Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why Net Neutrality Is a Working-Class Issue

You might have noticed your browsing experience was interrupted by a call-to-action on Wednesday, July 12. Amazon, Netflix, Etsy, OKCupid and hundreds of other sites covered their loading pages with banners and images asking you to save the internet. Millions of us joined together to protest the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), heeding the call from grassroots activists across all corners of the web.

Led by President Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai, the FCC is working to roll back rules that ensure the free and open flow of information on the internet. The body is attempting to undo the partial classification of the internet as a utility (meaning something every person has the right to have), and to massively expand the rights of Big Cable to lie about speeds and other services in order to make huge profits. These efforts pose a threat to net neutrality, the principle at the foundation of the internet that internet service providers treat all traffic equally. Net neutrality supports the open and free flow of information—without discrimination and without favoring content or services.

As Media Focuses on Russia Collusion, Trump Is Quietly Stacking the Labor Board with Union Busters

It might not get as much press coverage as other Donald Trump administration calamities, but the U.S. president is set to appoint a known union buster to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), push the body to a Republican majority and reverse Obama-era protections that rankle Big Business.

On July 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held hearings on Trump’s two NLRB selections and his deputy labor secretary pick. All three of these men are expected to be confirmed.

William Emanuel, one of Trump’s NLRB appointees, is a management-side attorney and a member of the conservative Federalist Society. He is also a shareholder of Littler Mendelson, an infamous union busting firm that was most recently brought in by Long Island beer distributor Clare Rose to negotiate a contract full of pay cuts.

Jimmy John’s Fired Workers for Making a ‘Disloyal’ Meme. A Court Just Ruled That’s Okay

In a decision emblematic of the new climate of Trumpian governance, a federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled on July 3 that it is acceptable for the boss of a fast-food chain to fire workers for the sin of being “disloyal.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a ruling issued by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a case spawned by a labor organizing drive at the Jimmy John’s fast-food chain. The court held that Miklin Enterprises, the owner of Jimmy John’s franchises in Minneapolis, had the right to fire six pro-union advocates because they demonstrated “disloyalty” by distributing flyers in 2011 that implied the company was selling unsafe food contaminated by employees obliged to work while sick with the flu.

Interview: Puerto Rican Student Strike

For two months, 50,000 students on campuses across Puerto Rico participated in a strike against the U.S.-imposed Fiscal Control Board, which was proposing $500 million in cuts. Mikael Rosa, a member of the student movement at the University of Puerto Rico, shares his experiences. 

Ernie Gotta: What demands pushed students to go out on strike?

Mikael Rosa: Our demands are related to the general situation of our country, and others are specific about the university. We are asking for an audit of the debt, a process of reforms for the university, no increase in our tuition and no budget cuts to the institution.

Access to Decent Homes for Everyone!

Below is the presentation by Marco Dávila to the meeting in defense of public housing, on July 6 in the Glendale neighborhood of South East Minneapolis. For more information about the campaign in the defense of Glendale, visit the webpage: www.defendglendale.weebly.com .

I’m just here to say: It feels good to be on your side. It feels good to be on the side of the most vulnerable. It feels good to be on the side of those who fight against injustice, on the side of immigrants, on the side of refugees and low-income people in general, on the side of those who are oppressed by an inhumane machinery. It feels good to not be on the side of the passive aggressive bullies, such as the executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA)—among many other bullies of his kind.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Workers Win Historic $15 Wage in Minneapolis

Minneapolis firmly established itself as a leader in supporting working families and combating poverty and racism with the City Council’s action Friday to approve a citywide minimum wage of $15 an hour.

The ordinance was the product of years of strikes, protests and organizing by a wide coalition of low-wage workers, unions and community groups.

This is movement work,” Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden said. “And we [the City Council] are one tiny piece of it.”

Workers celebrated in the council chambers and at a news conference after the meeting.

If Ben & Jerry’s Is Progressive, Why Won’t It Protect Its Farmworkers?

In December of 2009, a young farmworker named José Obeth Santiz Cruz was killed on the job in Fairfield, Vermont after his clothes got caught in a mechanized gutter scraper. Cruz’s tragic death led to the creation of Migrant Justice, an organization demanding human rights for migrant farmworkers in the state.

Five years later, Migrant Justice approached Ben & Jerry’s, the popular Vermont-based ice cream company, and invited them to join their ‘Milk with Dignity’ program, a movement of farmworkers and activists that calls on companies to put an end to rampant industry abuses. Despite Ben & Jerry’s progressive reputation and stated commitment to social causes, the company has so far declined to formally sign on to a grassroots initiative led by some of the most exploited workers in the state.

Women & Gender Politics in the Russian Revolution

This is a particularly important moment to be considering the meaning of the Russian Revolution for women, LGBTQI activists, and gender politics. We have seen the protests against the Misogynist in Chief by more than 3 million U.S. women being channeled into clubs to rebuild the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections.

Women eager to fight show up at many follow-up events, only to hear vapid lectures about how to run for office or how to network. In the meantime, Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders lecture the fighters for a $15 minimum wage, telling them last month that even after the Democrats regain control, they must not expect a $15 minimum wage for at least another seven years.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Why the Philando Castile Verdict is a Feminist Issue

Jeronimo Yanez has been found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile at a traffic stop in St. Paul last July. This decision, one of many in which police officers have been acquitted for killing black men, rings out as an example of the failures of a political and judicial system that upholds whiteness and minimizes police accountability.

And Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, know it. “The system continues to fail black people,” she declared in a press conference today, “and it will continue to fail you all.”

Protesters Tell ‘Anti-Sharia’ Marches: ‘Muslims ARE Welcome Here’

On Saturday, June 10, the Islamophobic group ACT (American Congress for Truth) for America held “Marches Against Sharia” in over two dozen cities across the United States. Emboldened by President Donald Trump and his strong anti-Muslim rhetoric, the group that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers one of the top hate groups in the U.S. decided to organize a show of force.

In some places, far-right groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers “guarded” the rallies. Some demonstrators held banners with pro-Trump and anti-immigration slogans.

Grenfell Tower Fire in London: Some Quick Facts

A displaced resident of the now destroyed Grenfell Tower in London told the press after the June 14 pre-dawn fire: “A building like that wouldn’t fly in a rich area. But because everyone here is poor and working class—that’s why it happened.”

For years, residents of the 27-story tower block had complained to local government about safety violations, but they generally received a cold shoulder. The newly elected Labour Party MP for the district, Emma Dent Coad, expressed fury for the way that the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council treated its public housing tenants. She told the Guardian that there was a clear link between the Grenfell tragedy and the council’s determination to redevelop and gentrify the district. “I can’t help thinking that poor quality materials and construction standards may have played a part in this hideous and unforgivable event.”

Cab Drivers Union Says Chicago Taxi Industry Is Nearing Collapse

Ghana-born John Aikins has been a cab driver in Chicago for two decades. About 15 years ago, he decided to go into business for himself by taking out a loan with his wife to purchase a medallion—a city-issued license to operate a taxi—for $70,000. Paying it off within a few years thanks to a steady stream of passengers, they took out loan for a second medallion five years ago, using the first as collateral.

Haiti Erupts in Strikes and Protests

Beginning on May 19, thousands of textile sweatshop workers in Haiti walked off the job or laid down inside their textile assembly plants to protest their starvation wages. The workers are demanding a raise from $4.67 per day to $12.47 per day, a raise not tied to increased production quotas for workers. Many bosses do not pay the minimum wage. Workers are also demanding meal, transportation, and housing subsidies, which consume much of the worker’s miserable income.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Shifting the Blame: The Cover-Up of U.S. War Crimes in Mosul

The scope of the murderous assault by U.S. imperialism on the Iraqi city of Mosul—with its genocide-scale war crimes—was beginning to filter into the mainstream media. And then—just as Trump, the Democratic Party, the Joint-Chiefs of staff, and the U.S. intelligence apparatus were about to be indicted for these war crimes before world public opinion—came the April 4 chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

Responsibility for launching this attack was immediately placed on Bashar al-Assad, though no evidence was provided to back this claim. No matter. The U.S. government seized upon this tragedy to shift the blame from its war crimes in Mosul to the Syrian government for its alleged sarin-gas assault in Khan Sheikhoun.

Standing up for Choice in Duluth!

Saturday, June 10 witnessed dueling events at the Duluth Building for Women. A reactionary group called "Pro-Life Ministries" called a protest called "Words for Life". In response activists from the HOTDISH Militia and other local pro-choice groups decided to hold a counter-event called "Words for Healthcare." The theme of the counter-event, was not only pro-choice, but called for the protection and expansion of healthcare programs.

The anti-choice event consisted of a small handful standing on the corning reading religious texts. The pro-choice event, on the other hand, was a lively protest with a festival like atmosphere. Taking place on the plaza in front of the main entrance to the Building for Women, it had tables with food, postcards for people to send their legislators, side walk chalking, a bubble making machine, music and a picket line with pro-woman/pro-choice signs. About 20 people participated in our event, including people who were drawn in while just walking by.  What a powerful and wonderful response to the anti-choice event!