Matthew McDermott is the editorial assistant/outreach coordinator for He also works at a prominent union-side labor law firm and has recruited minorities and women for trade union apprenticeships. Read more of his work here.

Channeling Poverty: Broke v. Poor on TV

Matthew McDermott

In the present (increasingly precarious) workforce more young people with expensive humanities degrees are being forced to utter a phrase that couldn’t be further from the high language of the academy: “May I take your order?” In an awesome new piece in The Nation, Nona Willis Aronowitz draws an important distinction between workers who are forced to take low-paying jobs despite their education and those who are making ends meet the only way they know how.

Aronowitz uses the protagonists from several popular new shows to indicate larger workplace trends. From The Nation: “Watching the season premieres of HBO’s Girls and Showtime's Shameless this past Sunday put the contrast in stark relief. The two main characters, Girls’s Hannah and Shameless’s Fiona, are both penniless twentysomething women finding their way through big cities, but they live in completely different worlds.”

Rhee’s Education Report Card Focuses on Everything But Results

 card grading state school sytems by their adherence to her anti-teachers’ union, pro-charter school policies. None of the states receive a passing grade, but what’s notable about the report is the negative correlation between highly rated states and actual student achievement.

Louisiana ranks highest on the Students First report card, scoring a B grade. The state also happens to rank near the bottom on 8th grade reading and math scores, coming in 49th on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for Reading and 47th for English.

Country Club Workers Fight for Back Pay

at Pleasanton, California’s Castlewood Country Club were locked out for two years before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge finally ruled in their favor; Castlewood was on the hook for $1.8 million in back wages and benefits due to management’s refusal to bargain in good faith and animus towards the union. Overjoyed, 45 of 61 locked out Castlewood employees returned to their jobs. There’s just one problem: they haven’t gotten their back wages yet.

Supersize Our Wages — Give Us a Union!

Matthew McDermott

Last week, Walmart, this week, MacDonald’s. A coordinated strike of fast food workers at several New York City restaurants on Thursday marked the public debut of the largest effort to organize fast food workers ever.

The campaign enjoys the support of clergy and several community groups, and is being spearheaded by New York Communities for Change (NYCC), a group responsible for unionizing NYC grocery stores and carwashes.