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Issue No. 259 15 April 2005  

Roosting Chooks
It wasnít that long ago that John Howard was the great Conservative leader who wanted to remake Australia in his own image, defending the monarchy, beating up gay mums and attacking the ABC.


Interview: [email protected]
Labor's Penny Wong has the job of getting more people into the workplace and keeping companies honest. In her spare time ....

Unions: State of the Union
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson unveils the annual survey of attitudes of workers to their jobs, thier lives and the union.

Industrial: Fashion Accessories
Jim Marr unpacks the unlikely claim of a suburban house to be considered the New Mecca of the New Right Ö

Legal: Leg Before Picket
Chris White looks at how the federal industrial changes will impact on the basic right to strike.

Politics: Business Welfare Brats
Neale Towart asks why the only form of legitmate welfare seems to be going to the top end of town.

Health: Cannabis Controversy
Zoe Reynolds looks at how drug and alcohol testing is leading to some addled outcomes.

Economics: Debt, Deficit, Downturn
As the indicators head south, Frank Stilwell wonders whether it is the way we do economics that is to blame.

History: Politics In The Pubs
Phil Doyle reports on the increasingly-popular Struggles, Scabs and Schooners day out.

Review: Three Bob's Worth
Doing their best Margaret and David, Tara de Boehmler and Tim Brunero have different takes on the new Australian flick Three Dollars.

Poetry: Do The Slowly Chokie
Workers Online bard David Peetz teaches how workers to dance to Howard's industrial laws.


 Freedom From Choice

 Hostile Takeover - Can Howard Do It?

 Premier Sues Miners

 Vanstone Shows Brickieís Cleavage

 Sparkies Refine Safety Tactics

 Ten Cent Deal Cuts Beards

 Kiwis Vote for Flight

 Death Penalty No Deterrent

 Costa Railroads Jobs

 Greystanes Soiled

 Aussies in Ivy league Battle

 Drivers Shake the Cage

 Employers Come Clean

 Big Call in Newcastle

 Bosses Back Gaol for Cowboys

 Activistís Whatís On


The Soapbox
Notes From a Laneway
Mental Health Workers Alliance member Toby Raeburn shares a week on the frontline.

The Locker Room
War, Plus The Shooting
The Socceroos arenít their own worst enemy after all, or so says Phil Doyle

Life Imitates Art
The jokes have been around for some time about the economic rationalist's approach to the orchestra, writes Evan Jones.

The Westie Wing
Ian West takes the secret passage out of Macquarie Street to deliver his take on NSW Parliamentary Committees and other goings on.

 Adler Should Be Hung
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Aussies in Ivy league Battle

Australian students at two top Ivy League US universities, Yale and Columbia, are playing a key role in a five-day strike in support of bargaining rights.

The Bush-run National Labor Relations Board recently stripped the graduate teaching and research assistants of their legal protections for organising unions at private US universities.

In a partisan 3-2 decision, the three appointees of President Bush denied these workers union rights - and struck a major blow to the freedom of association enshrined in the US constitution.

This dispute - which is becoming a high-profile fight - involves several Australians playing key roles in the union-rights campaign.

Among them: Brangwen Stone, a graduate student in the Yale German Department and a graduate of the University of Melbourne and Daniel Mulino, a graduate teacher in the Yale Economics Department and a graduate of ANU (Arts/Law) and Sydney University (Master of Economics).

"My mother is a member of the NTEU, so I know first-hand how important unions are in defending university workers," Stone said.

"I think that Australians should care about this fight because it seems like the US approach to labour is becoming more prevalent throughout the world."

Australia is especially on Yale's radar screen. There are 31 students in Yale graduate schools from Australia - the twelfth largest population of international students by population at Yale-- including those from the Australian National University, Melbourne and Sydney University - and most of them are signed up union members.

The two US union locals at the centre of this strike are GESO at Yale and GSEU at Columbia. Both are part of the progressive activist labour unions (UNITE HERE for GESO and UAW for GSEU) famous for their successful and aggressive organising drives.

These unions are reaching across the globe to help win these fights at Yale and Columbia because these two Ivy League universities promote themselves as global institutions.

"Yale and Columbia are marketing themselves to the world in order to get cheap graduate labor. We want the world to know the real working conditions on campus", Ben Begleiter of UNITE-HERE said.

In recent weeks UNITE-HERE have informed the leadership of the National Tertiary Education here in Australia about the history of the dispute.

The NTEU has asked all their university branch activists to mount campus actions across Australia this coming week to show their support for this struggle.

The NLRB's decision to cut down union organising drives followed the desire of Presidents Levin of Yale and Bollinger of Columbia University.

Yale's President Levin has been a leader in opposing the unionisation of graduate teachers while at the same time, steering his university towards close alliances with for-profit corporations.

President Levin of Yale is particularly close to the Bush White House.

Levin was the first overnight guest of the Bush White House and was appointed by Bush to the WMD Commission.

On both campuses, strong majorities of graduate employees have stated their preference to deal with these issues by forming a union and bargaining a contract with their employer.

This majority preference in favor of unionisation on both campuses has been certified by public officials in New York and Connecticut.

"Democracy has a place in every workplace," Bob Proto of UNITE/HERE Local 35, which represents service and maintenance workers at Yale, said.

"The goal of this job action is to convince administrators at Yale and Columbia to respect the rights of their own teachers."

The key issues in the dispute:

* A Living Wage for graduate teachers. Without a Living Wage many lower income students cannot afford to attend graduate schools. This is especially critical for married international students who, because of US labour law, are the sole source of financial support for their families

* Fighting for affordable healthcare for union members and their families.

* Fighting for visa reform to enable international students to travel to and from their home countries more easily.

* Fighting against racism, sexism and discrimination of all sorts. See the Yale Unions most recent report on women and minority hiring in Ivy League universities (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton etc):


Act Now: Show your support for this dispute - send an e-mail to the Presidents of Yale and Columbia with this special LabourStart campaign:


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