War on the Environment
U.S. Arab Disconnect
Edward S. Herman
Billionaire Phillip Anschutz
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
The San Jose Project
Labor Must Play Its Wild Card
Obama's Jobs Proposal
Court Allows U.S. Citizens to Sue Rumsfeld
The Filthy RIch
"Soft Power" in the Middle East
The World of Drones
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Labor Must Play Its "Wild Card"
Even before the Wall Street meltdown of late 2008, American workers’ real wages were 18 percent less than they were in 1973, as Les Leopold points out in The Looting of America. To effectively address economic polarization, labor’s efforts are far too heavily concentrated in
In sharp contrast, there is much more potential for positive impact in local communities where it can draw on the collective imagination and strength of its 15 million members. With greatly enhanced media capacity and assistance in coalition-building efforts, the AFL-CIO could create considerable momentum with a bold declaration of a National Economic Emergency and proclaim its intent to enforce a national moratorium against the highly-unpopular offshoring of jobs to places like
But corporate domination at the local level has been too overwhelming without political redress. Corporations routinely blackmail workers into unjustified concessions despite massive profits (which rose 243 percent in 2009 and 61 percent in 2010) through threatening to relocate workers’ jobs. The right to strike is now rarely exercised because
With sharply reduced possibilities for gains from collective bargaining, “Unions have turned their attentions to public policy,” labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein observed. “While unions have to legislate for the entire working class and not just their own members, there are problematic relationships with the Democrats.” However, this trend tends to turn unions into political lobby groups further detached from their members’ lives.
Labor’s populist and broadly inclusive message is now outlined by President Rich Trumka, the chief officer of the AFL-CIO. A typical Trumka line: “So how did we come to the point where our country’s ruling class thinks that firefighters…and teachers and nurses are the problem and people like Lloyd Blankfein [CEO of Goldman Sachs] and Rupert Murdoch [owner of NewsCorporation and FOX TV] are the solution?” But Trumka’s voice is rarely quoted in major news stories on the economy.
Similarly, the AFL-CIO’s intensified preoccupation with electoral politics and lobbying has failed to heighten labor’s leverage with President Obama or Congress, even when there were Democratic majorities in both houses in 2008-09. Labor has outlined one job-creation program after another, Trumka has repeatedly fulminated against the failure of the Democratic Party to stand with workers and asserted its political independence (with the International Association of Fire Fighters shutting off funds to the Democratic Party), but no positive response has been forthcoming from Obama.
A corollary of this legislative focus has been a distinctly dependent relationship with the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party in general, despite minimal returns on key issues like the Employee Free Choice Act, job-creation programs, and opposition to “free trade.” It has also corresponded with a loss of labor’s independent presence as a central moral force in American society, stresses labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein in his book State of the Union. This alliance has remained despite labor’s repeated betrayals by its supposed allies.“Labor has refused to make an enemy of Democrats even when evidence is lined up in the opposite direction,” observes labor historian and sociologist Stanley Aronowitz.
The dangers of labor’s reliance on President Obama were shockingly underscored in the negotiations over the debt ceiling. Pollster and author Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress notes: “The debt ceiling deal has been struck and the score looks to be in the neighborhood of Republicans: a zillion, Democrats: zero.... It is perhaps the inevitable outcome of a process in which Obama treated GOP default-threatening tactics as legitimate and accepted the GOP framework that cutting debt, not creating jobs, was the country’s central problem. As a result, we have a deal that severely undercuts Democratic policy priorities and cuts government spending just as the economic recovery is showing signs of tanking.”
Drawing On The Wild Card
To set a different economic direction, labor will need to draw on the rank-and-file in the workplace and at the local level, which Aronowitz has described as labor’s indispensable “wild card. This wild card suddenly appeared in
The events in
Moreover, labor and its partners in a new coalition have built up organizational strength in six traditionally Republican suburban and rural districts where residents rarely heard discussion about the shrinkage and declining prospects of the middle class. As Governor Walker’s budget cuts begin to take effect, organizers anticipate new upsurges of public anger in areas far from urban centers like
While the six-day sit-down of Republic Door and Window by United Electrical workers became a huge news story in the
Moreover, the labor movement has generally reacted passively to management announcements of job relocations to low-wage nations outside the
Labor needs to replace that mentality with a mindset that every shutdown will be fiercely resisted especially those involving the relocation of jobs offshore. Here are four critical elements for creating a strategic focus on local militancy:
1. The long-term investment of resources in creating a strong, national media apparatus. While the Right has utilized talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, various
Meanwhile, progressive foundations have generally stressed face-to-face organizing projects over the development of a liberal/Left message apparatus. “The building of a strong media network is vitally important,” says Lakoff.
2. Support for an Economic Bill of Rights to frame progressive activism. A crucial dimension of a labor resurgence is framing labor struggles in moral terms. For example, the union movement needs to popularize the idea that workers have made a huge personal investment in their jobs and workplaces and are owed a commensurate level of loyalty from management. Labor must argue that workers are far more legitimate stakeholders in the future of their plants and communities than faraway CEOs who may never even have visited the plants that they are choosing to shut down and move offshore. In stressing this point, workers can establish an alternative set of moral principles about the limits of what employers can do in the name of private ownership.
One means of spreading the notion of economic rights for workers may lie in reviving the Economic Bill of Rights outlined by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his January 1944 State of the Union speech in which he proposed a second Bill of Rights that would guarantee all Americans basic economic rights. One of the rights
3. A declaration of a National Economic Emergency affecting all Americans outside the ranks of the very richest. The AFL-CIO—in coalition with respected allies like the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, La Raza, and other major national groups whose constituencies are suffering—needs to establish a new framework for discussing the economy in urgent terms. Hopefully, numerous city councils and other elective bodies would adopt the declaration.
With the declaration, the AFL-CIO would dramatize the stark choices the nation faces in the near future for all Americans—both inside and outside the labor movement. On the one hand, the nation can either lurch toward a recovery built on a further-enfeebled productive base, renewed exposure to what famed investor Warren Buffett called “the financial weapons of mass destruction,” and the intensified offshoring of U.S. jobs.
Alternatively, the nation could insist that corporations acknowledge this national emergency and act to advance the public interest or suffer the consequences from nationally-supported labor-community outrage. The declaration of a National Economic Emergency is a firm statement that labor and its allies will not permit major corporations to destroy
4. The promotion of a national moratorium on plant closings and the offshoring of jobs. The AFL-CIO and allies need to establish, in line with their declaration of a National Economic Emergency, a complete moratorium on plant closings and the offshoring of jobs from both union and non-union workplaces. This moratorium would be a statement of determination to devote extensive AFL-CIO resources to assist local unions in building member mobilizations, coalitions, liaisons with elected officials, and media work. Staughton Lynd argues that the moratorium should also discourage unionized workers from accepting overtime when they have fellow union members on layoffs.
Outsourcing and Jobs
Americans have been infuriated and distressed by disclosures that since 2000, U.S.-based multinational corporations have been cutting 2.9 million jobs while increasing their foreign employment by 2.4 million (Wall Street Journal, 4/19/11). A WSJ/NBC News poll conducted in September 2010 showed that 86 percent of Americans “agreed that outsourcing of manufacturing to foreign countries with lower wages was a reason the
While tepid legislation to discourage offshoring was defeated by a combination of Republicans, along with a few conservative Democrats, there is a vast potential for a massive outpouring of opposition at the local level. Pre-recession polls indicate that opposition to off-shoring is about 77 percent among Americans. “There’s a lot more unions can get through publicity campaigns than lobbying and campaign contributions to politicians and elected officials,” stated Immanuel Ness, former labor organizer and now a professor at
At the local level, there is much more chance for labor and its allies to persuade independents and Republicans to side with the moratorium, as both of these categories show a high degree of concern about the loss of jobs to overseas sites. “The program should be a moratorium that encompasses even non-unionized plants. Otherwise, the federation and unions as a whole will be seen as a narrower interest group, who they are not.” Based on recent observations at worker-occupied plants in
Just as they previously assembled teams of people to help workers receive benefits and other assistance when plants closed, the AFL-CIO can develop and train teams of specialists ready to assist local unions with the media, coalition building, and strategy. But the purpose of these new teams would be the precise opposite—helping local unionists to learn media skills, build broad coalitions, and develop winning strategies. By creating these teams, the AFL-CIO will ensure that the lessons of various struggles against offshoring will be widely shared within the labor movement rather than each local needing to learn basic lessons on its own.
Firms shutting down profitable and productive plants could be confronted by local mayors, state legislators, and congresspeople demanding to see the company’s books and investigating alternatives to the closing. This initial pressure can be followed by news conferences, rallies, and other pressures leading to non-violent civil disobedience. Corporations—whether unionized or not—could be confronted with sit-downs and militant picket lines when they try to offshore work outside the
Moreover, workers and the unemployed can meet with their congress- people and senators to demand support for legislation prohibiting corporations from removing equipment or demolishing productive plants with the potential to keep the facilities open. For example, several instances of profitable plants being needlessly demolished, with an interested buyer standing by, underscores the urgent need for the federal and state governments to develop task forces to prevent the further destruction of the nation’s productive base. Chris Townsend, national political director of the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers union points out that, “President Obama could issue an executive order to secure the workplaces so that machinery isn’t moved out and plant demolished.”
While it is hard to imagine Obama taking such an almost-unprecedented move, the consequences of plant closings and relocations have never been higher for both working people and Obama’s reelection chances.”
“People would rise to this if the Obama administration showed that it was putting the machinery of the state to work for them and to defend their jobs,” predicts Townsend. “We are losing one industry after another and we can’t afford to lose any more.”
In other cases, workers may find it feasible to re-start production through democratic worker councils. This strategy has proved highly popular in
Local action can take a thousand different forms that can contribute to a renewed labor presence in local communities. But for such a campaign to be successful, it will require a dramatic kickoff independent from the Obama administration. It will mean demanding an end to offshoring jobs and a commitment from the AFL-CIO of staff and resources to carry it out.
To move away from its dependence on the Obama administration and catalyze support both inside and outside the AFL-CIO, labor must recognize that the road to a more democratic, egalitarian society begins with engaging its members in fighting locally and nationally against increasingly rootless and ruthless corporations.
Roger Bybee is a Milwaukee-based writer, publicity consultant, and former editor of the
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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; 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: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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/; email@example.com.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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; email@example.com; 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: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; 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; firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.