Tag Archives: workers

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

We are excited to repost a call that was recently put out by militant Bay Area workers for an action on this year’s May Day.  After decades of sectoralism and business unionist strategies taken up by unions everywhere, it is important that we support militant rank-and-file movements that look to challenge the restrictive bourgeois laws and employer strategies that pit workers against each other.  See you out on May  Day!

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

United Rank & File Construction Workers Take A Stand on May Day

Join us as we return to a proud history of direct action to fight to protect our own livelihoods, to raise up and organize all workers and against laws that restrict us.

On May 1, International Workers Day, we will be gathering at 16th and Mission at 5am to protest the 2 Gate System. This is a system that contractors and developers have created in order to impose the restrictive, discriminatory and repressive anti-worker laws of the Taft-Hartley act on construction unions.

San Francisco appears, on the surface, to be recovering from the economic disasters of recent years. There are cranes all over town and buildings are popping up everywhere. The people building these buildings are unable to afford the luxuries that many supposedly offer. We are also growing further and further from the chance of ever living a reasonable distance from the city in which we work. Most of us have long been unable to afford to live within the limits of the city we built. We see new wealth coming into SF all the time and yet we have gotten modest or no raises.

Many of us are lucky to have collective bargaining. We look forward to contracts coming up during this building boom. It seems the time has finally come for us to get the raises that we have lacked in the last few years while the cost of living has skyrocketed. We are looking forward to the opportunity to dig out of the financial holes we are in after years of unemployment, losing insurance for our families, losing houses and having to raid our retirement accounts to make ends meet. Now, contractors and developers need us badly and will have to give us a decent raise next contract, right? Maybe not…

Historically in San Francisco a vast majority of building has been done by workers who together, through their unions, bargain with all of their employers for a fair and equal wage rate for all of the labor done by their craft. This is still the case but we see other employers winning work contracts in SF at an alarming rate. Building has increased suddenly in San Francisco but it has disproportionately increased for the non-signatory contractors. There is an unprecedented amount of building being done by contractors who do not agree to the standards of pay and conditions that workers have fought for.

This gives signatory employers (those who employ workers under collective agreements) a powerful bargaining chip as we go into negotiations during this boom. They will argue that they need to stay competitive or the “union contractors” (and therefore workers) will all lose jobs. “Staying competitive” they argue, means that they cannot give raises, may even need some back, in order to compete. Suddenly, the snowball that has killed all the reasonably livable jobs across the country is being rolled around in San Francisco, the last bastion of hope for a decent living for those of us with blue collars.

Ideally, to stop this snowball, we would organize all workers who are not yet in our organizations. We would use the power of withholding all labor on a jobsite until all employers were forced to enter the same collectively bargained agreement. We would like to make it perfectly clear that we see non-union workers as our sisters and brothers in the trade. We want them to have the same wages and conditions that we have. We do not want to compete with them but rather join them into our ranks so that we might work together to raise the living standards of all working people. We want all workers to rise together, as opposed to the arguments made by employers about being “competitive”.

Historically, organized labor has caused economic hardships for entities that take advantage of an unorganized labor force. They did this by standing in solidarity with any group of workers in dispute with their employer and withholding all of our labor until the problem is resolved. The 2 Gate System is one of a host of anti-worker laws that make the tactics that the unions were built on illegal. As yet, the Unions have been mostly unwilling to challenge or disobey these laws. However, through well-organized disobedience and subversion of these laws using the power of united labor action, these laws can be eradicated. We are working toward a day when our unions will do this. Do not be surprised that the leadership of the unions is officially unsupportive, they are not sure the working members want or are ready for the struggle that it will entail, we must show them by taking up the charge as workers.

Until then, the laws do not and cannot forbid you and me, rank and file workers, from going to these jobs and protesting them.

At this time in history, the future of the working class hangs in the balance and we in the stronghold of San Francisco must hold the line for ourselves and fight to turn the tide against the attacks against all working people.

Together, we will build solidarity and power, bring an end to unjust laws, and have a society that meets our needs.

WE ARE NOT AGAINST THE NON UNION WORKER

WE ARE AGAINST THE EMPLOYERS, DEVELOPERS AND CONTRACTORS THAT EXPLOIT THEM

WE ARE AGAINST THE DOWNWARD PUSH THAT EXPLOITATION HAS ON ALL OF US

WE ARE AGAINST LAWS THAT RESTRICT OUR ABILITY TO FIGHT

WE FIGHT TO ERADICATE ALL ANTI-WORKER LAWS AND SYSTEMS

SMASH THE 2 GATE SYSTEM – SMASH TAFT-HARTLEY

1 GATE, 2 GATES, or 10 GATES- PICKET LINES MEAN DO NOT CROSS

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Debate on Palestinian Liberation and Israeli Class Struggle

A while back a comrade of ours posted a serious response to a controversial (or at least controversially-titled) piece we put out last year: Power to the Jews and Therefore to the Class.  We’re just catching on to it (trippin!) and appreciate the thoughtful engagement.  Here’s a sample of the more combative section:

There are genuine problems with the AS post and the following comments (presumably by AS members or supporters) which are largely contained in the lack of a historical perspective that prevents them from seeing the specificity of Zionism and the centrality of Palestine in its overthrow.  Insofar as this historicity is concerned, I tend to agree with the ISO save for their “one state solution” prescription which I would counter with not a state but a “single democratic polity.”  This is of secondary importance here.

Check out the rest of their blog post :slash: slogan, “MAKE THE GENERAL STRIKE IN ISRAEL AN INTIFADA!”  We’ll be engaging the post over there, so if you’re interested link on.

“Socialism means freedom”… “no strike is illegal!”: Mineworkers, the ANC and the class composition of South Africa

“Socialism means freedom”… “no strike is illegal!”

by A.S. Read

Proletarians around the world should be looking at the situation that has unfolded in South Africa over the last three months. Some 80,000 mineworkers have engaged in wildcat strikes spanning the myriad mining industries from platinum to gold to iron-ore to diamonds and coal. And although the South African ruling class, led by the ANC, is doing everything in their power to promote the illusion of this labor struggle coming to an end (more on this below), on Nov. 10, 2012 miners from the Anglo-American Platinum mine in Rustenberg held a mass rally to build support for their two month long strike. Not only is this wave of labor strikes far from over, its been challenging writing an update as fresh news from comrades directly involved in this struggle comes daily and sometimes hourly. Thus I will attempt to provide as much content as possible in the form of an update. Before highlighting all the latest from the workers and their inspiring actions, its important to identify some important statistics from “post-Apartheid” S.A.

Ben Fogel, a militant in the Eastern Cape of S.A. recently wrote a piece on the autonomous organizing being done from a strategic perspective. The following is taken directly from that article and provides some important statistics: 

South Africa, despite 18 years of majority rule, continues to be one of the most unequal societies on an increasingly unequal planet and is in crisis. Around half the population, mostly black Africans, live below the poverty line.[2] Almost half of all black African households earned below R1670 a month in 2005–06, while only 2 percent of white households fell in that income bracket.[3] South Africa, as of 2011, ranked as the second most unequal country in the world after Namibia—according to the Gini measure.[4] Unemployment consistently hovers unofficially at around 40 percent, and among 18–25 year olds, it is now over 60 percent.[5] Millions of households, despite some improvements still lack access to basic services; the education system still equips most blacks for little other than a future as unskilled labor. This is despite the existence of the much lauded “progressive constitution” with a bill of rights which supposedly insures access to basic socio-economic rights.[6] Essentially South Africa is fucking unequal and black African working class and unemployed Africans continue to be the worst off.” 

Read the entire article here: http://insurgentnotes.com/2012/10/marikana-a-point-of-rupture/

This quote contextualizes a bit of the current class composition of S.A. and reveals a working class powder keg set to explode on the facade of “progressive” South Africa. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the ANC-led “black bourgeoisie” and all its governing structures: Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Communist Party (SACP), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and of course the media are all putting out unimaginable propaganda in the attempt to label this unrest as anything BUT class struggle. Continue reading

Two Talks by South African organizer: Mineworker Strikes, Class Struggle after Marikana

 

You’ve probably heard about the class struggle unfolding over the past few months in South Africa. An unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes has all but shut down much of the mining sector since August, with workers resisting wage cuts, layoffs, and hyperexploitative working conditions. When the South African Police Service massacred 34 strikers in broad daylight, the workers were not deterred; instead of backing off, the strikes spread across the entire mining sector, with iron ore and gold miners joining their platinum mining comrades in struggle against the multinationals that own and profit from these oppressive conditions. Now the struggle has spread into Namibia, Botswana, the Western Cape, and elsewhere, and strikers have self-organized workers’ committees across the platinum belt.

So what does all of this mean for class struggle in South Africa? How are these workers’ committees being organized, and why is this (as the Financial Times recently claimed) potentially the most effective strike wave to hit South Africa since the demise of apartheid?

Mazibuko Jara, a long-time organizer from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and one of the founders of the Democratic Left Front, will be giving two presentations on this new wave of class struggle:

On Thursday, Nov. 15, he will be speaking at a forum organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies at 4 pm (575 McCone Hall). While admission is free, we highly encourage people to make donations to the strike fund for these unprotected workers’ committees. Please give generously; every last dollar will help prolong this struggle.

On Friday, Nov. 15, Mazibuko will be speaking at La Peña in Berkeley (3105 Shattuck Ave) at 7 pm. Admission is on a sliding scale of $5-20, but please give as much as you can: every dollar raised will go to the workers’ committees. Additional donations are highly encouraged.

We hope to see you at one or both events. A luta continua! Forward to a living wage for all workers!

Health Care Workers on Strike for the Whole Class

A striking public health worker at a demonstration outside the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi (REUTERS)

On September 12th of this year, 3,000 Kenyan public doctors and health workers voted to strike in solidarity with medical students demanding to be paid for their volunteer hospital work.  This is the second time in one year health workers have staged a strike.  On Friday the health workers called off the strike, with some initial indications that it’s a serious victory for the Kenyan working class, health workers and consumers both.  (We’re also hesitant to crow victory too quickly in these complex situations.)

From allAfrica.com:

After talks with the union officials, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o announced that he had revoked all disciplinary measures that the government had taken on the medics for taking part in the strike.

At a joint press conference with union officials at Afya House on Thursday evening, Nyong’o said the government would also release the salaries that had been withheld from the striking doctors.

The meeting agreed to set up a committee that would address the doctors’ grievances, which included demands for fastracking of a return-to-work formula that had been signed to end a similar strike late last year.

Kenya is a country in which politicians make about $130,000 a year, while doctors receive a $36,000 a year salary that doesn’t even let them visit private clinics. Health workers in Kenya struggle to meet the needs of their poor and working-class patients with a dire lack of basic resources like drugs and surgery tools. In the meantime, Kenyan legislators hop on flights to America or Europe to kick it with their imperialist puppet masters and get their surgeries and check ups.

Continue reading

De costa a costa, los trabajadores inmigrantes latinos luchan contra la explotación demandando dignidad

(English version here.)

Ellos nos espiaban e intimidado nosotros, todo porque estamos luchando por la dignidad.

Limber Herrera

-Almacén trabajador

Image

Trabajadores de almacén en un centro de distribución de Walmart marcho 50 millas de Los Angeles

La administración Obama publico estadísticas en enero de 2011, diciendo que hay 11,5 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados en los EE.UU. 59% de este grupo son mexicanos, que es de 6,8 millones de personas. Inmigrantes salvadoreños se encuentran en una posición distante de segundo lugar, con 660.000 indocumentados que residen en este país. En California, hay 2,83 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados, en Texas, casi hay 1,8 millones, 740.000 hay en Florida, y Georgia hay 440.000, doble el populación desde 2000. Dentro de la economía capitalista, algunos trabajadores se encuentran en un posición de trabajo que no es esencial para la formación del valor económico. Otros trabajadores se encuentran en los lugares de trabajo que son fundamentales para la producción de valor económico. Otros trabajadores están en trabajas que son centrales al valor de la producción. si los trabajadores en una librería independiente salen en huelga, amenazan al capitalista. si nos fijamos en la industria de la constuccion sin sindicatos, vinculados con el capital financiero, y dependiente en el trabajo indocumentada. Continue reading

From Coast to Coast, Latino Immigrant Workers Fight Exploitation and Demand Dignity.

(La versión en español está aquí.)

They spied on us and bullied us, all because we are fighting for dignity.

Limber Herrera

-Warehouse worker

Warehouse workers at a Walmart distribution center march 50 miles to LA

The Obama administration issues statistics that in January 2011, there was 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US. 59 percent of this group is Mexican, which is 6.8 million people. El Salvadoran immigrants are in a distant second position, with 660,000 undocumented residing in this country.In California, there are 2.83 million undocumented immigrants, in Texas, almost 1.8 million, in Florida 740,000, and Georgia 440,000 (doubling in numbers since 2000). Within the capitalist economy, some workers are located in position of work that is not central to the formation of value. Other workers are in workplaces that are central to value production. If workers at an independent bookstore would to go on strike, it would exactly threaten the capitalist. If we look at the non-union housing construction industry, it’s both linked with finance capital as well as dependent on undocumented cheap dispensable labor. A strike in this industry would have serious meaning. The independent truckers at the ports are majority immigrant drivers, mostly with some type of permission to work. US capitalism has adapted itself to immigrant labor because it is cheap and disposable. This labor dependency is linked with industries that are central to important components of capitalist production. In order for American capitalism to squeeze all the unpaid labor it can from the immigrant working class, it must vilify, criminalize, oppress, and control the work process. Xenophobic laws (anti-immigrant laws), racism, nationalism all feed into this process.

Continue reading