by Paul Garver
The factory caught fire about 6 p.m. After the fire, they did not allow us to go out,” says Nazma. “They locked the gate. The workers were screaming together.” Nazma is among the survivors of the Tazreen Fashion factory fire in Bangladesh that killed 112 workers in November. Nazma and others describe the unsafe and deadly working conditions at Tazreen—conditions similar to those many Bangladesh garment workers face every day. Solidarity Center staff in Dhaka, Bangladesh, compiled this report.
Five months later, more than 300 garment workers were killed and 2000 injured by the collapse of the Rana Plaza building near Dhaka that housed five garment factories producing for American and European markets. This man-made tragedy only underscores the futility of “corporate social responsibility” initiatives that merely provide fig leafs for global corporations who disdain responsibility for the atrocious conditions under which their profitable goods are produced. (more…)
Filed under: Fair Trade, Global organizing, Labor History, Low wage workers, Organizing, Solidarity, Uncategorized, Video, Women, workplace safety | Tagged: Bangladesh, garment workers, Tazreen Fashion fire | Leave a Comment »
Missouri’s paycheck protection bills would further discourage workers’ participation in the political process
Missouri’s two proposed “paycheck protection” bills would restrict political spending by organized workers while enabling unlimited corporate political spending, a new EPI Policy Center report finds. In The ‘paycheck protection’ racket: Tilting the political playing field toward corporate power and away from working Americans, EPI Research Associate Gordon Lafer explains that though proponents of Missouri’s Senate Bill 29 and House Bill 64 claim the bills would increase workers’ autonomy over how their wages are spent, in actuality, they would silence workers’ voices and continue the long-term effort to restrict the role of collective bargaining in politics.
Neither SB29 nor HB64, dubbed “paycheck protection” by supporters, would provide Missouri employees with any new rights they do not possess under existing law. Both federal and state law protect employees—whether in the private sector or the public—from being forced to pay to support a political cause they oppose. However, SB29 and HB64 would make it more difficult for employees to authorize how their union dues are allocated. SB29 prohibits any amount of union dues being paid through payroll deductions—no matter what the dues are used for—unless each individual employee signs a personal authorization form every year. The bill also prevents employees from authorizing dues on an ongoing basis without having to fill out an annual form and forces them to fill out a second annual form to contribute dues that support their union’s political advocacy. HB64 similarly requires employees to submit annual written authorization before any of their dues may be used for political purposes.
Erie, Pennsylvania – Union members at the General Electric plant in Erie will rally from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, to protest GE’s plans for layoffs and transfer of work out of the Erie plant. The rally will take place at the East Gate of the GE Erie Works, at the corner of Water Street and Main Street in Lawrence Park Township, zip code 16511.
On April 9, GE Transportation announced to United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 506 that it intends to transfer a substantial amount of work done by our members to its newly-built facility in Fort Worth, Texas. According to the work transfer notice provided to UE, GE’s decision may result in the loss of up to 950 jobs by the end of 2013.
According to UE Local 506 President Roger Zaczyk, GE was not truthful when it originally notified its employees and the Erie community in April 2011 that it was building a locomotive facility in Fort Worth, Texas. According to Zaczyk, “GE told us that the Fort Worth facility would be an ‘overflow’ facility and that the new Texas plant would only ‘complement’ the work performed by our members in Lawrence Park. We were repeatedly told that once Fort Worth started production, the Company had enough orders to keep both Erie and the new plant busy.” (more…)
Please join Dissent for a conversation and party to launch Belabored, Dissent’s new labor podcast hosted by Josh Eidelson and Sarah Jaffe.
Thursday, April 18, 7:00 p.m.
Smart Clothes Gallery
154 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
We’ll be surrounded by the revolutionary artwork of Molly Crabapple, a gorgeous exhibit called “Shell Game” based on the financial crisis. There will be wine. There will be labor. There will be good conversation. Sarah and Josh will discuss the next generation of labor journalism.
After decades of get-tough-on-crime policies, the nation’s prisons now house more than 7.1 million Americans, destroying lives and communities, depressing wages, and increasing poverty, especially in already poor and under-serve neighborhoods. At the same time, the expansion of for-profit prisons, and the increasing use of prison labor is weakening the labor movement’s ability to address these problems. What strategies are being developed to stop the corporations and politicians who overwhelmingly reap its benefits? Is organized labor doing enough?
Five hundred dockworkers are facing down the richest man in Hong Kong (and, according to Forbes, eighth-richest in the world) in a strike that has entered its third week and brought transport in the world’s third-busiest port to a virtual halt.
Li Ka-shing, the billionaire behind Hongkong International Terminals (HIT), controls more than 70 percent of Hong Kong’s port container traffic and oversees a vast transnational network of enterprises including the oil and gas giant Husky.
Arrayed against this financial titan often referred to as “Superman” are dockworkers exhausted by 12-hours shifts lacking even toilet breaks, surviving in one of the world’s most expensive cities on wages that haven’t risen in 15 years, and now waging a labor battle that observers are calling pivotal.
The confrontation appears to have tapped a vein of indignation against the “greed economy” and its glaring inequalities, bringing the workers broad public support.
Filed under: Fair Trade, Global organizing, Organizing, Solidarity, Strikes and work action, Uncategorized | Tagged: China, Dockworkers. Hongkong International Terminals, Hong Kong, International Transport Workers Federation | 1 Comment »
by Amy B. Dean
In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled his “fix it first” plan, a $50 billion program for repairing the nation’s roads, highways, bridges and transit systems. Although this is a step in the right direction, the plan should also meet the concerns of the newly emerging transportation-justice movement, about which we have heard nothing from the president so far.
The Obama administration last directed major funds toward infrastructure as a part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The government spent more than $31 billion, with a focus on “shovel-ready” projects.
By contrast, the new fix-it-first plan would spend most of the initial funds on sites that are “most in need of repair,” according to a summary the White House shared with the New York Times. A smaller portion, $10 billion, would go toward a national infrastructure bank. Finally, the administration has vowed to cut red tape and, according to The Hill, to “encourage public-private partnerships, leveraging the initial government funding to increase private sector spending on transportation.”
by Paul Garver
The lively and boisterous rally was organized primarily by SEIU and allied community organizations including Jobs with Justice , MassUniting and MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition).
SEIU Local 615 President Rocio Saenz, herself an immigrant from Mexico and a veteran of SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaigns, led the rally. She spoke eloquently of the integral connection of immigrant rights with union rights and human rights. She also introduced supportive speakers Sen. Elizabeth Warren and new Mass. Congressman Joseph Kennedy III.
Perhaps the most moving speakers were four immigrants of varying ages and countries of origin, one of them herself an Executive Board member of Local 615. who had suffered lengthy separations from their families and loved ones because of arbitrary regulations governing immigration. No immigration reform issue appeared more important and pressing than easing family reunification.
The population of Massachusetts includes about 320,000 residents with green cards, and another estimated 180,000 without legal permission. ICE raids remain a constant threat in many Mass. workplaces, as evidenced by raids such as one in New Bedford. The JFK Federal Building that looms over Fanueil Hall has been the locus of many court-ordered deportations of hard-working residents and family members whose only “crime” was overstaying visas or entering without papers.
From the rally everyone took to the streets to march to the Federal Building to lay carnations as symbols of determination to win immigration reform this time. Since the Federal Building was only a block away, we took an hour’s long detour assisted by a marching band through downtown historic and shopping districts to get there. For this day at least, the onlookers were friendly, the police cooperative and amicable. The atmosphere was hopeful and festive. with numerous chants of Si se puede!
The time has come to reclaim the best American tradition of openness to and inclusion of immigrants.
Fast food workers in New York City are following up their November action with another one-day strike, held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. The November strike involved about 200 workers across the city—a record—and today’s is expected to be larger.”We’ll have double the number of strikers, four or five hundred workers on strike, and double the locations too,” Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, one of the groups organizing the Fast Food Forward campaign, told Sarah Jaffe. “We will have several stores where it will not just be minority strikes like it was last time, we will have the majority of workers at several stores out on strikes, making it hard for them to do business on this day.” That prediction has held true at at least one restaurant:
— @petenychange via Twitter for BlackBerryÂ®