Our anti-racism solidarity pledge put into action

On August 14, 2017, Jobs with Justice facilitated a gathering at Bell Street Chapel of multiple organizations and groups from across Rhode Island in response to the tragedy in Charlottesville. We joined together as a community and pledged to stand with each other in solidarity in opposition to fascism, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression using the lens of an intersectional feminist praxis. (For more information on intersectionality, click here to read the Wikipedia article and click here to read the original article that forms the basis of this important praxis)

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As part of this pledge we promised to create within our own organizations efforts that will implement these initiatives both amongst our members and in our surrounding communities. This means that we promise to create an effort that will challenge oppressive structures and attitudes in our individual members, in the bylaws that govern our operations, and in the communities we work within up to and including the abolition of the police and prison-industrial complex. In no way is there any place for agencies which have facilitated the rise of this fascist menace in our communities.

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So how do we do this?

We can start by by creating what is called an affinity group. It is a group formed around a shared interest or common goal to which individuals formally or informally belong. Some affinity groups are organized in a non-hierarchical manner, often using consensus decision making, and are frequently made up of trusted friends. They provide a method of organization that is flexible and decentralized. Other affinity groups may have a hierarchy to provide management of the group’s long-term interests, or if the group is large enough to require the delegation of responsibilities to other members or staff. Affinity groups may have either open or closed membership, although the latter is far more common. Some charge membership dues or expect members to share the cost of the group’s expenses. (Click here to read more about creating an affinity group)

Once you have created an affinity group, begin to create an internal education curriculum module that make sure every member understands intersectional feminism. From there you will want to begin developing an understanding of this history of race and racism as well as Critical Race Theory, the academic discipline that is focused upon the application of critical theory, a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of race, law, and power. This is a large topic that can take multiple meetings. (Click here to read Richard Moser’s useful introductory text on white skin privilege, the culminating benefit of racism.)

After your affinity group understands this material, look into creating either a standing committee or caucus within your organization dedicated to internal implementation. Once formalized this body should focus energy and resources on educating the community you occupy about opposing white supremacy, racism, fascism, and oppression of all types.

Nissan Union Loss Underscores Labor’s Big Dilemma

JUSTIN MILLER

AUGUST 8, 2017

The United Auto Workers’ failed union drive at a Mississippi car plant points to core challenges for a labor movement working within a rigged system. 

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(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Nissan employee Morris Mock, left, consoles colleague Antonio Hoover as he expresses his disappointment at losing their bid to form a union at the Nissan vehicle assembly plant in Canton, Miss., Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.

Late Friday night, the American labor movement was dealt yet another body blow—an increasingly common occurrence in the Trump era—as it became clear that the United Auto Workers had lost its long-shot bid to establish a union at a Nissan manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi.

Workers at the factory voted 2,244 to 1,307 against unionization, a devastating landslide defeat for the Detroit-based union and worker activists who had been trying to organize since the plant first opened nearly 15 years ago.

“We’re disappointed but not surprised by the outcome in Canton,” said Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, in a statement. “Despite claiming for years to be neutral on the question of a union, Nissan waged one of the most illegal and unethical anti-union campaigns that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

For decades, industrial unions have tried to make headway in the South, where manufacturers both foreign—like Airbus, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen— and domestic—like Boeing—have set up shop, drawn by the region’s low wages and historic aversion to unions.

Forty of Nissan’s 42 plants around the world are unionized—as are the vast majority of other foreign-owned multinationals’. Corporations that wouldn’t think of going non-union in Europe or Japan become militantly anti-union when they move into the South.

Unions’ efforts at these Southern plants have failed almost every time—most recently in Charleston, South Carolina, where the Machinists union called for an election earlier this year to unionize Boeing’s first Southern factory. Despite a multi-year effort to build up support, more than two-thirds of eligible workers voted to reject a union.

The unsuccessful campaign in Canton epitomizes the immense challenges that weakened unions face as they try to survive, shore up strength, and expand in a globalized economy

The unsuccessful campaign in Canton epitomizes the immense challenges that weakened unions face as they try to survive, shore up strength, and expand in a globalized economy that is squeezing workers more and more. The continued failures prompt important and ongoing debates about unions’ approaches to organizing strategy—and the degree to which they may be repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But they also bring into stark relief the question of whether labor unions can make any meaningful organizing gains without a complete overhaul of the nation’s labor laws.

The answer, increasingly, appears to be, “no.”

A CENTRAL CHALLENGE IS THAT UNIONS are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs, forced to operate within a woefully antiquated labor law framework while corporations brazenly operate outside that framework with little fear of consequences or retribution. Corporations have mastered the art of union avoidance, spending millions of dollars on sophisticated campaigns to advance anti-union talking points in both the workplace and the community.

The plant employs about 6,500 people, including thousands of temporary workers who are employed through the staffing agency Kelly Services, though they were not eligible to be in the union. UAW officials have criticized the car company for paying “perma-temps” lower wages for doing the same work as Nissan employees.

Nissan’s anti-union campaign was even more aggressive than the typical aggressive employer campaign

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Nissan’s anti-union campaign was even more aggressive than the typical aggressive employer campaign, says Kate Bronfenbrenner, a senior lecturer and labor-organizing expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, because Nissan sensed that UAW was gaining momentum, having reportedly gotten a majority of workers to sign union cards before the election.

“They had to undo that union majority by using fear and intimidation,” Bronfenbrenner says.

In Canton, Nissan played anti-UAW videos on a continuous loop in the employee break rooms leading up to the election. The company pulled workers into “captive audience” roundtable discussions, where managers warned that a union would create rigidity and would wreak havoc in the Nissan “family.”

Supervisors wore “Vote No” t-shirts on the floor and pulled workers who had voiced support for the union into one-on-one meetings. As Payday Report’s Mike Elk, who covered the election on the ground, reported, management allegedly dealt out long-promised raises and lucrative rates for car purchases, while threatening to take away special lease rates on new cars for employees if they voted to unionize.

“When Nissan said, ‘We are going take away your leased vehicle,’ everything changed,” Nissan worker Betty Jones told Elk. “And the more they were saying that, the more people were wearing their [anti-union] shirts.”

The Japanese automaker also ran TV ads in the Canton media market, while nearly every business in the area had anti-union signs outside their stores. For his part, Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant posted an unsubtle message on Facebook.

Veiled threats that the plant might shut down if workers unionized are common in union campaigns, but particularly effective when used by multinationals whose threat may not sound empty. “Multinationals are harder to organize under because the threat of capital mobility is very real and they use the threat that they will move,” Bronfenbrenner says. “This is not a Southern phenomenon. This is problem in organizing multinational firms, period.”

Confronted by Nissan’s anti-union onslaught, the UAW and its allies mounted a counter-campaign that tried to build community support and tie the organizing drive at the plant—where the majority of workers are black—to the civil rights movement. Back in March, the UAW held a march in Canton where some 5,000 activists, including Senator Bernie Sanders, actor Danny Glover, and former NAACP President Cornell Brooks, gathered to rally support in the lead up to UAW filing for an election. And in the days before the election, both Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez voiced support for a Nissan union.

The racial factors at play in Mississippi as the union campaign heated up were hard to miss, too. A man on one radio station in the area said, “You Nissan people better listen,” warning that workers would go back to “picking cotton, plowing fields, or digging ditches” if they voted to unionize.

The UAW has filed several Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, including seven on Friday evening alleging that Nissan violated federal labor law. In July, the NLRB charged Nissan with illegally bribing and intimidating workers, which the company denies and has promised to appeal. If the labor board finds that the company illegally swayed the election outcome, it could void the results and order a new election within six months. However, the odds of success for unions are often even lower in re-elections as companies will often double down on intimidation tactics.

In Donald Trump’s Washington, meanwhile, the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress work in concert to roll back union-friendly regulations. The prospects of federal labor law reform that could create a level playing field for workers trying to unionize are currently nonexistent while the threat of a complete dismantling of existing protections is exceedingly possible. Trump is on the verge of getting his NLRB appointees through the Senate, which will create an anti-union majority on the board and add one additional obstacle to union organizing.

The Nissan loss is a devastating one for unions and workers alike—but unless the labor landscape changes in a dramatic way, those types of losses will only continue.

Protecting Our Paychecks

This is from a process that was started 3 years ago with ROC United. Following interviews with dozens of servers the issue of having to cover skipped checks kept popping up.

Working with the Center for Justice, and RIAFLCIO we protecting our pay checks from unauthorized and immoral deductions.

It’s about time.

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170613/ri-legislation-would-protect-workers-pay-from-certain-deductions-for-business-losses

Terrible News!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/09/in-a-setback-for-unions-labor-department-moves-to-revoke-obama-era-persuader-rule/?can_id=fd43c5b6b9e489e01ab8f7bf0ecc493f&email_referrer=todays-headlines-jobs-with-justice-51217-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2&email_subject=todays-headlines-jobs-with-justice-61217&link_id=1&source=email-todays-headlines-jobs-with-justice-51217-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2&utm_term=.22b4a09f7e06

Court and Labor Union Challenge

New high court challenge to labor unions follows 4-4 split

WASHINGTON – Conservative groups are wasting little time in trying to deal a crippling blow to labor unions now that Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the Supreme Court.

A First Amendment clash over public sector unions left the justices deadlocked last year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But union opponents have quickly steered a new case through federal courts in Illinois and they plan to appeal it to the high court on Tuesday.

The groups say unions representing government employees violate the free speech rights of workers by collecting money from people who don’t want to join.

If the high court agrees, it could threaten the financial viability of unions and reduce the clout of labor, one of the biggest contributors to Democratic political campaigns.

The Supreme Court seemed all but certain to rule against the unions in a similar case — Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association — argued before Scalia died. That case, involving a California teachers’ union, was the first of several to split 4-4 while the court was short-handed. The deadlock left in place a four-decade-old practice that lets public-sector unions collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of collective bargaining.

“Our hope is that a year from now, the Supreme Court will end this injustice and free every public school teacher, safety officer and other government worker to decide for themselves whether or not to financially support a union with their hard-earned money,” said a joint statement from the two organizations backing the case – the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Liberty Justice Center.

The Supreme Court won’t consider taking up the case until September at the earliest.

The latest appeal comes as union membership in the U.S. hit new lows last year, sinking to just 10.7 percent of the workforce. As private union membership has steadily declined, about half of all union members now work for federal, state and local government. Most of them are in states like Illinois, New York, and California that are largely Democratic and seen as friendly toward unions.

The Illinois case involves Mark Janus, a state employee who says Illinois law violates his free speech rights by requiring him to pay fees subsidizing a union he doesn’t support, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. About half the states have similar laws covering so-called “fair share” fees that cover bargaining costs for nonmembers.

Janus is seeking to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court case that said public workers who refuse to join a union can still be required to pay for bargaining costs, as long as the fees don’t go toward political purposes. The arrangement was supposed to prevent nonmembers from “free riding,” since the union has a legal duty to represent all workers.

A federal appeals court in Chicago rejected Janus’ claim in March, ruling that the fees were constitutional under the 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders called the case an effort to chip away at the power of unions “to negotiate a fair return on our work, provide for our families, and lift up the concerns of all working families.”

Last year, the issue split the court’s liberal and conservative members during oral arguments in the California case. Several conservative justices, including Scalia, seemed ready to scrap Abood. They said bargaining issues like teacher salaries, merit promotions and class sizes are all intertwined with political issues involving the size of state budgets and how taxpayer dollars should be spent.

While unions avoided a loss after Scalia’s death, Gorsuch is seen as equally conservative, though he has not expressed views on the issue of fair share union fees.

For unions, the loss of millions in fees would reduce their power to bargain for higher wages and benefits for government employees.

“This is an aggressive litigation campaign aimed at undermining unions’ ability to operate by forcing them to represent people for free,” said Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School specializing in labor law.

Our Right To Protest Is Under Attack

America’s Freedom to Protest Is Under Attack

A UN special rapporteur was shocked to find abusive employers, anti-protest bills, and other signs of a weakening of democracy.

It’s no secret that America’s star is fading on the world stage these days, under a president whose authoritarian tactics have outraged allies and enemies alike. But a recent audit by an international human-rights monitor reveals that, even before Trump’s buffoonery took over the White House, Washington was failing dramatically to live up to its reputation as a beacon of democracy. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly Maina Kiai’s dissection of the nation’s systematic betrayal of basic human rights centers on America’s shrinking public square.

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Based on a year-long observation of the country’s governance and civic life that stretches from mid-2016 through the start of the Trump administration, Kiai, whose post recently ended with the publication of the report, sees a massive erosion of the right to freedom of assembly. The concept encompasses the right to organize and protest and other essential forms of civic and public activism. Though it is formally inscribed in the Bill of Rights, the precept has come under assault under the Trump administration, Kiai says, stoked by the president’s “hateful and xenophobic rhetoric during the presidential campaign” and blatant flouting of civil liberties in his policies and governing style.

Kiai concludes that over the past year a growing swath of communities of color, workers and immigrants, and other marginalized groups have felt deterred from engaging in social movements, staging protests and other forms of citizen action, or campaigning to defend community and workplace rights.

One overarching obstacle is the ingrained culture of racism, which has persisted since slavery through Jim Crow and the ongoing struggles with institutionalized discrimination. Citing police-community conflict as a primary illustration of structural oppression, Kiai argues, “Racism and the exclusion, persecution and marginalization that come with it affect the environment for exercising association and assembly rights.” His report directly denounces government agencies’ “hostility towards the Black Lives Matter movement,” contending that “The government has an obligation under international law to protect and promote” the group’s peaceful exercise of the right of free assembly. Similarly, the report describes structural corruption driving the use of perverse incentives in the policing of black communities, with “police departments raising revenue through fines and rewarding or sanctioning police officers based on the number of arrests.” These patterns of aggressive policing, Kiai says, disempower neighborhoods by deterring dissent.

The evaluation, focused on field research conducted in 2016 and analyzing issues that have intensified under Trump, documents increasingly anti-democratic enforcement tactics against immigrant communities at risk of civil-rights abuses. Kiai cites reports of immigration agents “conducting surveillance at assemblies focused on migrant issues,” which he argues “chills the exercise of assembly rights.” As noncitizens who cannot vote and lack other legal rights, he adds, protesting is “one of the only tools they have to voice their concerns. The government should encourage the exercise of this right by everyone, especially marginalized groups.”

Kiai tackles direct restrictions on the right to protest as well, noting an “increasingly hostile legal environment for peaceful protesters in some states,” particularly trumped-up penalties against spontaneous or “unpermitted” peaceful public demonstrations. South Dakota and Tennessee recently passed laws against blocking streets during protests. Nationwide, about 29 such anti-protest bills have been proposed or passed since November, coinciding with an unprecedented wave of street demonstrations against Trump.

Some jurisdictions deter activists by charging organizations hefty fees simply for the right to stage a public demonstration. Burdening the citizenry with onerous fees and red tape, Kiai says, clashes with international guidelines against requiring pre-approval of planned protests. The report recommends instead allowing groups to simply notify officials of, rather than seek prior approval for, planned protests, arguing that giving government extensive control over dissent “risks turning the right into a privilege.”

Deterioration of free-assembly rights is glaringly apparent in the workplace. Despite the United States’ historical role as an architect of the International Labour Organization standards on workers’ rights, the report argues that its foundational labor law, the National Labor Rights Act, “legalises practices that severely infringe workers’ rights to associate” and “provides few incentives for employers to respect workers’ rights.”

Labor regulation is eviscerated by weak enforcement and underfunding, particularly “compared to the massive resources dedicated to other law enforcement functions in the United States.” Given the prevalence of endemic violations like wage theft in low-wage industries, Kiai observes an imbalance in government priorities: protecting corporations’ profits while unraveling basic regulatory protections for workers as well as their right to organize, at a time when traditional unions are shrinking as a political force.

The environment for workers is extremely hostile in the US, and frankly it shocked me…. Where’s the outrage? The US had the War on Drugs, so why not a War on Abusive Employers? It’s clearly an epidemic that has the potential to deeply damage the economic and social fabric of the country.

Kiai’s analysis also extends beyond issues surrounding the right to protest and warns of the corrosive impacts of capitalism on democracy. Citing the mass protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline as an illustration of the corporate assault on grassroots activists, he argues that Trump’s crackdown on protesters reflects an agenda of “market fundamentalism,” exploiting natural resources for short-term profits while neglecting the human rights of impacted communities, which “undermines indigenous people’s land, territorial and resource rights.”

Kiai stresses the irony of America failing to “walk the talk” as a liberal democratic superpower. The United States has repeatedly supported, and often helped develop, international standards on, for example, the right to free speech under the United Nations framework, yet systematically fails to institute the same principles in domestic law. Nonetheless, he concludes that despite what appears to be a regression in free assembly rights under the new president, civil society remains a vibrant, if embattled, force of resistance:

Trump’s rhetoric is often violent and divisive, with a heavy authoritarian streak. He doesn’t even pay lip service to fundamental rights…. It’s not an easy environment in which to exercise your expressive rights, and that environment seems to have become markedly worse since my visit. Yet despite this, we’ve seen the emergence of a massive and sustained protest movement–that’s something that is truly encouraging and moving.

Despite, or because of Trump’s authoritarianism, a counter-populist movement is building, renewing the meaning of free assembly as a coming together of the dispossessed.

North Carolina Slave Conspiracies of 1802 ( North Carolina New Afrikans Wanted a Black Nation )

State of North Carolina Bertie County The examination of Sundry Negro Slaves touching a conspiracy supposed to exist among the slave to rebel taken at Windsor before Justice assigned to keep them from the County of Bertie above named taken at Windsor this ninth day of June one hour and eighteen hundred and two. That […]

via North Carolina Slave Conspiracies of 1802 ( North Carolina New Afrikans Wanted a Black Nation ) — newafrikan77

Marginalized into Nothingness

Marginalized into nothingness. I’ll say ‘people are being enslaved and no one seems to care or even see them. More concerned with climate change than your enslaved neighbor’s freedom.’ They’ll say can’t we do both in concordance? Both are equally important. Then on another day, I’ll say ‘children are being subject to a school […]

via Marginalized Into Nothingness — My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison

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