The legal act of defining the ‘employee’ is about drawing lines. Those boundaries are often artificial, legally structured, and forged in an array of contests over power, ideology, and economics. They may be artificial, but they are powerful, demarcating who is in and who is out, who is us and who is them.
Over the past five years, government employee unions have emerged as a fault line in American politics. Following the onset of the Great Recession, elected officials, political pundits, and editorial boards seized on unionized government workers as overpaid and underworked parasites feeding on strained public budgets.
From a comparative perspective the health system of the United States has a history that is both representative and idiosyncratic.
It is an ambitious book that would try to cover the Conquest of Mexico, the rise and fall of the country’s hacienda system, the emergence of the Virgen de Guadalupe, the intricacies of Emiliano Zapata’s role in the Mexican Revolution, and the exodus of women from rural regions in the mid-1960s to look for work as ‘household help’ in the nation’s fast-growing capital city.
In Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and San Francisco Bay Area, historian Peter Cole compares the union histories of two port cities, the militant struggles of dockworkers against racial discrimination, their response to technology (in the form of containerisation),
‘We are the Moses generation.’ Dr Otis Moss, a veteran of the civil rights movement, friend of Martin Luther King and former adviser to Jimmy Carter was addressing reassuring words to the latest aspirant for the presidency, the young Barack Obama. ‘We marched, we sat in, we went to jail … We got us out of Egypt, you could say.’ But, added the Revd Moss, we could only travel so far.