Forum: Equality and Jobs for the 99 %


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Equality and Jobs for the 99%:  Economic Justice for All

A public event sponsored by Democratic Socialists of America

 November 11, 2011; 7:00 p.m.  Location: St. Stephen and Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton NW, Washington, D.C.



Eliseo Medina – International Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU

Sarita Gupta – Executive Director, Jobs with Justice

John Nichols – Washington Correspondent, The Nation

Joslyn Williams – President, Metropolitan D.C. Central Labor Council

Maria Svart – National Director, Democratic Socialists of America

DSA, the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, is the largest socialist political organization in the country, with more than 6,000 members and active locals in more 40 U.S. cities and college  campuses. DSA Locals in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Wichita, among others, have taken an active role in the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Freedom Plaza, and other Occupy protests in support of jobs and economic justice.

This forum  is organized in conjunction with the 15th National Convention of Democratic Socialists of America, which is being held at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner November 11-13, 2011. Visit www.dsausa.orgfor more information.

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Koch Brothers, Tea Party, Attacks on Unions, Wisconsin

Scott Walker in 2007 at Marquette University a...

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Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100bn a year. Virtually every American household has some Koch product – from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars. The Koch’s political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests…

This year, Americans for Prosperity spent at least half a million dollars supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to cut social spending and roll back collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. The legislation passed by Walker makes it more difficult for unions, which are major backers of Democratic candidates, to secure funds for political purposes. Americans for Prosperity is also very active in a battle against unions in Ohio, another important 2012 presidential state. Its president, Tim Phillips, says that the organisation is winning in Wisconsin and around the country “because on the policies of economic freedom, we’re right”. He refused to tell People & Power reporter Bob Abeshouse how much the organisation is spending to combat the unions.

The Kochs have also poured millions into think tanks and academia to influence the battle over ideas. According to Kert Davies, the director of research for Greenpeace in the US, the Kochs have spent more than $50m since 1998 on “various front groups and think tanks who … oppose the consensus view that climate change is real, urgent and we have to do something about it”. As operators of oil pipelines and refineries, the Kochs have opposed all efforts to encourage alternative sources of energy by imposing a tax on fossil fuels.

Watch the entire video.

Source: Aljazeera news.

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Trumka: Proposed Super Committee Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid Unacceptable

by Mike Hall

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today reaffirmed that the AFL-CIO opposes any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits or to the federal contribution to Medicaid and he criticized Senate Democrats on the “Super Committee” for proposing—according to news reports—hundreds of billions of cuts.

He says that while Republicans proposed even bigger and more harmful cuts to these essential middle class benefits,

these Super Committee Democrats have put all their concessions on the table up front in the vain hope that the Republicans might reciprocate.  But it doesn’t work that way.  In this political climate, concessions beget more concessions—not a workable compromise.

To join in the fight to opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare and  Medicaid text DEBT to 225568.

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Temple YDS Helps Shows Eric Cantor the Door

by Andrew Porter

Many prominent figures on the Right have condemned the peaceful Occupy Wall Street movement for attacking their friends in the financial sector. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called OWS a “growing mob.”

As the movement grew, Cantor softened his position. He even decided to give a speech about the problems of economic inequality to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. What a nice guy, right?

When students and Occupy Philly participants heard about this speech they leapt into action. Temple YDS students helped to organize a walk out drawing about 500 students. Many of the activists then set off through the city, feeding into a march to the Wharton Business School.

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Occupy Wall Street and America’s Democratic Tradition

by Amy Dean

Amy B. Dean

I was recently talking with some friends who work at the Chicago Board of Trade. Hearing the opinions voiced by Occupy Wall Street protesters, the traders agreed that they’d seen disturbing changes within their industry. While they might have written off criticisms 15 years ago, they’ve since watched the financial sector become more and more based on speculative gambling—with people trying to make profits by moving money around rather than by supporting real economic activity. To a surprising degree, my friends were willing to consent that the system has grown bankrupt. Yet, while they share some of the activists’ criticisms, they don’t like the street protests and are doubtful that the occupations will help our democracy.

I have been sympathetic to their concerns, but I ultimately disagree with their assessment of the protests’ importance. Occupy Wall Street is rooted in a deep tension in American life. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville illuminated how the conflict between equality and liberty is at the center of the American political drama. That we are now having an open and spirited debate about the optimal balance between these two values is a crucial, and welcome, development.

For decades, we have focused on extending liberty in the realm of the marketplace, but this has come at the expense of democratic equality. There was a time when our government approached economic policies with a dual bottom line: Policies were meant to create not only competitiveness, but also social well-being. In recent decades, however, our policy-makers have shifted to pursuing competitiveness as an end in itself, without regard for social benefit. As a result, we now witness a failure to create broadly shared prosperity—a failure that takes the form of glaring inequalities of wealth.

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Libya: The Road Ahead

ITUC Online

Flag of the new Libyan republic

With the formal “declaration of liberation” by Libya’s interim leaders on 22 October, the enormous task of building a democratic and just society, and an economy which delivers decent work and economic security for Libyans and foreign workers alike, can begin.  The interim authorities, and the international community, bear a heavy responsibility to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the people are fully realized, in line with international standards and the rule of law.

The road ahead for Libya must be based on democratic government, respect for the fundamental principles of international law including freedom of association and expression, full equality between men and women and protection from discrimination, and the evolution of civil society, including democratic and representative trade unions.  These principles must underpin the two stage process, announced by the interim authorities, of developing a new Constitution and holding Presidential and Parliamentary elections within 20 months.

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New “Unity Unions” Self-Organize to Confront Workplace Abuses

by Amy Dean

Amy B. Dean

The last five years have been grim and isolating ones for immigrants and working people, right? Overall, this may be the case, but if you talk with organizers at Fuerza Laboral, an independent workers’ center in Rhode Island founded in 2006, you might get a different impression. Despite difficult times, the group has taken on some bold and determined organizing. And they have some important victories to show for their efforts.

“Fuerza’s roots are really and truly the essence of what the labor movement is: workers organizing themselves and getting together with their communities to identify some real injustices that are systemic throughout the country,” says Josie Shagwert, the group’s executive director. “They got together to say, ‘How can we put a stop to this? Because the system is failing us.'”

Not long ago, workers’ centers were seen as service providers, staff-driven organizations where individuals could go to have caseworkers help with their problems. That has changed over the past decade, and the Rhode Island group is part of the transformation. “Fuerza Laboral builds worker power,” the organization’s web site explains. “[We] organize to end exploitation in the workplace. We train workers in their rights, develop new community leaders, and take direct action against injustice to achieve real victories.”

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It’s hard to hate these occupiers

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

By the hoary conventions of American politics, Americans should fear and loathe Occupy Wall Street. The occupiers are vaguely countercultural, counterculturally vague. They are noisy. They are radical. They offer no solutions, though they are prey to the damnedest ideas. (Anti-consumerism! Anti-leaderism!) They are an extra-parliamentary menace, mocking the very possibility of liberal reform. They are anarchists or, worse, McGovernites. Some of them appear genuinely nuts. For all these reasons and a hundred more, real Americans should hate their guts.

And yet, they don’t. Despite the best efforts of trained pundits, working feverishly to convince the public that these are not people you’d want running the republic or dropping by for lunch, Americans seem remarkably unperturbed by the menace of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, the majority supports the protesters. According to a National Journal poll, 59 percent of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street, while 31 percent disagree — a level of support comparable to that found by a Time magazine survey last week. The Post’s Greg Sargent has thoughtfully broken down the data and found that the group that should resent the occupiers most — working-class whites — doesn’t resent them any more than anyone else does. In the National Journal poll, 56 percent of non-college-educated whites back the demonstrators, though the right-wing media continually depict them as trust-fund babies gone wild.

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Labor Joins Occupy Missouri

Hugh Mcvey and Herb Johnson

#OccupySTL - We are the 99 percent, YOU are the 99 percent

What started on Wall Street has spread to nearly 1000 cities and towns in the United States and around the world. This movement is a direct response to the stark income inequality gap between the richest one percent, and the struggling 99 percent of workers. It is time for Wall Street to be held accountable and for politicians to listen to the people who got them elected – and not to the ultra-rich one percent who line their pockets. America wants to work!

Our brothers and sisters were mobilized and energetic on the days of the Occupy marches. Participation was seen by the American Federation of Teachers Local 420, AFGE Local 3354, Missouri National Education Association, SEIU Local 1, Teamsters Local 688 and 682, Communication Workers of America Local 6300, LIUNA (Laborers) Local 110, 660, 840, 42 and 44, Sheet Metal Workers Local 36, UAW Local 2250, 1760, 1887, and 282, UFCW Local 655 and 88, United Steelworkers Local 50, Pipefitters Local 562, Insulators International (AWIU), AFSCME, Bricklayers Local 1, St Louis Building and Construction Trades, Operating Engineers Local 148, Ironworkers 148, IBEW Local 1 and 124, Fire Fighters Association of Missouri, Machinists Union District 9, American Postal Workers Union District DAL, IUAW, among others.

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The One Percent and US

by Leo Casey

Leo Casey

Over the last few weeks, a small team of New York City building inspectors descended upon UFT headquarters, responding to a mysterious 311 call. Our building has been placed under police surveillance, and at times police have been posted as guards at our doors.

The One Percent appears to be a tad bit irritated by the UFT’s support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. We were one of the unions who took the lead in organizing the October 5th rally and march which brought out thousands of New York’s working people to express their solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. UFT President Mulgrew has been at Zuccotti Park a number of times, speaking to the assembly, and was joined by AFT President Weingarten on one occasion. Our headquarters are a few blocks away from Zuccotti, and we have provided space for meetings of different groups supporting OWS. We have also given over a major section of our street level space to storage for OWS, for donations of materials and supplies sent to them and for the stowing of personal belongings on the morning when Bloomberg threatened to “cleanse” Zuccotti. This was the space that the building inspectors suddenly needed to inspect.

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