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Peter Dreier
Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His latest book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, was published in July 2012 by Nation Books. He is coauthor of Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and American Prospect. From 1984-92 he served as senior policy advisor to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. He is chair of the Cry Wolf Project, a nonprofit research network that identifies and exposes misleading rhetoric about the economy and government. He also serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the National Housing Institute.

Entries by Peter Dreier

Why Is Public Television Against Public Schools?

(74) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 9:04 AM

You'd think that that public television would support public education, but you'd be wrong. The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has gotten in bed with the billionaires and conservatives who want to privatize our public schools. PBS has nary a word to say about the big money -- from folks like...

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General Motors: Another Slap on the Wrist for a Crime in the Suites

(42) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 1:26 PM

In 1895, Eugene V. Debs -- the patriotic labor leader, socialist, and five-time presidential candidate -- observed: "There is something wrong in this country; the judicial nets are so adjusted as to catch the minnows and let the whales slip through."

In that regard, our justice system hasn't changed that...

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Why Is Fannie Mae Evicting the Coronel Family?

(19) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 12:57 PM

This Thursday, facing immediate eviction, long-time homeowners Jaime and Juana Coronel will ask Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos one more time why the company would rather evict the family than work with them to repurchase their modest home (at current value) in Azusa, a blue-collar suburb of Los Angeles.

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Why He Was In Memphis

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 8:33 AM

Most Americans today know that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 46 years ago -- on April 4, 1968 -- in Memphis, Tennessee. But fewer know why he was there.

King went to Memphis to support African American garbage workers, who were on strike to protest unsafe conditions,...

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Cesar Chavez's Legacy

(4) Comments | Posted March 30, 2014 | 2:51 PM

Many people thought Cesar Chavez was crazy to think he could build a union among migrant farmworkers. Since the early 1900s, unions had been trying and failing to organize California's unskilled agricultural workers. Whether the workers were Anglos, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos or Mexican Americans, these efforts met the same fate....

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Have We Forgotten the Lessons of the Triangle Fire?

(1) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 9:02 AM

Tuesday is the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a major turning point in American labor history. On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, most of them Jewish and Italian immigrant girls in their teens and twenties, perished after a fire broke out at the Triangle factory in...

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Brothers Hypnotic -- An Inspiring Documentary About Music, Politics, and Family

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 8:16 PM

At the start of the film Brothers Hypnotic, we see seven young black men walking leisurely along rusted train tracks carrying musical instruments -- four with trumpets, one with a trombone, one with a baritone horn, and another with a huge tuba over his shoulders. What are they...

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Albert Einstein: A Radical Voice Sorely Missed; He'd Be 135 Today

(20) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 1:42 PM

During a visit to California in 1931, physicist Albert Einstein, then living in Europe, asked to meet actor Charlie Chaplin, also an international celebrity and political radical. Chaplin invited him to the premier of the film City Lights. As they posed for photographers, Chaplin commented, "They cheer for me because...

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If Paul Ryan Is a 'Moderate,' I'm the Easter Bunny

(78) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 4:07 PM

It is a sign of how far right the Republican Party has moved that New York Times columnist Ross Douthat describes Rep. Paul Ryan as a "moderate."

In his column on Sunday, "Four Factions, No Favorite," Douthat looked at the likely candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination....

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Paul Ryan Is a Charlatan, Not a Serious 'Policy Wonk'

(49) Comments | Posted March 6, 2014 | 7:56 AM

When will the mainstream media stop taking Congressman Paul Ryan seriously as a "thinker" and "policy wonk"?

Yes, he's chair of the House Budget Committee and one-time Vice Presidential candidate who is now laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2016. But that just means he's an ambitious pol,...

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'Champion of Labor' Sheila Kuehl's Next Challenge: LA County Government

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 2:59 PM

Sheila Kuehl walked her first picket line as a member of the Screen Actors' Guild, when she was 11 years old, an experience that forever forged her close ties to America's working families and their unions.

Kuehl was a highly-respected child actress who worked in radio and on several...

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'Not Exactly Cooperstown' Celebrates Baseball's Rebels and Renegades

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 3:32 PM

I don't know if Howard Zinn was a baseball fan, but I'm sure that the author of A People's History of the United States would have loved the documentary film Not Exactly Cooperstown. Just as Zinn told the story of America from the perspective of its rebels and outcasts, Not...

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Jay Leno Shows His Union Solidarity

(7) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 8:38 PM

Kudos to Jay Leno for ending his 22-year tenure on The Tonight Show with a staunchly pro-union statement.

In his tearful closing remarks on his final show Thursday night, Leno said:

"I'm also proud to say this is a union show, and I have never worked with a more professional group of people in my life. They get paid good money and they do a good job."

Leno added:

"And when the guys and women on this show would show me the new car they bought or the house up the street here in Burbank that one of the guys got, I felt I played a bigger role in their success as they played in mine. That was just a great feeling."

This is not the first time that Leno has shown his solidarity with the labor movement. In 2000, Leno was scheduled to appear at the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM) annual convention in Las Vegas when he learned that one of the most notorious union-busting law firms in the country -- Jackson, Lewis -- was getting paid big bucks to make two "How to Stay Union Free" presentations at the conference.

Leno courageously announced that he'd refuse to appear at the SHRM unless it booted Jackson, Lewis off its agenda. Rather than lose Leno, SHRM cancelled the conference's union-busting seminar. This was quite a coup considering that SHRM's chairman, Michael J. Lotito, is a partner at Jackson, Lewis.

At the time, Leno's union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) noted that Leno had always been a "stand-up guy" on union issues.

Last night, when he didn't have to do so, he demonstrated which side he is on. Thanks, Jay!!

Peter Dreier teaches Politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books).

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Rush Limbaugh's Favorite Lesbian Socialist -- Author of 'America the Beautiful' -- Inspired the Super Bowl Coke Ad

(4) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 7:31 AM

Right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, former Congressman Allen West, and others are freaking out about Coca Cola's Super Bowl ad featuring "America the Beautiful" sung in different languages as faces of people of different cultures are shown.

Typical was the reaction of Michael Leahy of the wacko...

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Rosa Parks: Angry, Not Tired; She'd Be 101 Today

(3) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 10:18 AM

The way we learn history shapes how we think about the present and the future. Consider what most Americans know about Rosa Parks, who was born 101 years ago, on February 4, 1913.


Martin Luther King, Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks,...
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Why Costco?

(4) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 8:19 AM

On Wednesday, on the heels of his landmark State of the Union speech about income inequality, President Barack Obama will be touring a Costco store in Lanham, Maryland. Why Costco and not Walmart, which is a much bigger and better-known discount retailer?

The answer is that Costco's labor practices...

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Pete Seeger Brought the World Closer Together

(2) Comments | Posted January 28, 2014 | 7:49 AM

"To everything, there is a season," according to Pete Seeger's song, "Turn, Turn, Turn," taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes. "A time to be born, a time to die."

Seeger died Monday at 94. In the spirit of that song, he spent his time on earth planting, healing, laughing, building...

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Meet the People Who Gave JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon an $8.5 Million Raise

(7) Comments | Posted January 26, 2014 | 8:00 PM

On Friday, the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase voted to give CEO Jamie Dimon a raise. Not just a cost-of-living increase, but almost a doubling of his compensation. In Dimon's case, this means his compensation jumped from $11.5 million to $20 million.


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What Would MLK Be Marching for Today?

(1) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 8:20 AM

What would the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. march for if he were alive today?

America has made progress on many fronts in the half-century since King electrified a crowd of 200,000 people, and millions of Americans watching on television, with his "I Have a Dream" address at the March...

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The Real Chris Christie Scandal

(0) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 11:04 AM

During last fall's New Jersey gubernatorial contest, which Gov. Chris Christie used as a rehearsal for a 2016 presidential bid, the media were so mesmerized by his outsize personality that they paid little attention to his track record as governor. Contrary to his carefully-crafted image, Christie has not been a...

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