Sunday, November 14, 2004

for 15 November

1. Benner talks about the history of professional associations and how "high-status" professions like medicine have been able to organize to maintain status by limiting "the supply of skills and knowledge." Evelyn Geller has identified librarianship as a "semi-profession," while Benner recognizes IT workers as semi-professional in that their expertise gives them an advantage in the labor market but not quite the skills monopoly enjoyed by physicians. Do librarians have a skills or knowledge advantage in the labor market, and if so, how can they translate that into greater employability, and by extension, more control in the workplace?

2. What do we know or think we know collectively about the history of the Teamsters' Union, and how does that play into a reading of Lucore's article? (The changing image of the Teamsters is key to Geoghegan's (corrected spelling) book "Which side are you on?" which I will try to bring to class.) Does that history and/or image deter workers hovering on the margins of professionalism from even thinking of forming or joining unions?

3. a. Tax "reform" strategist Grover Norquist recently said that the New Deal alliance of Washington bureaucrats and "union bosses" will never again be in charge, after the Bush reelection. Combine that perception of the nature of "Big Labor" power with the missionary zeal of the Wal-Mart anti-union crusade, which seems to be tinged with more fervor than mere loyalty to the fortunes of the Walton family: how did Labor, which has at its core a class-based agenda for social justice, even in the old anti-socialist AFL, get labelled as the number one enemy, even though all workers including management have benefitted from reforms it has advocated?

b. Do pre-capitalist attitudes about work condition our collective perception of class in the US? Consider the concept of "economic rights" as opposed to that of the "ownership society."

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