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Japan’s Underemployed are Forced to Live in Internet Cafes

Japan’s internet cafe refugees are a symptom of a larger labor issue.

A new documentary is shining a light on Japan’s “internet cafe refugees.” Since the late 1990s, underemployed workers with no means to secure housing have been choosing to live in these close, tight, ephemeral spaces. The phenomenon is a symptom of many larger issues with the country’s labor culture and laws.

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State of the Unions: Organized Labor Has Seen Much Better Days

Lest we forget why we've got a three-day weekend, Labor Day is a recognition of American workers and what they've done for all of us.

Lest we forget why we've got a three-day weekend, Labor Day is a recognition of American workers and what they've done for the country. Minyanville writes that the labor movement has seen significant decline in recent years, and checks in on a few specific labor unions. Here's an excerpt from the section on public sector workers:

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Goliath Needs a Union, But David Does, Too

The Amazons of the world need unions, but so do the mom-and-pop bookstores.


The Strand, New York City's beloved independent used bookstore, is embroiled in a union struggle. The gargantuan bookworm wonderland has long been considered a model of good retailer policies by worker's rights activists, and most of The Strand’s employees have been members of the United Auto Workers Union for more than three decades. But seeking to cut costs, The Strand has hired more non-unionized managers than ever. The new contract offered to employees would reduce their paid personal days and sick days by nearly half, and almost double the amount each employee would pay for their health insurance premiums. Managers are also mulling over a two-tier contract system (different policies for employees depending on when they got hired), which is a classic union-busting move.

Now the workers are joining forces with Occupy Wall Street activists, who have set up camp just a few blocks away in Union Square. “They’re counting on the fact that if we get lower wages we’ll just go find another job,” an employee told Metrofocus. “But we want to protect the interests of the working class.” The Strand blames the policy changes on a "very challenging economy" as well as "E-readers and the Internet"; meanwhile, employees point to "record sales" last Christmas.

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What's the Deal With Recalls, Anyway? An Explainer

The results are in for six Wisconsin senators. We explain how they fit into the history of recall elections.


Last winter, an attack on Wisconsin unions’ collective bargaining rights sparked the country’s biggest effort to oust state senators, putting nine elected officials on the chopping block. Now six months, millions of dollars, and 60,000 votes later, we know only two GOP senators were kicked to the curb, which wasn’t enough for the Democrats to overtake the Wisconsin Senate. This leaves many of us pretty confused: Do the Democrats' two successful recalls mean anything? And is this movement really as big of a deal as the media have hyped it up to be?

“This particular effort is unprecedented,” says David Canon, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The $30 to 35 million spent on this recall election is 10 times what it usually is. There’s never in our history been this many senators up for recall from one state. All that alone indicates that this was an incredibly important set of elections.”

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