credibility across the Net.

Guaranteed, getting your message out to the marketplace through your writing can be the catalyst to drive success in your search.  And once you achieve a new position, don’t make the mistake of stopping your writing.  Our economy will be unstable for many years to come.  But consistently putting your message out across the Net, will pay dividends for years to come.  You will secure your future. You will be sought out, rather than having to seek a position.

Here is a link to Mollee’s article.  Be certain to read her update as well.

Be a dedicated and committed writer and you will succeed as well.

This article was originally posted on Corporate Warriors.

About The Author: Don Straits founded Corporate Warriors more than 18 years ago, and has dedicated his career to helping people develop strategies to support their careers. If you would like to contact Don for coaching or seminar work, please do so at [email protected] You can also find his website here.

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Inspiration for World War II Rosie the Riveter Dies

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Image: Mike HallThe 17-year-old  Michigan factory worker who was the inspiration for the iconic World War II Rosie the Riveter, “We Can Do It” poster, died Dec. 26 in Lansing, Mich. Geraldine Doyle was  86.

According to a Washington Post obituary, Doyle was on the job in a metal factory just a few weeks after graduating from high school in 1942 when a United Press International (UPI) photographer shot a picture of  her leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters for display inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

Smitten with the UPI photo, Miller reportedly was said to have decided to base one of his posters on the anonymous, slender metal worker—Doyle.

The poster and the name “Rosie the Riveter” came to symbolize the millions of women who entered the World War II workforce and who were especially instrumental in the war industries—shipyards, munitions plants and airplane factories—that had been strictly male dominated. With millions of men in the armed services, women took over these vital jobs.

For more on Rosie and women on the World War II home front assembly lines, visit the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

This article was originally posted on AFL-CIO Now Blog.

About The Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

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Holding Yourself Back

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Image: Bob RosnerThis is a first, this week’s blog is a letter to a friend. But I think the message applies to a many people out there. Heck, if the shoe fits, consider this your New Year’s Resolution…

Dear R.

If Eskimos have many different words for snow, you have a similar huge repertoire of ways to put yourself down, to diminish your accomplishments. I wish you could watch yourself, you’re ruthless at attacking any compliment that’s thrown your way. It’s like a more efficient version of the old Star Wars missile defense shield, every compliment is shot down long before it reaches its intended target.

Okay, I think a little self-doubt can be a great thing. Lord knows, a number of people have told me that through the years. But in your case you not only don’t get the buzz off people saying nice things about you, you put energy into attacking what they say. It must be incredibly tiring.

I have a simple rule. If all of the people around me believe that I’ve got what it takes to get the job done, even if I have my doubts, I can be persuaded to accept their point of view. Especially when the people who are tossing bon mots are clearly experienced, savvy and insightful.

So here is your homework assignment. Practice saying, “Thank you Bob.” “Thank you J.” “Thank you D.” Don’t let Nancy Negative take hold, just practice the art of graciously accepting compliments tossed your way. Given how few and far between they are for most of us, it’s a silly source of fuel for you to squander.

40 hours a week is tough enough. Treat compliments like the ballast that allows you to survive the workplace grind. In fact, I even know people who keep a file of nice things that have been written to them. One woman, would even write down compliments that were said to her and put then in her file. She calls it her “victory file” and she reads it on those tough days when everything is going wrong to put herself back into a more positive frame of mind.

You might never get rid of those negative thoughts rattling around inside your head. That said, just because they’re there, doesn’t mean that you have to listen, or act, on them. You can just let them fall on deaf ears. Your own.

Again, I’m a fan. I think you have a lot of potential for helping to take us to the next level. But we all need you to stop beating yourself up and putting all that energy into moving all of us forward. We can afford to squander any energy with the challenges that lay ahead of us.

So please consider this a pat on the back. And a kick in the butt.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]

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