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Progressing Back
posted: March 24, 2011
This month's April cover is about the struggles of unionized workers. It's interesting that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it feels like the nineteenth. The very upper levels of American society seem set on draining every last drop out of the country. It's the teachers, firefighters, police, and other unionized labor that are the bones of a civil society which are now again under attack. As their voices are stripped away, tax breaks for the upper incomes over $200,000, are renewed. The common good of a community seems too much of an expanse for the wealthy to contribute to on a proportional basis. It's playing out in the state capitals across the USA. The cover story is about the events in Wisconsin.
April Cover art - Art Director; Nick Jehlen...

I've worked with Nick Jehlen at the The Progressive a number of times over the years. Quite often regarding the subject of workers, and the struggles of laborers.
For The Progressive's Hidden History calender. First United Auto Workers contract 1937, sit down strike. Art Director; Nick Jehlen....
1932 unemployed march on grocery stores in Toledo Ohio. For The Progressives Hidden History calender. Art Director; Nick Jehlen....

Another Wisconsin struggle, as Workers fight to keep their town alive. Art Director; Nick Jehlen....

17 comments
Gary Taxali March 24, 2011
Your work is so larger than life. These illustrations are so striking! Really amazing work, Doug.
Mark McBride March 24, 2011
I think that there are good arguments on both sides, in the end, I would be happy to have a job. It may not be where I want to be or I may not getting what I want but it sure beats the alternative in being homeless. I feel that workers struggle in the last illustration. I am like, another day, I don't know how much further I can go on. Great art Doug. I like the second illustration too. Some people do that on my job even when there is no strike and get paid for it. Slackers. That's the downside to having a union, it makes it hard to get rid of people who who don't work. Too much bureaucracy.
Douglas Fraser March 24, 2011
Gary, thanks for the thumbs up. Mark, well I'm for the unions. They've been a key component in growing & protecting the quality of life for many workers. The protection of a living wage is important. The past is always a good indicator of where owners & management would take the direction of work conditions. Blanket terms like unskilled, or manual labor are thrown around in attempt to discredit a large section of society. Labor is work, and many jobs need to be done, not discredited. These terms do little if any in describing the many types of unionized workers. As for the sit down strike of GM workers in 1937, well it was a peaceful act of protest. Also helped give rise to a stronger middle class of workers which layed down the scaffolding of what was a stronger nation.
Tim OBrien March 24, 2011
That's some impressive work. You're one for the record books for sure. Love'em.
Scott Bakal March 25, 2011
Its an appalling subject and I wish the American people, especially the middle class conservatives, would use a little more common sense if they actually support something like this. Great imagery, Doug! Love it!
Greg March 25, 2011
Great work Doug. So perfect for the subject.
Alex Nabaum March 25, 2011
Monumental, love it!
harry March 25, 2011
Powerful work Doug, as usual. As for unions-I think a lot of people see unions as getting away with too much, overpaid and lazy workers etc. Most of those people would change their minds if stuck in a turn of the century sweat shop for a day and then had to go home to a flea infested tenement-hungry. With that said-there are some lazy assed Americans out there, and everybody kind of expects a certain standard of living, not sure what the middle ground is. As for the rich, well they just have no conscience and most don't even know what real work is. Tax them!
Douglas Fraser March 25, 2011
Harry, thanks again for stopping in. I do feel the need to challenge the belief that unions are the refuge of lazy people. I know personally a number of people in the so called "private" sector that are lazy(are not pulling their share. ie Wall Street). The idea of of pitting one group against the other is the intention of the forces that stand to profit off of driving down wages. There are many individuals that want to exploit, rather than pay a fair amount for a service or good, and they will. The idea of the impact on the welfare of the greater good seems to get run over by the mythology that it's the wisdom of the "free market". A real harsh light needs to be trained on who, and what forces are behind the drive against a decent wage for work rendered. Never mind the now well established practice of discrediting certain types of work as unworthy. That practice only makes beggars of us all. There is so much misinformation, and down right lies that are masquerading as fact it's sickening.
Scott Bakal March 25, 2011
That speaking point that 'union members are lazy', or that teachers don't work as hard as anyone else because they have about 3 months 'off' during summers...drives me nuts and about the most ignorant of statements. Walk into a union-free Walmart some day and you tell me what percentage of them you think are lazy asses. Probably the same as any other business out there unionized or not. And while Wal-mart is one of the, if not THE largest employer in a retail environment in America, their wages are among the lowest in the country and most products they buy to sell are from overseas. This seems to be the conservative model of 'good business'. Make money for the owners and sweat-shop the workers. Harry... "As for the rich, well they just have no conscience" I wouldn't go THAT far. I would say BUSINESS/WALL STREET has no conscience. They answer to bottom-liners and stock holders, not the workers which is why regulation and unions are necessary. Day after day, I see conservative Republicans who are lower-middle class supporting the ideas of the right and it amazes me so much more that they don't realize that the policies are AGAINST them. How can this party agree to tax breaks for companies, stripping workers rights away from them, then these same companies shipping millions of jobs overseas?
Richard Downs March 25, 2011
Big fan, me. I love the way that you do disk or drum brakes.
Cathleen Toelke March 25, 2011
Love these, and the cover concept communicates perfectly!
Victor Juhasz March 25, 2011
Fantastic images. You're perfect for these themes.
Rob Dunlavey March 26, 2011
People without mouths: That's hard to graphically pull off Doug and you do it so well because of the strength and clarity of your convictions. (I too like the way you do disc & drum brakes ;-D )
Pjb Flynn March 28, 2011
Beyond powerful and for perhaps the most emergent concern of the day. Always love your cover art for the Prog.
Jim Paillot March 30, 2011
This is a terrific group of work, Douglas. The calendar work is also so impressive.
Dana MacKenzie April 8, 2011
That latest image is hauntingly perfect. Fantastic work, Doug.
All images copyright Douglas Fraser