Organizing to Reduce Workplace Dangers

Workers are standing up to intimidation with bold campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Dollar General.

BY JESSICA E. MARTINEZMARCY GOLDSTEIN-GELB

Screen Shot 2022-05-17 at 9.46.52 AM.png

Creative Commons / Starbucks workers on strike

Jordan Romero, 28, was struck by a vehicle and died in a trench at a Boston construction site in February 2021. Romero was the father of two young children. They will grow up without him.

Robert Woods, 42, was murdered in 2018 during a robbery at the St. Louis Dollar General store where he worked, leaving behind a grieving daughter. Despite multiple violent incidents at its stores, Dollar General has not taken measures to adequately address security concerns.

Janine Denise Johnson Williams, 50, was one of nine workers who died this past December when a tornado struck Mayfield Consumer Products in Kentucky. She is survived by her husband, four children and 17 grandchildren. Five workers at the Mayfield plant say they asked to leave after severe weather alerts but were told to stay or risk being fired. 

These three preventable deaths are just a few of those that took place at workplaces recognized as this year’s Dirty Dozen unsafe employers by our organization, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Each year we release this list to call attention to egregious actions by companies who put workers and communities at risk. 

You may ask: can employers really prevent a traffic accident, a shooting or a death from a tornado? The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Any competent contractor must safely manage traffic at a construction site. Retail stores have a responsibility to protect employees and customers with safe staffing, security systems and other measures. In an era of climate change, factories and warehouses must have emergency procedures in place for severe weather — and forcing workers to stay on the job can have terrible consequences. 

More than 4,700 U.S. workers died from workplace trauma in 2020, the latest year for which data is available. And as many as 95,000 U.S. workers die each year from long-term exposure to toxic hazards including silica and asbestos.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new risks to many workplaces, leading to a huge loss of life. One insurance company reports a 40 percent increase in deaths of working age Americans, from ages 18 to 64, since the pandemic began. 

Indigenous, Black and Latinx people and Pacific Islanders are dying from COVID-19 at far greater rates than white people and Asian Americans. Disparities in access to health care and other resources can mean the difference between life and death. 

When workers organize, U.S. employers often respond with brute force, firing a few so the rest are afraid to speak up. The nation’s 11 million undocumented workers are especially vulnerable, due to fears that their immigration status will be used against them.

But in today’s labor market, where employers are dealing with a shortage of workers, the old tricks aren’t working. Workers are standing up to intimidation with bold campaigns at companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Dollar General. Stories from these workplaces and others can be found on workedup.us, a new National COSH platform for workers who are joining together to turn bad jobs into good jobs and good jobs into better ones.  

We might hope that unsafe employers would take steps on their own to reduce risks and eliminate hazards. But hope is not a plan. Organizing with coworkers is a much better bet. 

[Source]

Are Unions Making a Comeback?

The United States is seeing a revival in union membership.

In the last six months, the National Labor Relations Board has recorded a 60 percent increase in workers filing for petitions that allow for union elections to take place.

The circumstances that have prompted these unionization efforts have some similarities with the period that brought the largest gain in union membership in U.S. history, during the 1930s.

What can that era tell us about today, and are current efforts just a blip?

Guest: Noam Scheiber, a reporter covering workers and the workplace for The New York Times.

Want more from The Daily? For one big idea on the news each week from our team, subscribe to our newsletter

Background reading: 

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily

[Listen]

Where Are All the “Pro-Worker” Republicans Now?

While employees at Amazon and Starbucks win historic unionization campaigns, the “populist” wing of the GOP has been noticeably silent.

By NICK VACHON 

Amazon workers are taking on the corporate elite. Republican officials are nowhere to be found. ELLIOT LEWIS 

Over the past few years, a small but highly-visible band of Republicans have publicly declared their intention to transform the GOP into a ​“worker’s party.” Sens. Marco Rubio (R‑Fla.), Josh Hawley (R‑MO), Ted Cruz (R‑Tex.) and Tom Cotton (R‑AR) have all embraced versions of this vision, part of a high-brow attempt to divorce the party from its sole adherence to pro-business conservatism.

On election night 2020, Hawley — who was elected to the Senate in 2018 after running a relatively conventional Republican campaign—declared that the GOP was ​“a working class party now. That’s the future.” Cruz and Cotton have since echoed Hawley’s populist rhetoric, the former blasting Democrats as ​“the party of the rich” while claiming for Republicans the mantle of ​“the party of the working class.” 

There has been some movement on the legislative side, too. Early last year, Cotton and Sen. Mitt Romney (R‑UT) introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 an hour. Hawley’s personal crusade against Big Tech — which attracted bipartisan support before he refused to certify the 2020 presidential election and supported the insurrectionist crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — is, on its face, anti-monopolistic.

But in reality, a few policy gestures aside, their rhetoric hasn’t lived up to the hype. In recent weeks, as American workers have won a string of significant victories — organizing Starbucks coffee shops across the country and unionizing an Amazon warehouse for the first time in the company’s history — this group of supposedly ​“pro-worker” Republicans have been handed a prime opportunity to speak out in support of these organizing efforts. Instead, they’ve been silent. 

This reticence is particularly notable from Rubio, who already supported one Amazon union drive. Last year, when workers and organizers in Bessemer, Alabama, tried unsuccessfully to form a union at a local facility, Rubio penned an op-ed in USA Today effectively endorsing the efforts, writing that Amazon’s corporate behavior was ​“uniquely malicious” — a notable stand for someone who once warned that unions threatened to ​“destroy industries their workers are in.” But when it comes to the successful campaign at the JFK8 Amazon warehouse in New York, Rubio has kept mum.

[Read on]

We Don’t Need Billionaires Like Elon Musk

BY PARIS MARX

Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter in the name of free speech is the latest example of his hubris. It’s not just that Elon Musk shouldn’t own Twitter — billionaires shouldn’t even exist.

https://images.jacobinmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/16115502/GettyImages-1239960840.jpg

On Thursday, ten days after revealing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter to the public, Elon Musk delivered an ultimatum: either the board accept his offer to buy the company for $43 billion and take it private, or he’d “reconsider” his position as a shareholder. Such an acquisition could have huge implications for how we communicate online, and the entire affair presents troubling questions about the power Musk is able to exert over our society.

For all its problems, Twitter is central to cultural and political life in the United States and beyond, and Musk has long been one of its most prominent users. He wields it to preach to his adoring supporters, slam his critics, manipulate financial markets, and provide the media with fodder for endless clickbait. But his attempt to use his power to capture Twitter and reshape it for his own ends is serious cause for concern.

[Read on]

Poor People’s Campaign Marches on Wall Street Against ‘Lies of Neoliberalism’

“We are here to tell the stock exchange and Wall Street to stop trading our lives, that we want living wages and healthcare and clean air and voting rights.”

By BRETT WILKINS

Demanding a new political discourse in which the poor are no longer blamed for their poverty in the wealthiest nation in history, hundreds of impoverished and low-income activists on Monday rallied in New York City and marched on Wall Street to take their demands directly to the center of U.S. wealth.

The Moral March on Wall Street, led by the New York Poor People’s Campaign, began at the Museum of the American Indian before heading to the New York Stock Exchange and then Trinity Church Wall Street for a mass meeting where activists and faith leaders spoke.

“We are here to tell the stock exchange and Wall Street to stop trading our lives, that we want living wages and healthcare and clean air and voting rights,” Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said during the march. “And we want them now! And if we don’t get them, we’ll shut it down.”

Addressing the church meeting, Kelly Smith, a tri-chair of the New York Poor People’s Campaign, confided: “I worry for my son. I worry that he’ll be able to find a living wage. I worry that he lives in a world where his Black skin is valued less than my white skin.”

“And I could worry and worry and worry and wring my hands. Or, I could stand up. I could speak up. I could fight,” she added. “Well, we are going to stand up. We are going to speak out. And we are going to mobilize for June 18th in Washington, D.C.”

[Read on]

Employment, poverty and the debt cycle

Labour Hub

By Mike Hedges AM

For many people life is very difficult with the necessities of life such as food and energy costs increasing rapidly and wages not keeping up with increased costs and varying on a weekly basis.

Too many people living in Wales are employed on “flexible” or exploitative contracts with no guaranteed weekly income but income based on variable hours and the government-set minimum wage.

Zero hours contracts are not the only ‘flexible’ employment practice used by employers. Other ‘flexible’ practices include short, guaranteed hours, split shifts, annualised hours and using agency staff. As well as the traditional short term and temporary contracts, there has been a growth in the number of these new employment practices.

Increasing numbers of companies are taking on staff on zero-hours contracts with no guaranteed hours or times of work. Zero-hours contracts provides employers with a pool of people who are ‘on-call ‘and…

View original post 911 more words

“Don’t Say Gay” Bill: Outrage Nationwide as Florida Right Wing Attacks LGBTQ Children

by Sarah Brummet

https://www.liberationnews.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/florida-demo-800×453.jpg

The Florida legislature has caused outrage nationwide with its passage of HB 1557, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Far right Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.

The bill, which has sparked widespread public outcry, will effectively prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools through third grade. Furthermore, the bill requires schools to “adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being”. In other words, schools may be forced to “out” students to their parents. 

To ensure these outrageous provisions are enforced, the bill explicitly permits parents to sue their school districts if they think their child’s school violates the provisions of this bill.

The implications of this bill are incredibly dangerous. First and foremost, prohibiting discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom will contribute to the erasure and silencing of LGBTQ students, parents, and teachers within the school district. Advocates note that these policies will be enormously detrimental to LGBTQ students’ mental health. LGBTQ youth already face overwhelmingly high rates of depression, and are over four times as likely to attempt suicide when compared to their peers.

Furthermore, LGBTQ students with unsupportive parents will be forced to conceal their identities at school as well as at home, or face being outed to their parents. Students who might otherwise feel safe to confide in a trusted teacher or school counselor will no longer have those options to turn to, deepening their isolation. Those who are prematurely outed to their parents may face serious repercussions, including attempts at conversion therapy, other abuse, or even homelessness.

Empowering parents to sue school districts for fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students sets a dangerous precedent, and is sure to contribute to the growing teacher shortage within the state of Florida.

Florida politicians are ignoring the real problems Floridians are facing – urgent crises like high utility rates, low wages, a lack of affordable housing, environmental degradation, climate change, and contaminated water –  to instead attack and silence oppressed groups, and to silence and penalize teachers. A similar motivation is behind the racist ban on so-called “Critical Race Theory”. 

Struggle across the country vs. bigotry

Florida residents are not taking this lying down. Demonstrators gathered outside the Florida State Capitol as legislators voted on this shameful bill, and grassroots organizing efforts are spreading across the state. Advocates from Pensacola to Tallahassee to Miami are organizing and mobilizing to fight back against these outrageous attacks on LGBTQ youth. 

And the struggle is nationwide. These disgusting attacks on the rights of LGBTQ people are not limited to Florida. Right-wing state legislators have introduced a barrage of measures across the country promoting different forms of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in an effort to turn back the clock and roll back gains won over the course of decades of people’s struggle. More than 200 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced just in January 2022.

The governor of Florida is attempting to outdo all the rest with his wanton displays of bigotry. DeSantis is considered to be a likely frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination if Donald Trump does not run. Through his cowardly attacks on LGBTQ youth, DeSantis is hoping to advance his own career and cement his status as the heir-apparent on the far right.

We need to continue to build a fighting movement in every part of the country to defeat these anti-LGBTQ laws. Most people reject these extreme measures, and this majority can be mobilized to defeat the bigoted attacks and win legal and social equality.

[Source]

Left of Left Has Released Its First Ever 2022 Election Endorsements

The new page on our website is here:
2022 Endorsements

On that page, you will see the following candidate names, until there are updates. Find your candidate, go to their website, and support them with your time and/or funding.

If you’d like to get endorsed, we tell you at the end of the following list, as well as on the Endorsements page.

2022 Endorsements

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

ILLINOIS

KANSAS

KENTUCKY

MAINE

MARYLAND

MASSACHUSETTS

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSOURI

NEW YORK

NORTH CAROLINA

OHIO

OREGON

PENNSYLVANIA

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

WASHINGTON

WISCONSIN

HOW DO YOU GET ENDORSED?
Send us
1) YOUR NAME & LOCATION,
2) THE OFFICE YOU’RE RUNNING FOR, and
3) YOUR PLATFORM (or link to your website):

moreleftthanleft@gmail.com

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started