July 18, 2012
The one percent is catching fire in the form of an expanding strike by the janitors who clean the buildings of some of the largest corporations in the U.S. Hundreds of janitors in Houston who walked off the job last week are being joined by hundreds more this week as picket lines extend to eight cities across the country.
The janitors – employed by contractors to clean office buildings for companies like Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, and JP Morgan Chase – are striking against unfair labor practices. They are also demanding an end to poverty wages in a city recently named by Forbes as the number one city for millionaires. Read the rest of this entry
June 28, 2012
A new writing job in the labor movement has kept me from writing my own material more frequently both here at Subterranean Dispatches and other publications.
While I hope to produce a new piece in the near future, for now I’d like to feature some outside anaylsis on important developments in the month of June - including inspiring solidarity pickets that spread around the country among Teamster sanitation workers and some insights on Obama’s recent executive order protecting 800,000 undocumented youth from the threat of deportation.
But first my take on healthcare reform…
Stepping Away from Single-Payer
In one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases in recent history and a fever-pitched media event, the country’s highest court closed out the month of June with a decision on the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law. The decision is understood as being hugely historic on both the right and the left. But there was a lot of confusion about the substance of the verdict that the Supreme Court finally handed down on the Affordable Care Act. Read the rest of this entry
May 28, 2012
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
April 21, 2012
Published at CounterPunch.
In an era of defeat and decline for the labor movement, pathbreaking organizing victories are rare. Union activity in these times is more likely to revolve around defensive battles than conquering new territory or reclaiming ground that was lost decades ago.
Earlier this month, a rare election victory by port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles signaled a big step forward in the fight to organize a deregulated industry that is rife with worker abuse.
The 46-to-15 vote by Toll Group drivers in favor of joining the Teamsters was the first of its kind in nearly 30 years. And Toll, an $8.8 billion Australia-based logistics company, fought the workers every step of the way.
But the workers’ historic victory has given new hope to other drivers throughout the industry. Read the rest of this entry
March 29, 2012
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
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