You are hereOrganizing Locally
By Dave Lindorff
A new study of 1004 union organizing drives conducted by the director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has found that two-third of the companies involved were violating US labor law by holding one-on-one interrogations of workers, by threatening workers about their union support, by firing union organizers or using half a dozen other illegal tactics to defeat unionization campaigns.
Prof. Kate Bronfenbrenner, author of No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition ot Organizing, says that these illegal tactics by employers have been used to drive union representation at American companies down to only 12.4 percent from a level of 22 percent just 30 years ago.
Two Fridays ago on the first day of its release, I went to an early afternoon screening of the film The Soloist. I'd been eager to see it since it focuses on the real life relationship between Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless member of Los Angeles' Skid Row community suffering from debilitating mental illness. In the story, as told in Lopez' columns in the LA Times, in his book, and in the screenplay by Susannah Grant, Lopez first meets middle-aged Nathaniel Ayers in downtown Los Angeles in front of a statue of Beethoven where Ayers is playing a two string violin. In that serendipitous meeting Lopez discovers that as a youth Ayers had been a gifted student at Juilliard, New York's prestigious school for the performing arts. This revelation leads Lopez on a personal mission to rehabilitate the troubled man - a mission Lopez is still on today, four years after their first encounter.
My intense desire to see this film had been predicated, foolishly as I have since come to learn, on the romantic notion that viewers would see The Soloist and be moved to help the homeless. But the film I saw, with its cartoon-like unsympathetic portrayal of the people of Skid Row, that displayed none of their individuality, humanity or humor, would never provoke such action. Instead of showing the hearts of the inhabitants and telling a few of their tales, the film portrayed them as a Fellini-esque monolith - a tainted Gomorrah teeming with decadence and dereliction.
Seven Arrested at Philadelphia Mall Over Military Recruiting Practices | Press Release
300 Veterans, military families, religious leaders and voters rallied, marched and closed the "Army Experience Center" to decry the Army pilot program that entices teens with violent video games
Col. Anne Wright, former State Department official of 16 years shouted, "We demand that our policy isn't militarism but diplomacy."
PHILADELPHIA - May 2 - Several hundred demonstrators from a coalition of 30 national and regional veteran, youth and peace groups, including the Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action, Student Peace Action Network, protested what they claimed were unethical military recruitment of teenagers at Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia.
The protesters rallied at a church, then marched one mile to the Franklin Mills mall where dozens of police blocked them from entering the "Army Experience Center" (AEC). After nearly an hour of chants of "War is no game, shut down the Army Experience Center" and speeches, Bob Smith of the Brandywine Peace Community (a member of United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 1,300 national and local organizations) delivered a criminal complaint (4) to a Captain at the AEC and to a representative of the mall's parent company, The Simon Property Group, Inc. After two police warnings, hundreds of protesters continued to chant and listen to speeches by Col. Wright and others, until the police arrested seven conducting civil disobedience by refusing to leave. Forced out of the mall, people continued to vigil and listen to songs by the Granny Peace Brigade outside the "red" entrance to the mall.
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama was so obviously pleased to have five-term Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announce that he was switching party affiliation and joining the Democratic Party that the president missed an opportunity to make sure that his new BFF in the Senate was also a backer of the issues that Obama ran on in the presidential campaign.
Indeed, while President Obama was quick to offer Sen. Specter his backing and even to offer to help him with fund-raising in his quest for re-election in 2010, he said nothing at all about any quid-pro-quo.
This is not only unfortunate. It is irresponsible.
Sen. Specter, for all his claims to be an independent thinker, has over the years voted at lease 65% of the time with his Republican colleagues in the Senate—a support level for Republican positions that exceeds that of two of his Republican colleagues from Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins.
By Dave Lindorff
Back in 1966 when I was a 17-year old and just finished with my junior year in high school, I spent part of the summer working as a dishwasher and busboy at a couple of restaurants on Cape Cod. It was grueling and low-paid work, and by the time I’d done it for about five weeks, I was ready to give it up.
The road beckoned, and so I contacted a friend, Charlie Vidich, and proposed that we hitch-hike to Alaska, it being the most remote place I could think of that we could get to overland without a passport.
The idea didn’t sit well with our two respective mothers, but we prevailed on them with the help of our fathers, who I think were happy to see us out of the house, and so we packed knapsacks and bedrolls, went out on the road, stuck out our thumbs, and headed north and west.
The milk frother screams as a couple of young soldiers in camouflaged combat uniforms peruse the lit table. All around them are the familiar surroundings of a coffeehouse: posters on the wall, tables and chairs, and shelves stuffed with used books. Yet this café, just across the street from the sprawling Ft. Lewis Army Base in Washington, is not your ordinary coffeehouse. "Support War Resisters: Iraq Veterans Against the War," reads a huge banner on the wall. GI Rights handcards sit next to the cash register and manuals about "getting out" cover the lit table. Social movement history books fill the bookshelves, and a picture on the wall shows a soldier throwing a grenade with a caption that reads, "What am I doing here?" The sign on the front window declares "COFFEE STRONG. Veteran Owned and Operated."
The landmark building that was ground zero for the 1934 San Francisco General Strike is targeted for demolition.
On Tuesday, March 17 at 4:00 pm, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to prevent this from happening. Your participation and support is essential. Please attend this session of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and send a message to Supervisor Chris Daly, in whose district the building is located, asking him to overturn the "Negative Determination" of the Planning Commission and save the ILA Hall at 113 Steuart Street, San Francisco.
From 1933 through 1935, the International Longshoremen's Association (now the ILWU) Local 38-79 Hall was located at 113 Steuart Street. The hall was the nerve center of the month-long 1934 Waterfront Maritime Strike. It was ground zero on Bloody Thursday (July 5, 1934) when police and deputies shot on orders scores of union members.
Brother Howard Sperry was martyred in front of the adjoining building, and Brother Nick Bordoise was killed in the next block. Sperry and Bordoise lay in state in the Hall for four days and the massive funeral procession of the ILA Martyrs on Monday, July 9th led from the Hall to Market Street and across the city.
by Linda Milazzo
CODEPINK Women For Peace will be traveling to Gaza on March 6th. The purpose of their mission is to provide "humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations and exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace and human rights in the region."
In advance of their trip, CODEPINK has created a petition that asks signers to write President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to request that he meet with the women of Gaza. As an American Jew who opposes Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians, I answered CODEPINK's call, signed the petition, and wrote a letter to Mr. Mitchell. The letter that follows is my personal statement to Mr. Mitchell and not the statement of CODEPINK.
By Dave Lindorff
I can’t count how many people have bombarded me with criticisms, usually laced with insults and often obscenities, when I have written articles calling for pressure on Democratic politicians to do the right thing, whether that is impeaching the last president and vice president for war crimes or in the case of our new president, standing and fighting for a people’s bailout, instead of a Wall Street bailout.
The common refrain I hear is that the Democrats and Republicans are the same, and that we need a third party. Another common refrain is that “all you suckers” who voted for Obama are to blame. We should have voted for Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, they say.
Now I have nothing against McKinney and Nader. That ticket would make for a wonderful administration, I agree. But I also have to point out that there is zero chance of these two people being elected in my lifetime (I’m 59 and pretty healthy) or theirs.
by Linda Milazzo
In an effort to establish peaceful diplomacy with the government and people of Iran, and to model for the new Obama administration the power of cooperative good will, three highly regarded American peace makers have ventured to Iran. CODEPINK cofounders, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, along with former Army Colonel and decorated Foreign Service Diplomat Ann Wright, are visiting Iran on visas coordinated by the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, which similarly organized the September 24th meeting in New York City between civilian leaders of the American peace movement and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In that historic citizen diplomacy gathering, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with approximately 120 representatives from American peace and social justice organizations, where over the course of two hours, he took unfiltered questions from the groups. The question from the women of Codepink, who travel extensively on missions of peace, addressed why the organization's founders were repeatedly denied visas to Iran. Ahmadinejad promised to remedy the situation and provide the women their visas. Thanks to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, working in consort with the government of Iran, visas to Iran were issued on Monday to Benjamin, Evans and Wright. Seventy-two hours later, these intrepid citizen diplomats were packed and on their way.
I caught up with Evans yesterday on her stop-over in Frankfurt and asked her to explain the intent of her mission. She replied:
"We're traveling to Iran to strengthen our connections with as many groups as possible in the areas of government, culture, education, women and, of course, peace. We've come to deepen our work as citizen diplomats to model the type of diplomacy we HOPE to see from our new government."
To underscore that voting third party or not voting at all will help elect McCain and Palin, and thereby re-empower the self-righteous ideologues who berated progressives, liberals, democrats, greens, libertarians, etc., for the past 8 years while their leaders were on board, I've asked my fantastic vlogger collaborator, Sharona L. Smith (VoiceOfAmericans2008), to compile a short video of some of the harassment we've endured.
Before you decide NOT to vote for Barack Obama, who I view as our most realistic HOPE to restore some sense of sanity to our rapidly failing world, I implore you to watch Sharona's masterful 4+minute compilation of pro-Obama/pro-McCain confrontations... and more:
Sister Emmanuelle, a nun who lived for years among scavengers in Cairo's slums and who won wide acclaim for defending the rights of the poor and marginalized, died Monday at age 99.
A spokeswoman for her association, Sandrine de Carlo, said the Belgium-born nun died in her sleep at a retirement home in Callian, a town in southeastern France.
by Linda Milazzo
As corporate media reports obsessively on Joe The Plumber, who misrepresented himself to Barack Obama saying he'd be victimized by Obama's tax plan, Americans more in need than Joe are being victimized for REAL everyday - not in hypothetical ways like Joe's imagined fears of paying rich people's taxes even though he isn't rich. But in ways that jeopardize every aspect of their existence due to the collusion between the American government and the financiers it loves.
And while John McCain and Sarah Palin make this self-serving plumber the cause celebre for their campaign, increasing numbers of Americans less fortunate than Joe are losing their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, and more. Yes, while physically imposing Joe 'Wutchagonnadoforme' Wurtzelbacher, alias "Joe The Plumber," bemoans his fabricated tax burden, Americans in greater need than seemingly healthy Joe, are suffering more burdensome tragedies than his phobia of spreading his wealth. Interestingly, what Joe fears the most - the spreading of wealth (be it real or imagined), may one day be his salvation - just as it was on Friday for Jocelyne Voltaire, whose home was saved by the kindness of strangers who spread THEIR wealth to her. These strangers' generosity toward Jocelyne defines the American spirit far better than the vitriol toward SHARING that defines the McCain campaign.
So who is Jocelyne Voltaire, and why is her story more relevant to America's current crisis than that of plumber Joe?
Please check out and forward the video and other coverage of a groundbreaking presentation of ordinary/extraordinary Americans to the L.A. City Council by "Mad-As-Hell Network" (MAHN).
The group's director Peter Thottam, screen actor Judd Nelson, Code Pink organizer Jodie Evans, and other locals make outraged appeals to Council in response to the crisis unfolding before us.
This is where rubber meets road, folks. This is how we take back our country before it's too late. Please try this at home.
Keep an eye out for MAHN, mon, (http://www.madashellnetwork.org), as it appears to be a powerful, all-inclusive organization that's sure to grow. Since Congress, the Federal Gov, and even the presidential candidates are ignoring the people these days, presenting to City Councils and State Gov's all over the country is a great idea!
Sometimes it's worth a day, or half-day, off from work to take control of our own well-being, economically and otherwise.
Perhaps a bailout of some kind was needed, but will the current administration actually do anything for the people, or will another Trillion Dollars be squandered on fat CEO salaries, bonuses, and golden parachutes for the billionaires, while Americans lose their homes and jobs at the same time?
The Smithfield and Wackenhut RICO Suits: Forward into the Past
Global Labor Strategies
(part 2 in a series - read part 1)
In our last post we described how the RICO suits filed by Smithfield Packing and Wackenhut Corporation represent a sharp escalation in the long standing corporate assault on human and labor rights. Not content with stripping workers and their organizations of fundamental labor rights, big corporations are now going after basic constitutional rights. We argued that these suits threaten the civil rights not just of unions but of everyone.
Yom Kippur, 5769
New York City
Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Congregation Agudath Sholom
Rabbi Barry Freundel
Kesher Israel Congregation
Dear Rabbis Cohen and Freundel,
Please forgive the presumption -- not only don't we know one another, I'm the kind of "cultural Jew" who makes even Reform Rabbis weep.
But as far as I can tell, now that Joe Lieberman and his family have moved from New Haven to Stamford, you, Rabbi Cohen, are his primary Rabbi in Connecticut. And you, Rabbi Freundel, lead the congregation where Sen. Lieberman worships in Washington.
Sen. McCain loves Joe Lieberman -- he wanted him as his running mate, if press reports are accurate.
Sen. McCain listens to Joe Lieberman.
Sen. Lieberman is, if you will, John McCain's rabbi.
On Saturday I went to Carson, California, to attend a rally for Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. For those who aren't familiar with the city of Carson, it's approximately 19 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. In the 2004 Presidential election, Carson, which had a population of just under 90,000, donated three times as much money to George W. Bush than to John Kerry. This year, for the 2008 elections, residents of Carson have given slightly more to Republican candidates than to Democrats by a slim margin of $3,000. Thus the gap between Republicans and Democrats in Carson has narrowed.
The Palin rally, which you may have seen on youtube and TV, was held at the Home Depot ADT Tennis Stadium. Because of the surprising popularity of Mrs. Palin and easy access to free tickets, all 20,000 stadium seats, plus an overflow area were filled. I got a handful of tickets, recruited my friend Rebecca Tobias, Program Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, and trekked on out to Carson. We scored ground level seats in the stadium from which I watched, listened and steadily bristled. When I could no longer stomach Palin's lies and distortions, I jumped up, and at the top of my lungs, repeatedly called Palin a L-I-A-R! I was shouted down in Palinese by her 20,000 admirers, then escorted out by security. I took extra time as I climbed the steps from the ground up to the top just to keep her admirers shouting. The few minute reprieve from Palin's lies was to me a righteous diversion.
When I neared the top of the steps I turned back to Mrs. Palin and continued to call her a L-I-A-R, until I was ushered out the door. Thankfully my escorts showed me the utmost respect for they privately shared my feelings. They're working folk. They see through Mrs. Palin. But that's just the start of this story...
Nine years after the World Trade Organization came to Seattle, a new feature film sets out to dramatize the historic protests that the institution's meetings provoked. The issue that Battle in Seattle filmmaker Stuart Townsend seeks to raise, as he recently stated, is "[what it takes] to create real and meaningful change."
Smithfield Packing v. The Constitution | Global Labor Strategies (first of a series)
A Federal court in Virginia ruled on January 29th that Smithfield Packing could proceed with a civil lawsuit filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against the United Food and Commercial Workers, Jobs With Justice, and others. At issue is a corporate campaign spearheaded by the union to support its organizing drive at Smithfield’s Tar Heel North Carolina pork processing plant. The action if successful could push the US labor movement into a legal black hole in which it could vanish.
Coordinator Trip Report - Scandinavia
by Bruce Gagnon | Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
This report covers the period of September 18-29 as I traveled to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway for a speaking tour. The trip was organized by GN board member Agneta Norberg and Barbara Bradefors from Sweden who belong to Women for Peace.
My first stop was in Malmo, Sweden for the European Social Forum where I spoke at an event on the militarization of space. Also included were GN chairperson Dave Webb (CND, England), Jan Tamas (No to Bases Campaign, Czech Republic) as well as Agneta who highlighted the growing efforts of Scandinavian aerospace corporations to join the space militarization program. Just prior to my leaving home, I did two email interviews with peace publications that produced full-page spreads that were distributed in Malmo.
Hundreds of workshops were spread out all over Malmo during the Social Forum. The only other one I was able to attend was an excellent forum on the growing dangers of an expanding NATO which has become a global offensive military alliance under the control of the U.S. and trying to substitute itself for the United Nations. The U.S. is now pressuring NATO members to increase their military spending and to buy their
Texas scientists have finally stopped agonizing over creationism and gotten busy organizing.
Today, a group of university professors announced in a press conference the 21st Century Science Coalition, a vehicle to promote science education in Texas and push back against the retrograde agenda at the State Board of Education. It’s about time. The obscure but powerful board is a known hotbed of pseudo-scientific activity. At least six of its 15 members, including Chairman Don McLeroy, are creationists who have done little to hide their contempt for evolutionary biology. With an overhaul of the state’s science curriculum underway, this religious right faction has an opportunity to leave its fingerprints all over biology textbooks.
Atlanta GA: Say "No" to Paulson's Plunder at "Cash for Trash" Sale at Fed Reserve, Tomorrow, 6 PM - 7:30 PM
Say "No" to Paulson's Plunder at "Cash for Trash" sale at Fed Reserve
October 02, 2008
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
JOIN IN A LIVELY "TRASH FOR CASH" sale in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta help us say "NO BUSH BAILOUT.""
Date: Thursday, October 2, 2008.
Location: Federal Reserve Bank, 1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA, 30309).
Time : 6 pm - 7:30 pm.
If you want, bring some garbage / plastic bags with something in them so they look sorta full. We will hand our Wall St. "trash" (junk bonds / hedge funds / derivatives) to a "Federal Reserve officer" (one of us in a suit). Bring your own slogans on signs or here are some suggestions, "Honk if you want trash for cash," "Say NO to Paulson's Plunder," "Bailout Main St, not Wall St." "We don't want Wall Street's trash." Press may attend.
Psst - pass the word! Let's show these folks emough is enough!
Fed Reserve Bank, 1000 P'tree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
COOKS NOT TERRORISTS
A global day of action for the end of the FBI's campaign of infiltration and disruption of the Food Not Bombs movement in the U.S.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2008
The Anniversary of the Patriot Act
A global day of action for the end of the FBI's campaign of infiltration and disruption of the Food Not Bombs movement in the U.S.
Free the our political prisoners
Drop the Patriot Act Charges on the Minneapolis 8
Betty Gardner of bettybarnesgardner.com wrote:
I have written a political, marionette, parody play for the theatre. I am hoping to network with people who might find my project worthwhile and perhaps garner assistance in producing the play or manning the puppets. Can you pass this info on? If anyone in the Democrat group is interested in assisting me either as a representative of your group or as an independent individual they can contact me. This play is short, and could be offered as a fundraiser for the presidential campaign for Barack Obama.
The title of the play comes from a small book that I have written and self published: The President’s New Clothe, based on Hans Christen Anderson’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The story begins with people sitting around an office table. The leader explaining that the war that they started based on “fashions of mass destruction,” is not going well, and the public wants to see the fashions. There are no fashions. To maintain power they must come up with a plan to pacify the public discontent. They decide to find someone high up in the public eye they can convince the non-existent clothes are a reality. They conspire that only smart, patriotic people can see them. If you can’t see them, you are incompetent or not-patriotic. They must persuade someone who is gullible, egotistic and not smart enough to figure it out to parade in them: Enter, George.
D.C. couple, New Orleans priest honored for their work for peace
Pax Christi USA names Mary Joan and Jerry Park, 2008 Teachers of Peace; Fr. Vien Nguyen, recipient of the Eileen Egan Peacemaker Award
At an awards ceremony which included social justice advocates from across the United States, Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, recognized the work of Mary Joan and Jerry Park by naming them the recipients of this year’s Teacher of Peace Award. The Parks were honored for their long commitment to teaching peace and nonviolence to children through their Washington, D.C.-based organization Little Friends for Peace. Past Teacher of Peace Award recipients include Dorothy Day, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J, and Msgr. Ray East, who was on hand to formally present the award to the Parks.
“Jerry and I are humbled, honored, grateful and energized to receive this award,” stated Mary Joan Park. “We are all peacemakers, peace-builders, peace partners, and we are all on this journey to build a culture of peace. Tonight is a great night to honor and recognize all teachers of peace, of making this a career, validating this mission of peacemaking.”
NEW YORK - The George W. Bush administration's plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rescue giant Wall Street firms from their current financial meltdown has unleashed a spontaneous wave of protests across the United States.
Protesters said they want the Congress to protect millions of U.S. citizens who are on the verge of losing their homes due to bad lending practices of creditors instead of doling out public money to big investment firms responsible for ruining the economy.
"People are up in arms about this," Matt Holland of the TrueMajority.org, an advocacy group comprising 700,000 members that played a major role in organising the protests, told IPS. "Our members are livid. They're hitting the streets."
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmental crusader Al Gore urged young people on Wednesday to engage in civil disobedience to stop the construction of coal plants without the ability to store carbon.
The former U.S. vice president, whose climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won an Academy Award, told a philanthropic meeting in New York City that "the world has lost ground to the climate crisis."