AtPeace Makita is a single mother of five, a life long resident of Detroit, and the Creative Director of the Detroit Water Brigade. She wants you to know that the push for the privatization of the water supply in Detroit could be coming to an area near you soon. “If Detroit can be used as a prototype,” asks Makita “why can’t it happen in LA, Chicago, or New York? On top of the bankruptcy, on top of the foreclosures, on top of the mayoral issues and emergency manager, on top of all of it – now you want to take our life source?”
The Market Basket situation is indeed, as many commentators have remarked, nearly unprecedented in the annals of American labor relations: When have we ever seen so many workers protest so vigorously for, rather than against, their boss! (For those new to the story, the New England supermarket chain has been wracked by massive employee protests, organized without any union involvement, after a faction of the family that owns the chain took control and ousted extremely popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The mobilization in support of the former chief executive has resulted in nearly empty shelves and the mobilization of angry communities of formerly happy customers.) But beneath the surface of the singular job action, in which workers and community have banded together to demand the reinstatement of the former CEO, the conflict in New England points toward something much more fundamental: the need to build institutions that can sustain the kind of community- and worker-friendly business leadership that earned “good brother” Arthur T. such incredible loyalty. Happily, such institutions already exist, here in the United States. While undoubtedly not perfect as a form of workplace democracy, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) offers a proven template for making the interest workers have in a thriving business part of the discussions about a company’s future.
Protesters gathered today in front of the St. Regis Hotel in New York City to call on Ralph Lauren to sign onto theAccord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to improve workplace safety for garment workers. The protest preceded Ralph Lauren’s annual shareholders meeting where the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund (its investments) had a proposal on the ballot related to human rights reporting. At today’s shareholder meeting, Nazma Akter, president of the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, representing 70,000 workers, spoke to the protesters and called on Ralph Lauren join with more than 180 brands that have agreed to participate in the Accord. The Accord is a binding and enforceable agreement that represents a new model in supply chain accountability and risk management. Other programs to audit and monitor for workers’ safety follow the same model that has failed the hundreds of workers who have died in preventable garment factory fires and building collapses over the past 20 years.
SHIFT CHANGE is a documentary film by veteran award-winning filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin. It tells the little known stories of employee owned businesses that compete successfully in today’s economy while providing secure, dignified jobs in democratic workplaces. With the long decline in US manufacturing and today’s economic crisis, millions have been thrown out of work, and many are losing their homes. The usual economic solutions are not working, so some citizens and public officials are ready to think outside of the box, to reinvent our failing economy in order to restore long term community stability and a more egalitarian way of life. There is growing interest in firms that are owned and managed by their workers. Such firms tend to be more profitable and innovative, and more committed to the communities where they are based. Yet the public has little knowledge of their success, and the promise they offer for a better life.
Stop Patriarchy’s highly theatrical, non-violent yet confrontational style has not endeared them to all activists in Texas fighting for reproductive justice. In fact, a coalition has formed whose sole purpose is to oppose Stop Patriarchy. Texans for Reproductive Justicehas published a Letter of Concern, opposing “Stop Patriarchy’s messaging, tactics, dishonesty, and racism.” Stop Patriarchy has seen this type of resistance before.
Diane Derzis runs the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. Speaking to Acronym TV on background for this episode, Dianne told us she was “warned about Stop Patriarchy” before they came to defend her clinic during the 2013 Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Derzis, who now sits on the Abortion Rights freedom Ride advisory board noted that one reason people fear Stop Patriarchy is because their leader, Sunsara Taylor, is a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
The deal between Staples and the U.S. Postal Service jeopardizes mail service and the viability of local post offices. In fact, post offices across the country are at risk — along with thousands of good jobs. The Staples deal will replace full-service U.S. Post Offices with knock-off post offices in Staples stores that are not staffed with U.S. Postal Service employees. Consumers have a right to post offices staffed by workers who are accountable to clientele and topostal services provided by highly trained Postal Service employees, who are sworn to safeguard your mail. The Staples deal is bad for consumers, who will pay the same for less service. And if Staples and the USPS move forward with this deal, it could lead to the end of the Postal Service as we know it. In the meantime, the Staples deal is replacing good-paying jobs that our communities depend on with low-wage, non-union jobs that hurt our economy.
Can you name the worst job you’ve ever had? For Cliff Martin, that’s not an easy question. All three of his current jobs—delivering newspapers, delivering magazines and working as a janitor—are strong contenders. Taken together, they pay so poorly that the 20-year-old Northfield, Minnesota, native relies on MNsure, the state Medicaid plan, for healthcare and lives at home with his father to save money. But what if Martin’s bosses had to fork over a fee to the state for paying him so badly? That money, in turn, could be used to help support Martin and his fellow low-wage workers in a variety of ways, from direct subsidies for food and housing to social programs such as Medicaid or public transportation. Take Action Minnesota, a network that promotes economic and racial justice in the state, wants to make that fee a reality. It’s developing the framework for a bill that it hopes will be introduced in 2015 by state legislators who have worked with the network in the past. As conceived, the “bad business fee” legislation would require companies to disclose how many of their employees are receiving public assistance from the state or federal government. Companies would then pay a fine based on the de facto subsidies they receive by externalizing labor costs onto taxpayers.
Yesterday many of Southern Illinois’s elected officials, and representatives of the fossil fuel industry, held a one-hour press conference to complain about the fact that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has still not completed the rule-making process in order for fracking to begin in Illinois. Fracking is a controversial process used to drill for oil & gas. Millions of gallons of water, mixed with toxic chemicals and sand, are injected into mile-long horizontal wells at high pressure to fracture rock layers and release oil and gas. It is important that the public is aware of the dangers inherent in fracking jobs.
Pension cuts were approved in a landslide, according to results filed shortly before midnight Monday. The tally from 60 days of voting gives the city a boost as Judge Steven Rhodes determines whether Detroit’s overall strategy to eliminate or reduce $18 billion in long-term debt is fair and feasible to all creditors. General retirees would get a 4.5 percent pension cut and lose annual inflation adjustments. They accepted the changes with 73 percent of ballots in favor. Retired police officers and firefighters would lose only a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise. Eighty-two percent in that class voted “yes.”
Members of UAW Local 2110—which represents twenty-seven staff writers, editorial assistants, listings editors, and sales representatives at the Village Voice—voted to authorize a strike at the nation’s historic alternative-weekly newspaper after their three-year contract expired Monday. “We voted unanimously to set a date for a strike,” said Stephanie Zacharek, the principal film critic at the Voice and a shop steward with the union. The vote came after a thirteen-hour negotiating session failed to bring representatives of Voice Media Group LLC, the parent company of the Voice, and the employees’ bargaining committee to an agreement over health care costs and working conditions at the newspaper. The bargaining committee met Tuesday night to discuss a strike deadline.
J.J. Giuliano has been local chairman of the Selkirk unit of Albany, N.Y., Local 770 since 2003. Keeping his members safe is Giuliano’s top priority, and along with the leaders of the other trades at Selkirk, he sat on the shop’s safety committee. “For 10 years we made recommendations to management and for 10 years not one of them was funded by the company,” Giuliano said. “I stayed on because I wanted to look out for my guys. But at a certain point we were letting the company get away with avoiding solving safety problems.” In September 2013, Giuliano was done with the charade. He sent a letter to the plant superintendent telling him that he was quitting the committee. He listed 21 safety violations that threatened the health of IBEW members, public safety or both that had repeatedly been brought to the company’s attention and never fixed.
When Germany and Argentina square off in the Word Cup Final, the whole world will be watching the culmination of what may be the most exciting FIFA World Cup Tournament ever. What most people are unaware of, however, is the brutal conditions that FIFA creates to pull off the games.
Governors from across the country are in Music City to tackle key issues including education, health care and jobs. Saturday, protestors gathered outside the Omni Hotel demanding to be a part of the conversation. Legislative Plaza served as a meeting point for the hopes and dreams of dozens who gather under a collective front called the Freedom Side. With signs and tape over their mouths they walked in silent protest through downtown to the Omni, straight for the National Governor’s Association meeting. “We just want to talk to the Governors about four issues,” protestor Jayanni Webster said, “The criminalization of black and brown youth, living wage jobs, equal education and democratic rights.” Protesters were greeted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who created a barrier to prevent them from entering private property. After learning no one would come out to speak to them, five protestors tried to walk inside and were arrested and charged with trespassing.
Imagine the impact if a player from one of the remaining FIFA semifinal World Cup teams (Germany, Brazil, The Netherlands, or Argentina) were to engage in an act of protest against FIFA for it’s Imperial practices that have literarily displaced at least 250,000 Brazilians? Imagine if Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller,Arjen Robben, or even the injured Neymar were to pull a John Carlos sometime during the semifinals or finals of the World Cup? If any sports organization deserves to be protested, FIFA is it. As Dave Ziron correctly pointed out, Luis Suárez May Bite, but FIFA Sucks Blood.
There are many policies that can reduce inequality, but there is none as straightforward conceptually and as difficult politically as full employment. The basic point is simple: at low rates of unemployment, the demand for labor allows workers at the middle and bottom of the wage distribution to achieve gains in hourly wages, annual hours of work, and thus income. Levels of unemployment are not the gift or curse of the gods; they are the result of conscious economic policy. The decision to tolerate high rates of unemployment is a choice. It is one that has enor-mous implications not just for the millions of people who are needlessly unemployed or underemployed but also for tens of millions of workers in the bottom half of the wage distribution whose bar-gaining power is undermined by high unemployment.