Category Archives: class struggle

Occupy Y’all Street

by KurtFF8

The Huffington Post has launched a series about Occupations that are “under-publicized” and has started with a video from Gainesville, Florida.  It demonstrates how the Occupy movement really resonates with “average folks” (whatever that means) and how it is really taking root in places like Gainesville.  The city does have a major university and a history of activism, so perhaps seeing an Occupy movement taking shape there shouldn’t be too surprising.  Hopefully the Huffington Post reporters visit Occupy sites like Roanoke, Virginia next.

The video can be see on the Huffington Post’s website here

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under class struggle, Florida, Gainesville, Occupy Movement, Southern United States, Virginia

Occupy Dallas Calls for General Strike: Nov. 30th

Before the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas,

Whereas the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas stands in support of Occupy Wall Street which started September 17, 2011 at Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. The movement has now spread across the country and is influencing the world. Occupy Dallas is a horizontally organized resistance movement to counteract the unprecedented consolidation of wealth and power in the world today. The Occupy movement does not have a hierarchy or a formalized structure. The Occupy movement represents those that feel disenfranchised from the current socioeconomic system because of policy passed by our political institutions and the actions of those in control of the unprecedented consolidation of wealth;

 

Whereas by consensus we view that for the first time in American history, current generations will not be as prosperous as preceding generations. This denial of the American Dream is at the heart of Occupy Movement.

Whereas by consensus we view that the social system has become tilted against us by:

1.       Unfair treatment and discrimination against individuals based on Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Race, National Origin, Physical Ability or any other factor that minimizes any person’s individual worth

2.       The commoditization of individual privacy

3.       Profit driven news sources with individual agendas

4.       Narrow definitions of what constitutes a family;

Whereas by consensus we view that the Political system has become tilted against us by:

1.       Widespread deregulation that has eliminated common sense regulations that have insured long term prosperity and protection from predatory business practices

2.       A Tax code that is cumbersome and rife with loopholes and language that favors an economic minority at the expense of the majority of wage earners

3.       A Supreme Court decision that has put into place the unprecedented concept of extending first amendment protections to political donations

4.       Jeopardizing the future of social security through investiture and privatization schemes

5.       By reducing funding to our education system our future generations are provided a lesser education that previous generations received because of increased class size and reduced resources

6.       Because of decreasing funding individuals are saddled with higher student loan debt

7.       A political system where even the most perfunctory tasks of government are partisan battles;

Whereas by consensus we view that the Economic system has become tilted against us by:

1.       A general degradation of the employer and employee relationship namely

a.       the practice referred to as “dead peasants”  insurance policies where by companies profit from the death of individuals.

b.      the elimination of traditional pension and retirement arrangements in favor of     401 (k) investment vehicles.

c.       outsourcing of jobs

d.      failing or eliminating paid sick leave

e.      failing or eliminating paid maternity leave

f.        relying on part-time workers rather than investing in full time employees

g.       scheduling work hours to insure that employees cannot obtain offered benefits

h.      failing to provide a livable wage

i.        reducing and eliminating employer based health care coverage

 

2.       Incredible income disparity between management and employees.

3.       Active discouragement and intimidation of unionization of the workforce

4.       Instituting illogical accounting practices

5.       Engaging in unethical business practices that jeopardize the long term financial stability of the country

6.       Viewing financial profit as more important than the individual worth of a people.

Then let it them be resolved by the General Assembly of Occupy Dallas through consensus on Date (___________________) that we call upon all people to engage in a General Strike on November 30th, 2011. We implore all people to:

1.       Refrain from Buying or Selling any goods or services including but not limited to, any petroleum products, consumer goods or bank transactions; starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011.

2.       Refrain from working for a wage starting at 12:01 am to 11:59pm on November 30th, 2011 excluding those individuals that provide emergency and necessary functions including but not limited to Police, Fire and Medical personnel.

3.       Join or form local groups to peacefully protest against the above stated elements.

Please join us in solidarity to make known our grievances and demand substantive change to insure our future.

Leave a comment

Filed under class struggle, Demonstration Announcements, General Strike, Occupy Movement, Solidarity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, strike, Texas, The Left

The economic crisis in the South

From a New York Times article

The once-booming South, which entered the recession with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, is now struggling with some of the highest rates, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Several Southern states — including South Carolina, whose 11.1 percent unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the nation — have higher unemployment rates than they did a year ago. Unemployment in the South is now higher than it is in the Northeast and the Midwest, which include Rust Belt states that were struggling even before the recession.

For decades, the nation’s economic landscape consisted of a prospering Sun Belt and a struggling Rust Belt. Since the recession hit, though, that is no longer the case. Unemployment remains high across much of the country — the national rate is 9.1 percent — but the regions have recovered at different speeds.

Now, though, of the states with the 10 highest unemployment rates, six are in the South. The region, which relied heavily on manufacturing and construction, was hit hard by the downturn.

Economists offer a variety of explanations for the South’s performance. “For a long time we tended to outpace the national average with regard to economic performance, and a lot of that was driven by, for lack of a better word, development and in-migration,” said Michael Chriszt, an assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s research department. “That came to an abrupt halt, and it has not picked up.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Alabama, austerity measures, budget cuts, class struggle, immigration, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, workers

Tensions rise as Latinos feel under siege in America’s deep south

[From a recent Guardian article]

In Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, new laws have been signed that represent the toughest crackdown on illegal immigrants – the vast majority of whom are Hispanics – in America. They give the police sweeping new powers and require them, and employers, to check people’s immigration status. In Alabama, they even make helping illegal immigrants, by giving them a lift in a car or shelter in a home, into a serious crime. For many, the laws echo the deep south’s painful history of segregation, sending out a message to people of a different colour: you are not wanted here.

“That is exactly right,” said Andrew Turner, a lawyer with the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Centre. “We view it within the context of the history of the deep south. It is using the law to push out and marginalise an ethnic minority.”

The new laws’ defenders deny that. They are merely enforcing the law, they say. Their problem is not with immigrants, but with those who came to America illegally. They say the laws are colour-blind and aimed at making sure everyone obeys the same rules and does not cheat the system.

Yet illegal immigrants have become a fundamental part of the American system. Huge swaths of the economy rely on the cheap labour they provide.

 

The article points out an important part of “illegal” immigration that is often referred to in the overall narrative.  That is that undocumented workers have “become a part” of the American system overall.  The mainstream accounts of this often even point to the drive for cheep labor by capital as the source of the “problem” here, yet they continue to allow reactionary rhetoric dominate the discourse and put the blame on those coming here to find exploitative conditions of work.

The only way to fight this framework and empower undocumented workers is to build a movement that fights back.  And this movement is currently underway in much of the South.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Georgia, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, State's rights

Tampa, Orlando, and Feeding the Homeless

by KurtFF8

Tampa has recently joined with Orlando in cracking down on groups that feed the homeless on public property.  According to an article published today on tbo.com, Tampa police have shut down an operation of church group volunteers that have been feeding the homeless in downtown Tampa for 6 years.  This comes after Orlando police have been arresting activists with Food Not Bombs for feeding the homeless in Orlando.  Why is it that the “Sunshine State” has been cracking down on folks who are literally just trying to feed the homeless?  There has been some speculation that in the case of Tampa’s recent actives, it has to do with the upcoming Republican National Convention and an effort by the city to “clean up” before the convention is underway.  While the city denies it is related to the GOP convention, the effort to “clean up” the streets is certainly cited by officials.

There has been a recent upsurge in the population of those without homes, that has come at a time of continued economic crisis.  Florida is home to one of the hardest hit housing markets in the wake of the Great Recession.  It has also ceased to be one of the fastest growing states in the US, which has lead many in power facing an image problem (along with recent attacks on unions and immigrant workers by the state legislature).

There is certainly a problem with painting efforts to arrest and harass those feeding the homeless as “cleaning up” the streets of a given city.  It assumes that homeless populations are themselves a “problem” that need to be “taken care of,” and instead of addressing the real roots of that problem, they assault those who are the victims of economic circumstances.  Similar rhetoric has been used against the communities that recently were hit by major riots in the United Kingdom.

This crackdown on those feeding the homeless comes after years of non-enforcement of these ordinances that as the TBO.com article points out: are difficult to demonstrate laws were broken.  It really comes down to the class nature of law enforcement in places like Florida, where property is considered a “right” (see: the advice by the city to move the feedings to private property) and where human rights and dignity are pushed to the wayside.

Leave a comment

Filed under class struggle, Florida, housing, Southern Strategy, Southern United States

Virginia Ikea workers vote yes for union

[This article was originally posted on Liberation News]

Victory shows power of solidarity

August 1, 2011

Working-class unity and courageous struggle made the difference for Ikea workers in Danville, Va.

Workers at the first U.S. Ikea factory in Danville, Va., voted in favor of union representation on July 24. Winning by a landslide margin of 76 percent, or 221 to 69, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully concluded a three-year struggle at the factory.

Swedwood, the Ikea subsidiary that runs the Virginia plant, forced its workers to endure low pay, cuts to starting pay, firings, unsafe conditions and long hours. African-American workers also faced discrimination, constantly being assigned to the lowest-paying departments and least-desirable shifts. Management also hired the union-busting firm of Jackson Lewis to intimidate workers.

It was through solidarity, one of the most powerful weapons in the working-class arsenal, that this election was won.

“This struggle was global, with support and assistance from every continent by more than 120,000 workers, various social partners, and many other global union federations,” said Bill Street, union organizer and director of the Wood Works Department of IAMAW. (BWI, July 27)

Once certified as the representative of the employees at the Danville factory, the union hopes to resolve these pressing issues. People have already begun expressing their support and gratitude.

“So we can have a voice. So we can all be heard and have another leg we can stand on when we need to,” said worker Coretta Giles, explaining why she supports the union. (Danville Register & Bee, July 27)

It was working-class unity and courageous struggle that secured this first step in the fight for justice at the Swedwood/Ikea factory. The struggle in Danville shows that no matter how bad a situation seems, workers can defend their rights by standing up and fighting back!

Leave a comment

Filed under class struggle, labor movement, labor unions, Leftists in the U.S. South, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Virginia

Workers at Virginia Ikea factory wage union struggle

An article in the May issue of the Monthly Review claimed that the South is “now the center of U.S. political economy.”  The following article serves as an excellent example of how this claim is accurate by highlighting the struggles of union representation and racism that continue in places like Virginia.

-KurtFF8

[This article originally appeared on the Liberation News website]

June 30, 2011

Workers such as these at Ikea’s factory in Danville, Virginia have filed for a union election.

Ikea may be known in Sweden for giving decent pay and benefits to its employees, but workers at the company’s first factory in the United States are feeling left out. Employees at an Ikea subsidiary in Danville, Va., are facing low pay, long hours and even discrimination. Deciding to fight back, the workers have filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board and have chosen the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers as their union.

Taxpayers sacrificed $12 million to lure the giant furniture maker to Danville, but the main attraction seems to be Virginia’s low minimum wage and “right-to-work” laws that make unionization difficult. Starting pay has been cut, and scheduled pay raises have been stopped. African-American employees have faced racial discrimination, leading six to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These workers were assigned to the lowest-paying departments in the plant and forced to work the hated 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

“If we put in for a better job, we wouldn’t get it—it would always go to a white person,” said former employee Jackie Maubin. (LA Times, April 10)

Swedwood, the Ikea subsidiary that runs the Danville plant, has fired many of its employees and replaced them with lower-paid temporary workers who receive no benefits.

In May, under pressure from labor activists, Swedwood cut down on its use of temp workers and Ikea hired an auditing firm to speak to its workers about their conditions. But many were afraid to tell the auditors how they really felt because they were worried about being fired.

The auditors discovered that the company was forcing its employees to work overtime, a policy which stopped after the audit but has recently been restarted. Many workers have said that it is common for management to inform workers on Friday evening that they will have to pull a weekend shift or face punishment.

“It’s the most strict place I have ever worked,” said former plant employee Janis Wilborne. (LA Times, April 10)

The exploitation at the Danville factory has gotten so bad that the International Trade Union Confederation has released a statement saying it would use its resources to ensure the company treats its American workers respectfully.

The IAMAW and the company were originally holding discussions and working towards a cooperative election, but in the past month talks between the two sides fell apart. Swedwood has stated that it would accept the results of a secret ballot election, which is hard to believe given that they hired the union-busting firm of Jackson Lewis to intimidate the workers.

Despite all of the tireless work a company may do to give itself a progressive image, its main goal is to make profits. Profits are made by paying workers less than the full value their labor contributes to the goods or services they produce, which is exactly what Ikea/Swedwood is doing in Virginia.

Leave a comment

Filed under African Americans, class struggle, labor movement, labor unions, Race, racism, Southern United States, State's rights, Virginia, workers