Cuba Caravan in Atlanta on Sunday, June 16th

The Oakhurst Baptist Church  will host the annual visit of the Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan to Atlanta.

The featured speaker will be Cheryl LaBash of Detroit who has been involved with US-Cuba matters since 1985. Cheryl is a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, is working with Doctors4Detroit supporting the Latin American Medical School Scholarship program , and has been a long time advocate for lifting the blockade on Cuba. She will speak on US-Cuba relationships.

There will also be an opportunity for donations to the work of Pastors for Peace.

The gathering will be a potluck dinner, so please bring a covered dish to share. Oakhurst Baptist Church will provide beverages.

For further information you may contact Wayne Grinstead at  12wayne31@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you!

Address: Oakhurst Baptist Church, 222 East Lake Drive, Decatur, 30030

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/xNJgk4pjfumVya1V9

Date: Sunday, June 16th, at 6:00 PM

In solidarity,

Bernardo Gomez

Labor Headlines–Monday, June 10

I am going to concentrate on an international story for today’s Labor Headlines.
As workers in this country, we get so little information about huge struggles taking place around the world, particularly in Africa.
A continent of enormous wealth, with civilizations that advanced science and art, creating thriving economies hundreds of years before Europeans so-called discovered them.
Modern day Africa is similarly as unknown despite all the multiple forms of communication available today.
Northern Africa is undergoing tremendous civil unrest with hundreds of thousands of people occupying the streets of major cities, demanding change.
Yesterday, the struggle in Sudan opened another stage of resistance against the ruling military council that seized power after months of mass demonstrations forced the ouster of the long-time president, Omar al-Bashir in April.
A general strike is taking place across the country and a strategy of continuous civil disobedience is projected until civilian rule is established, a demand the military has so far refused.
Instead the generals has ordered a crackdown on the demonstrators beginning with a particularly deadly assault on a large camp outside the military headquarters in the caotal city of Khartoum on June 3.  Over 60 people were killed, scores more inured and some 2500 arrested.
In the following days, dozens of workers, professional like doctors and engineers and political leaders of opposition groups have been arrested and taken to unknown locations.
At least 4 more people were killed yesterday by security forces.
Protests began in December 2018 against the rising prices of basic goods, including bread.
Further measures by the al-Bashir government removed subsidies for wheat and electricity, driving millions into greater destitution.
Earlier in 2018, the ruling National Congress Party backed al-Bashir’s declaration to run again for president even though he had earlier stated he would not.The current Constitution bars him from such an attempt.
The early demonstrations were met by tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition, causing numerous deaths and injuries.
On Ap. 6 , in neighboring Algeria where similar protests were taking place against another long-time president, Abdelazi Bouteflika, he stepped down.
Encouraged by the victory in Algeria, hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Sudan and on Ap. 11, the military council acted and placed the president under house arrest.
The workers and the poor, long abused by these corrupt generals, demanded civilian rule now.
Negotiations began between the Transitional Military Council and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella organization of the resistance groups.
The deadly assault on the camp made clear the country’s elite were not going to negotiate away their power.
The Alliance forces say they will continue their strike until the generals step down and a civilian government is recognized.

WRFG Summer Pledge Drive June 10-June 30

Dear Friends of The Labor Forum,

We appreciated the time and information you have provided our listeners on the issues so important to workers and their families. Our guests and listeners  are the heart and soul of our program.
As you know, WRFG receives NO money from corporations or grants from federal or state agencies. For 46 years, the vast majority of our funding has come from our listeners and individuals who support independent, community radio.
The station’s Summer Fund Drive begins Monday, June 10 and goes through Sunday, June 30.
We hope that you will measure your appreciation of the service the station provides with as many dollars as you can afford.  Every dollar is a “high five” to the many volunteers who produce  WRFG’s unique music and public affairs programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
You can make your pledge online at wrfg.org by clicking on the DONATE button and following the prompts. (and signifying The Labor Forum as the program of choice).
You can also donate on the mobile app and by calling 404.523.8989 anytime (or 4-5 pm on Mondays) and by mail by sending a check to WRFG 89.3 FM, 1083 Austin Ave NE, Atlanta 30307.
The Labor Forum team extends our solidarity to all those in the struggle against exploitation and oppression, for workers’ rights everywhere.
Thank you and we look forward to sharing our airwaves with you again.
The Labor Forum Team,
Dianne Mathiowetz, Dawn O’Neal, Paul Mclennan, Calvin Ivey

Labor Headlines–Monday, June 3, 2019

Last Wednesday, May 29, a national strike brought Argentina to a standstill.

The labor Forum has reported in the past of the broad resistance to austerity measures implemented by the right-wing government of President Mauricio Macri.

Workers are struggling with escalating costs for necessities as well as job cuts in public and private sectors, fees for public services and elimination of subsidies and attacks on labor and civil rights.

The action was called by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the largest trade union in the country.

This was the 6th national strike since Macri’s time in office began in 2015.

On Wednesday, the public transportation system came to a halt as subway services did not run and airports shut down. Sea ports critical to export and import didn’t operate. Banks, schools, government buildings and hospitals were closed. Stores and restaurants were shuttered.

Instead of normal traffic, the avenues and squares were filled with the people whose suffering had reached the breaking point. They marched, chanted and sang, demanding the restoration of jobs and public services, higher wages to counter the rampant inflation and the end to all policies dictated by the IMF.

Presidential elections are scheduled for Oct.

And to add to the many areas of dissatisfaction with the status quo, the day before on May 28, massive demonstrations of women marched in Buenas Aries in support of legislation to legalize abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The proposed law would provide “women and other identities with the ability to gestate” access to legal, safe and publicly funded abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Currently, women can be jailed for terminating a pregnancy. This legislation would decriminalize abortion. A similar measure passed the Argentinian House last year but was defeated in the senate.

Abortion now is only allowed in cases of rape and danger to the woman’s life and then only with the permission of a judge. This requirement often means a lengthy delay or denial of the procedure.
An estimated 500,000 unsafe, illegal abortions are performed annually in Argentina.

Switching to US news, although the similarity of the issues impacting the working class are so similar that the labor slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All” should lead to ongoing displays of international solidarity, I think.

In New York, on May 23, an appellate court has ruled that farmworkers cannot be excluded from a state law that protects workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain without fear of employer retaliation.

Crispin Hernandez, a member of the Workers Center of Central New York had been fired from his job at Mark Dairy in 2016 for organizing his fellow workers after hours.

Agriculture is a big business in New York State and thousands of farmworkers labor long hours, often is unsafe conditions and exceedingly low pay.

The NY legislature is considering legislation that would grant farmworkers the same minimum wages as other hourly workers as well as overtime pay and a day of rest.

Also on May 23, workers at McDonald’s in more than a dozen cities held a national job action to continue the fight for $15 an hour and a union. In addition, they elevated the struggle against sexual abuse and harassment on the job and workplace violence.

These low-wage workers who often make $7.25-10 an hour, working for the world’s most profitable fast food chain but denied full-time work in many cases, regular work schedules and other benefits, have none the less initiated a movement that has energized millions to stand up for their rights.

The McDonald’s stockholders meeting which has always been held in Chicago, the corporate Headquarters, moved to Dallas, Tx this year, perhaps thinking they could avoid the large and noisy demonstrations of recent years.. Undaunted, the workers showed up with banners, signs and chants, making clear that their demands for $15 an hour minimum wage, other benefits, a union contract and no tolerance for sexual abuse and harassment on the job were non-negotiable.

Although Atlanta was not part of the striking cities, on Saturday, June 1, a Workers’ Solidarity Action was held at the Ponce de Leon McDonald’s to show visible support for their struggle.

There are plans to have a solidarity event on the first day of every month with a workers’ struggle. For additional information, the local e-mail is atlworkersolidritynetwork.com.

Dianne

Providing GOOD JOBS through Union & Community Cooperation

LABOR HEADLINES– MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

LABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019
Ford Motor Company has announced that it is cutting 10% of its global white collar jobs.
Some workers have already taken buy-outs and are no longer working. Others will be laid-off starting tomorrow and concluding in August.
Of the expected 7000 workers who will be removed from the payroll, about 2400 are in the US, mostly concentrated in the Dearborn, Michigan area where the Ford headquarters is located.
You might recall last November when GM announced that it would eliminate 14,000 jobs; 8000 globally among white collar, ununionized workers and roughly 5000 assembly-line, union members who worked at the five plants that were shut down.
A considerable number of those workers who were willing and able to move have been resettled at another plant, The highly competitive auto industry is going to great measures to reduce costs, invest in new technology and above all, increase their all important profit margins. The well-being of these thousands of workers whose labor developed and built the vehicles and produced those profits is not a consideration in this economic system of capitalism.
The Labor Forum often mentions the community service that public sector workers do over and above their jobs. In particular, postal workers and public bus drivers in their daily work travel through the same neighborhood and streets.
There are countless stories that sometimes make the news of mail carriers who notice that a senior hasn’t taken their mail out of the mailbox because of a fall or other medical emergency or that something looks odd about someone’s home like an open door or a broken window and because of the vigilance of that letter carrier, help is called. At times, that can be a life-saving call.
Likewise, stories like the bus driver who spotted a small child, barefoot on a cold day, wandering alone down a sidewalk of a busy street can go viral on social media and become widely known. The video seen so many times shows the driver stopping the bus bus and running to scoop up the child and bring them back safely to the warm bus. It turns out the child had slipped out of its home and the parents were unaware that their little one was even missing.
That driver was hailed as a hero.
Unfortunately, the news is not always so good.
On May 18, about 4pm,a Tampa city bus driver, Thomas Dunn, was stabbed to death while on the job. He was a member of ATU local 1593.
According to news reports, the assailant had argued with Dunn before stabbing him and fleeing the bus.
Dunn managed to bring the bus to a safe stop ensuring no harm came to the passengers.
He died from his injuries on the scene.
Dunn had publicly raised his concerns about driver and passenger safety in December of 2018.
Just weeks ago, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) international president, Larry Hanley on April 28, Workers Memorial Day dedicated to the memory of all workers who die on the job or from injuries sustained at work issued a strong statement advocating for stronger protections for workers.
The statement opened with the famous quote from Mary Harris known as Mother Jones. “Pray for the dead and Fight like hell for the living” was her rallying call at many a strike and rally.
According to an AFL-CIO report, 150 workers die EVERY DAY from injuries or illnesses incurred at work.
The ATU statement honored the 55 transit workers who have died over recent years including a Canadian driver in Winnepeg who was stabbed to death by a passenger in Feb of this year.
Hanley noted that countless other drivers have been assaulted in many ways from racial or misogynist slurs to being hit or
punched, often over a fare dispute or a late arrival.
He described the campaign the union is engaged in from coast to coast to secure more protection for drivers, passengers and pedestrians that would require structural changes in the bus as well as operating improvements.
There is also a demand for greater accounting of injuries and violent experiences to drivers and passengers, information necessary to evaluating whether progress is being made.
The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act would legislate these measures nationally if Congress approves the bill and the president signs it
Just days after issuing this strong defense of workers right to a safe work environment, Larry Hanley, one of the most progressive international union presidents and a supporter of The Labor Forum, died at age 62.
We close our headlines by saying, together,
Thomas Dunn, presente!
Larry Hanley, presente!
Dianne

Labor Headlines-Monday, April 22

LABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2019

From France:
The yellow Vest movement took to the streets of France for the 23rd consecutive weekend to continue its demands for economic and political rights for workers, students, pensioners and the poor in general.
Over the last five months pf resistance to the Macron government’s stripping of labor rights, cutting social programs and granting huge financial breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals, thousands have been arrested or injured by the tear gas, stun grenades and physical beatings by police.
Anger has increased by the $1 billion in pledges for the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, so publicly donated by some of France’s elite who have rejected any attempts to use public monies to alleviate poverty.
While the corporate media dismisses the Yellow Vest Movement as unorganized trouble-makers, in fact they have delegated meetings including one that took place Ap. 5-7 with 200 separate, elected delegations from across the country composed of 2 delegates and 2 observers. Also in attendance were volunteers, journalists and others who saw the serious discussion and debate on how to press forward not only with their opposition to this society so filled with inequities and injustice but to develop a real alternative program to the capitalist model that has engendered the misery of the masses.
The Yellow Vest Movement has a message for all working and poor people to learn from, I think.

31,00 workers at the huge grocery chain, Stop and Shop, declared victory in their one week strike yesterday.
The tentative agreement preserves healthcare and retirement benefits, provides wage increases for all employees, spousal insurance and maintains time and a half pay on Sundays for current employees.
You might remember last Monday’s Labor News segment when we reported on the beginning of the strike by United Food and Commercial Workers Union members in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company’s offer had included a tripling of their healthcare co-pay, cuts in pensions, no raises for three years, the exclusion of spouses from health insurance coverage and loss of time and a half pay on Sundays for part time workers.
Strong picket lines at the 240 stores with support from other unions and community groups despite days of rainy and cold weather produced empty stores with no customers during the week before Passover and Easter.
Our congratulations to the strong union women and men who defended the gains of the past and preserved them for the future.

Here in Atlanta, last Thursday, some 400 members of Teamsters local #528 went on strike for 2 days to protest their boss’s unilateral changes in working condition at the SYSCO College Park distribution Center.
The workers; contract expired March 31 and while negotiations continue, a new local management team ended without any notice a long-standing practice that allowed the union to speak as a part of orientation for new employees.
According the Maurice Cobb, president of #528, as quoted in the AJC, “we were told if we mention anything about the union, we’d be escorted off the property.”
Workers understood this to be an Implicit threat that discussions about demands they wanted in the contract or anything about why they were union members would be censored.
SYSCO is a global distributor of food products and supplies to restaurants, health care and educational facilities as well as hotels and other segments of the hospitality industry.
Atlanta customers were told they could come to the warehouse to pick up their orders since their supplies would not be delivered on time. No doubt raising huge problems for many businesses.
The strike although intended to be of short duration nevertheless gave SYSCO a taste of worker power.

Dianne

LABOR HEADLINES– MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2019

ABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, AP. 15, 2019
I HOPE EVERYONE HAS GOTTEN THEIR FEDERAL AND STATE TAX FORMS IN. MIDNIGHT TONIGHT IS THE DEADLINE.
THE TRUMP TAX CUTS, AS YOU WILL FIND OUT, WENT TO LAGELY TO SUPER WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATIONS.
AS HAS BEEN REPORTED BEFORE, MANY MAKING BILLIONS IN PROFIT LAST YEAR NOT ONLY PAID NO FEDERAL TAX BUT ACTUALLY GOT MONEY BACK LIKE AMAZON.
As I search the internet for the labor news largely absent from corporate newspapers, tv and radio, I find more victories among adjunct professors and other college and university workers.
Let’s start with UGA where without any input from the affected workers, the University raised its health insurance premiums 345% in the 2018-19 school year.
Utilizing various forms of protest, the grad students who serve as adjunct professors succeeded in tossing out the clause stripping children from being included and reduced the premium for spouses. Still the cost for married grad students to get family coverage soared for $187 too $589 a month.
The union won inclusion on the groups who determine healthcare costs.
In N. Cm grad students at Duke won a $15 an hour or $31,000 a year stipend to be disbursed over 12 months. Their union had struggled for one year to get this concession.
Also in NC, Elon College adjuncts just voted 2 to 1 to join a union for their campus workers.
With the school year coming to a close, teachers and other school workers continue to be advancing their collective power to make needed changes.
Meanwhile, in New England, Shop and Stop stores are mostly closed or offering very limited service since 31,000 members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) went on strike this past Thursday. The states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are impacted by the strike with 240 stores.
The chain is owned by a Dutch corporation, Aheld Delhaize and reported 2 billion in profits in 2018.
The cashiers, stockers, bakers, deli clerks, butchers and others are striking to prevent a tripling of their healthcare co-pay, cuts in their pensions, no raise for three years, the loss of time and a half on Sundays for part-time workers, less hours and the exclusion of spouses from health insurance coverage.
The picket lines have bee strong and many stores are completely closed or only offering pharmacy and banking service and self-checkout. The Teamsters union is not crossing the picket lines so some 800 warehouse workers and 250 drivers are not replenishing Stop and Shop’s staples and fresh meat, fruit and vegetables.
Other unions such as the Boston school bus drivers Firefighters and others are offering support by walking picketlines, and donating food and water.Most of Stop and Shop’s regular customers are taking their business elsewhere.
Negotiations have resumed and we look forward to a big victory by these determined workers.
Dainne

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019

For today’s Labor Headlines, I am only reporting on one story — no, not the Mueller report — but the announcement that the Missing and Murdered Children’s cases are being reopened.
Taklk about a reign of terror that gripped Atlanta’s poor and working class Black communities from the summer of 1979 to early 1981 as at least 25 African-American children, mostly boys, were killed. Several adults in their 20’s were also murdered during this period for a total of 31 homicides, many along the Memorial Dr corridor and connecting streets.
Wayne Williams, then 23 years old, was convicted in the deaths of two adults in 1981 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Although he was not charged in the children’s murders and no evidence has been admitted in a court proceeding to that effect, police claimed that he was responsible for at least 22 of the killings. Williams has always to this day denied any connection to the children’s cases.  Nevertheless, all of the Fulton County cases were closed and 5 under DeKalb jurisdiction remain officially unsolved.
For the most part, the children’s murders disappeared from the public view although a number of the mothers over the years continued to press for answers.
Forty years have gone by.
On Thursday, March 21, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the evidence from the crime scenes would be retested given that there are now advanced DNA and forensic tests.
According to Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, there are boxes and boxes of materials related to these children’s deaths, a significant portion of which has never been tested. (Reminds me of the thousands of rape kits that went untested by police agencies, leaving the victims of sexual assault with no recourse.)
Several children went missing after going to the corner store for their mom or playing in a park, only for their bodies to be found days and even months later.
It took Atlanta police a while to realize that there was a serial killer targeting Black children.
The fear in Atlanta was palpable. I remember driving along I-20 and seeing a black trash bag on the side of the highway, scared there was another child’s body inside until a gust of wind caused it to blow away.
Every week-end hundreds of people would be involved in search teams, scouring wooded areas and abandoned buildings, looking for the missing children.
The public housing projects, home to some of the victims, responded, particularly Techwood Homes, near the Georgia Tech campus. It has since been torn down and replaced with so-called mixed housing. But at that time Marian Green, the tenants association president and a militant community leader, organized with the help of several Vietnam war vets and others the Bat Patrol, teams of residents and allies who patrolled the neighborhood to keep watch over the children. Some would carry a baseball bat, hence the name.
The police who were under intense criticism for the tepid response to the first several murders of Black children reacted to the Bat patrol with charges of “vigilantism” and “impeding the police investigation.”
I recall vividly an evening when Patrol members were gathered In the Techwood Homes community center and the building was surrounded by police who threatened to arrest anyone who attempted to guard the community.
40 years ago these Black children’s lives did not matter to the power structure of Atlanta. They have always mattered to their families and communities.
We at The Labor Forum demand that their killer or killers be identified and p whatever justice can be found for their families under this biased system be provided.
Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 25

Tune in Monday, March 24 to The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM from 4-5pm and hear from three members of the Iron workers Local Union  #387 about the work they do and how to join their apprenticeship program.

The Labor Forum is glad to collaborate with the Building and Construction Trades Council to bring another skilled trade union to the airwaves of Atlanta’s progressive, community radio on the fourth Monday of each month.Previous programs have featured electricians and operating engineers, all fields in the construction industry that are in need of a new generation of workers and union members.The Labor Forum supports ALL workers’ rights to livable wages, safe working conditions, benefits like health insurance, paid vacations, holidays and sick days and pensions, the right to join a union and negotiate a contract and RESPECT for the work they do.

To contact The Labor Forum, the e-mail is laborforumwrfg@gmail.com

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