Indonesia: 4,220 Striking Miners Fired

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By Staff of Act Now! – In partnership with IndustriALL which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world. Over 4,220 Indonesian workers have been fired for striking, and the Indonesian government must ensure the workers are reinstated. US company Freeport-McMoRan has fired 3,000 workers over the last month at the massive Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua. The firing violates the workers fundamental rights, the collective bargaining agreement and Indonesian law. The workers had struck in protest against the company’s unilateral decision to put them on long-term leave of absence related to a dispute between Freeport and the Indonesian government. The conflict has spread to Java, where over 300 workers have been fired at a joint venture between Freeport and Mitsubishi known as PT Smelting, which processes copper from Grasberg. The Indonesian government cannot allow Freeport and Mitsubishi to abuse workers in this way. The volatile situation could result in an outbreak of violence that would be difficult to contain.

Unsung Black Heroines Launched Modern Domestic Workers Movement

African-American women training as household workers in the 1930s. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

By Premilla Nadasen for Yes! Magazine – In the late 1990s, household workers around the country began to organize to address the exploitation and abuse in their occupation. These domestic workers, immigrant nannies, housecleaners, and elder-care workers from all over the world—the Philippines, Barbados, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, Indonesia, and Nepal—used public shaming strategies to draw attention to particularly egregious employers, sued for back pay, developed support groups, organized training and certificate programs, and lobbied for statewide domestic workers’ bills of rights. In building a movement, domestic workers used storytelling to connect workers with one another. Barbara Young, for example, a former nanny and an organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, joined Domestic Workers United in New York City in the early 2000s. Young was in a park one day with the child she cared for when another household worker, Erline Brown, invited her to a DWU meeting in Brooklyn. “People were telling the stories about the work that they were doing, not getting vacation, not getting paid for holidays.,” she explained. “It was the first time I was hearing stories from workers coming together.”

Build And Fight: The Program And Strategy Of Cooperation Jackson

From atlantablackstar.com

By Staff of Atlanta Black Star – The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is anchored in the vision and macro-strategy of the Jackson-Kush Plan. The Jackson-Kush Plan, as you will read later in this book, was formulated by the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) between 2004 and 2010, to advance the development of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and hasten the socialist transformation of the territories currently claimed by the United States settler-colonial state. And as noted in several articles throughout the book, Cooperation Jackson is a vehicle specifically created to advance a key component of the Jackson-Kush Plan, namely the development of the solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi to advance the struggle for economic democracy as a prelude towards the democratic transition to eco-socialism. Although Cooperation Jackson is rooted in an ideological framework, vision and macro-strategy, it is not a static organization. Like any dynamic organization we do our best to center our practice on addressing the concrete conditions of our space, time and conditions and to align our theory with our practice.

Prepare Now: Artificial Intelligence To Take Jobs Defeat Human Intelligence

Image Credit: Katja Grace/University of Oxford

By Karla Lant for Futurism – Researcher Katja Grace at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and a team surveyed 1,634 of the leading artificial intelligence researchers from all over the world about when they believe intelligent machines and the AI that powers them will surpass human intelligence in a variety of contexts. 352 of the experts responded, and the team then calculated median responses. The results of the probe were presented this month. The experts predicted that within the next decade, AI will outperform humans in tasks like driving trucks (by 2027), translating languages (by 2024), and writing high school essays (by 2026). The consensus was that other tasks such as writing a bestseller (2049) or carrying out surgeries (2053) wouldn’t be quite so imminent. Interestingly, the experts (who answered in 2015) predicted that AI would not surpass humans at Go until 2027 — yet that’s already happened. This suggests the sobering thought that in general their predictions may have been far too conservative against AI. Still, even if we go with the estimates the experts provided — and these were attendees of two of the most significant AI events in 2015…

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.

May Day In The Hood

Flickr/ Gigi Ibrahim

By John Reimann for North Star – So, I was walking down the street in my neighborhood, posting these leaflets (English and Spanish) for a May Day event in the neighborhood park. Got my backpack on, my cap to shield the sun, my stapler in hand. I’m starting to think, “what am I doing this for?”, feeling like Don Quixote. Then two young brothers come walking towards me, smoking a joint. I stop them and give them a leaflet. “You know about May Day – international workers’ day?” I ask. After a few words, the one young guy gets going. “We’re the original people, the Hebrews, brought over here. You can call us whatever – Africans, n____s, slaves. We’re the ones who built this country ourselves. Built it from scratch and never got nothing. We’re disrespected…” He talked a bit more on this subject. “As long as nothing is done about it, as long as we don’t get no reparations, nothing is going to change.” I agreed. “Yeah, you know the Three Musketeers?” I said. “Yeah. One for all and all for one,” he said.

Corporate Siege and Trade in the 2018 Elections

sangriento

Trade policy is amounting to be an increasinly contentious topic as the Trump administration has clearly showed its intentions to keep major TPP provisions in NAFTA. Corporations are working with the Department of Commerce to eliminate the few but significant labor and environmental protections the government enforces while members of Congress begin to campaign around trade. 2018 promises to put trade policy at the forefront as presidential elections in Mexico and mid-terms in the United States could determine the fate of North American trade agreements to come.

Political Strikes: What Can Workers Do To Protect Themselves?

Workers’ strike in Milwaukee in January of 2014. (Photo: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association/flickr/cc)

By Leora Smith for On Labor – On January 28, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called an hour-long work stoppage as a way to express their opposition to President Trump’s Executive Order banning immigration from seven Muslim majority countries and suspending refugee intake. A week later, Yemeni-American bodega owners in New York City protested the Order by closing their businesses and holding a thousands-strong protest in Brooklyn. On February 16, as part of an action called A Day Without Immigrants, thousands went on strike to highlight the contributions of immigrant workers. Each of these demonstrations employed the tactic of work stoppages to send a message. Each was labeled a “strike” in the media.

What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In?

CIO We shall not be moved

By Mike MIller for Counterpunch. We need to build it. That will require talking with people who now don’t think the way present movement activists do; it will mean listening to them, and gaining their trust; developing relationships with them; engaging them in not only protesting but in becoming co-creators of the movement and organizations required to turn around the ship of empire that the U.S. has become. To imagine what this might look like, add a “0” to the numbers of people participating in what are now considered “mass actions”. And imagine them being sustained over a long period of time. And imagine already existing civic organizations (unions, congregations and others) growing in membership because of their involvement in the cause. And imagine new organizations being formed by people who now don’t have a continuing voice in civic affairs. And stretch your mind a little further to imagine permanent organizations being built that unite all these forces. That’s what “big organizing” would look like.

Labor Leaders Given World Peace Awards In D.C. Ceremony

by Bill Hughes

By Bill Hughes for Baltimore Post-Examiner – On Capitol Hill, on Tuesday afternoon two stalwarts of the cause of Organized Labor, John Sweeney and Elizabeth Powell, were awarded with the “Roving Ambassador for Peace” award. Sweeney is the President-Emeritus of the AFL-CIO and Ms. Powell is the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The ceremony was held in the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, on the eighth floor, with a splendid view of the White House and Washington Monument in the background. Friends and family members of the honorees were in attendance. They were joined by officials of the AFL-CIO, such as Ms. Elizabeth Shuler, its Secretary-Treasurer, and Mark Dimondstein, a member of its Executive Council, also the President of the APWU.

Trump Taps Ex-Labor Board Member Acosta To Be Labor Secretary

R. Alexander Acosta exits U.S. District Court with other attorneys at U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

By Robert Lafolla and Steve Holland for Reuters – In response to President Trump’s nomination of Alexander Acosta for labor secretary, Fight For $15 published the statement of Aiesha Meadows McLaurin, a Burger King worker from Chicago, IL: “Workers in the Fight for $15 just proved that when we stand together, even fast-food CEOs and presidents can’t ignore us. Working Americans need a labor secretary who will have our backs, not one who will hold us back. We look forward to learning more about Mr. Acosta’s record as the confirmation process unfolds. If confirmed, we will hold Mr. Acosta accountable as labor secretary and do whatever it takes to make sure that our voices are heard loud and clear in Washington. No matter who becomes labor secretary, we won’t back down for one second in our fight. We’ll keep taking to the streets, standing up and speaking out until we win $15 and a union rights for all.”

Unions At Lowest Levels In Decades—To Gain Power We Must Stop Following Rules

Because activists tend to conflate our legal rights with our actual human rights, we doggedly pursue age-old strategies because “it is what it is.” We must stop this. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Shaun Richman for In This Time – If Donald Trump’s first week as president wasn’t depressing enough, Thursday brought a report that showed union membership fell in 2016. Union members are now just 10.7% of the overall workforce and only 6.7% of the private sector. Those are the lowest levels since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking them in the early 1980s—and possibly the lowest since the 1920s. Bosses and union haters will crow that unions are dying institutions and even our friends may write eulogies. But this funeral is for the wrong corpse. What may be dying is the system of collective bargaining that developed in the years after World War II.

Liam Barrington-Bush: Solidarity Ecosystems

Flickr/ teofilo

By Staff of Z Communications Daily Commentary – At first glance it is a factory: heavy machinery, crates, palettes, industrial barrels and men doing manual labor. Little catches the eye, except maybe the homemade banners hanging up around the warehouse. They’re in Greek, so you might not be able to read them, but you can tell these are not the stock decorations from the ‘IKEA industrial chic’ catalog. Over a couple of days, you might also notice that you’re unlikely to see those men doing the same specific jobs, day after day, as you would in most factories. They seem to rotate their roles, mixing up batches of soap, pouring them into frames and cutting it into bars, but also cleaning toilets, taking product orders and coordinating distribution.

The Solidarity Ecosystems Of Occupied Factories

Hand soap from the VIO.ME factory in Greece.

Liam Barrington-Bush for ROAR Magazine – At first glance it is a factory: heavy machinery, crates, palettes, industrial barrels and men doing manual labor. Little catches the eye, except maybe the homemade banners hanging up around the warehouse. They’re in Greek, so you might not be able to read them, but you can tell these are not the stock decorations from the ‘IKEA industrial chic’ catalog. Over a couple of days, you might also notice that you’re unlikely to see those men doing the same specific jobs, day after day, as you would in most factories. They seem to rotate their roles, mixing up batches of soap, pouring them into frames and cutting it into bars, but also cleaning toilets, taking product orders and coordinating distribution. However, overall, when you walk into VIO.ME, it mostly looks like countless other industrial workplaces in the north of Greece and beyond.

Breaking The Chains: Can Labor Unions Organize Retail Workers?

The drumbeat of anti-unionism typically begins as soon as new employees begin their training. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Seth Kershner for In These Times – Retail is the nation’s largest employer. Since 1980, the number of jobs in retail has reportedly grown nearly 50 percent, from 10.2 to 15.1 million. At the same time, real wages for retail workers have fallen by 11 percent while on-call scheduling, involuntary part-time work and “clopening”—where workers are required to lock up the store late at night and reopen the next morning—have wreaked havoc with workers’ lives. Not surprisingly, the retail sector also has one of the lowest rates of unionization in the economy—around the 5 percent mark under which unions have virtually no influence. It didn’t used to be this way. Retail had 15 percent union density in the 1970s, according to sociologist Peter Ikeler…