By Michael Messina

The net worth of 400 people account for one-eighth of the entire U.S. economy.

When I read that statistic for the first time I had to read it again. That is an absolutely staggering number. My stomach muscles tightened and a sudden twinge in my neck signified that a part of me didn’t want to believe what I had just read. I knew the numbers were big, but when put into that perspective it became saddening. What it truly signified is an ever-looming loss of control.

By Michael Messina

Aminul Islam. It’s a name you probably don’t know. It’s one I didn’t until I read a piece in the New York Times on the life a labor leader from Bangladesh. Islam was a man a great integrity. Unfortunately, I say ‘was’ because the practice of organizing workers in that country is batted down with lethal enforcement. The story is a sad one of a free spirit wanting to lend a hand to his fellow worker so that all could live a better life in a country where Gap and Tommy Hilfiger clothes are made for $37 a month. I encourage you to read the whole story.

By Shelly Lurie

Everyone loves pizza. It warms our hearts, our bellies, and of course our ovens with its melty, gooey, delicious cheesiness.  The great thing about pizza is you can satisfy everyone in the family because there are so many different toppings to choose from!  Whether you enjoy a classic Plain Jane cheese pizza, a meat-lovers pizza, or a veggie covered pie, adding different toppings is so easy. I would like to argue that you can put almost anything on top of a pizza and it will taste good! And for those of us who may not be the most seasoned chefs, homemade pizza is easy and fun to make! I do suggest though that you grab a friend or two to help.

What’s even more special about this particular pizza recipe is… it can be made with ALL union-made ingredients! When you make this pizza, not only will you be satisfying your stomach, but also satisfying America’s hunger for good jobs! This is the first of a series of recipes we here at 411 will be trying that are made with almost entirely union-made products!

By Rachelle Jacoby

On August 25th I attended the family and friends day at the Anheuser-Busch brewery and packaging factory in the San Fernando Valley, CA. I was not only excited to get to see the factory, but also to get free, unlimited beer! Anheuser-Busch is the parent company for beers such as Stella, Shock Top, and Kirin. Free Shock Top? I am so there!

By Sahid Fawaz

The events of the past few days have presented a dramatic, real life example of two worlds coexisting in America.

The first is the real world, which is located in, among other places, Louisiana.

In Louisiana there is a state of emergency underway as Hurricane Isaac passes through. In response, police, firefighters, and other unionized personnel are working tirelessly to help millions of residents get back on their feet.

Without government help – from emergency services to the levees that protect communities – the situation would be catastrophic.

It’s no secret that Republican politicians and the like are generally anti-labor and anti-union. Ever since President Reagan’s famous shunning of the air traffic controllers, the consensus from the right has been to frame union leaders as “thugs,” so when I found out that those attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa were surrounded, quite literally, by union work, my irony meter lit up like a pinball machine.

“We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way then we’ll make one. All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together?”

 -Clint Eastwood in Chrysler’s 2012 Super Bowl ad

All eyes may have been on the Red Carpet this past weekend, but the star that everyone is still talking about is Clint Eastwood and his role in Chrysler’s recent Super Bowl commercial. It’s already garnered more than 10 million views and the chatter’s not quieting down. While this wasn’t an ad specifically for unions, the American auto industry often stands as a marker of how well unions are getting along these days.

Watching the news the past few days, I’m seeing student protests at the UCLA campus where I go to school. The same thing is happening at UC Berkeley and other California college campuses. I’m hearing angry students talking about rising tuition, and cuts to education and talk about Occupy Wilshire Blvd, where 11 students were arrested last week.

But I’m a science major, living off campus, so I’m really a step away from all the commotion. Plus, I’m a senior, so I really don’t think all this applies to me. I’m outta here in a year. Even if I do have a part-time job working for LA Labor 411, a union publication, I still don’t see the impact Occupy UCLA has on my life.

Here at LA Labor 411 we have always promoted a vision of American patriotism that goes hand in hand with our message of buying union made, American made. We recently had the opportunity to visit New York City, and take a patriotic – and emotional tour – of the South part of Manhattan, including the new Ground Zero memorial, an area that has come to symbolize so much tragedy, hope and the indomitable human spirit of the American people, as well as the folks at Occupy Wall Street, the pioneers of the 99 percent movement.

We started out at the 9/11 memorial on a beautiful crisp autumn day. Approaching the site, we first see Tower #4 rising high above the sidewalk

“Don’t worry, I’m not gonna hurt nobody. I’m just gonna go down there and get my rights.”

-Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront


I love movies. I love good, smart movies. It’s something that’s severely lacking in today’s sequel machine they call Hollywood, so today, I say skip the theater and pick up a good old black-and-white classic, On the Waterfront.

Marlon Brando’s portrayal of a dockworker named Terry Malloy in Elia Kazan’s 1954 masterpiece still holds up today as one of the great performances in all of film. It is a performance that union and non-union workers today should take note of as the embodiment and personification of weathering adversity and standing in solidarity.

Malloy is the quintessential working-class champion.