Category Archives: Criminal (In)Justice

Labor Needs a Different Kind of “Ground Game”

November 20, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio, delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed candidates to office.

Labor’s decisive role in reelecting Obama and boosting dozens of other Democrats in key races was acknowledged in the national press. And it was acknowledged by labor. Read the rest of this entry

Unionizing the New Jim Crow?

May 28, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and Counterpunch.

Dozens of people recently gathered outside of a supermax prison in Illinois demanding that the facility be shut down. They held signs that read “I am a mom,” a spin on the iconic “I am a man” signs held by striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968.

But these protesters – many of them mothers of incarcerated men at the prison – were directing the repurposed slogan in part against the very same union that represented those African-American strikers as they marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King more than 40 years ago. Read the rest of this entry

The One Percent Targets D.C. Schools

March 29, 2012

Students and Parents Protest the Demolition of Bruce Monroe Elementary
(Grassroots Media Project, Empower DC)

Published at Socialist Worker.

In 2010, Washington D.C. residents ousted the much-maligned former Mayor Adrian Fenty, in what was largely considered to be a referendum against his notorious union-busting Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Fenty’s replacement, Vincent Gray, opposed Rhee’s reforms while Gray served on the City Council.

But as mayor, Gray has done little to reverse the damage that Rhee inflicted on D.C. schools. In fact, the mayor – along with Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright and the current Chancellor Kaya Henderson – has mostly continued Rhee’s policies and is now poised to make things much worse. Read the rest of this entry

The Meaning of Trayvon Martin

[SubDisp Exclusive]

It took more than two weeks before the national media said a word about it. The police tested for drugs, but not on Zimmerman – on Trayvon’s body. And the only thing the shooter knew about Trayvon was revealed in these words: “I think he’s Black.”

Racism is alive and well. And to think the media was crowing about a “post-racial” America when Obama was elected. No one can honestly doubt that had it been Trayvon who shot and killed Zimmerman, Trayvon would have been arrested immediately – it would’ve been as if the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law didn’t exist.

Despite the daily police abuse and violence committed against Black men across the country, cases like these rarely get any mention in the U.S. mainstream media. But every time they do somehow make headlines, the national conversation shifts to talk about the racism that runs through the criminal justice system in this country – from the cops to the courts to the prisons. Read the rest of this entry

Military Intervention vs. Maritime Union Power

UPDATE: Jan. 24 - Settlement reached between ILWU and EGT. Rank-and-file longshore workers approved the agreement that requires all EGT work to be dispatched from the Local 21 hiring hall. ULP charges and other litigation has been dropped, but damage claims against ILWU totalling $300,000 still stand. And EGT is not required to keep workers on the job if there is no grain to move. While EGT will employ ILWU labor, as part of the agreement its lease with the port has been amended so that EGT is not obligated by the port authority to hire members of any union at the terminal. The pact reopens negotiations for a labor contract and the union must must ask all outside supporters, including Occupy, to call off all picket actions unless collective bargaining talks break down.

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January 21, 2012

Published at Common Dreams.

For the first time in 40 years, the U.S. Armed Forces will be deployed to intervene in a labor dispute, facilitating a scab operation against union dockworkers at the Port of Longview in Washington.

In the long dispute between International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 21 and EGT Development, the international conglomerate is now poised to make its first grain shipment from its new $200 million export terminal, violating its contract with the publicly-owned port and the union’s jurisdiction on the waterfront.

But it may take an army to cross the picket line. Read the rest of this entry

Remembering Pittston: 99 Strikers who Occupied before Occupy

December 15, 2011

Published at Counterpunch, Common Dreams and Socialist Worker.

After a year of revolutions, strikes, and protest occupations, a new era of struggle has shifted the political landscape. Workers and the poor have taken to the streets, occupying public squares and striking across the globe – from Egypt to Greece to cities across the U.S.

In particular, the Occupy movement in the U.S. has helped to mainstream radical critiques of the capitalist system. The movement’s bold tactics have terrified the ruling one percent, which has lashed out violently to protect its power and wealth from the fury of the 99 percent.

When it comes to breaking the rules of the one percent, a natural yet complicated alliance between Occupy and the labor movement offers today’s new struggle against economic inequality historical lessons written by the organized working class. Long before Occupy, the labor movement shaped a tradition of militancy in the United States – a tradition of factory occupations and civil disobedience in the fight for justice and workers power. Read the rest of this entry