Sunday, September 18, 2016

Striking Twin Cities Nurses Challenge Allina Board

The 16 members of Allina Health’s board of directors have remained mostly above the fray since a contentious round of negotiations with nearly 5,000 union nurses began in February.

But that changed last week, when Allina nurses at five Twin Cities facilities began an open-ended strike and, at the same time, rolled out a campaign to hold their not-for-profit employer’s governing body accountable.

The Minnesota Nurses Association (link is external), which represents striking nurses, is publicly questioning whether Allina’s negotiating team, led by CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler, has provided board members with accurate information, particularly when it comes to the cost of prolonging the work stoppage after the two sides came so close to an agreement in their most recent talks.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reckless Security Firm Guarding Dakota Pipeline Has Dark Past in Palestine

When the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe mobilized thousands to protect their land and water in Cannon Ball, North Dakota from a proposed $3.8 billion crude-oil pipeline, they were met with national guard deployments, police crackdowns, an FBI investigation and private security forces that attacked them with dogs. A key firm hired during this time to provide security for the pipeline company, Dakota Access LLC, is the British multinational G4S—one of the largest private security corporations in the world targeted by a years-long global boycott campaign for profiting from the inhumane treatment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including the torture of children.

G4S announced in March that it plans to halt all of its business with Israel in the next 12 to 24 months, in what was hailed as a significant human rights victory, with international campaigners vowing to hold the company to its word. However, the corporation’s role in protecting the Dakota access pipeline indicates that G4S is profiting from a different colonial context, this time in North Dakota's Indian country.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Standing Up at Standing Rock

Some 1,000 Native American activists from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and across the country faced off against police and security forces protecting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline project. Dozens of people have been arrested and assaulted by police while attempting to stop the project, and many more continue to risk arrest to protest the pipeline.

The Dakota Access pipeline, which is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, is planned to stretch 1,172 miles from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa, before ending in Illinois.

The $3.8 billion project was begun in 2014 and is supposed to be completed by the end of the year. Once finished, the pipeline will carry a daily load of 570,000 barrels of oil extracted through hydraulic fracturing. It will cross 209 rivers, creeks and tributaries. Unless, that is, activists have anything to say about it.

Friday, August 12, 2016


The Northern Worker is on a break while the editor gets a new computer to replace the old one, which has died.  We hope to be back up and running soon.  Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anti-Racist Protesters Confront Police

Aug. 2016 Black lives
Five hundred and seventy one and counting have been killed by U.S. cops this past year, an all-time high in recent decades, according to figures posted in the U.S. edition of the British-based Guardian newspaper.* The majority murdered were Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American. One hundred thirty eight were Black. For the year 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s research put the figure of Blacks murdered by cops and vigilantes at 313, averaging one every 28 hours.

These are curious facts, which need elucidation. In only a handful of these murders was a cop convicted or even charged. “Self defense” was the time-honored defense of the police. They were said to have feared for their lives when “confronted” by Black people who were almost always unarmed.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview with Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action’s Presidential Candidate

We are seeing a renewed interest in socialism today. The campaign of Bernie Sanders, who claims to be a “democratic socialist” to mask his 98-percent Democratic Party-line voting record, has given much publicity to the word “socialist,” and many young Sanders supporters call themselves socialists. The Sanders candidacy is no accident. His “democratic socialist” and anti-establishment-sounding “political revolution” rhetoric is aimed at sheepherding the growing hatred of tens of millions back into the safe channels of capitalist elections and the rule of the one percent.

Due to this evidence of the possibilities available to socialists right now, Socialist Action has decided to run its own presidential candidate, Jeff Mackler, to build support for working-class, independent, socialist politics. I sat down with Jeff Mackler for an interview shortly after Socialist Action had announced his candidacy, to talk about the campaign, key issues in the election, and the increased interest in socialist ideas.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

We Are All Orlando

On June 12, the nation and the world were stunned when a mass shooting took place in Orlando, Fla., at the Pulse, a gay nightclub. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 wounded. Five people remain hospitalized.

This was the deadliest attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. The shooter opened fire and took hostages. After three hours the police stormed the bar, where 300 patrons were trapped. The shooter, Omar Mateen, 29, was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers.

The LGBTQ community and friends are pouring out to attend vigils across the U.S. and the world.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

U.S. & Mexican Workers Call for a Boycott of Driscoll's Strawberries

Driscoll’s may be the U.S.’s most recognizable brand name on strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry cartons. Its conventional and organic berries can be found year-round everywhere from Sam’s Club to Whole Foods. To keep its berries stocked far and wide, the company uses a vast supplier network stretching from Canada to Argentina.

But some of those suppliers are coming under fire for allegedly abusing workers, in the U.S. and Mexico. One Driscoll’s grower has spent weeks embroiled in a major farmworker protest, while a nearly two-year boycott against another grower recently intensified. Workers in both disputes have called for a boycott against the company.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Employers Love Advocating Self-Care

"Every professional training I go to includes a section on burnout and self-care. My thought is always the same: just pay me what I’m worth. Pay me what I’m worth. Pay me what I’m worth. And give me enough paid time off.

That’s it. I don’t need bubble baths and chocolate and massages and silly TV. I need more money. And I need more rest."

Because many people derive some sort of satisfaction out of interpreting others’ words as uncharitably and narrowly as possible, I was immediately inundated with a bunch of condescending remarks about how money isn’t everything and with that attitude you’ll burn out before you know it. So I’ll expand on my spur-of-the-moment rant.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Belly Dance and Cultural Appropriation Question

I am going to be honest here. I love to travel. I love to try new things. Historically, I have collected hobbies like some people collect Dragon Ball Z Action Figures, stamps, and nail polish colors. Wait, I’ve collected those too. I am curious about the world and cultures. I have worn clothing that was inspired by ethnic styles. In the late 1990s, I wore a bindi a few times, as it was the trend then and because I imagined that it made me look like I was a superhero that could blast magical magenta lasers from the gemstone. I drew a comic book wherein I did exactly this. I suck.

So, when I talk about cultural appropriation, it is not because I am riding on some high horse looking down on people. It is because I have a carbon footprint that looks like Godzilla walked by. It is because I want to partake in cultures. It is also because I don’t want to be a terrible white person who stomps on people of color. There is already a lot of stomping in the world.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clinton, Kissinger and the coup in Honduras

In one of the early Democratic Party debates, in order to inflate her credentials as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton threw out an off-the-cuff comment about her relationship with Henry Kissinger: “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better—better than anybody had run it in a long time.” In 2014 when Clinton reviewed Henry Kissinger’s book, “New World Order,” she called him a “friend” whose counsel she “relied on.”

This was all too much even for Bernie Sanders, who had refrained from criticizing any of Clinton’s actions when she was Secretary of State. Sanders stated that Kissinger was “no friend of mine” and launched into describing Secretary of State Kissinger’s nefarious role in the bombing of Cambodia. He did not use the word “war criminal,” but this was the verdict of the International Tribunal at The Hague, and summons for his arrest issued by judges in France and Spain are still in effect.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Union Member Prince Fought for Worker Rights

The world lost a musical icon on April 21. You'll read about his impact as a musician and an entertainer elsewhere, but let's take a second to look at Prince's career-spanning fights on behalf of working people.

For more than 40 years, Prince was a union member, a long-standing member of both the Twin Cities Musicians Local 30-73(link is external) of the American Federation of Musicians and SAG-AFTRA,(link is external) the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Beginning with "Ronnie Talk to Russia" in 1981 on through hits like "Sign o' the Times" and later works like "We March" and "Baltimore," Prince's music often reflected the dreams, struggles, fears and hopes of working people. And he wasn't limited to words; his Baltimore concert in the wake of Freddie Gray's death raised funds to help the city recover.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Twin Cities Fast Food Workers Join National Strike

Striking fast food workers and community supporters rallied outside McDonald’s restaurants in St. Paul and Minneapolis Thursday, joining a nationwide day of action in 320 cities to call for a $15 minimum wage, paid sick time and union rights.

The Twin Cities actions were organized by CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, a community affiliate of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Verizon Workers Go on Strike

Wednesday at 6 a.m., 39,000 Verizon workers walked off their jobs, beginning one of the largest strikes in years.

The company is pushing to offshore more call-center jobs, outsource more line work to low-wage contractors, and force workers to accept assignments away from home for up to two months at a time—all while it's making $1.8 billion in profit a month.

Technicians and call-center employees from Massachusetts to Virginia have been workingwithout a contract since August 1. The Communications Workers (CWA) and Electrical Workers (IBEW) say they’ve offered millions of dollars in health care cost savings, which they believed was a top priority for Verizon—but the company has refused to budge on the unions’ priorities.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wedge becomes first union co-op in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS - Workers at the Wedge voted Tuesday to ratify their first union contract, making the Minneapolis grocer the state’s first unionized co-op.

Wedge Community Co-op workers voted last November to join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, seeking higher wages, an equitable process for dealing with management and a voice in decisions that affect the co-op’s culture and working environment.

In negotiations described by Local 1189 as “fairly smooth,” Wedge workers made real progress on those issues.