Popular Resistance Newsletter -Reclaim The Commons, Stop Privatization
This week started with Labor Day and witnessed the biggest act of worker civil disobedience seen in a very long time. Yesterday, nearly 500 fast food workers were arrested and many more joined in civil disobedience, marches and rallies in 100 cities across the country to demand higher wages. In addition, the Fight for 15 movement has been joined by new sectors of workers. Carl Gibson reminds us that beyond low wages, many workers also experience wage theft.
Labor Day evolved directly from the struggle for worker rights, as Eugene Ruyle discovered in his research of the day’s roots. Labor is struggling in the US. FAIR reports that worker and union voices are missing in mainstream media. Worker rights are threatened by trade agreements like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP). And large corporations are taking on massive debt to give increasing payouts to executives and investors while workers are squeezed.
Another challenge for labor is the climate crisis, as Joe Uehlein explains, “It is in the self-interest of the trade union movement to become a part of the solution to the climate crisis. Climate change is the real job killer and poses a serious threat to jobs in every sector.” Some unions are getting it. Earlier this year, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) which represents 53 trade unions in 23 countries, released a strong statement calling for the development of sustainable energy. Members of TUCA participate in the new Trade Unions for Energy Democracy which will hold a conference in New York prior to the UN talks on climate this month.
Building a stronger climate justice movement
Popular Resistance is busy helping to organize events around the climate march in New York. While the climate march will be a tremendous show of public support for action on the climate crisis, Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project which has been organizing and agitating around the UN climate process for a decade reminds us that we must have clear demands or we may end up with ‘solutions’ that actually worsen the problem. And we must build a movement of movements to take effective action.
For those reasons, the Global Climate Convergence (which includes Popular Resistance) and System Change not Climate Change are working together to create the New York Climate Convergence. On September 19 and 20, there will be large plenaries featuring activists from the US and other parts of the world, more than 100 workshops and skillshares and space to discuss next steps in tackling the climate crisis.
On September 21, we will march in the Converge for System Change hub where numerous groups with concrete demands will march together to make the movement of movements visible. We invite you to join us. Everyone who signs up here and joins us will receive the new Popular Resistance bandanna.
Dennis Trainor Jr. interviewed one of the organizers of the convergence, Timeka Drew. We are writing a series of articles for Occupy.com and Popular Resistance on the climate crisis. Yesterday’s article focused on the failures of the United Nations and today’s is on similar failures by the US government. Another resource is this series of discussions with activists on movement strategies around the UN process. We encourage you to look at these, especially if you are coming to the climate convergence in order to prepare for strategic discussions.
Local events are also being planned across the country for people who cannot make it to New York. And no matter where you are on Sept. 21, you can participate as best you can in the global Zero Emissions Day. For our Canadian friends, we urge you to join unicyclist Joseph Boutilier when he arrives in Ottawa to greet Parliament on September 15 after cycling more than 5,000 km for Climate Unity.
There are many ways to participate in working for climate justice. For example, changing our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprints, working for renewable energy policies or creating our own sources, educating about the issues, growing our local economies and putting our bodies on the line to resist fossil fuels and nuclear energy are all necessary. Recently, activists on the West Coast took brave actions to halt trains that carry coal and oil in Washington State and shut down a railroad yard in California to stop oil tankers.
Water is sacred
The action in Washington State was a final action of the Backbone Campaign’s yearly Localize This! Action camp. The theme was protecting sacred water. Climate change is causing water shortages and reducing water quality. We can expect increasing battles to control water in the US and around the world.
An important front of struggle is to prevent the privatization of water. Water is necessary for life and all people should have access to it. Water should not be a commodity to be sold only to those who can afford it. Nestle is bottling water from the Colorado River and selling it under Arrowhead and Pure Life brand names even though California is undergoing a severe drought. We urge you to boycott these brands (and all bottled water if you can).
Another corporation to be aware of is Veolia, the “largest water privatization business in the world.” A French company, Veolia is moving in the US to privatize municipal water in a very sneaky way. Detroit’s appointed emergency manager just hired Veolia, a very concerning move for a city that is engaged in human rights violations by shutting off water to its residents. The People’s Water Board is working to have water recognized as a Commons, an entity that serves and is managed by the public.
In this world of privatization, the Commons is a powerful antidote to predatory capitalism. Neoliberal approaches are being pushed at every level through entities called Public Private Partnerships, or ‘P3s’which exploit public resources and taxes for private gain. Some places are countering with Public Public Partnerships. Here is a group that is fighting P3s that are consolidating control over our roads.
A similar struggle over the Internet is taking place. The Federal Communication Commission’s second comment period regarding net neutrality ends on Sept 15. Popular Resistance advocates that the Internet be reclassified as a Common Carrier, like a public utility, so there can be no discrimination and all people have equal access to content on the Internet. The giant telecoms are advocating for the opposite, that the Internet become like cable TV where people only have access to the content that they can afford. Can you imagine if Popular Resistance had to pay different private Internet Service Providers to be included in their package and if you had to choose which package of websites you wanted access to? Access would no longer be equal and the Internet would be dominated by those who have the most money, like the corporate media is today.
In addition to reclassification as a public utility, Popular Resistance also advocates for removal of barriers that prevent communities from creating municipal broadband. Studies show that public broadband is higher quality, less expensive and more equitable. The community with the fastest Internet in the US is Chattanooga, TN which has a public provider.
Thanks to millions of people who have taken action this year since the proposed rules by the FCC were leaked in May, the FCC is considering reclassification. Analysis of the comments submitted so far show that the majority support reclassification, but the FCC also said that the comments don’t matter.
The giant telecoms are powerful and the chair of the FCC is a former President of their lobbying arm. But the most important decision-makers are the two Democratic commissioners, Clyburn and Rosenworcel.
Here are more ways that you can protect the future of the Internet:
On September 10, join the ‘Internet Slowdown’ – a massive online action akin to the one that stopped SOPA. If you have a website or webpage of any sort, you can download an image that shows you are participating. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.
On September 15, there will actions outside of giant telecom offices in Philly, NY, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Francisco. This is being organized by Free Press. We’ll provide details when we have them.
On September 16, we will be outside the FCC again in Washington, DC. Mark your calendar if you can make it and we’ll provide details for that soon as well.
In light of all that is happening in Ferguson and elsewhere, here are two tools for you. This guide tells you how to stay safe while exercising your First Amendment rights. And this guide explains how to archive video evidence. Here are fun and creative ways to use whatever tools you have at hand in protest – like dairy farmers who brought their cows and shot milk at their opponents.
Finally, here is a new calendar full of holidays and ways to celebrate peace. Did you know that the US has 66 military holidays? No wonder there is such a war culture. But, now you can build a culture of peace 154 days a year.
Other ways to build peace are to turn military bases into parks or hospitals as they are doing in Ecuador. If you are a teacher, you can introduce your students to the World Peace Game which teaches how to solve problems peacefully. Perhaps people of all ages would benefit from playing this game.
One of our readers commented this week that if she’d known about the Fight for 15 protests, she would have joined them. If you want to stay up to date with movement news, sign up for the daily digest by clicking here.