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CWA Goes on Strike at Verizon

At least one of he major issues between the Communications Workers of America Union and Verizon is the company’s shipping of call center jobs to India.

Lowell McAdam, CEO at Verizon has come under fire from Bernie Sanders for corporate responsibility, As McAdam points out – the company, unlike others does pay taxes, and does invest in America –

His first accusation – that Verizon doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes – is just plain wrong. As our financial statements clearly show, we’ve paid more than $15.6 billion in taxes over the last two years – that’s a 35% tax rate in 2015, for anyone who’s counting. We’ve laid out the facts repeatedly and did so again yesterday (see “Sen. Sanders needs to get his facts straight” at Verizon.com/about/news). The senator has started to fudge his language – talking of taxes not paid in some unspecified “given year” – but that doesn’t make his contention any less false.

Sen. Sanders also claims that Verizon doesn’t use its profits to benefit America. Again, a look at the facts says otherwise. In the last two years, Verizon has invested some $35 billion in infrastructure — virtually all of it in the U.S. — and paid out more than $16 billion in dividends to the millions of average Americans who invest in our stock. In Sanders’s home state of Vermont alone, Verizon has invested more than $16 million in plant and equipment and pays close to $42 million a year to vendors and suppliers, many of them small and medium-sized businesses. Just yesterday, we announced a $300 million investment to bring fiber to the city of Boston, which will make it one of the most technologically advanced cities in the nation and expand broadband access for its residents. Boston’s Mayor Walsh is partnering with us on this initiative, calling it crucial for providing the foundation for future technology growth. We’re making significant investments in New York City, Philadelphia and other metro areas throughout our wireline footprint.

Verizon is one of the top 3 capital investors in all corporate America.

True. But missing the fact that the reassembly of “Ma Bell” into a three headed monopoly on both wired and wireless services hasn’t done the county much good in terms of stimulating development of new technologies and specifically in the area of development of new businesses. That isn’t all Verizon’s doing. They have had a lot of help with that from techno-ignorant clowns on the Hill, and a compliant FCC.

Despite the worst efforts of the conservative Reich  – at least one union still survives in the US.

And yes, BTx3 is a former member.

Bernie shakes hands with the Picket Line

Tens Of Thousands Of Verizon Workers Go On Strike

Nearly 40,000 workers at Verizon have gone on strike, objecting to, among other things, outsourcing and temporary location transfers.

The two unions representing Verizon workers say their employees have been without a contract since August. They call the walkout, which began at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, “by far the largest work stoppage in the country in recent years.”

NPR’s Joel Rose tells our Newscast unit:

“The striking employees mostly work in Verizon’s wireline business — landline phone, video and Internet — on the East Coast.

“The company says it’s offering a 6 percent raise, but needs to make what it calls ‘critical changes to its legacy contracts’ to reduce health care costs and retirement benefits.”

The unions — the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — say Verizon has made billions in profits, while still looking to spend less on employee benefits, Joel says.

Other objections from the union include offshoring of jobs, increasing use of contract workers and Verizon’s request for the ability to give workers two-month assignments that would require relocating — what the unions call “family-busting transfers.”

Verizon, which accuses union leaders of “ignoring today’s digital realities,” said Wednesday that it had indicated a willingness to enter into mediation if the unions extended their strike deadline, but that the unions refused.

The telecom giant says it is ready to serve customers during the walkout; a strike readiness team has been preparing for more than a year, the company said in a statement.

Thousands of nonunion employees have been trained as fill-ins, and they will be reassigning employees from elsewhere in the U.S. and other units in the company.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in American Greed

 

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Black Coal…Black Workers

Black coal miners date back to slavery. The first Unions formed in West Virginia  included black coal miners. Today a coal miner makes about $85,000 a year. That is good money – especially in he mountain regions of West Virginia. Coal is dying though as an industry due to pollution.

First…A little bit of history –

Most slaves from present-day West Virginia lived in the Eastern Panhandle counties, but a substantial slave population existed in the Kanawha Valley. Due to the decline of plantation agriculture in the 1800s, slavery was no longer as profitable in the east and slaves were frequently hired out or sold. The salt industry was driven by poor white transients and slave labor, often leased from eastern Virginia. This was the first significant introduction of slavery into western Virginia because salt was the first major industry to develop. In fact, by the 1800s, slave labor was rarely used in areas that did not rely heavily upon industry. Similarly, industrialization in the late 1800s and early 1900s would later bring many transient African Americans into the state.

Of the slaves in the Kanawha Valley, half were owned or hired by salt firms. Forty percent of these slaves were used to mine coal for the salt works because they could be hired from their owners for much lower wages than white laborers demanded. These slaves were usually leased and insured rather than bought due to the risk of death or injury in the coal mines.

In 1863 West Virginia separated from Virginia.  West Virginia placed a greater emphasis on funding white schools than it did black schools. The African- American community took it upon itself to create the first schools in the state for blacks. In 1862, a year before the state’s creation, a black school was opened in Parkersburg. In 1866, the state agreed to take over the Sumner School, making it the first publicly financed black school in the entire South. Black schools sprang up in other towns, including Charleston, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Grafton, Keyser, Lewisburg, Malden, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Piedmont, Point Pleasant, Ronceverte, Shepherdstown, Union, Weston, Wheeling, and White Sulphur Springs. There was a growing need for individuals to teach the increasing number of black students. Storer College, established at Harpers Ferry in 1867, was comprised of two components, a grammar school and a normal school for the training of teachers. In the 1890s, the state created two additional black normal schools, West Virginia Colored Institute (later West Virginia State College) and Bluefield Colored Institute (later Bluefield State College).

Coal was King, and it was mined as far South as Alabama. From 1880 to 1904, 10 percent of Alabama’s state budget was paid by leasing (mostly black) prisoners to coal companies.

As a history tidbit – The original “Mother Jones” was a Union organizer at the Pocahontas Mine in Tazwell, Va. She would help organize coal fields in West Virginia in the Kanawha Valley. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, led striking miners. Jones, a native of Ireland, was already a major force in the American labor movement before first coming to West Virginia during the 1897 strikes. Although she reported the year of her birth as 1830, recent research indicates she was probably born in 1845. As a leader of the UMWA’s efforts to organize the state, Jones became known for her fiery (and often obscene) verbal attacks on coal operators and politicians.

Among the elected delegates to the founding UMWA convention were at least five African American miners. By 1900 approximately 20,000 black miners had joined the union, representing about 20% of UMWA membership.

One of the best known African-American UMWA members was Richard L. Davis, who mined coal in West Virginia and Ohio. A delegate to the founding convention in 1890, Davis later served as a UMWA organizer in Alabama, Ohio and West Virginia, and was twice elected to the UMWA National Executive Board.

 

This is drift mining with a continuous mining machine. Notice the cut is only 3-4 feet tall, and the tunnel is not tall enough to stand in.

In W.Va., fortunes of black minority fall along with coal

Coal Miners in 1920’s West Virginia Kanawha Valley

Buck Wade wanted to be just like his dad. His father, a widower, raised five children on a coal miner’s salary, working long hours and in his free time teaching the kids to cook and clean house. At 17, Wade got his first job in the mines. It was 1943, and he was so anxious to work underground that he lied about his age on the application form. No one cared. His father took him on as an apprentice, and Wade made 23 cents for every ton of coal he mined. “I was just as happy in the mines as I could be,” he says.

Wade grew up in Keystone, a busy town in McDowell County, West Virginia, unusual for its racial diversity and the economic power of its black residents. Though the county was an anomaly in that sense, residents here, like elsewhere in the region, were ensconced in the world of coal. That’s what brought Wade’s dad to the state — he’d walked all the way from Montvale, Virginia, to the West Virginia community of Edmond, the old man always said — along with thousands of other African-Americans.

Coal was booming, and work was plentiful. By the 1930s, the industry employed 400,000 miners, 55,000 of whom were black. African Americans were restricted to more physically demanding positions requiring less skill, earning30 percent less than whites. But their wages were still high by national standards: $118.30 per month, according to one 1929 survey. By contrast, a national study in 1939 later found that black men earned an average income of $460 per year.

By the 1950s, African Americans made up 24 percent of McDowell’s population, compared with 6 percent statewide. Locals came to refer to the area as “the Free State of McDowell.” Black doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs also flocked to the county, drawn to the promise of a better life. Even in the Jim Crow era, unions in the area were integrated, blacks in West Virginia enjoyed voting rights, and local political leadership included many people of color.

“Everybody had money,” says Clif Moore, a current state delegate for McDowell who was born in the county in 1949. “It was sort of like little New York. Like a little Manhattan. Everything was popping.”

But at mid-century, as machines began to take over the tasks of drilling and blasting coal and hauling it above ground, black miners were the first to lose their jobs. What had once been an all but certain gateway to the middle class began to close. African Americans fled the industry at even higher rates than whites; by 1960, the share of black workers in coal shrank to 6.6 from 12 percent a decade earlier. In 2014, the most recent year for which Bureau of Labor Statistics data are available, only about 2,500 blacks worked as coal miners, less than 3 percent of the total…Read the Rest Here

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2016 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Swastikas and Hammer and Sickle Go at it Again for May Day

Didn’t they fight this war once?

 

Seems the Tea Bagger types didn’t get much of a warm welcome

 

 

 

 

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Bad Night for the Reich Wing – Good Night for America

In what are considered bellweather elections prior to the 2012 contests, Republicans went down on a lot of fronts…

Miss. defeats life-at-fertilization ballot prop

Mississippi voters Tuesday defeated a ballot initiative that would’ve declared life begins at fertilization, a proposal that supporters sought in the Bible Belt state as a way to prompt a legal challenge to abortion rights nationwide.

The so-called “personhood” initiative was rejected by more than 55 percent of voters, falling far short of the threshold needed for it to be enacted. If it had passed, it was virtually assured of drawing legal challenges because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion. Supporters of the initiative wanted to provoke a lawsuit to challenge the landmark ruling.

Ohio voters reject Republican-backed union limits

The state’s new collective bargaining law was defeated Tuesday after an expensive union-backed campaign that pitted firefighters, police officers and teachers against the Republican establishment.

In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers. With more than a quarter of the votes counted late Tuesday, 63 percent of votes were to reject the law.

Democrats, unions cheered by election results

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, a folksy moderate Democrat, cruised to victory as expected with about 56 percent of the vote over a Republican and an Independent candidate.

The only bad news? Johnny Dupree lost in his run for Mississippi Governor. Republican Phil Bryant had 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Democrat Johnny DuPree, with 43 percent of the votes counted. If DuPree had won, the mayor of Hattiesburg would have been the first African-American to win statewide office in Mississippi in modern times.

 

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in General

 

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Verizon – The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back?

Can You Hear Me Now?

Been wondering for years when exactly the isht was going to hit the proverbial fan in this country. Workers have been disenfranchised in the millions, their jobs outsourced in an economy where even doing all the right things and punching all the right educational and academic tickets is no assurance of a basic wage…

Well… The strike at Verizon may have finally lit the fuse.

Verizon Strike Update: Company Calls in Hundreds of Non-Union Replacements

Verizon called in hundreds of non-union employees and additional management to fill in for striking workers as the work stoppage by unions enters its tenth day.

The company said the replacements are handling customer service and network operational duties.

“We’ve called up hundreds of additional employees in the last few days,” said Verizon spokesman Rich Young.

“Our plan is to do what we have to do to keep our networks running. By and large, 10 days into the strike, our networks are performing solidly.”

Meanwhile, the Communication Workers of America union said that more than 100,000 people have signed a petition asking the company’s chief executive to start serious negotiations with strikers.

The union claims that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam is “trying to push Verizon workers out of the middle class.”

Much of the impasse between Verizon and unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, centers on $1 billion in concessions that the strikers claim the company is demanding from them.

Union officials, who say they don’t want to lose their members’ free health care benefits, assert that since Verizon is a very profitable company (and has paid in excess of $258 million over the past four years to five top executives); the workers shouldn’t be forced to make such sacrifices.

“We will never have an economic recovery if profitable companies like Verizon can demand huge concessions from workers,” said CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson.

“You don’t build a middle class by cutting workers’ wages, benefits and standard of living,” she added. “That’s just one reason why Verizon is becoming synonymous with VeryGreedy.”

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in American Genocide, American Greed

 

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“Tens of Thousands” March On Wisconsin Capitol

Things are just getting revved up… This is a good start to the recall effort to take down the criminal Republican legislators in the state.

Wisconsin protests

Protesters march at Wisconsin Capitol

Tens of thousands of protesters marched around Wisconsin’s Capitol on Saturday while hundreds more gathered in the building’s rotunda as part of a planned daylong demonstration against a new Republican-sponsored law that drastically weakens the state’s public employee unions. Opponents of the legislation that strips most public employees of nearly all their collective bargaining rights say the fight is not over even though Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law on Friday. “I’m here because I think it’s important that not only the governor but other people need to understand that this is not simply a union issue,” said Bridget Stafford, 43, a teacher and union member from Stevens Point, Wis., who was watching other protesters from a balcony in the Capitol.  “It’s about people’s rights.”Stafford she was especially angry over the legislation because she felt Walker didn’t propose it during his campaign. “He’s been lying from the get-go,” she said. The cold, breezy day started quietly, with a few dozen people gathered in clusters outside the Capitol. Groups of police officers also huddled outside the building. As the morning went on, however, more people streamed toward the Capitol. By late morning, tens of thousands of protesters were marching around the Capitol, cheering as dozens of farmers driving tractors joined in the procession. Chants of “This is what democracy looked like!” echoed off the buildings surrounding the Capitol’s square.

 

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Shut ‘Em Down!

You know – those Union Pension and retirement funds make up a large part of Wall Street Capital. Because Koch Industries is privately owned, it isn’t subject to  Investor pressure. However, many of their co-criminals and “pardners” are…

M&I Bank branch on Capitol Square closes after protests

M&I Bank’s branch on the Capitol Square, at 1 W. Main St., closed Thursday after demonstrators, protesting campaign contributions by bank executives to Gov. Scott Walker, gathered outside the bank and several pulled their money out.

Sara Schmitz, a spokeswoman for M&I in Milwaukee, said in an e-mail the bank shut its doors “under the advisement of the Madison Police Department and due to the significant number of protesters surrounding the Capitol.”

Madison police said hundreds of people had gathered at the front entrance to the bank.

“(The) concern was if the crowd continued to grow, it would be difficult for us to guarantee access and safety for those trying to get in and out of the bank,” police spokesman Joel DeSpain said. He said police did not tell M&I officials to close the bank.

Members of several labor unions stopped at M&I twice between 9 and 9:30 a.m., said Joe Conway, Jr., president of Local 311 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The protest was peaceful, he said.

Several protesters went inside and closed their accounts, displaying checks that totaled $192,000 withdrawn, Conway said. Schmitz declined to comment about any withdrawals.

Some of the products produced by Koch – which could be subject to boycott…

Georgia-Pacific LLC, based in Atlanta, and its subsidiaries, have approximately 300 manufacturing facilities across North America, South America and Europe, ranging from large pulp, paper and tissue operations to gypsum plants, box plants and building products operations, and more than 40,000 employees worldwide.

Georgia-Pacific’s familiar consumer brands in North America include Quilted Northern®Angel Soft®,Brawny®Sparkle® Soft ‘n Gentle®, Mardi Gras®,Vanity Fair®, and the Dixie® brand of tabletop products.

INVISTA B.V. and its subsidiaries (INVISTA) deliver exceptional value for customers through market insight, technology innovations, and a powerful portfolio of some of the most recognized global brands and trademarks in the nylon, spandex and polyester value chains, as well as other specialty products

Consumer brands include STAINMASTER®carpetANTRON® carpet fiberCORDURA®fabric, and COMFOREL® fiberfill.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in American Greed

 

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Jesse Jackson Brings the Old Fire in Wisconsin

Jesse Jackson recalls Martin Luther King’s last days in support of Memphis Workers, and the March on Selma –

Jesse Jackson invokes Martin Luther King Jr. in a blockbuster speech to Wisconsin protesters

Jackson: 'I'd like to congratulate you for having the staying power to hang on.'On Friday afternoon, Jesse Jackson returned to Madison for the third time in two weeks to hurl thunderbolts at Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting budget bill. Jackson gave a hastily arranged speech to city employees on the steps of the City County Building, invoking Martin Luther King Jr.’s crusade for Memphis workers just before his 1968 assassination.

“His last act on Earth was marching for workers’ rights,” said Jackson, who accompanied King during his final march in Memphis.

If Wisconsin workers were looking for moral authority to bolster their fight against Walker and the Republican legislators, they couldn’t have done much better than this.

Jackson was in town to meet with Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who introduced him to the throng of people spilling out onto Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (What better street for this speech?) Wearing a trench coat and a determined expression, Jackson spoke forcefully for about 20 minutes, without notes, in his patented preacher’s cadences. He engaged the crowd in call-and-response, hoping to keep them motivated in this weeks-long battle with no end in sight.

“I’d like to congratulate you for having the staying power to hang on,” he said.

Jackson has clearly been keeping up on breaking news from the Capitol, judging from his intimate knowledge of the issues. He referenced the governor’s cuts to education and public transportation, his voter ID bill, and his proposal for selling off the state’s public utilities in no-bid contracts.

Most powerfully, he noted this week’s anniversary of Dr. King’s civil-rights march in Selma, Alabama, when another governor – George Wallace — stood in opposition.

“This is the weekend we marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the right to vote in 1965!” he said.

And then, devastatingly:

“We’ve gone from Wallace to Walker!”

 

 

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Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin… And Indiana

The battle in Wisconsin is getting ready to go nationwide, as Koch funded Republican Fascists try and destroy Unions…

Long past time to fight back.

Empty seats reside where the Democrats normally sit as Republicans filled their seats inside the House chambers at the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday.

Indiana State House Missing Democrats

Indiana Democrats trigger Statehouse showdown over anti-union legislation

Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.

A source tells the Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House was came into session twice this morning, with only three of the 40 Democrats present. Those were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he did not know yet whether he would ask the Indiana State Police to compel the lawmakers to attend, if they can be found.

Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.

Gov. Mitch Daniels had warned his party late last year against pursuing so-called “right to work” legislation. While he agreed with it philosophically, he said it was a big issue that needed a state-wide debate and noted no Republican had run on this in the November election.

But now that his party is pursuing it, Daniels has not spoken against it. He has so far issued no statement, has held no news conference and has not been interviewed by any Indiana reporters in the Statehouse. Daniels did do a radio interview Monday with National Public Radio in which he discussed the labor fight which has caused a government stalemate in Wisconsin — where Senate Democrats have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote on a bill that limits collective bargaining –a now, apparently, his state.

 

 

 

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They Bought 5 Supreme Court Justices… Governor Scott Walker was a Bargain!

Corruption in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Whether it is Republican Judges in Pennsylvania taking kickbacks to lock up kids in private prisons on minor offenses, or corrupt Supreme Court Judges like Scalia and Thomas taking money, and getting their marching orders from the Koch brothers…

Wisconsin Protesters in State Capital

 

Seems the Koch brothers buying spree didn’t end with judges and the usual Congressman and Senators…

They bought a Governor.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros.

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rightsfor public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth toundermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Tunisia, Cairo, Tehran, Benghazi, Beijing…Wisconsin

One brutal dictator or repressive government after another, in perhaps the largest series of mass demonstrations th world has ever seen – people are taking to the streets for political freedom, and economic rights…

In Tunisia and Cairo, the world was riveted as everyday citizens braved sometimes brutal violence by their repressive governments to suppress their will… And overthrew dictators.

The battles in other countries like Libya promise to be even more bloody, as hundreds are murdered by the Ghadaffi’s Secret Police and Army thugs. And China, prepares for perhaps another Tienanmen Square style repression suppressing the upstart “Jasmine Revolution”.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin – Americans start the fight to take their country back from the neo-fascists…

The revolution may not be televised… But it will be on YouTube.

 

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Pot Workers Unionize!

First off, an actor whose roles I enjoyed – Dennis Hopper passed away today. His role in the fil m Easy Rider made him an Icon of the Boomer Generation.

RIP Dennis! And don’t Bogart that joint!

Mary Jane Farm

San Jose union begins organizing pot workers

A major California labor union is organizing medical cannabis workers in Oakland, a move that analysts say will help efforts to legalize marijuana and open the door for the union to organize thousands more workers if state voters pass a measure in November to allow recreational marijuana use by adults.

The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including “bud tender” – a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.

Union bud tender,” said Carl Anderson, executive director of AMCD, an Oakland nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary that is going through the city’s permitting process. The dispensary has 15 freshly minted union employees as it readies for an expected opening in December. “With full union health benefits and a pension,” Anderson said.

With roughly 100 cannabis industry workers in Oakland now in the process of unionizing, the move is mutually beneficial for labor and marijuana advocates.

The union, whose membership is dominated by commercial grocery store workers, retail clerks and some agricultural workers, gets to establish a toehold in a growing new pool of cannabis workers…

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Nawwwwww!

 

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A New Labor Movement to Roil The US?

American Labor has been comatose since Ronald Raygun fired the Air Traffic Controllers in 1983. However, the US economy has a greater gap in income and wealth since the time of the Robber Barons of the  last century, when Labor took to the streets and rocked the country.

Perhaps we are seeing the seeds of another great Labor uprising, putting middle class America back on their feet.

Our country tends to g in idelogical swings from the left to right and back every 40 years – I think the kickback against conservatism may be bigger, and more serious than even Liberals suspect – IF Progressives can define and enunciate the issues around the right wing noise machine. I think those of the generational poor due to color, and the middle class may indeed find common ground…

At which point there is going to be hell to pay.

Hat Tip to Truthout, for another insightful piece.

United by Hard Times: Workers Organize Across Race Lines

by: Carlos Jimenez  |  YES Magazine

The Lawrence textile strike (1912), with soldiers surrounding peaceful demonstrators

I’m feeling relieved. For a while it seemed like the historic election of our first African American president would give legitimacy to the idea that we live in a “post-racial” America. The idea that race is no longer a part of people’s daily experience is not merely false. It’s potentially dangerous when a majority of people are struggling to understand what’s happening to them economically.

What people are experiencing is exactly what’s supposed to happen to them under capitalism and its current variant, neoliberalism. That economic system is grounded on the idea that society must have winners and losers. It has convinced people that those categories are based on race: that people of color are, in the natural course of things, losers; and that white people, regardless of class, are supposed to win.

When hard times hit, as they have recently, people who are losing their grip on their middle-class status—or those who were already poor and are getting poorer—look for someone to blame. They fall back on the official story: White people’s troubles are caused by people of color; the troubles of people of color who were born in this country are caused by immigrants. It’s a divide-and-conquer strategy that keeps people who are natural allies on a class basis from looking at who’s really causing their trouble: the people who run the capitalist system.

This moment presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to get people with shared economic interests working together—to get them past learned racial divides. As long as poor and working-class white people remain convinced that they win by keeping people of color on the margins, all workers will continue to lose economic ground. The opportunity is to use this economic crash as a way to find common ground among those who are the real losers—regardless of race—in the existing system…

The rest is here.

Moving Forward, Together

Despite the constant use of race as a wedge, and perhaps as a result of it, young people today are turning away from old racial divides and leading the way in creating a multicultural America. Data from a 2003 Gallup Poll showed that 82 percent of white 18- to 25-year-olds disagreed with the idea that they “don’t have much in common with people of other races.”

Spaces like the US Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit serve as opportunities to advance the discussion of building alliances based on class rather than race. The USSF expects more than 25,000 progressive activists and organizers to come together to share their work in areas as diverse as education, stopping the criminalization and incarceration of youth, bringing an end to unjust wars, bargaining collectively for better wages and benefits, attaining reproductive justice, and protecting the environment and Earth’s well-being.

But the overarching theme of the USSF is how we can build a larger movement that addresses not just racism, but the many structures that are impeding people from pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Working people of all races are looking for movements or vehicles through which they can express their self-interest. We cannot allow the right wing and corporate elite to co-opt the anger that is out there, as they have with the “Tea Party” movement and the growing resentment against immigrant workers. Progressives can change the direction of our country for the better by helping working people join together, regardless of race, to be their own champions.

Moving Forward, Together

Despite the constant use of race as a wedge, and perhaps as a result of it, young people today are turning away from old racial divides and leading the way in creating a multicultural America. Data from a 2003 Gallup Poll showed that 82 percent of white 18- to 25-year-olds disagreed with the idea that they “don’t have much in common with people of other races.”

Spaces like the US Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit serve as opportunities to advance the discussion of building alliances based on class rather than race. The USSF expects more than 25,000 progressive activists and organizers to come together to share their work in areas as diverse as education, stopping the criminalization and incarceration of youth, bringing an end to unjust wars, bargaining collectively for better wages and benefits, attaining reproductive justice, and protecting the environment and Earth’s well-being.

But the overarching theme of the USSF is how we can build a larger movement that addresses not just racism, but the many structures that are impeding people from pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Working people of all races are looking for movements or vehicles through which they can express their self-interest. We cannot allow the right wing and corporate elite to co-opt the anger that is out there, as they have with the “Tea Party” movement and the growing resentment against immigrant workers. Progressives can change the direction of our country for the better by helping working people join together, regardless of race, to be their own champions.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in News

 

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