Category Archives: Organizing

Needed: Worker Organizing and Education

There is No Substitute for Organizing:

How Unions Might Help Win Future Battles

By Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Jane McAlevey
Beaver County Blue via The Nation

July 3, 2012 – Before Wisconsinites voted down the attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker, and certainly since, principled progressives inside and outside of unions have disagreed on whether or not the campaign should have happened. In fact, between the two of us, we don’t fully agree about whether or not the recall was the correct tactic.

But with the defeat in the rear view mirror, two clear lessons can be drawn from Wisconsin: unions need to reinvest in mass participatory education—sometimes called internal organizing in union lingo; and, unions need to stop focusing on “collective bargaining” and actually kick down the walls separating workplace and non-workplace issues by going all-out on the broader agenda of the working class and the poor.

Once you get past the reports that Walker outspent the Wisconsin workers by 7:1, the next most startling fact is that 38 percent of union households voted to keep the anti-worker Governor. That’s slightly more than one third, and had the pro-recall forces held the union households, Walker would no longer be Governor.

With major media outlets drubbing us with the 38 percent number, the liberal political elite seem stuck on a rhetorical question: why do poor people and workers vote against their material self-interest? Actually, in our own experience, the poor and working class don’t vote against their self-interest—but there’s a precondition: we have to create the space for ordinary people to better understand what their self-interest is, and how it connects with hundreds of millions in the US and globally.

Continue reading Needed: Worker Organizing and Education

Workers Occupy Factory to Stop Shutdown, with Occupy Chicago as Allies

UE Occupies Chicago Window Plant Again, and Wins Reprieve

By Jane Slaughter
Beaver County Blue via Labor Notes

Feb 24, 2012 – President Armando Robles and members of the United Electrical Workers won another reprieve for a Chicago window factory, re-occupying the plant they famously held in 2008. Photo: OccupyEverything.

Members of the United Electrical Workers won another reprieve for a Chicago window factory, re-occupying the plant they famously held in 2008.

UE Local 1110 members took over the Serious Materials plant yesterday after being told by local management that the factory would close immediately.

When they were confronted with the same news in 2008, workers voted unanimously to occupy their workplace, guarding the machines at the former Republic Windows and Doors for six days until the major creditor, Bank of America, released $1.75 million in wages and benefits owed the workers.

Republic sold the plant to Serious and workers celebrated as the first sit-down strike in years won a favorable settlement in the teeth of the great recession.

This week’s plant closing came with no warning. The union got a call from the boss that he wanted a meeting, but he wouldn’t say why. Officers and UE staff were summoned to the offices of the notorious union-busting law firm Seyfarth and Shaw at 9 a.m. yesterday.

There executives said they would close the plant, effective immediately. Workers would be put on leave while management dismantled the window-making machinery and shipped it to the company’s other plants in Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Workers would be paid what they were owed under the WARN Act, which requires employers to provide notice 60 days ahead of plant closings and mass layoffs. (The penalty for violations is up to two months of pay and benefits.)

But the provisions typically only apply to businesses that would lay off 50 or more.

Illinois has a stronger law, which requires notice when 25 or more full-time employees will lose their jobs, and gives the director of the state labor department the right to investigate the company’s books.

Management provided nothing in writing to back up its promises.

Union officers—Armando Robles, Ricky Maclin, and Vicente Rangel—and staffers spent three hours arguing with management that the closure was unacceptable. Serious had a legal and moral obligation to do more to try to save the jobs, they said.

“We wanted to find a buyer,” said UE rep Leah Fried, “but they were not interested. They said it was not an option.”

Meanwhile, the Serious workers were building windows inside the plant.

February is not a big time for demand for windows, and their numbers were down to 38 after a recent layoff. Only 75 of the original 240 workers had ever been called back after Serious bought the plant from Republic.

All Out

President Robles and Fried left the meeting with management Thursday and began calling laid-off workers, asking them to come to the plant. At 2 p.m., the end of the shift, 50 workers met to discuss their options.

Robles presented them soberly: Do nothing, or fight—stay and occupy the plant again. Without much hullabaloo, matter-of-factly, the members voted unanimously to occupy.

Continue reading Workers Occupy Factory to Stop Shutdown, with Occupy Chicago as Allies

Valentine’s Day in War Zones

Afghan boys

Cold, Cold Heart

By Kathy Kelly
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPort

Feb 14, 2012 – It’s Valentine’s Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing "why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart."

Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid. But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record. Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces. Since January 15, at least 23 children under the age of five have frozen to death in the camps.

And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one of them under the age of 14, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside in Kapisa Province where they were helping support their families by grazing sheep. French troops saw the fire, and acted on faulty information, and the boys were all killed in two successive NATO airstrikes. The usual denunciations from local authorities, and Western apologies, followed.

So I’m thinking about warmth, and who we share it with and who we don’t.

This is an unexpected trip for me. I had first planned to spend this week at home in Chicago, and then, rather suddenly, agreed to join a group of informal human rights observers traveling to Bahrain for the one year anniversary of their brutally repressed "February 17th Revolution" (please follow events there, and demand that the U.S. cease arming Bahrain’s dictatorship, at witnessbahrain.org). Bahraini authorities declined to issue me a visa, and so I asked the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers if I could change my plans and spend the coming week with them.

My friends tell me that the apartment where I’m headed has been without electricity for several days in a row. The pipes have frozen, so there will be no running water. But in spite of the cold, it’s an especially good time to visit them because twelve of them will be there, on winter vacation from school, including two 14-year-old boys I couldn’t meet during my last visit who spent much of the last year away from the others, back home in Bamiyan province, in their mountain villages, supporting their families.

Continue reading Valentine’s Day in War Zones

OWS in Allentown, Youngstown, Toledo

Occupying the Rust Belt: In Three Deindustrialized Cities,

Protesters Find Friendly Cops, Determination and Despair

Americans here are beaten down. But in occupations around the country they have found a space where they can speak of their struggles, burdens and aspirations.

Photo: Youngstown occupier

By Arun Gupta
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org

Oct 25, 2011 – The surefire method to find occupations in small cities is to head for the center of town. After leaving Philadelphia on our Occupy America tour, we drive an hour north to Allentown. Pennsylvania’s third-largest city at 118,000 residents, Allentown has been weathered by years of deindustrialization in the steel, cement and textile industries that once made it an economic powerhouse.

Along MacArthur Boulevard, one of Allentown’s main drags, tidy but weary brick row homes line outlying neighborhoods. Close to Center Square, site of the requisite Civil War monument, the neighborhoods are heavily Latino and buildings exhibit signs of disrepair.

Occupy Allentown has taken up residence in Center Square, inhabiting one of the four red-brick plazas on each corner. There are a handful of tents, a well-supplied kitchen pavilion and an information desk. A large blue and gray nylon tent, which 12 people crammed into the first night of the occupation, has laundry hanging off a clothesline in back and a cardboard sign on the front that reads “Zuccotti Arms,” in reference to the original Wall Street occupation.

We’ve come in search of Adam Santo, said to be the local leader of a leaderless movement. A handsome, boxy-glassed youth a few years out of college, Santo says he knew about the planning for Occupy Wall Street prior to Sept. 17.

“I wanted to go to New York, but I’ve been unemployed and finances were tight, so I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have an occupation in the Lehigh Valley,” where Allentown is nestled. Eight months earlier he and three co-workers were laid off from their jobs at a local bank because of a “lack of work.”

Continue reading OWS in Allentown, Youngstown, Toledo

‘There Are No Jobs Out There…’

Global Jobs Crisis Takes Biggest

Toll On Struggling Youth Everywhere

By Lila Shapiro
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost

Oct 20, 2011 – Of all those that have suffered from global joblessness, it could be the young job seekers in developed economies that have paid the highest price. And the collective frustration is beginning to add up.

At the end of last year, there were an estimated 75.1 million young people around the world struggling to find jobs — a group nearly the size of the population of Iran. The group of job hunters, ages 15 to 24, has expanded by 4.6 million since the Great Recession began, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.

The burden is heaviest for the young in Europe, the U.S., and other advanced economies, where the youth unemployment rate saw the biggest overall jump between 2008-2010. Adding to the concern: While other regions of the world saw youth unemployment rates peak in 2009, these countries were among the few, globally, that continued to see the unemployment rate creep up.

This course does not appear to be changing, at least not any time soon.

Continue reading ‘There Are No Jobs Out There…’

THE TRUE IMPACTS OF FRACKING TO OUR COMMUNITY

A COMMUNITY PRESENTATION

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 17TH at 7:00 PM

CHIPPEWA EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH

239 BRAUN ROAD, BEAVER FALLS, PA 15010


Carolyn Knapp and Carol French own working dairy farms in Bradford County, PA. Both have signed gas leases for their property and have experienced the impacts of heavy drilling activity in their community. They have devoted large amounts of time learning about the hydraulic fracturing process and the overall impact it has on the community. They will provide a perspective on fracking that is not being provided by the gas companies. Questions will be taken after their presentation.


Visit www.southbeaverfracking.com for more information or contact Rich Barger -  barger105@comcast.net



Chippewa Evangelical Free Church is not a sponsor and does not endorse the speakers for this event.  Chippewa Evangelical Free Church maintains neutrality on the issue of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling.  CEFC is only providing a meeting place and is neither for nor against gas drilling.

‘My City of Ruins’ from Bruce Springsteen, Telling It Like It Is…Pass it on!

 

It’s time for a Main Street Contract for the American People. National Nurses United has embarked on a campaign to reverse national priorities and policies that have placed the interests of Wall Street over the crisis facing American families today. The goal is to chart a new contract for the American people — for a better life today and a more secure future for our children and future generations. www.mainstreetcontract.org

Obama, 2012 and Focusing Hope

How Do We Bring Obama Home?

How to Respond to Obama

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Progressive America Rising via BlackCommentator.com

Rather than dwell on the question of whether we can bring Obama home, whether he ever was home, etc., I want to refocus on this question of how to respond to him, particularly as we start to think about 2012.

First, what do we now say about 2008? Contrary to those who have thrown up their hands and feel betrayed by what the Obama administration has not done, I start in a different place. I continue to assert that Obama was knowable in 2008. He was a charismatic, smart candidate who made the right call on the Iraq War and stepped out on the issue when it was necessary. He was also, as I said at the time, someone who could appear to be different things to different people. The problem was that too many of his supporters saw what they wanted to see rather than what existed.

What existed? Well, from the beginning he was a corporate candidate. We knew that. The question was not whether he was one but the extent to which his views could be shifted in order to take progressive, non-corporate stands. Second, he was a candidate who was going to avoid race as you or I would avoid a plague ship. He went out of his way to prove that he was not an ‘angry black man’ and that race was not going to be an issue that he would harp on. Third, he was clear that he wanted to change the image of the USA around the world, but it was not clear to what extent he wanted to change the substance of the relationship of the USA to the rest of the world.

Continue reading Obama, 2012 and Focusing Hope

The Truth Comes Out: The New York Times Bombshell on Natural Gas ‘Fracking’ Everyone’s Talking About

Drilling Down: Regulation Lax as

Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

By IAN URBINA
New York Times

Feb. 26, 2011 – The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas.

The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.

But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

Continue reading The Truth Comes Out: The New York Times Bombshell on Natural Gas ‘Fracking’ Everyone’s Talking About

‘We’re Not the Democratic Party. We’re the Insurgency of the Democratic Party’ –PDA’s Tim Carpenter

Progressive Democrats of America:

300 Tucsonans ready to fight back

by Pamela Powers on Feb. 22, 2011

Beaver County Blue via TucsonCitizen.com

More than 300 unapologetic progressives packed a local YWCA for the inaugural meeting of Progressive Democrats of America, Tucson Chapter. (Photo Credit: Pamela Powers)

Who said the progressive movement was dead? It is alive and well in Tucson, Arizona.

An estimated 300 activists, liberals, Green Party members, and Democratic Party foot soldiers crammed into a large meeting room at the YWCA on the west side of Tucson Monday night for the inaugural meeting of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Tucson Chapter.

Continue reading ‘We’re Not the Democratic Party. We’re the Insurgency of the Democratic Party’ –PDA’s Tim Carpenter