SHAKING THE TREE
The Budget & Ecological Crisis
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Same-Sex Marriage And AIDS
The Road to Marriage Equality
Violence in Mexico
Beyond the Tea Party
Resisting Resource Colonialism
Housing and Health
Emerging Labor Responses
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Emerging Labor Responses to the Economic Crisis
On August 2, the Teapublicans achieved their number one short-term objective, forcing Obama and the Democrats to agree to a nearly $1 trillion immediate cut in the federal deficit and debt in exchange for allowing the debt ceiling to be raised. The Teapublicans also achieved their second most desired short term objective: no tax revenue increases as part of the deal. It was all spending cuts. They also got their third priority demand: no defense cuts. What did the Democrats get? Obama and the Democrats got what they obviously thought was their number one demand: an agreement not to use the debt ceiling issue as a hammer for more spending cuts until after the November 2012 election. For that they were willing to cut a deal, raise the debt ceiling so bondholders could continue to get paid on time, and agree to forego cutting defense spending or including tax hikes on the rich and corporations as part of the deal.
Of course, Democrats will soon be disappointed, despite what they think is an “agreement.” By August 5, the Teapublicans were already declaring they intended to do it over again. After all, it worked last spring. It worked again this summer. Why not keep at it? The next blackmail event will likely be the October 1, 2011, the deadline date for next year’s general budget. After that, there’s the December 23, 2011 deadline for deciding on the recommendations due by from a bi-partisan committee of Congress.
The bi-partisan committee will be appointed by leaders of both parties of Congress by the time this article appears in print and it will no doubt be composed of conservative Democrats plus ultra conservative Teapublicans. To ensure the bi-partisan committee’s almost certain conservative recommendations will be adopted, the August 2 debt deal requires that the committee’s recommendations be voted “up or down” by the rest of Congress—with no amendments and no changes.
This bi-partisan committee’s forthcoming proposals will represent a “reopener,” as they say in union negotiating circles. Before the end of the year another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion will have to be cut. That’s part of the August debt ceiling deal as well. That’s a total of between $2.2 and $2.5 trillion. The committee will recommend a minimum of $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and tax hikes as well. If Congress can’t agree (and there’s little evidence it will), then the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction will automatically go into effect before year end. The August deal specifies that the $1.2 trillion cuts be distributed proportionally between defense and non-defense spending. It makes no reference to tax hikes.
Fictitious Debt Crisis vs. Real Jobs Crisis
According to the
It became clear following the August 2 deal that much of what went on was “managed theater.” Not only did the Teapublicans create a crisis in order to extract trillion dollar spending cuts, but the Obama team played the “sky will fall” card as well.
When the debt ceiling deal passed, business confidence would be restored and the stock market would once again boom. But within 24 hours there was no stock boom. In fact, the market sagged seriously. The reason? Reports showed global and
The Emergency Labor Network
Anticipating these events as far back as January 2011, a number of local union activists began exploring how to take action. About 100 local union activists met in
Representatives came from all over the country, including longshore union officers from both coasts, large contingents of public workers from
Not wanting to substitute themselves for the trade union movement or speak in its name, they agreed that the purpose of the conference was to promote mass actions around progressive demands to take back to central labor councils, their unions, their immigrant organizations, their communities and try to build a national network of labor-community fightback committees, which would organize public actions and demonstrations in their respective communities and unions.
Some of the Emergency Labor Network (ELN) demands included plans to:
1. Launch a national campaign for “No Concessions, No Cuts” and to Defend and Expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; to Tax the Rich and Corporations; Single Payer healthcare via Medicare for all; a Federal Public Works Jobs program; End the Wars and Bring Home War Dollars for human needs; Protect and Expand Immigrant Workers’ rights; and Defend and Expand Collective Bargaining rights.
2. Promote and support strike actions around the above demands, such as defending the strike by Longshore Workers’ Local 10 against the Pacific Maritime Association in solidarity with Wisconsin workers and their unions. Support mass actions such as SEIU’s “Fight for a Fair Economy” and the National Nurses United’s “Main Street Contract for America” campaign, as well as other unions and community organizations calling mass actions opposing concessions or attacks on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
3. Refuse to support and actively oppose candidates for office at all levels who vote for cuts and concessions in public services, jobs, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
4. Organize the unemployed, repeal repressive labor laws like Taft-Hartley, and help promote and build a
5. Oppose the criminalization of immigrant workers, reform immigration laws, legalize undocumented workers, demand their right to organize, repeal employer sanctions, oppose guest-worker programs, and strengthen family reunification.
6. Support and help build October demonstrations against the wars in cities across the country, bring home the troops now, close foreign bases, and use the money for jobs and education.
7. Demand that unions withdraw financial support for politicians that demand concessions and use the money to build mass mobilization in the streets and workplaces around the above ELN demands, which will include running labor’s own independent candidates for office.
The conference concluded by issuing letters of support to Fedex workers’ organizing efforts, Greek and Haiti workers under attack, and an Open Letter to the U.S. Labor Movement, with model resolutions to submit to union bodies nationwide calling for a National Day of Action in the fall to jumpstart a national organizing campaign around ELN demands.
Other Organizing Efforts
Following the conference,
A national communications website has been set up by the ELN and may be accessed at www.laborfightback.org, where contact information, endorsers, the ELN action program, its open letter to the labor movement, sample resolutions, reports on actions, and articles of interest are available.
The Teamsters Convention: at the Teamsters national convention a number of resolutions were introduced and passed supporting
Trumka and the AFL-CIO: the largest labor federation in the
Since June the AFL-CIO has slowly and cautiously continued to distance itself—in words—from Obama and the Democrats. The recent eruption of the debt ceiling debacle has moved this shift slightly further as, on August 3, the AFL-CIO Executive Council issued a statement charging politicians of both parties with failing to address the profound economic crisis and exacerbating that crisis by producing “an unending series of fake political crises” and adding that, “Unfortunately, far too many Democrats have been either silent or complicit in the Republicans’ scheme.... There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from
Although not as yet announced publicly, the AFL-CIO has also called for a national day of action some time in early October to protest the deficit cutting mania embraced by both parties, demand a real jobs creation program, and demand that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid not be sacrificed. It remains to be seen, however, whether these public demonstrations and protests will become more than just another perennial verbal warning shot across the bow to Democrat politicians or whether the beginning of charting a new, more independent political course for the AFL-CIO.
Will Labor Rise to the Challenge?
As of August 2011 it appears increasingly to many observers that the Democratic Party is intent on destroying its one remaining differentiation from the Teapublicans: its long term stance in defense of Social Security and Medicare. Obama’s first two years in office were characterized by an economic stimulus and recovery program that bailed out the banks, big business, and the wealthiest 10 percent households, but have done virtually nothing for workers, small businesses, and the bottom 90 percent households. That policy failure resulted in the president’s loss of political control of the economy and his own political future. Since November 2010,
In the coming months the senior leadership of the trade union movement will wag their finger at their Democrat friends, threaten, cajole, and plead. But the only way they will move toward independent political action is if their grass-roots membership takes the lead and drags them into the future. Much will depend in the coming months on actions by unions like the nurses and such emerging labor organizations like the ELN. Whether they can reach a threshold before the Teapublicans’ deficit-cutting political steamroller remains to be seen.
Jack Rasmus is the author of Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression, (Pluto Press and Palgrave- Macmillan, 2010) and the forthcoming Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few. His blog is jackrasmus.com and his website is www.kyklos productions. com.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.