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Issue No. 207 22 December 2003  

Backs to the Wall
How does one judge a year like 2003, when on the surface the powers of darkness – read Bush and Howard and union-busting bosses - can point to the scoreboard and claim ‘we won!’?


Interview: Robbo’s Rules
Labor Council secretary John Robertson rules the line through 2003 and looks forward to a bigger and better year to come.

Unions: Fightback 2003
Tony Abbott, no less, summed up the tone of 2003 when he complained workers were frustrating his agenda, as Jim Marr reports.

Bad Boss: Madame Lash Whips Tony
Jim Marr explains how a local can manufacturer knocked off a quality field, including a notorious American call centre operator, in the race for Bad Boss honours.

Politics: United Front
Facing a new leader and new rules, Jim Marr speaks to key union players about the hot issues at January’s ALP National Conference.

Economics: Looking Back - Looking Forward
The year ends with the thought that 2004 must be better, writes Frank Stilwell in his annual review of all things economic.

International: Net Benefits
International editor Andrew Casey looks back on a year where workers stood up globally for services we once took for granted.

History: The New Guard
Who were Australia’s fascists in the 1930s and was John Howard’s father in the New Guard? Labour historian, Andrew Moore, uncovers some surprising information about Australia’s fascist past.

Poetry: What is the PM singing this Christmas?
Our Kirribilli spies, led by resident bard David Peetz, have been listening in on the PM's preparations for Christmas, and have recorded the Howard family rehearsing this new Christmas carol.

Review: Culture That Was
2003 saw the Howard Government signal its readiness to swap culture for agriculture in a free trade deal with the US and film maker George Miller lament that Aussie's had run out of stories to tell anyway, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 No Joy for ANZ - This Time

 Nurses, Teachers Win Big

 Govt Coy on Sackings Threat

 NSW: State of Discomfort

 Fashion Police Collar Moe

 Telstra Picks Up Union Signal

 E-Missiles Strike White House

 STOP PRESS: Doubts Over Driver Test

 Juggler Catches Union Gong

 Chubb Beats Up On Own Guards

 Commuters Face Long, Hot Summer

 MUA Members Play Santa

 Bennelong Grinch Strikes Again

 G’day To Union Made Wines

 Activists Notebook


The Guessing Game
We have consulted our regular list of mystics and gnostics to offer these throughts for the future.

Folk You Mate
Jan Nary looks at the role of workers songs in the upcoming National Folk Festival.

Shane Maloney – Crime Writer
For a crime writer whose books are set against a backdrop of unions and Labor Party politics, Shane Maloney confesses to little direct experience of either.

The Locker Room
Workers Online Sports Awards
Noel Hester and Peter Moss give their annual rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of sport.

The Web We Weave
Social Change Online's Mark McGrath's annual review of how unions are using the web to grow.

 Tom On Mark
 Looking The Otherway At Christmas
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G’day To Union Made Wines

Wines made by Australian union wine workers were on the featured list this year at the second annual Socially Responsible Wine Tasting, held at the headquarters of the US trade union movement in Washington.

One of the AFL-CIO's top officials, general counsel Jon Hiatt, hosted the eventon behalf of the Farmworker Justice Fund (FJF) with more than 75 people attending the wine-tasting.

Washington Post wine columnist, Michael Franz, was the main speaker for the event. He is a big spruiker of Australian wines.

This influential wine writer starts off his interactive wine column Grapevine in the Washington Post almost always with the words: "G'day mates".

And that's not 'cause he was born here (he is actually from Chicago) it is just 'cause, he says, he admires our unstuffy attitudes to wine.

Farmworker Justice Fund

The Farmworker Justice Fund (FJF) is an advocacy group backing union organising efforts to empower US migrant and seasonal farm workers.

"The FJF works to improve farm workers' wages, working conditions, occupational safety and health and access to justice through litigation, advocacy, education and training and coalition building," Bruce Goldstein, the Co-Executive Director of the Farmworker Justice Fund said.

"The wine tasting was intended as a fundraising event but also to promote wines where workers are treated decently and have a voice at work through a labor union.

"That's why this year we contacted Australia's LHMU to get a list of good Aussie wines which are made by union workers."

Of a long list of LHMU-made Australian wines, provided for the US event, the one chosen for the wine-tasting was a Jacobs Creek wine from South Australia.

Kicking off the event Bruce Goldstein drew attention to a struggle that the United Farm Workers are now having in collective bargaining with Gallo of Sonoma (in California).

Gallo wines were tasted by the group at its 2002 event but were not served in 2003 because of a growing ugly dispute with this major company.

Here's where you can help find out more about the campaign and how you can help the Gallo wine workers struggle.

Eight of the wines eventually chosen came from wineries in California and Washington State, where the vineyard workers are employed under union contracts between the company and the United Farm Workers of America.

A list of the unionised US wineries is available at the website of the United Farm Workers union .

And the ninth wine tasted was the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz (2000) from South Australia which is produced by around 350 LHMU members working in the Barossa Valley .

"The prices ranged from about $US 10 to $US 33 per bottle. Although tastes differ, as to preferences for different kinds of wines, the wines were all of high quality; everyone in the tasting seemed to find at least three or four wines they would gladly purchase," Bruce Goldstein said.


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