Labor Forum–Monday, Oct 7

LABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, OCT. 7, 2019
LET ME START WITH JUST A SHORT COMMENT ABOUT THE CONTINUOUS AND MASSIVE SYMPATHETIC COVERAGE  OF THE SO-CALLED “DEMOCRACY’ PROTESTS IN HONG KONG, A FORMER BRITISH COLONY AND NOW IN A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS HISTORIC NATION OF CHINA. I AM COMPARING THAT CORPORATE CHEERING OF PROTESTERS DAMAGING BUILDINGS, TOSSING MOLOTOV COCKTAILS OR FIRE BOMBS, STOPPING SUBWAY AND STREET TRAFFIC, ASSAULTING POLICE ETC WITH THE SILENCE ABOUT THE HUGE DEMONSTRATIONS OF HAITIANS SEEKING TO OUST THE SCANDAL-RIDDEN, CORRUPT GOVERNMENT OF JUVENAL MOISE, A PUPPET LEADER SUPPORTED BY THE US AND THE HAITIAN OLIGARCHY. IN FACT, IF YOUR SOURCE OF NEWS IS THE FOR-PROFIT MEDIA, YOU WOULD HAVE NO INKLING OF THE DURATION OF THE HAITIAN REBELLION SINCE EARLY SUMMER OR THAT THE TOLL OF THOSE INJURED AND KILLED FROM POLICE VIOLENCE MOUNTS EVERY DAY.
IN HONG KONG, THE US SEES ITS OWN INTERESTS OF CAPITALIST FINANCIAL CONTROL AND DOMINATION AGAINST CHINA BEING STRENGTHENED BY THE US FLAG-CARRYING PROTESTERS WHO CALL ON TRUMP AND THE US TO INTERVENE ON THEIR BEHALF.
IN CONTRAST, HAITIANS ARE MOTIVATED NOT ONLY BY THE AUSTERITY MEASURE OF THE CORRUPT GOVERNMENT BUT BY THE DECADES OF FOREIGN ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INTERFERENCE BY US CORPORATIONS IN PARTICULAR AND MILITARY OCCUPATION. THAT MILITANT RESISTANCE TO US IMPERIALISM IS WHY THE HAITIAN UPRISING IS INVISIBLE ON MOST MEDIA.
TURNING NOW TO THE GROWING STRUGGLE AT AMAZON BY ITS WORKERS.
60 WORKERS, MOSTLY SOMALI WOMEN, WALKED OFF THEIR JOBS AT 9:15 pm on Oct. 2 AT A DELIVERY CENTER IN EAGAN, MN TO DEMAND HIGHER WAGES FOR THE NIGHT SHIFT, WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON BOXES THAT CAN BE UP TO 70 LBS, AND THE END OF A 30 HOUR CAP ON WORK HOURS.
THE STRIKE ENDED AFTER 21/2 HOURS WHEN MANAGERS COMMITTED TO RESOLVING THE ISSUES THE FOLLOWING MORNING  AND CANCELLED ALL TRUCK DELIVERIES THAT NIGHT.
THIS IS THE SECOND WORK STOPPAGE AT THE EAGAN FACILITY IN TWO MONTHS.
IN AUGUST, 80 WORKERS WALKED OUT TO PROTEST PARKING CONDITIOnS. THE PARKING LOT IS TOO SMALL FORCING WORKERS TO PARK OFF SITE WHERE THEIR CARS ARE TOWED AND THE DISTANCE CAUSES THEM TO TO PUNCH IN LATE AND BE PENALIZED.
THAT STRIKE FORCED THE MANAGEMENT TO REPAY WORKERS THEIR TOW CHARGES, IMPROVE OFF-SITE PARKING ACCESS AND ARRANGE FOR OFFSITE CHECK-IN.
THE WORKERS WHOSE COMPLAINTS HAD GOTTEN NOWHERE PREVIOUSLY DISCOVERED THE VALUE OF GETTING RESULTS FROM THE COLLECTIVE ACTION OF A STRIKE.
THIS EXPERIENCE WAS REPLICATED ABOUT THE SAME TIME BY WORKERS IN A SACRAMENTO DISTRIBUTION CENTER WHERE TWO WORKERS WHO HAD BEEN FIRED GOT THEIR JOBS BACK AFTER THEIR FELLOW WORKERS FORMED AMAZONIANS UNITED SACRAMENTO AND DELIVERED A PETITION TO MANAGEMENT DEMANDING THE UNJUSTLY FIRED WORKERS  GET THEIR JOBS BACK WITH LOST WAGES.
AND LASTLY, TUESDAY, THE US SUPREME COURT WILL HEAR ARGUMENTS ON THREE CASES INCLUDING ONE FROM GEORGIA ON WHETHER LGBTQ WORKERS CAN BE FIRED FROM THEIR JOBS DUE TO SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY.
TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT FORBIDS EMPLOYERS FROM DISCRIMINATING ON THE BASIS OF SEX, RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN, AND RELIGION. NO SURPRISE, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS STRONGLY OPPOSING THE EXTENSION OF JOB PROTECTIONS TO LGBTQ WORKERS
THE LABOR FORUM APPLAUDS ALL THESE MARGINALIZED WORKERS WHO ARE FIGHTING IN MULTIPLE WAYS TO SECURE THEIR RIGHTS.

WRFG’s Fall Fund Drive Oct 7th-Oct 27th

Elevator Talk with IUEC Local 32

Justice for Anthony Hill

Interview with Dawn O’Neal, Ken Mitchell, and Jasmine McClain from Us Protecting Us
Us Protecting Us is dedicated to educating the public on dealing with police interaction with people of color and persons that live with disabilities, training ourselves to handle our own crises without police intervention, demanding accountability for police officers who brutalize and murder us, and demanding better resources for people living with disabilities. Over 50% of people murdered by the police live with a disability. We are adamant about not calling the police, but relying on the experience of people most affected to develop response plans to crises.
For more information go to their Facebook page

 

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, Sep 2

The Labor Forum team on WRFG 89.3FM  sends our strong solidarity with all workers on the Labor Day holiday.

On Monday, Sept. 2, we will learn more about the cause and impact of the raging fires destroying huge sections of the Amazon  from Brazilian national, Diogo Pinheira. He will provide information about Atlanta’s participation in an international call for protests at Brazilian embassies and consulates worldwide on Thursday, Sept. 5.
This interview will be from 4:15-4:30.
 
Ed Barlow, CWA #3204 President will discuss the  unfair labor practices strike conducted by some 20.000 AT&T workers in nine states including Georgia which saw a contract successfully negotiated after months of company intransigence. You can hear this interview from 4:30-4:55 on WRFG 89.3FM on your radio, at wrfg.org online and on the station’s mobile app.

Labor Headlines, Aug; 12, 2019

I am focusing on just one story for today’s Labor Headlines because I think it has such serious consequences for the working class struggle in the US.
This is the article I found on a website called PaydayReport.com that describes more about the ICE raids in Mississippi that took place on Wednesday,  Aug. 7. Now, of course, there was general outrage because this massive armed action by ICE took place on the heels of the racist massacre of Latinx people in El Paso and contributes both to the trauma experienced in immigrant communities  and the attacks on workers by bosses and government agencies.
The information is this article which i did not see in any of the corporate media reports provides a more complete explanation of why this horrific ICE raid requires an immediate and strong, united response by all worker organizations, unions especially.
So here’s the article from Payday Report.com
Last week, ICE carried out what is believed to be the largest immigration raid in decades when they detained 680 workers at seven poultry plants in Morton, Mississippi.
The workers, many of them members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), were employed by a company called Koch Foods Inc, which employs 13,000 workers throughout the US. (Koch Foods INC has no connection or relation to the billionaire political donor Koch Brothers).
The UFCW, which represents workers at the plant, has been meeting with community groups and immigrants rights activists to mobilize community and legal support on behalf of the workers.
As buses full of poultry workers arrived pulled up to the Mississippi National Guard base at Flowood, Mississippi 70 family members and supporters families gathered shouting at the armed guards,  “Let Them Go! Let Them Go!” as workers were taken into the makeshift detention facility.
The detention suffered by immigrants is yet another abuse suffered by immigrant poultry workers employed by Koch Foods Inc in Morton, Mississippi.
In 2018, following a nearly eight-year-long legal battle, Koch Foods Inc. settled a $3.5 million brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Koch Food Inc at the plant. The lawsuit alleged that Koch Foods Inc supervisors engaged in both racial and sexual harassment of Latina workers at its Morton, Mississippi plant.
The lawsuit brought by the EEOC against Koch Food Inc’s alleged “that supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities.”
As part of its settlement, Koch Foods Inc. agreed to a three-year federal consent decree to change its discriminatory practices. As part of the consent decree, Koch Foods Inc. was forced to create a 24-hour-a-day bilingual hotline for workers to use to file complaints.
Many immigrants rights advocates have speculated that workers are targeted for raids after their facilities get investigated for worker abuse.
In June of 2018, ICE raided a unionized Fresh Mark meatpacking plant in Salem, Ohio; arresting 140 workers.
A week before the raid on a Fresh Mark’s Salem facility, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Fresh Mark $211,194 for three separate incidents in which proper guards for dangerous machinery were not in place. OSHA found that the lack of safety guards resulted in the death of an undocumented worker.
In December of 2017, Domingo Ramos, a 49-year-old undocumented worker from Guatemala, was killed in the plant when his foot was sucked into a rotating auger, ripping off his lower leg and leading to him bleeding to death.
Suspicious was also raised that workers complaining about working conditions in plants at the Southeastern Provision in Morristown, Tennesse led to a raid. The raid came after federal authorities were tipped off by a local bank that the owner of the plant may have been paying undocumented workers under the table.

While it’s unclear if the raids are being triggered by federal authorities responding to the mistreatment of workers, the overall effect of these raids has had a chilling effect on workers speaking out.
“These raids send a real signal to immigrant workers not to speak up, and we feel like these raids enable employers in the most dangerous industry to cut corners and violate labor standards,” said Debbie Berkowitz, who served as chief of staff of OSHA under Obama from 2009 to 2013 and now serves as the director of the worker health and safety program at the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Here’s what i think the response from organized labor should be. An immediate convergence by leaders and rank and file members of the AFL-CIO, and Change to Win affiliates, and allies in national civil rights organizations, religious denominations, lawyers and others into Morton and the affected towns.
A declaration that everyone who was taken into ICE custody was a union member and would be defended.
A call for national protests at ICE offices and detention centers, appealing to worker and community solidarity.
A clear declaration that immigrants are workers, not criminals, and belong in our unions.
These workers at these plants in rural Mississippi fought to win a union just as previous immigrants organized and died for the 8 hour day and many of the other gains won over decades of struggle.
In my opinion, organized labor, all workers need to stand rock solid with them.  They, especially the women, challenged the company bosses over their sexist and racist policies and practices. They had courage.
 The union movement must display the same courage and put our collective strength in defending and supporting these and all workers under attack by the profit-driven corporations.
Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum on Monday, Aug 12

On Monday, the Labor Forum will be talking with a resident of Cobb County active around a health and environmental issue in the community there. Located in Smyrna, Sterigenics has a facility that uses a gas to sterilize medical devices. The company has become a target of protests because last year the Environmental Protection Agency identified census tracts in the Smyrna area as having increased cancer risks, largely due to the use of the gas. We will learn more about the issue, what actions the community is taking to deal with it, and how our listeners can get involved.

Wed., Aug. 7 Vigil: Stand against White Supremacy and Racist Terrorism

In solidarity with the people of El Paso, immigrants and refugees and all those impacted by racist violence, Georgia Peace &Justice Coalition  will direct its signage on the Wednesday, Aug 6  street visibility vigil to opposing white supremacy and anti-immigrant  terrorism.
Please join us on Wed, Aug 7 from 4-5pm at the intersection of Moreland Ave and Ponce de Leon. Bring signs and banners and help spread the word to your friends and family.
Other cities across the country are also holding public events in solidarity with El Paso and against white supremacy on Wednesday in response to a call by several national immigrant organizations.
Hope to see you Wednesday.

Labor Headlines- Monday, July 29

Martha’s Vineyard,a small island off CapeCod, Massachusetts and home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, witnessed the power of workers when the public transportation drivers, members of ATU #1548, Amalgamated Transit Union, walked off the job June 28 after months of negotiations had failed.
A popular vacation spot, the full-time population is about 16,000 but swells to many times more during the summer months.
The cost of living on the island according to a Martha’s Vineyard Commission report is 60% higher than the national average and housing prices are 96% higher yet the average weekly wage is only 71% of the state average.
The private management company, Transit Connection Inc had played hard ball for five years, refusing to negotiate a contract, figuring the small local of 26 workers would not be able to sustain a long strike.
Four weeks of rallies including one at the state capitol in Boston, daily picket lines, confrontational meetings with company and elected officials and solidarity from other unions and island residents resulted in a victory this past weekend.
The membership ratified a three year contract, their first since voting for a union, with significant annual pay raises, double time for holiday ours, union protections during layoffs and seniority rights in route placement are among the gains.
On Aug. 1, wages for drivers will go up from $23.50 an hour to $25.50 and top put at $27.50 in 2021. New hire wages will increase from $16.50 to $19.50 this Thursday and top out at $20.50 in the last year of the contract.
Cabs had been hired to operate the buses during the strike with some service cut or reduced. The steadfastness of the drivers for four weeks was supplemented by the strong attendance of strikers, town officials and union supporters from the community who attended the two-day negotiating meeting that ended in a contract.
Congratulations to these union-strong ATU members, bus drivers who serve the public on Martha’s Vineyard.
Quality public education for all children is one of the most important issues to workers and their families not just in Atlanta but across the country. For several years now, public tax dollars have become a cash cow for private companies, promising rapid transformations in test scores and student overall achievement. This option is promoted by the Atlanta Schools Superintendent and Board of Education president, in particular. And nationally by Secretary of Education, millionaire Betsy Devos.
The Atlanta federation of teachers is calling for a solidarity rally on Thursday, Aug. 1 in front of the Atlanta Public School  Building, 130 trinity Ave, downtown from 3-6pm. Decisions being made by the elected Board are directing money away from public schools into the pockets of private corporations that are hired to manage charter schools. Studies show that despite the claims made about charters innovation and higher quality, for the most part, their test scores do not exceed those of public school students. Yet millions of dollarsare being siphoned away to pay these business management teams instead of upgrading the facilities and staff services of the schools most Atlanta students attend.
The AFT encourages all those concerned about quality education for all to attend the rally and school board meeting Thursday, Aug. 1 at 130 Trinity Ave.

Dianne

 

 

 

 

 

Labor Headlines Monday, July 22, 2019

Before I begin the news, I want to make sure we thank all those who donated to The Labor Forum during the recent Summer Fund Drive.
It goes without saying that there are not sufficient thanks we can give to listeners and supporters of independent, community radio who contribute the funds that keep this non-commercial, progressive station on the air And some have been doing so faithfully for years and even decades.
Here is our public appreciation for donations from individuals and unions.
We will ring the bell wildly for the Building and Construction Trades Council, Operating Engineers #926, Letter Carriers, IATSE Local 927, Charlie Fleming, State AFL-Cio President, Anne Hughes, Joan Baptist, WRFG Station manager, Labor Forum team members Paul McLennnon and Calvin Ivey.  Next week we will publicly thank those who made their donations online and any others I have forgotten.
We want to note that Charlie Fleming made his contribution in memory of Gary Washington, the initiator and long-time producer of The Labor Forum, Teamster shop steward, staunch defender of workers rights and all around community activist who died recently. We encourage any of you who knew Gary or listened to The Labor Forum during his years on air to likewise contribute to the station that he so dearly loved.
You can do so anytime by calling 404.523.8989, going on line at wrfg.org, using the donate option on the mobile app or coming in to the station or sending a check to 1083 Austin Ave NE, Atlanta 30307.
If any of you have been online today, you have seen the enormous demonstration in Puerto Rico that is accompanying a general strike that is not only demanding the resignation of the island’s governor, Ricardo Rossello but an end to the vicious austerity and privatization policies that have impoverished the people, left unrepaired much of the devastation from Hurricane Maria, particularly in the rural areas, forced the closing of schools and hospitals, and siphoned public disaster funds into private pockets.
The initial cause of the massive street protests were a response to the release of internal texts between Rossello and others in the government that used misogynist and homophobic language and disparaged the Puerto Rican people.
Listeners should be aware that Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US for over 100 years, providing cheap labor to US industries, its natural beauty despoiled by exclusive resorts, military ranges and chemical plants. Legally, Puerto Ricans are US citizens but face the same forms of discrimination as other immigrants and refugees and national groups of people of color.
There are strong and militant unions  such as the teachers and electrical workers and student organizations that have found allies in the political movements for independence.
As of this morning Rossello insists he will not resign but he has conceded he will not seek re-election. We will see how long he can resist the determination of the people to end his ruinous time in office.
There are solidarity rallies taking place across the US tonight with Puerto Rico, including here in Atlanta from 6;30-9pm in front of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
And since I am letting you know about opportunities to express solidarity with struggles important to working people, this Saturday, July 27, Rideshare Drivers United Georgia, the organization of Uber and Lyftt drivers who are banding together to win living wages, safe working conditions and respect on the job are having their second open organizing meeting at the IBEW Auditorium from 1-4pm. The address is 501 Pulliam St SW. While this is primarily for drivers, supporters are also welcome to learn more about the conditions and demands of these workers and how they can help.
Saturday is also the WRFG 46th Birthday celebration from 3-6pm at Ormewood Church at 1071 Delaware at the corner of Ormewood in southeast Atlanta. There will be great music provided by WRFG airshifters, Salsa lessons at 3:30, food vendors supplying a variety of food, cool beverages, WRFG t-shirts for sale and your opportunity to meet the volunteers who provide you with the most eclectic mix of music and public affairs programs. Drop by for a minute, stay for hours but be sure to make time to celebrate WRFG’s 46 years of providing progressive information and quality, hand-picked music.
Dianne

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: