Organizers Come Together To ‘Move from Checkers to Chess’

by  Sarah Jaffe


Members of National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance hold an action  in General Electric’s Washington, D.C. headquarters calling for the company to pay its taxes. (Sarah Jaffe)

Members of National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance hold an action in General Electric’s Washington, D.C. headquarters calling for the company to pay its taxes. (Sarah Jaffe)

(May 1) With its glittering chandeliers in the lobby and $200-per-night room rate, the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C. seems like an incongruous place for a convention of working-class people talking about taking power back from the 1 percent.

As Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), points out when she takes the stage to address a crowd full of organizers from around the country, the people making decisions about the economy don’t look like the ones in this room.

“But,” she declares over raucous cheers, “They should.”

About 1000 activists have congregated for the joint convention between NDWA and the community-organizing network National People’s Action (NPA). NPA has been holding such gatherings, in which members from its affiliate groups around the nation come together to share stories, strategize, and raise a little hell in the streets of D.C., for 41 years. This year, it’s joined with NDWA in an attempt to build something bigger that can work for long-term success—what NPA director George Goehl calls in an interview “moving from checkers to chess.”

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Remembering Martin Luther King: Rallying for the Robin Hood Tax

by Bill Barclay

Bill Barclay speaking at Chicago RHT rally

Bill Barclay speaking at Chicago RHT rally

April 4th was the Fiftieth anniversary of an event that we don’t like to remember: the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. But, it also offers the chance to honor and carry forward MLK’s thinking and goals, particularly the concerns with poverty and inequality that he articulated with increasing intensity in the last years of his life.

So, on April 4th there was a national mobilization around the Robin Hood Tax (RHT), the proposal for a very small tax on financial transactions in stocks, currencies, debt and derivatives, futures and options based on these financial claims. The RHT has two goals: raising a large amount of money to reconstruct the U.S. political economy in a way that serves most of the population and at, the same time, restricting or even eliminating some of the most destructive aspects of finance and financial activities by throwing a small amount of sand into the gears of always increasing and always going faster treading volumes.

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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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Morgan Chase Goes Medieval

Bankster USA

For his annual shareholders meeting, Jamie Dimon head of JP Morgan Chase, fled New York for his frontier stronghold – a corporate office in Ohio conveniently surrounded by a moat. Confronted with protesters seeking mortgage modifications inside the shareholders meeting, Dimon promised them assistance. Outside the meeting, his palace guard was not amused as the serfs stormed the castle.

A jolly band of men (and women) quickly built a wooden, pontoon bridge across the moat and ferried dozens of pranksters in green vestments over the dark water. They were greeted by Sherriff deputies and police dogs who shouted that they were under arrest. Fortunately, no holes were left in any green tights.

“It was unbelievable. They were in a fortress surrounded by police. They have a moat. They have completely separated themselves from their country, the American people and the reality of our lives,” said Liz Ryan Murray of the housing group National People’s Action (NPA).

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