Hong Kong Unions Strike for Democracy

by Paul Garver

swire
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) – the only independent union in China – has called for workers to strike in support of the democracy movement as mass civil disobedience actions come under heavy police attack. The Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola) union and the HKCTU unions of school teachers and dockers are striking and will be joined by other member unions.

Tensions have been building in Hong Kong since the August 31 government announcement that candidates for the position of Chief Executive would have to be vetted and approved by a pro-business, pro-Beijing committee.

The protests, originally organized by the students’ federation and the Occupy Central coalition, have drawn increasing numbers of supporters. The mainland government has harshly condemned the protestors’ demands and the “illegal” protests.

On September 28, the HKCTU declared “we cannot let the students fight alone”, and called for workers to strike in support of 4 demands: the immediate release of all the arrested, an end to the suppression of peaceful assembly, replacing the “fake universal suffrage” formula with the genuine political reform workers have been demanding, and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying.

The HKCTU has been the backbone of the democracy movement, before and following Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. Their courageous action deserves the support of trade unions everywhere.

Hong Kong poster

The HKCTU website has a petition (http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/online_petition.html?id=6) you can sign on-line to support the Hong Kong unions in their struggle for democracy.

 

 

 

Fred Ross, Cesar Chavez, and Lessons for Ferguson

By Kenneth C. Burt

 

September 24, 2014

 

FredRossThe police stop a young man. An officer shoots, killing him. The officer claims self-defense, that the killing was warranted.

The community, having endured years of unequal treatment at the hands of law enforcement and other municipal agencies, responds in anger. Protests ensue. Hard feelings persist, as do demands for law-enforcement accountability.

Sound familiar? No, this is not the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The young man in question was Augustin Salcido, 17, and the incident occurred in Los Angeles more than six decades earlier. The Internet did not exist at that time and local television audiences were miniscule, so the Civil Rights Congress of Los Angeles produced a pamphlet, Justice for Salcido. In its introduction, author and civil rights advocate Carey McWilliams described the killing as part of a historical pattern of “continued suppression of the Mexican minority.”

Fred Ross, organizer for a new group known as the Community Service Organization (CSO), recognized the all-too-prevalent problem of police brutality—and the familiar, ineffective community response. The pattern practiced by groups such as the Civil Rights Congress included protests that failed to address the underlying powerlessness of the community. Continue reading

Teachers and Their Unions Can Mobilize Voters to Win This Election

Duane Campbell    By Duane Campbell

Recent polling reported upon by Jeff Bryant of the Education Opportunity Network   shows that by concentrating on support for public education and public school funding, Democratic Senate candidates in key swing state races could still win this election. These victories would result in keeping control of the U.S. Senate in Democratic hands.

Without a union and voter mobilization in critical states the election could swing the United States Senate to Republican Party control and continue the march to damaging Republican control of state governors’ offices .

Bryant tracts recent in depth polling to argue that the critical difference is how candidates campaign on issues related to public schools.

According to the polling, “The top testing turnout message overall emphasizes education, specifically Republicans’ efforts to cut programs for students while giving tax cuts to the wealthy. This message is the strongest argument for coming out to vote in all of the states except Colorado (where it ranks second, just behind a message focused on how Republicans are working to turn back the clock on women’s rights).”

Taking a strong stance for “education and public schools” was far and away the message that most survey responders found “very convincing.” Continue reading

The Future of Work

View to Future Work

Review by Daniel Adkins

The new book, Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace, studies an increasingly dynamic culture in the more creative sectors of U.S. industry (film and technology). The guidelines for the “creative industry” are in sharp contrast to how most U.S. industries and the government currently work. Yet the future holds competition with a mercantile China, when all our work requires creativity and sustainability. How we treat each other and work will be changing to meet future national needs. Whether we meet the challenge by a part of the U.S., or by all of us will be important to our success.

As background for the book it is useful to view two trends in the labor process of the last hundred plus years. One is the old work model from 1900s is called “Taylorism or Scientific Management,” and was created by Frederick W. Taylor. This theory is still alive in the Amazon.com. The theory aimed at controlling the physical work of labor by using time and motion studies to script the flow of work. Combined with the assembly line, it influenced the way work was organized for much of the last century. The theory moved the mental aspects of physical labor (or how work is done), to be decided by industrial engineers and management. Some of its excesses were mitigated by labor unions which negotiated health and safety aspects of the labor process. Today Amazon uses Taylorism and computers to drive some employees so severely in un-air-conditioned warehouses that ambulances are needed to protect non-unionized workers’ health. It seems Jeff Bezos’ libertarian individualism works for CEOs’ wealth but not so much for workers’ survivability. Continue reading

Join DSA at the People’s Climate March

DSA at Occupy Wall Street

DSA at Occupy Wall Street

We’re counting down to the People’s Climate March on Sunday September 21!

Please confirm whether you will march with Democratic Socialists of America, meeting no later than 10am on Central Park West between 79th and 80th Streets.

DSAers are gathering in the “We Know Who Is Responsible” section of the march, along with other socialist organizations as well as anti-corporate, peace and justice, and other radical groups.

Why should you march with DSA rather than just going as an individual?

Because you know who is responsible and we need a large group so that our anti-capitalist critique is loud and clear!

We will bring signs with our anti-capitalist climate change slogans for you IF you confirm, once again, that you will march with DSA (RSVP HERE). We don’t want to waste resources making unneeded signs, so please don’t RSVP unless you definitely plan to show up no later than 10am between 79th and 80th on Central Park West.

Note: The police will close admission to each block on Central Park West once they deem it “full.” If the police won’t let you on that block you will be told to move north to an open block on Central Park West. Once you are on Central Park West you may be able to move south and find us, but given the expected size of the march that will be very difficult to do. So if we are to have a good sized group we need everybody to arrive on time!

Subways: note that Museum of Natural History takes up all blocks between 77th and 81st, Columbus Ave to Central Park West. There is a Museum Subway stop on the B and C trains, 81st Street, and also an exit on 79th St. at the museum. The exit to the street here is called “77th St” but it is actually at 79th St. You emerge either on 78th or 80th St. when you go up the ramp, so just look for street signs when you exit.

The People’s Climate March route is about 2 miles long and ends up on 11th Avenue.

What to bring:

Please bring your camera and take photos of us marching and tweet or post to your Facebook page about the march. Remember to mention you are with DSA.

Finally, there are still some out-of-town DSAers in need of housing. If you can provide a bed, a couch or even floor space for a marcher, and have not responded to a previous email on housing please email Alex Caring-Lobel (helloalexcl (at) gmail.com).

If you have questions you can call Frank Llewellyn (718-522-2269).

Maria Svart in national director of Democratic Socialists of America.

Continue reading

Ai-jen Poo National Domestic Workers Alliance wins McArthur Genius Award for 2014.

Ai-Jen Poo

Ai-jen Poo is a labor organizer whose compelling vision of the value of home-based care work is transforming the landscape of working conditions and labor standards for domestic or private-household workers. The estimated 1–2 million domestic workers—housekeepers, nannies, caregivers for the elderly or disabled—in the United States today are excluded from most federal and state labor laws, including collective bargaining; occupational safety and health protections; sick and vacation pay; and protection from discrimination and sexual harassment.

Combining a deep understanding of the complex tangle of human relations around domestic work with keen strategic skills, Poo has created a vibrant, worker-led labor movement and spearheaded successful legislative campaigns at the national and international levels. As lead organizer of the New York City–based Domestic Workers United (2000–2009), she spent countless hours in parks, buses, and other gathering places for domestic workers, creating opportunities for these largely isolated women to share their experiences, guiding mistreated workers to appropriate legal channels, articulating the vital economic role of domestic workers, and developing with workers a framework of legal standards for the industry. In 2010, New York enacted the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights—which entitles workers to overtime pay, one day of rest per week, protection from discrimination, and three days paid leave per year—after a hard-fought seven-year legislative campaign led by Poo and a dedicated group of workers and advocates. The bill also drew support from an unlikely coalition of domestic workers, their employers, and other unions forged by Poo’s ability to leverage common interests across diverse groups. Continue reading

Interview: Naomi Klein Breaks a Taboo–Capitalism and the Environment

Naomi_Klein_Warsaw_Nov.20_2008_Fot_Mariusz_Kubik_12

Naomi Klein (Wikimedia Commons)

The fact that global warming is man-made and poses a grave threat to our future is widely accepted by progressives. Yet, the most commonly proposed solutions emphasize either personal responsibility for a global emergency (buy energy-efficient light bulbs, purchase a Prius), or rely on market-based schemes like cap-and-trade. These responses are not only inadequate, says best-selling author Naomi Klein, but represent a lost opportunity to confront climate change’s root cause: capitalism.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Klein’s much-anticipated new book, is both surprisingly hopeful and deeply personal as she deftly weaves in her story of struggling to conceive her first child while researching the potential collapse of the natural world. In the book, Klein challenges everyone who cares about climate change to strive for a seemingly impossible redistribution of political and economic power. This, she argues, is both necessary and offers the prospect of living in a more just and humane society than the one we know today.

John Tarleton: When it comes to the climate crisis, capitalism is often the elephant in the room that goes unacknowledged. Yet you zero in on it, starting with the title of your book. Why?

Naomi Klein: I put the connection between capitalism and climate change up front because the fact that the life support systems of the planet are being destabilized is telling us that there is something fundamentally wrong with our economic system. What our economy needs to function in a capitalist system is continuous growth and continuous depletion of resources, including finite resources. What our planet needs in order to avoid catastrophic warming and other dangerous tipping points is for humans to contract our use of material resources.

The science of climate change has made this fundamental conflict blindingly obvious. By putting that conflict up front, it breaks a taboo. And sometimes when you break a taboo, there’s sort of a relief in just saying it. And that’s what I’ve found so far: This is something that people know. And it’s giving permission to just name it. It’s a good starting point, so now we can have a real discussion. Continue reading

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