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LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2019

This past Saturday, thousands marched in DC to denounce US attempts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Videos and pictures of the national protest called by the ANSWER Coalition can be found on the internet as well as photos from other cities in the US and other countries. The pictures from South Africa are quite impressive, showing workers, mobilized by COSATU, the South African trade union organization, all wearing red t-shirts, vigorously marching and chanting their support for the Bolivarian Revolution
Meanwhile a US Peace and Solidarity delegation is still in Caracas as of this morning since American Airlines abruptly canceled flights in and out of the country, ostensibly because of dangerous civil unrest. The group  includes at least two people who have been interviewed on this program in the past, Ajamu Baraka of Black Alliance for Peace and Sara Flounders, co-ordinator of the International Action Center.
They have met with community groups, students, and workers; had meetings with government officials including President Maduro; have walked through many neighborhoods of Caracas, speaking with people on the street and videoed open stores, restaurants, schools, clinics, operating transit subways and buses and people going about their daily lives, repudiating the dire images of chaos presented by the US media.
Delegation members have also filmed several of the huge pro-government demonstrations that occur frequently to warn US imperialism to stop threatening their country.
March 30 will see another anti-war, solidarity with Venezuela mobilization in DC when the members of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, meet in DC to celebrates its 70th anniversary of military aggression and intervention in eastern Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc.
Unbelievably, the NATO summit will officially assemble on Ap. 4, the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. A perfect example if the relevance of King’s warnings about the dangers of militarism.
For more information on the activities surrounding the protests against NATO and solidarity with Venezuela, the website is No War on Venezuela.org
10,000 nurses who work at four large NYC hospitals have told management that they will strike on Ap. 2 to win safe staffing ratios.
A press conference by the NY State Nurses Association made this announcement this morning at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
In the almost five months since their contract expired Dec 31, 2018, negotiations have produced no progress on the nurses’ key concerns of working conditions, staffing ratios and health benefits.
Montefiore, Mt. Sinai, NY Presbyterian Columbia and Mt. Sinai West/St. Luke’s are among the most profitable private hospitals in the city yet the joint management team only offered a 3% raise (not even retro active to Dec. 31) but contingent on the hospitals receiving state funds in the upcoming budget.
It is common for nurses t work 12 hour shifts in departments that are chronically understaffed. Resulting in reduced patient care. Nurses suffer from high rates of occupational injuries and even workplace violence.
Nurses at Brooklyn Hospital center are voting this week to join the strike and other hospitals are expected to follow.
Teachers and nurses, two fields of work largely populated by women have used their power to mobilize, grow and inspire the labor movement.
The Labor Forum applauds their bold determination and spirit of fightback as they loudly declare, “Time’s Up on concessions, stagnant wages and benefit cuts as they fight for their students and patients.”

Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 18

This is the last week of the WRFG 89.3FM Spring Pledge Drive and the listeners of The Labor Forum are encouraged to do your part to keep this pro-worker, community radio station on the air.

Please use our secure online donation devices, either at wrfg.org on using your mobile phone app to contribute a one-time or monthly amount to a station that supports YOU.

On Monday’s program, March 18, the Labor Forum team will speak with students from KSUnited to get an update on what is happening with the struggle against a series of racist events on campus. This interview will be from 4:15-4:30

At 4:30, Jacklyn Izrael from the National Domestic Workers Alliance will join us in the studio to talk about the work of the organization to uplift the wages, working conditions and recognition of the valuable work done by housekeepers, nannies, and home care workers.

And a reminder, on the 4th Monday of each month, The Labor Forum learns about the work and apprenticeship programs of one of the nineteen skilled building and construction trades.
On March 25, the Ironworkers Union Local 387 will be featured on The Labor Forum, 4-5 pm at 89.3FM, streamed at wrfg.org and on the WRFG app for mobile devices.

To contact The Labor Forum, laborforumwrfg@gmail.com or see our Facebook page , WRFG Labor Forum.

Thank you for your support.

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 11

On this second week of the 2019 Spring Pledge Drive, The Labor Forum hears from organizers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Tour which is coming to Atlanta today to bring attention to the failure of Wendy’s fast food chain to support the human rights of Florida farm workers.

From 5-6, farm worker families will be joined by students, members of the faith community, and labor and community organizations in a demonstration at the Wendy’s, 660 Boulevard (near Ponce de Leon).

Following the picket, there will be a community dinner at Grace United Methodist Church, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE from 6:30-8:30pm with the CIW members discussing the Fair Food Program and the ongoing struggle to win Wendy’s over to joining it.
This interview, will be from 4:15-4:30pm.

Our guest from 4:30-4:55 is Michael Yates, an economist, labor educator, and associate editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review.

Michael was born in 1946 in a small coal mining town about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His immediate family had a long history working at dangerous, unhealthy jobs in the coal mines. For more than three decades, he has been a labor educator, teaching working people across the United States.
He advocates a socialist view of economics and has written many books including “Why Unions Matter” and his latest, “Can the Working Class Change the World?”

The Labor Forum team will talk with him about his views on what the changes in types of work, particularly the gig economy, mean for union organizing and movement building in the US and around the world.

WRFG 89.3FM is a community, commercial free radio station, supported by our listeners for close to 46 years. YOUR donations allow us to provide our listeners with the widest range of music on any station in Atlanta and beyond as well as public affairs programs like The Labor Forum, committed to bringing the voices, issues and solutions of working people to the airwaves.

PLEASE make a contribution by calling 404.523.8989 anytime or going online at wrfg.org and following the Donation prompts. Checks can be mailed to 1083 Austin Ave NE 30307.

Thank you in advance for helping to keep WRFG on air and the bills paid!

Farmworkers in Florida have organized for living wages and decent working conditions for years under the leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Many growers and grocery store chains and restaurants that use the tomatoes they pick have signed onto the Fair Food Program which has brought significant improvement to the lives of these hardworking men and women.

But not the fast food chain, Wendy’s.

On Monday, March 11, Florida farmworkers will be joined by Atlanta students, members of faith communities, labor and community activists in a demonstration in front of the Wendy’s at 660 Boulevard Ave. NE from 5-6pm.

Following the protest, there will be a Community dinner at Grace United Methodist Church, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave where farmworkers will describe their ongoing fight for human rights as well as the victories they have achieved.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Freedom University Georgia are sponsoring this social justice action.

For additional information, ciw-online.org

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2019

This past Friday, the World Federation of Trade Unions at a conference Istanbul, Turkey issued a strong statement of solidarity with the elected government of Venezuela and its president, Nicolas Maduro.
The WFTU has initiated its own “Hands Off Venezuela” campaign and encouraged its members to mobilize to “stop the imperial attack that spends millions of dollars in favor of anti-union policies throughout the world.”
The WFTU Secretary-General concluded that “in the face of imperialist aggression, we need internationalist solidarity.”
The No War On Venezuela social media platforms have many pictures and reports from the more than 153 solidarity events held on Feb. 23 around the world.  It’s worthwhile to check it out.
Over this past weekend, Oakland education workers declared a victory as they voted to approve agreements after a seven day strike that began on Feb. 21.
Similar to the more than 20 strikes and job actions that have taken place in the last year, rocking the public education system in the US, the Oakland teachers’ demands centered on students’ needs for smaller classroom sizes and other resources, low-pay and privatizing of public schools.
According to the Oakland Education Association, the contracts mandate an 11% pay hike over 4 years with an immediate 3% bonus, a phased in reduction in classroom size, funds for additional counselors, nurses and other support staff, a moratorium on approving charter schools and a 5 month pause in the plan to close 24 schools. A number of teachers were not satisfied with this particular element of the agreement, wary of losing the momentum of the strike to bargain for a real halt to the closures.
Tonight the agenda of the Atlanta School Board includes the proposed Excellent School Project, a system of grading schools to identify those that don’t meet certain standards and thus subject them to a number of remedies including being taken over by a charter organization, closed or merged with another school.
The teachers’ union, American Federation of Teachers and other education associations have declared this to be a public relations stunt without addressing the need for resources such as smaller classroom sizes, safe and fully-equipped buildings, sufficient supplies, books and technology for each student, additional staff such as counselors, nurses,librarians, art and music programs and a pay scale that  enables teachers to live without needing to get a second job or be forced to quit.
Despite recent state budget upgrades, Georgia still provides less funding for K-12 than before the recession more than a decade ago, taking in account inflation.
The Excellent School Project is regarded by many teachers is regarded by many teachers to be a cover for turning more public schools over to charter operators who are privatizing and profiting from public education money.
The Community Comment section of the APS meeting is from 6-8pm at 130 Trinity Av. In downtown Atlanta. To sign up to speak, you have to turn in a form between 5 and 5:50.
Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 4

On  Monday, March 4, The Labor Forum will discuss how working class families are impacted by police shootings. Specifically we will be speaking about the cases of Anthony Hill and Jamarion Robinson, two young Black men in Atlanta whose killings have raised community outrage at the circumstances of their deaths.Us Protecting Us, a coalition led by members of the disability community,  was formed four years ago after  Hill, a veteran suffering from PTSD and other mental illness, was shot by DeKalb County officer, Robert Olsen in the parking lot of his apartment complex. Although Hill was naked, Olsen claimed that he was in fear for his life.

We will hear from Us Protecting Us members about events marking the four year anniversary of Hill’s death, March 9 and mobilizing for the upcoming murder trial of officer Olsen.This interview will be from 4:15-4:30.Monteria Robinson will join the program at 4:30 to talk about the death of her son on Aug. 16, 2016 by a combined force of US Marshals and local police seeking to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. Yet he was shot dozens of times in his girlfriend’s apartment, although offering no resistance.

For  two and a half years, those involved in the shooting have refused to be interviewed by the Fulton County District Attorney’s office. Monteria Robinson will update the Labor Forum audience on what steps are being taken to reveal the truth of what happened to Jamarion Robinson.

The Labor Forum airs every Monday from 4-5 pm on WRFG 89.3FM.The WRFG Spring pledge drive begins March 4 until March 24 and all those who support progressive, independent, community radio are encouraged to make a generous donation to this 45 year old, all volunteer institution. You can call 404.523.8989 any time or go online at wrfg.org or on our mobile app. 1083 Austin Ave NE, Atlanta 30307 is the address for mailing your contribution.

How to Become a Union Operating Engineer

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, FEB 25, 2019

It has been a month since business man and opposition politician, Juan Guaido, on Jan. 23, declared himself president of Venezuela, reportedly at the urging of US VP Mike Pence in a telephone call.

The open hostility of the US to Venezuelan governments began first with the election of Hugo Chavez as president in 1998 and following his death, Nicolas Maduro, pledging his continued support of the tenets of the Bolivarian Revolution. (I might add Maduro was a union bus driver before being elected into office.)

What so enraged the elite of Venezuela and their counterparts in the US was the use of oil profits for reducing poverty for millions of Venezuelans, an independent foreign policy that saw Venezuelan oil sent to low-income families in Northeastern states in the winter and similar arrangements with small Caribbean nations, the establishment of medical, educational and cultural facilities across the country, the advancement of rights for workers, rural communities,women, Afro-Venezuelans and Indigenous groups and grassroots forms of democratic decision-making.

For 20 years, the US has engages in a continuous campaign of open threats and slander, debilitating economic sanctions, seizing millions of dollars of Venezuelan assets held in US banks, military aggression, attempted coups, and phony “humanitarian” aid.

In response to Trump’s naked threat of military intervention, a call made by the International Action Center to make Feb. 23 a day of global solidarity produced a remarkable response.

Dozens and dozens of US cities from NYC to Portland, from Minneapolis to Miami held rallies and demonstrations, demanding US Hands off Venezuela.

Likewise around the world, solidarity actions assembled in front of US embassies and public squares from Jordan to Guinea-Bissau, from Ireland to India, from Russia to Malta, Australia to Switzerland, Canada to Bangladesh, from Argentina and Mexico to England and France.
In many of these countries, labor unions played important roles in opposing US war on Venezuela.

Pictures and information about the Feb. 23 events can be found on social media platforms at No War on Venezuela.

Since it is tax time and maybe some of you are trying to figure out how to pay what you owe, this might interest or enrage you.
In the Sunday business section of the AJC, there is a front page article entitled “Amazon Paid No Tax on $11.2 Billion in Profit.”

Let me remind you what profit is – this is the amount of money after all expenses of running a business are deducted from income –so after Amazon subtracted building construction and maintenance, utilities for all its offices and distribution centers, all supplies and materials, workers wages and benefits, shipping costs, advertising, research, executive salaries and expense accounts for things like luxury hotels, travel, dining costs, limo services, stock options and pensions, it cleared $11.2 billion in profits.

Using a combination of credits, loopholes and rebates enacted by the paid for legislators in Congress, Amazon actually received a rebate of $129 million last year and is likely to get back a hefty rebate this year too.

According to the article, at least 100 profitable corporations paid no federal tax and also got a tax rebate in recent years.

YIKES, enough of corporate thievery!

I close with a victory by workers at a small chain of NYC car washes.
The employees were mostly immigrant workers from the Dominican Republic, Central American and West African countries who worked 12 hour days, often 6 or even 7 days a week, regardless of frigid or searing hot temperatures, using harsh chemicals without gloves, and verbally abused by the boss for taking a few minuted break.
For all this intensely hard labor, they were paid about $50 a day or a little more than $4 a hour. The money that customers left as tips in a box in the office was taken into the manager’s office with no accounting as to where it went.
But seven years ago, two workers spoke to a lawyer, Steven Arenson who despite advice of other lawyers that it was an unwinnable wage theft lawsuit, he doggedly pursued the workers’ claim.

The owner of V.B Car Wash put up every possible obstacle, firing the workers whose names were on the legal papers, missing countless deposition sessions, claiming the workers had never been in his employ, and filing bankruptcy but the workers prevailed with a settlement of $8.5 million to 106 workers for unpaid wages and attorney fees.

Based on years of employment, the determined workers received payments ranging from $200,000 to several thousand and once again
Proved that “When we fight, we win.”

Dianne Matheweitz

WRFG Labor Forum program on Mon, Feb 25

IT IS THE FOURTH MONDAY OF THE MONTH when The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM features a member union of the Building and Construction Trades council to inform our listeners about the opportunities offered by their apprenticeship programs.

This month we are interviewing Mark Templeton and Anthony Nash  with the International Union of Operating Engineers. These are the workers who operate heavy equipment like bulldozers and cranes on construction sites. Mark and Anthony will describe the benefits of belonging to the IUOE and how someone can apply to the apprenticeship program.

This is the kind of information that can change a person’s life so please tune in on Monday, Feb. 25 from 4-5pm on your radio at 89.3FM, on your computer at wrfg.org or on the station app for your mobile device.

For additional information, e-mail laborforumwrfg@gmail.com

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