Monday, September 7, 2020

In Labor

Growing up in a union family and long being a member of a union, first as a retail clerk and later a Teacher, I have seen both the successes and failures of unions. There are historically significant legacies built by unions and those that have collapsed due to corruption and ineffective leadership. Gosh all men, all white and always over money and that happens in and outside of union organization. There are professional white collar organizations which are "unions" such as the Bar Association or The American Medical Organization that  act as lobbyists who generate laws and benefits that assist their professional members to enable them to retain higher status and job security in the same way organized labor once did. There are stil very strong unions that exist that we can say the same. Two come to mind: The Police Unions and of course Professonal Athletes, both who have raised a fist or bended a knee when it comes to the current state of affairs in this country.

 We are seeing a much stronger prescense of Teachers Unions with the issues surrounding Covid, which is not surprising as the last two years we have seen across the country, red for ed strikes that were about funding for education in the wake of school shootings and issues surrounding mental health and discipline in schools that had established a restorative justice, social emotional learning concept, encouraged under the Obama Administration to reduce the biased/prejudiced discipline that affected largely faces of color. With Trump any and all Obama ideas have been tossed in the dumpster but frankly that program was like all the rest, underfunded, inconsistent and poorly administered so not exactly something that we can say worked or worked well as in some cases schools that did get grants and established strong bonds with the community at large did see a reduction in suspensions but again, that was always on the chopping block as when funding goes so does the program. And with Covid that will now be utterly relegated to the back of the room as families now have to manage what Teachers have been trying to do with little to no support. Good luck homeschooling!

 Labor Unions were the great equalizer, not perfect, but they did enable a much larger group to climb the economic ladder to buy homes, have stability and in turn have better quality of lives. Want to know why we have so many health problems with faces of color in the time of Covid or why we have such significant crime in the communities of color? Well lack of stability, the prison pipeline and of course income inequality. Once the quo of the Status, aka white men, realized that Black people and Women could attain parity, have a voice and place at the table they quickly did their best to destroy, eradicate and devalue union organization with fear tactics and of course legislation, right to work laws that prevent if not prohibit union organization.

 Looking to meat packing plants with fake shortages they claimed due to a sick workforces while all the while still shipping food oversas, and of course neglecting to mention that the largest commercial customers were no longer in the supply chain which simply meant a diversion of product, was brushed aside and during a time when families were facing massive economic hardship they were paying more for food. Reminded me of the gas crisis of the 70s with politics presiding over consumer demand.  If there was union organization the exploitation of largely immigrant and undocumented workers would decline, work safety issues handled better and of course wages and health care/sick leave a part of the package. And frankly we as consumers would get safer food, its a win-win.

 Labor Unions have immense ability to mobilize the troops and of course it was Martin Luther King in his last days through his I AM A Man campaign to raise the wages of workers in Memphis that may have contributed to his death. It was one thing to get out the vote another to have the audacity to expect Black folks to be paid a living wage and on par with their white counterparts. Tennessee a shithole, it has not changed.

 We need a living wage, with that comes larger protections for workers, such as the Amazon folks, the other essential workers who kept going during the pandemic, truck drivers, postal and shipping clerks (Fed Ex, UPS, DHL) who were out there every day regardless. Many don't get health care, have any type of sick leave and of course job security.

The clapping of hands and feeding health care workers was one of the most appalling things I have ever witnessed, as they are workers in a highly profitable system, they have Unions and of course Doctors are white collar professionals with a strongly political orgainzied group and yet we are giving them food and supplies to work? Are you fucking kidding me?

 Now we are expecting College Professors and Teachers who are not making shit for pay, regardless of the crazy bullsht with you have summer off, and no you are not paid for that time so go fuck yourself mom, now get back to teaching your little precious gem, are to throw themselves in front of gun toting maniacs, help a kid whose family is non-existent function, Students who rape and sexually assault others, handle drug use and now fucking Covid. Some dipshit cuntbucket on Facebook told "me" to take a medical leave and open the schools as that is what I am supposed to do. Again Facebook is like dumpster diving and I frequently go on Governor Murphy's page to read the idiocy and some intelligence (and yes outing and tagging clearly trolls) to remind myself that I am on an island here when it comes to intelligence. What it tells me that while New Jersey as a state is highly rated for its public education, it clearly failed many with the immenese amount of idiocy I hear and read here.  But what it also tells me is that Education is largely pink collar and as women we are supposed to be mothers and caregivers and possess educational credentials on par with higher status professions (such as College Professors folks or Lawyers or Accountants or Architects etc aka largely male and  white professions) and take a bullet or a virus that both can kill so you the other mother can go to your better paying safer job.  Three words on that: GO FUCK OFF.

 With the current climate asking for racial justice one that must be made is income inequality and the way that wages and health care and in turn funding for education is the greatest issue, singularly the one that to me tops defunding the Police. That is a strawman and while the idea behind it is to use that money to fund programs to assist and aid communities in ways that better serve them, the reality is that wages, health care and housing, along with funding public education will truly bring that elusive equality that Martin Luther King labored for and gave his life for.  And with that it will benefit the most not the few.


Unions threaten work stoppages amid calls for racial justice 

The Washington Post
 By Aaron Morrison | AP
September 5, 2020

 NEW YORK — Ahead of Labor Day, unions representing millions across several working-class sectors are threatening to authorize work stoppages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement amid calls for concrete measures that address racial injustice. In a statement first shared with The Associated Press, labor leaders who represent teachers, autoworkers, truck drivers and clerical staff, among others, signaled a willingness Friday to escalate protest tactics to force local and federal lawmakers to take action on policing reform and systemic racism. They said the walkouts, if they were to move forward with them, would last for as long as needed. “The status quo — of police killing Black people, of armed white nationalists killing demonstrators, of millions sick and increasingly desperate — is clearly unjust, and it cannot continue,” the statement says. It was signed by several branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and affiliates of the National Education Association.

The broader labor movement has been vocal since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes during an arrest over counterfeit money. The death of Floyd in Minneapolis set off an unprecedented surge of protests and unrest from coast to coast this summer.

In July, organized labor staged a daylong strike with workers from the service industry, fast-food chains and the gig economy to call out the lack of coronavirus pandemic protections for essential workers, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. Now, in the wake of the August shooting of Jacob Blake, who was critically wounded by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the union leaders say they are following the lead of professional athletes who last week staged walkouts over the shooting. Basketball, baseball and tennis league games had to be postponed. Some athletes resumed game play only after having talks with league officials over ways to support the push for policing reforms and to honor victims of police and vigilante violence.

 “They remind us that when we strike to withhold our labor, we have the power to bring an unjust status quo to a grinding halt,” the union leaders said in the statement. “We echo the call to local and federal government to divest from the police, to redistribute the stolen wealth of the billionaire class, and to invest in what our people need to live in peace, dignity, and abundance: universal health care and housing, public jobs programs and cash assistance, and safe working conditions,” the statement reads.

Among the supportive unions are ones representing Wisconsin public school teachers who, ahead of the mid-September start of the regular school year, urged state legislators to take on policing reforms and systemic racism.

 “We stand in solidarity with Jacob Blake and his family, and all communities fighting to defend Black lives from police and vigilante violence,” Milwaukee Teacher’s Association president Amy Mizialko told the AP. “Are we striking tomorrow? No,” said Racine Educator United president Angelina Cruz, who represents teachers in a community that abuts Kenosha. “Are we in conversation with our members and the national labor movement about how we escalate our tactics to stop fascism and win justice? Yes.”

 The Nonprofit Professional Employees Union, which represents several hundreds of professionals working at more than 25 civil rights groups and think tank organizations, told the AP it signed onto the union statement because “the fights for workers’ rights, civil rights, and racial justice are inextricably linked.”

 At the federal level, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has already passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, which would ban police use of stranglehold maneuvers and end qualified immunity for officers, among other reforms. The measure awaits action in the Senate.

 A Republican-authored police reform bill, introduced in June by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, failed a procedural vote in the Senate because Democrats felt the measure didn’t go far enough to address officer accountability. Meanwhile, officials who serve on governing bodies in more than a dozen major U.S. cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and Austin, Texas, have voted to defund their police departments and reallocate the money to mental health, homelessness and education services.

 Although some unions have a history of excluding workers on the basis of gender and race, the marriage between the racial justice and labor movements goes back decades. That alliance was most prominently on display during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which featured the visions of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis and was organized by A. Philip Randolph, a Black icon of the labor movement.

 Today, Black workers are more likely to be unionized than any other segment of the workforce as a result of decades of collaboration between labor and civil rights activists, said New York University professor and civil rights historian Thomas Sugrue. “That connection has only intensified because of the importance of workers of color, particularly African Americans, in the labor movement,” Sugrue said. Public and private employers are faced with a “Which side are you on?” moment due to growing support for the BLM movement, said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party and a leading organizer in the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of 150 Black-led organizations.

 “If I was a decision-maker that was considering whether or not to meet the demands of the unions, I would be scared,” Mitchell said. “This movement is spreading. We’ve been on the streets consistently, we’re building on the electoral front, and now we’re seeing this conversation at the highest levels of labor.”

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