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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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I came to the station today, I watched a video from The Grayzone, an independent news source that is reporting from Venezuela.
Yesterday, Feb. 10, millions of Venezuelans lined up at locations across the country to sign a statement strongly rejecting foreign intervention in their country.
The video was filmed in Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas where the line of working class men, women, youth and seniors stretched around the park.
The video gives voice to the adamant statements of dozens of people, all proudly demanding no US intervention and declaring that their president, Nicolas Maduro, had been elected with their votes, emphatically denying the legitimacy of Juan Guaido’s self-declaration to assume the office.
Just as the corporate media deliberately fails to show the immense and frequent demonstrations in support of the Bolivarian Revolution, there was nothing on the for profit mass media on this expression of popular opinion.
Nor do these “professional” journalists dare mention the sustained economic, political and diplomatic attacks the US launched on the progressive government of Venezuela since the the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 and the beginning of social programs in housing, healthcare and education that reduced the extreme poverty suffered by so many people for generations.
Recognizing the threat of military intervention by the US, the International Action Center based in NYC issued a call for international solidarity with Venezuela on Sat. Feb. 23, the one month anniversary of Guaido’s declaration, made on the urging of VP Mike Pence.
Demonstrations, public meetings, film showings and more are being planned here in Atlanta and across the globe on that date.
WRFG will host a 2 hour special on Monday. Feb. 18 from 6-8 and other programs will also be featuring news and analysis including Beyond Borders which airs on Saturdays from 5-7.
For further information, there is a website, Facebook page and other social media platforms with the name No War On Venezuela.
Today it is Go Red for Ed in Denver as public school teachers went on strike, the first time in 25 years.
Last minute negotiations with the school board held over the week-end failed over the issue of a pay raise for teachers.
Members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association walked picket lines outside their schools where the Education Board claimed substitutes and administrators would keep the 207 schools open and educate some 90,000 students.
At high schools in particular hundreds of students joined their teachers on the picket lines. Parents of elementary school students kept them at home in large numbers. And the Board preemptively closed down the preschool program since it had no qualified staff to care for young children.
The negotiations over the contract have been going on for 15 months with little improvement made on teacher pay, classroom size, restricting charter schools and providing more student support staff.
The uprising of educators continues in Oakland, Ca. where teachers authorized a strike if an agreement that includes better pay, smaller classrooms and more student support isn’t reached by Feb. 15.
Oakland teachers have also been working with out a contract for a year and a half.
And back in W. Va where teachers and staff shut down the entire public school system across the state in an unprecedented rank and file initiated worker action, right-wing legislators are attempting to not only rollback the gains that were won in 2018 but to further attack existing rights such as seniority. This Omnibus bill would go further and criminalize participants in any future walk-out. The teachers say they will strike if it is not defeated in the W. Va. House.
The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM brings a message of appreciation for the community support and an update on the possibility of another government shutdown impacting federal workers by an AFGE member and TSA worker. This discussion will occur from 4:15-4:30.
Washington DC will be the scene of a demonstration Tuesday, Feb. 12 by immigrants impacted by the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for people from several countries.
At 4:30, our guests will be Albert Saint-John, an organizer with Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and Chris Bauman, a SEIU staff member. Both organizations are involved in mobilizing for the DC protest.
Those covered by TPS can legally work in the US and many are union members and have US-born children.Families and communities across the country face devastating separations and uncertainty if forced to return to their home countries where conditions are dangerous.
The Labor Forum airs every Monday from 4-5pm on WRFG 89.3FM. It is streamed at wrfg.org and can be heard on a mobile app.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Beginning Monday, Jan. 28, The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM launches a series of programs featuring member unions of the Building and Construction Trades Council.
Each show will provide information about the work, job opportunities and apprenticeship programs offered here in Atlanta. Our guests will provide first-hand examples of the benefits of being a union worker in a skilled trade .
This series will air the 4th Monday of each month from 4-5pm on WRFG 89.3FM. streamed at wrfg.org and available on the station’s mobile app..
Kenny Mullins of IBEW #613, along with other members, will provide valuable information to WRFG’s diverse listening audience about their work lives. Of particular importance will be the details of how someone can enter the apprenticeship program and become a union electrician .
Each program will include an apprentice in that union’s training program to talk about what this opportunity means to them and their family.
The Labor Forum and WRFG 89.3FM are pleased to bring this valuable information to the community.
MONDAY, JAN. 21, 2019
Today is the federal holiday marking the birthday of human and civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was born, educated and lived here in Atlanta.
As always, on days when many workers have time off, The Labor Forum recognizes all those who continue to “do the work” as our theme song that opens the program calls out.
That includes MARTA employees and all those who work in transportation, hospital and health care workers, retail, hotel, restaurant and entertainment workers, and public safety workers who do their jobs making it possible for other workers to have a day off to enjoy.
A special solidarity greeting to all federal employees forced to work without pay or furloughed indefinitely as the government shutdown continues into its second month.
I have just two headlines to bring to you today. One I am pretty sure you did not see at all on corporate media and another that has gotten some coverage but maybe not the way I will present it.
First, on Jan. 8-9, some 200 million workers went on strike in India bringing the country to a standstill. Let me repeat that number again, not 2 million or 20 million but 200 million workers in one country went on strike.It is being called the largest strike in world history but I dare say, working people in this country haven’t any idea it happened.
And what was the issue – the ongoing attacks on the labor rights and living standards of India’s huge population of workers and poor people. But in particular, the passage of another piece of anti-labor legislation by the right-wing government of Narendra Modi on Jan. 2.
Public sector workers from railways, banks, education, health and social services and power stations along with private sector workers in mines, industrial plants, truck drivers, construction workers, street vendors, rickshaw workers, domestic and home-based workers and agricultural workers all stopped doing their jobs and marched in massive demonstrations throughout the country. Highways and railroad tracks were blocked. Schools, office buildings, shops and stores were closed.
Farmers and students joined. Both have been engaged in multi-year struggles against government policies which have favored the wealthy and increased poverty and cuts in social services. Unemployment, stagnant or reduced wages, escalating prices, elimination of subsidies and social programs have led to climbing suicide rates and racial,religious and caste tensions.
Despite the government’s active role on creating division, the Indian working class has provided all of us with a powerful example of unity and power unleashed.
This is a story I have seen on major media but not in the context I am offering.
As you may know I worked on General Motors assembly lines for 30 years and so have some experience about the difference between what the corporation claims for its culture of fairness and cooperation and how it benefits from tactics of division and discrimination.
So , recent revelations of blatant racial hostility in a Toledo, Ohio , GM Powertrain plant became public with the filing of a lawsuit by 9 current and former employees.
Everything from nooses placed near Black workers’ work site to the use of the N-word and being told to “go back to Africa” and more are described in the filing.
Many of the incidents were reported by two Black managers to higherups and dismissed or made light of, telling them to”deal with it.’
Swastikas and racial epiphets scrawled on bathrooms walls as well as verbal death threats and insinuations of violence went unaddressed according to the lawsuit.
Prior to the legal filing, the complaints were registered with the Ohio Civil Rights commission who found contrary to GM’s public statements that the auto giant “did allow a racially hostile environment.”
As the Labor Forum reported some months ago, GM has announced the closing of five plants in Michigan, Ohio, Canada and Maryland which will have devastating impacts on thousands of workers and their families. In addition, there is a reverberating effect in the communities where they live and shop. Racial animus hinders a united, strong response to any attack on working people.
The United Auto Workers union, in particular, must combat any such ugly, vicious racism anywhere it is found. Building solidarity is needed now in this period of constant assault on working and poor people more than ever.