Domestic Workers Movement Is Growing

A domestic workers in Johannesburg, South Africa. Solidarity Center/Jemal Countess/Flickr. Creative Commons.

By Myrtle Witbooi for Open Democracy – So the question is, how did I come from my humble beginnings to where I am now? My life in this field started in 1966, when I became a domestic worker. I was working for a family, in 1967, and I remember I was pregnant and had a baby that same year. I also remember that, during the apartheid times, there was an article in the newspaper about how some employers didn’t allow the friends of domestic workers to visit the property. The question that a came to my mind was what are we? And why are there no rights for us? So I questioned the situation. I wrote a letter and I sent it to the newspaper without thinking. I just wrote my frustration: why are we different? Why are there no laws to protect us? Why are we not seen as people? And then, three days later, a reporter from the newspaper came to the door and was looking for the maid, the servant. This reporter decided that I educated and asked me why I kept my ideas to myself, instead of speaking out. I became a spokesperson for both sides, and that is where I discovered a certain talent I have: I have the ability to speak. So we called a meeting in 1968, here in Salt River (Capetown, South Africa), in a big hall for garment workers.

Reviving The Strike

Screenshot 2017-08-05 at 11.40.52 AM

By Jane McAlevey for The Bullet – Barb Tiller is a mother of four boys, a wife, and a highly skilled operating-room nurse who has been working at Tufts Medical Center in Boston for 27 years. On July 12, for the first time in her life, she walked off the job along with 1,200 other nurses – almost all women – in the largest nurses’ strike in Massachusetts’s history, and the first in Boston for 31 years. “Nurses don’t stand up for ourselves,” says Tiller. “We stand up for our patients; we stand up for our families when we go home. We stand up for everyone else. But we can’t work under these conditions anymore – like being locked in the operating room with no water, no bathroom break, no meal break, for 12 hours at a time.” Alyssa Gold, a cardiology nurse whose 16 months at Tufts mirrors the duration of the contract negotiations between the nurses and hospital management, says, “I was excited to start working at Tufts because the best learning for nurses happens in Boston hospitals.” Five years into nursing, which she refers to as her calling, Gold agrees with Tiller about the dire need for change. In the days leading up to the strike, Gold faced some of the fears and self-doubt that hospital managers count on.

Latest Trends In The Capitalist Crisis

Capitalism has always been a highly irrational socioeconomic system, but the constant drive for accumulation has especially run amok in the age of high finance, privatization and globalization. (Image: Pixabay; Edited: JR / TO)

By C.J. Polychroniou for Truthout – Having survived the financial meltdown of 2008, corporate capitalism and the financial masters of the universe have made a triumphant return to their “business as usual” approach: They are now savoring a new era of wealth, even as the rest of the population continues to struggle with income stagnation, job insecurity and unemployment. This travesty was made possible in large part by the massive US government bailout plan that essentially rescued major banks and financial institutions from bankruptcy with taxpayer money (the total commitment on the part of the government to the bank bailout plan was over $16 trillion). In the meantime, corporate capitalism has continued running recklessly to the precipice with regard to the environment, as profits take precedence not only over people but over the sustainability of the planet itself. Capitalism has always been a highly irrational socioeconomic system, but the constant drive for accumulation has especially run amok in the age of high finance, privatization and globalization. Today, the question that should haunt progressive-minded and radical scholars and activists alike is whether capitalism itself is in crisis, given that the latest trends in the system are working perfectly well for global corporations and the rich, producing new levels of wealth and increasing inequality.

There’s No Good Reason For Your Boss To Make 347 Times What You Do

(Photo: Shutterstock)

By Steven Clifford for Other Words – CEO pay at America’s 500 largest companies averaged $13.1 million in 2016. That’s 347 times what the average employee makes. So CEOs make a lot of money. But, some say, so do athletes and movie stars. Why pick on corporate bosses, then? First, because the market sets compensation for athletes and movie stars, but not for CEOs. Teams and movie studios bid for athletes and movie stars. CEO pay is set by a rigged system that has nothing to do with supply and demand. NBA teams bid for LeBron James because his skills are portable: He’d be a superstar on any team. CEOs’ skills are much more closely tied to their knowledge of a single company — its finances, products, personnel, culture, competitors, etc. Such knowledge and skills are best gained working within the company, and not worth much outside. In fact, a CEO jumping between large companies happens less than once a year. And when they jump, they usually fail. Lacking a market, CEO pay is set by a series of complex administrative pay practices. Usually a board, often dominated by other sitting or retired CEOs, sets their CEO’s pay based on the compensation of other highly paid CEOs. The CEO can then double or triple this target by surpassing negotiated bonus goals.

Urban Shield: A Federal Protection Racket

blackagendareport.com

By Ann Garrison for Black Agenda Report – In 2015, Berkeley, California City Councilor Max Anderson voiced this eloquent opposition to militarization of the police during the annual Bay Area Urban Shield war games and weapons expo: “The culture that’s cultivated by the type of training that you receive becomes the way you conduct yourselves . . . “When I was in the Marines in the early ‘60s, all our pop-up targets that we practiced on were Asians. You know now they’re Middle Easterners, so it kinda shifts, and so the rationale and the justification for targeting people on these bases shifts along with it. “And when military weapons follow military thinking into our police ranks, you know we have a problem. You know it’s a problem of association because when you’re in a combat situation, you’re thinking about survival, and you’re thinking about enemies and friendlies. And when you inculcate that into our environment here, and we start thinking about the citizenry as either being friendly or enemies, and react accordingly based on what designation we lay on people, then we’re sliding down that track.” What could better describe the prevailing mindset of U.S. police? And we all know who’s on the enemies list that they feel compelled to kill to survive: Black and Brown people, Muslims, and poor people.

Beware The Politics Of Fear And ‘Non-Ideological’ Saviors

jeremy-corbyn

By Slavoj Zizek for Independent – Recall how, in the last elections in France, every leftist scepticism about Macron was immediately denounced as a support for Marine le Pen. And look at the empty universality of successful statements like Macron’s ‘La Republique En Marche!’ – the designation of a victorious movement forward without any obvious or specific goal. An old Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times!” – interesting times are the times of troubles, confusion and suffering. And it seems that in some “democratic” countries, we are lately witnessing a weird phenomenon which proves that we live in interesting times: a candidate emerges and wins elections as it were from nowhere, in a moment of confusion building a movement around his name – both Berlusconi and Macron exploded like this. What is this process a sign of? Definitely not of any kind of direct popular engagement beyond party politics – on the contrary, we should never forget that such figures explode with the full support of social and economic establishment. Their function is to obfuscate actual social antagonisms – people are magically united against some demonised “fascist” threat.

The Class War Should Unite Us

Nijmie Dzurinko (bottom, middle) with the Mother Jones Leadership Program participants and mentors, 2017. (Photo: Courtesy of Nijmie Dzurinko)

By Sarah Jaffe for Truthout – Nijmie Dzurinko: I think the first thing to know about the piece is that, although it does chronicle the story of one of our members, Danelle Morrow, and her husband Kevin, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a place where Trump campaigned heavily in the election, the purpose of the story is not to say that our intention was to turn him from being a Trump voter. That was an outgrowth of the strategy, which is to really build an intersectional working class movement across the state of Pennsylvania that meets people where they are at, sees them for who they are, engages them around where they are hurting, then, moves us all toward a vision of human rights that is inclusive of all people. Including them. Danelle wrote this piece about her husband. She found Put People First online. She saw us on Facebook. The first contact she ever made with us was jumping in a car with her two daughters and driving about two and a half hours to come to a meeting with a bunch of people she had never met before because she just liked the sound of what we were doing. She then found a place in the organization and has since has become a leader of an organizing committee in Johnstown…

A Class-Only Approach Will Fail Women Of Color

cover-image-1200x600

By Andrea Flynn and Angelique Roche for Roosevelt Institute – Last week President Trump released a budget that would gut public programs that lift up millions of American women and families. Contrary to its title, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the budget is a roadmap to a place where women and their families would be less safe, less healthy, and less economically secure. As we argue in a new report published by the Roosevelt Institute and the Ms. Foundation for Women, women, and particularly women of color, are at greatest risk from the President’s latest proposal. Among all social groups in the United States, women of color experience some of the starkest disparities and inequities across nearly every social and economic indicator: Compared to white women, they have higher levels of unemployment and poverty; they have significantly less wealth; they are more likely to be targeted by and come in contact with the criminal justice system; they are at a much higher risk, regardless of their income or education, of dying as a result of pregnancy and of losing their children in infancy; they are less likely to own a home and more likely to have high-risk mortgages when they do own a home; and they are less likely to attend college and, when they do, tend to carry heavier student debt burdens. They are caught in a web of injustices.

Labour’s Manifesto Is A Template For The Struggling Left Worldwide

Jeremy Corbyn launches the Labour party election manifesto. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

By Owen Jones for The Guardian – Wanted: a compelling vision for a left-of-centre party. Must invest in economy, modernise essential services, get the well-off to pay more tax. Free wifi on trains a bonus. Someone answered my personal ad! Labour’s manifesto – unveiled today – is a moderate, commonsense set of antidotes to the big problems holding back one of the wealthiest countries on earth. And – intriguingly – here is an attempt to confront the crisis of identity and vision afflicting social democracy not just in Britain, but across the western world. The manifesto sketches out an answer to Britain’s broken model. The current model is bankrupt: it’s not just unjust, it’s irrational. It concentrates wealth in very few hands – the richest 1,000 British people enjoyed a 14% jump in their fortunes over the past year – while wages have suffered the longest squeeze in generations. It fails to build the housing the country needs. It robs many communities of secure, properly paid, skilled jobs. It leaves most people in poverty in work, earning their poverty. It allows multinational corporations to pay little or no tax while small businesses struggle.

Which Way To The Barricades?

1933 Dressmakers' Union strike demonstrators take a break in a diner. Kheel Center / Flickr

By Steve Fraser and Nelson Lichtenstein for Jacobin Magazine – Shelly’s “Masque of Anarchy” has been a spectral presence for nearly two hundred years, summoned at climactic moments of civil warfare. Composed to memorialize the 1819 Peterloo massacre, the poem commemorates the sixty thousand people who gathered at the very dawn of the industrial revolution to demand a radical expansion of suffrage, especially to those laboring in England’s dark satanic mills. Dozens died, hundreds were wounded. The poem wasn’t published for over a decade, until the Chartist movement took it up in 1832. Another ten years after that, it became the anthem of an almost nationwide general strike. Participants referred to the time leading up to that moment and the strikes that preceded it as “holy days.” Since then “Ye are many—they are few” has inspired rebellion, resistance, and liberation again and again. The New York garment worker strikes of 1911, the sit-down strikes of the 1930s, May 1968 in Paris, and, most recently, the pro-democracy congregations during the Arab Spring and the Occupy uprisings of 2011 are all etched in our collective memory. There are also largely unknown, but hardly less remarkable, general strikes: not just those that shut down Winnipeg and Seattle in 1919…

Here To Stay: Immigrant Workers Demand Justice, Respect On May Day

33586009723_b91b6c922d_k-768x576

By Anne Meador and John Zangas for DC Media Group – Thousands of people marched in the streets of Washington, DC to celebrate May Day, the holiday often known as International Workers’ Day, with defiant calls for a living wage, benefits, and safe working conditions. In light of President Trump’s assault on immigrants and refugees, the rallies and marches also became protests against refugee bans, deportations and raids on immigrant communities. Crowds filled Dupont Circle, Malcolm X Park, Freedom Plaza, and Courthouse in Arlington, then converged into marches to the White House. American flags mingled with Mexican flags and bright red socialist flags. Many of the large number of Hispanic participants were immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries, and, in spite of risks, even undocumented immigrants were present and vocal. While some might expect recent Trump initiatives, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and efforts to build a wall on the border of Mexico, to intimidate those born in another country, there was an unmistakable tone of defiance in every speech, chant and sign. “No papers, no fear!” they cried. Some signs advertised the hashtag #heretostay.

Reign Of Idiots

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages. Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, “experts” and “specialists” busy themselves with unintelligible jargon and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore and fantasy. There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it. The idiots know only one word—“more.” They are unencumbered by common sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a living and the infrastructure collapses.

The Price Of Resistance

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – In the conflicts I covered as a reporter in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans, I encountered singular individuals of varying creeds, religions, races and nationalities who majestically rose up to defy the oppressor on behalf of the oppressed. Some of them are dead. Some of them are forgotten. Most of them are unknown. These individuals, despite their vast cultural differences, had common traits—a profound commitment to the truth, incorruptibility, courage, a distrust of power, a hatred of violence and a deep empathy that was extended to people who were different from them, even to people defined by the dominant culture as the enemy. They are the most remarkable men and women I met in my 20 years as a foreign correspondent. And to this day I set my life by the standards they set. You have heard of some, such as Vaclav Havel, whom I and other foreign reporters met most evenings, during the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, in the Magic Lantern Theatre in Prague. Others, no less great, you probably do not know, such as the Jesuit priest Ignacio Ellacuria, who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1989.

Baltimore’s Mayor Rejects $15 Minimum Wage Bill

image

By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report – Black Agenda Report (BAR) has been the only media outlet in the United States to criticize and condemn mainstream Black political leadership. BAR anointed such leadership a well-deserved new title: the Black misleadership class. The Black misleadership class occupies the halls of local, state, and federal office. Members of this class have been traditionally nurtured from the bowels of the Democratic Party, with few notable exceptions. The rise of this class has correlated with an increase in representation of Black entertainers, athletes, and media pundits to ensure the most progressive polity in the US, Black America, is kept in the ideological thrall of the ruling system. Baltimore’s Democratic Party mayor Catherine Pugh showed off her lock-step allegiance to the Black misleadership class with her veto of a bill that would have raised the local minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022.

Heavily Armed Left-Wing Group Shows Up At Pro-Trump Rally

Pro-Trump rally participants in Southern California. — REUTERS

By Jacob Steinblatt for Vocativ – A heavily armed left-wing group, the John Brown Gun Club, made a surprise appearance over the weekend at a pro-Trump rally being held in Phoenix, Arizona with a conciliatory message for supporters of the president. About two dozen men and women armed with a variety of rifles stood beside the march in downtown Phoenix, in order to both show their opposition to the Trump administration and its policies, and to appeal to supporters of President Trump as fellow members of the working class. The group describes itself as largely white and working class, with the ultimate goal of “total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, [or] nationality.”