DSA: Talking Unions

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A forum for discussing labor issues sponsored by the DSA Labor Network
Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

Trumka Resigns from White House Council on Manufacturing

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:02


Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on his and Thea Lee’s resignation from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council:

We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism. President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.

It’s clear that President Trump’s manufacturing council was never an effective means for delivering real policy that lifts working families, and his remarks today were the last straw. We joined this council with the intent to be a voice for working people and real hope that it would result in positive economic policy, but it has become yet another broken promise on the president’s record. From hollow councils to bad policy and embracing bigotry, the actions of this administration have consistently failed working people.


Categories: Human Rights

Labor Organizer on Single Payer

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 16:56

Michael Lighty ,August 8, 2017
Common Dreams

Ironically, healthcare reform efforts have sought to “improve and expand” every element of the present system, except the program that works best: Medicare. The Clintons tried to expand HMOs, Obama expanded private health insurance and Medicaid, the GOP tried to expand “individual purchase. Medicare—if improved and expanded to all—could confront the industry, contain prices and restore the values of caring and community to our healthcare system.

With the explosive growth of the movement for single payer healthcare, it should not be a surprise to see the Empire Strike Back.

With the explosive growth of the movement for single payer healthcare, it should not be a surprise to see the Empire Strike Back.

In the name of political reality, some liberal pundits, politicians and policy wonks are scolding progressives to give up on Medicare for All. There are many ways to achieve “universal coverage,” we’re told. “Overhauling” the entire system is too hard, healthcare is too big a part of the economy, and politicians will not take out the health insurance companies.

Yet, the alternative approaches to reform pose the same political problems: the insurance industry is likely to fight the elimination of their profits (Dutch and German health insurers, for example, are non-profit), and the severe reductions in executive compensation, elimination of shareholder dividends, and rate setting, all of which go away under European-style health insurance. The benefits and rates are government mandated, the companies are essentially payment administrators.

Either this regulated system of private health plans lowers prices through government—by setting rates and negotiations—or it fails to do so and costs shift to individuals. But it is still the government role as rate setter/price negotiator that matters. Wouldn’t it be more straightforward and simpler to improve and expand Medicare?

Still, the pundits say it’s best to search for incremental reform of the insurance-based system, and live (or not!) with the results. In other words, the best health reform we can do is a version of what we have. Worse, it props up and reinforces a profit-focused system that is antithetical to the very concept of healing. Advocates of Medicare for all, and other non-reformist reforms, are looking to solve problems immediately, not accommodating the status quo.

Progressives are badly served by shallow political advice from the likes of Paul Krugman. It obscures the reality working people actually face and undermines the fight for our values and program.

Our health is not a commodity—it doesn’t belong in the “market”—it is a human right. Those who advise us to settle for models of national health systems in other countries are missing the fundamental difference from the broken U.S. scheme. What Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have in common is they do not conflate “coverage” with healthcare. Those countries guarantee healthcare.

Having health insurance in America doesn’t prevent medical bankruptcy or denied care. In the U.S., employer based healthcare creates great uncertainty for workers, as premiums and out of pocket costs increase, reflecting costs shifted from the company to workers to fund the profits of the insurance companies.

Only 55 percent of employers offer coverage. Why would we try to buttress a system that is failing workers, hurting business, and shrinking? From 60 to 70 percent of healthcare spending comes from taxes. We’re just not getting our monies worth. We are wasting 20 cents on the dollar when we pay for private health insurance, wasting huge resources that could go to higher wages, child care, and pensions.

Alternatively, single payer is the reform that establishes health security and enables greater equality and freedom—values worth fighting for.

Ironically, healthcare reform efforts have sought to “improve and expand” every element of the present system, except the program that is popular and works best: Medicare. The Clintons tried to expand HMOs, Obama expanded private health insurance and Medicaid, the GOP tried to expand “individual purchase,” so we’d all be on our own when dealing with insurance companies, drug companies and hospital corporations.

It is precisely profit-focused healthcare industry that has caused the problems of escalating costs and restricted access. Rising premiums pay for rising prescription drug costs, which hospital corporations pass on to patients and drive up their own rates as they leverage their market share. As a result, each sector’s revenues and profits increase. The industry imperative of revenue and profits has replaced caregiving as the basis of healthcare in the US (see Elizabeth Rosenthal’s book, “American Sickness.”)

We are not “starting from scratch,” as Krugman contends (which he did not in 2005) but instead there exists a model in the U.S. for how single-payer financing could work: Medicare—which if improved and expanded to all—could confront the industry, contain prices and restore the values of caring, compassion and community to our healthcare system.

Alternative approaches to universal coverage (though even with the Affordable Care Act, 28 million people remain uninsured) depend on using huge tax subsidies to enable individuals and businesses to buy insurance coverage. Without those subsidies—in California alone they amount to over $100 billion—health insurance is a failed business model. Taxpayers prop up the insurers profits for the honor of paying $2000 in deductibles and potentially under the ACA over 9.5 percent of our income in out of pocket costs. In California, this means 15 million people are uninsured or underinsured.

Truly controlling costs requires eliminating the waste and inefficiency of the private payers – Medicare administrations are cost 4-5 percent compared to up to 12 percent for insurance companies (before profits). The inherently wasteful insurance company bureaucracy doesn’t go away when everybody has to buy one of their health plans.

Ultimately, what we must face is an issue of power. Can we collectively organize a healthcare system without the imperatives of revenue and profit? Only if we build a movement for health justice that demands guaranteed healthcare for all as a human right. Only collectively through government do we as a society have the resources and standing to secure that right. Only through an Improved Medicare for All can we achieve health security, not subject to the market power of healthcare corporations.

Michael Lighty is the Director of Public Policy for National Nurses United, where he has worked since its founding in 2009, and for the California Nurses Association since 1994. Follow him on Twitter: @mlighty60


Categories: Human Rights

Braceros Organize After a Worker Dies

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:02


By David Bacon
The American Prospect, 8/8/17
https://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com/2017/08/braceros-strike-after-one-worker-dies.html
http://prospect.org/

Picking blueberries on a Washington State farm. Risking deportation, Washington state farmworkers protest dangerous conditions in the fields
A farmworker’s death in the broiling fields of Washington state has prompted his fellow braceros to put their livelihoods in jeopardy by going on strike, joining a union, being discharged – and risking deportation.

Honesto Silva Ibarra died in Harborview hospital in Seattle on Sunday night, August 6. Silva, a married father of three, was a guest worker – in Spanish, a “contratado” – brought to the United States under the H2-A visa program, to work in the fields.

Miguel Angel Ramirez Salazar, another contratado, says Silva went to his supervisor at Sarbanand Farms last week, complaining that he was sick and couldn’t work. “They said if he didn’t keep working he’d be fired for ‘abandoning work.’ But after a while he couldn’t work at all.”

Silva finally went to the Bellingham Clinic, about an hour south of the farm where he was working, in Sumas, close to the Canadian border. By then it was too late, however. He was sent to Harborview, where he collapsed and died.

Silva’s death was the final shove that pushed the contratados into an action unprecedented in modern farm labor history. They organized and protested, and when they were fired for it, they joined Washington State’s new union for farmworkers, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. As this article is being written, 120 H2A workers are sitting in tents on a patch of land near the ranch where they worked, protesting their treatment and demanding rights for guest workers.

On the website of CSI Visa Processing, which recruited Silva, Ramirez and others to work at Sarbanand Farms, a statement reads: “The compañero who is hospitalized, the cause was meningitis, an illness he suffered from before, and is not related to his work.” Ramirez and other workers doubt that explanation. Silva had been working in the U.S. since May, and did not arrive with symptoms of meningitis. Instead, they insist that it was the consequence of increasingly bad conditions at the ranch.

According to Ramon Torres, president of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, H2-A workers at Sarbanand Farms had been complaining for weeks about bad food, temperatures in the 90s with no shade, warm drinking water and dirty bathrooms in the fields. In the last two weeks, the air near the border became smoky from forest fires just to the north in Canada, making it hard to breathe. Some workers fainted amid the blueberry plants where they were picking.

When Silva collapsed and went to the hospital, a group went to the ranch management and asked for safer working conditions. When they were turned away, they organized a one-day strike on Friday, August 4. Familias Unidas por la Justicia, which just signed its first union contract with Sakuma Brothers Farms in nearby Burlington, held its first convention that Friday. When the H2-A workers came from Sarbanand Farms, they decided to join.

The following day, 70 were fired. “They told all of us in the work stoppage we were fired for insubordination,” another worker, Barbaro Rosas Olibares, told FUJ organizer Maru Mora Villapando in a video interview. The CSI statement insists: “Eleven people were fired for questions of insubordination, which is a legal cause.”

While most workers in the U.S. are covered by laws that make such retaliation for striking a legal violation, farmworkers generally have no such protection except in the few states, like California, that have given agricultural workers those rights. H2-A workers have even fewer rights and protections. The visa they’re given when they come to work in the U.S. binds them to the employer who recruited them. If they lose that job, they lose the visa and become deportable. They have no legal standing to sue their employer in a U.S. court.

It was therefore remarkable that not only did the Sarbanand workers strike in protest over bad conditions, but that after they were fired they did not leave the country. The company told the fired workers they would not pay them immediately for their final four days of work, but instead would send a check to their address in Mexico — a violation of H2-A regulations. The workers were given an hour to clear their belongings out of the company’s labor camp, leaving them standing outside with no money.

Sarbanand’s recruiter, CSI Visa Processing, took some to a local bus station, but didn’t buy them a ticket home. This violates another H2-A recruitment regulation, which requires recruiters to pay transportation to and from the jobsite in the United States. In the meantime, workers reached out to union president Torres and also to Community2Community, a farmworker advocacy and immigrant rights organization in northwest Washington. Together, they found a private residence near the Sarbanand location, whose owners agreed to let the fired workers camp on their land while deciding on their next course of action. Local supporters brought out tents and a generator, and an encampment quickly sprang up.

The workers marched back to the ranch and demonstrated outside. “They formed a committee among themselves,” Torres says, “and another 50 workers left the ranch and joined them, even though the [Whatcom County Sheriff] deputies and local police were threatening to call immigration.”

Torres says other workers have suffered from partial facial paralysis, and three are now living at the camp. In the video interview, Rosas Olibares held a placard denouncing local authorities for turning a blind eye to their conditions. It read:

County & City – Your Blindness = GUILTY
– Suppression of immigrant workers rights
-Workers open to threats of deportation!
-Immigrant workers dying HERE/NOW
County & City – You are complicit through neglect!
How do you sleep at night?

According to H2-A worker Ramirez, “We just want respect for our rights – firing us was very unjust. We also want to continue working until the end of our contract.” Ramirez has been working as a contratado for 15 years, picking tobacco in North Carolina and Kentucky, and for the last two years, blueberries in northwest Washington State. Last winter he signed a contract in the office of CSI Visa Processors in his hometown of Santiago Ixcuintla in the Mexican state of Nayarit. Under the terms of that contract he was guaranteed a minimum of five months of work, until October 25.

Ramirez was then taken to Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border and given a visa. “But I saw that it was only good until June 30,” he recalls. “When I asked, they said they’d fix it. But they never did.”

Over 250 workers were recruited in the Nayarit office, he says, one of nine that CSI has in Mexico. They were brought to Delano, in California’s San Joaquin Valley, on May 7. There they began picking blueberries at Munger Farms, a large grower and partner in the giant Naturipe growers partnership. Then, on July 1, the day after the visa of Ramirez and many others expired, they were transported to the Sarbanand Farms ranch in Washington State, where they continued picking. Sarbanand is a subsidiary of Munger Farms, owned by the family of Baldev and Kable Munger.

CSI’s statement insists the workers “received an authorization by the government of the U.S. for this second contract, [and] none of them are out of legal status.” Yet after the turmoil started last week, one worker tried to buy an airline ticket back home to Mexico, and was refused because his visa had expired. “We don’t know what will happen now,” Torres says. “What we believe is that workers have the right to protest and organize, and shouldn’t be punished for that by being denied the work they were promised.”

“I think we have to get organized,” Ramirez adds. “I’m willing to work hard, but they put such pressure on us – that’s the biggest problem. I have a 16-year-old son back home in Mexico. What would happen to him if I died here, like Honesto did?”
Reposted from The American Prospect

In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95

En Mexico se puede pedir el libro en el sitio de COLEF:
https://www.colef.mx


Categories: Human Rights

Workers Need Better Trade Deals, Not More Talk

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 16:50

Leo Gerard, AUGUST 4, 2017

President Donald Trump, author of “The Art of the Deal,” said this week that China is giving American workers and companies a crummy one. He promised to do something about it.

This occurred within days of his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, demanding “fair, free and reciprocal” trade in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

At the same time, Congressional Democrats offered a seven-point plan to give workers what they called “A Better Deal on Trade and Jobs.”

American workers want all of these proposals achieved. They’ve heard this stuff before and supported it then. That includes ending tax breaks for corporations that offshore jobs – something that never happened. It includes the promise to confront China over its steel and aluminum overcapacity – a pledge followed by delay.

Talk is cheap. Jobs are not. The factory anchoring a community’s tax base is not. America’s industrial strength in times of uncertainty is not. All the talk is useless unless workers get some action.

President Trump is expected to announce within days the launch of an investigation into China forcing American corporations to transfer technology to the Asian giant’s companies as a price of doing business there.

The technology transfer boosts China’s goal of becoming the leading manufacturer within a decade in high-tech areas such as semiconductors, robots, and artificial intelligence. In addition to seizing American research and know-how, Beijing advantages its technology companies by granting them government cash.

This is the kind of unfair competition that Secretary Ross talks about in his Wall Street Journal op-ed. Under so-called free trade rules, governments aren’t supposed to subsidize industry or demand that foreign investors fork over research.

These kinds of violations, not just with China but with other trading partners as well, have occurred for decades now. And the upshot for American workers is lost jobs and stagnant wages.

More than 5 million American manufacturing jobs disappeared between 1997 and 2014. Most of these vanished, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), because of growing U.S. trade deficits with countries like Mexico and China that had negotiated trade and investment deals with the United States.

The United States’ massive trade deficit with China alone accounted for 3.4 million jobs lost between 2001 and 2015, with 2.6 million of those in manufacturing, according to EPI research.

While offshoring manufacturing has often padded corporate profits, it has suppressed wages in the United States and in trading partner countries like Mexico. United Technologies (UT) is a good example.

UT moved to Mexico this year its Electronic Controls unit, which manufactures microprocessors for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. UT did this even though its 700 American workers had produced consistent profits for UT at a factory in Huntington, Ind. UT also moved a big chunk of its profitable Carrier HVAC manufacturing from Indianapolis to Mexico this year. UT’s stock price rose, so the already-rich who have cash to invest, made out.

They did it on the backs of workers in the United States and Mexico, however. The move to Mexico rendered jobless more than 1,000 skilled American workers. Studies show that if they’re lucky enough to land new employment, the pay will be substantially less.

Mexican workers gained the jobs, but the pay they’re getting is little better than before NAFTA. More than half of Mexicans still live below the poverty line, a figure no different than before NAFTA. The New York Times cited this case: “For 10 years, Jorge Augustín Martínez has driven a forklift for Prolec, a joint venture with General Electric that makes transformers. A father of two, he earns about $100 for a six-day workweek.”

Mexican wages have remained stagnant for a decade.

In the United States, wages have been flat for longer – several decades.

This as corporate profits rise, the stock market skyrockets and CEO pay surges limitlessly.

Trade deals worked great for the already-rich, CEOs and corporations. They’ve crushed workers.

So it’s encouraging that both President Trump and the Democrats are talking about solutions.

The president is right. American corporations shouldn’t have to transfer technology to China to operate there. The United States doesn’t require that of Chinese companies manufacturing here. No such demand was made of Foxconn when it agreed to build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin last week – though it is true that Wisconsin Republicans plan to force the state’s taxpayers to contribute $3 billion toward the plant, nearly a third of the total cost.

And the Democrats are right about every point in their “Better Deal” plan. Workers need an independent trade cop they can turn to for quick results to combat trade violations before they cost Americans jobs. Corporations like UT and Rexnord should be penalized when they offshore and when they seek government contracts. Corporations that restore jobs to the United States should be rewarded.

So do it. And don’t procrastinate like the administration is doing on its investigation of the national security threat posed to the United States by steel and aluminum overproduction in China. The report in that case originally promised for June 30 now has been indefinitely delayed. Each day’s wait means more American workers without jobs as illegally subsidized, grossly underpriced Chinese steel and aluminum floods the international market.

America’s highly skilled, dedicated steel and aluminum workers perform their jobs faithfully every day with the expectation that their government will enforce international trade regulations. They also expect their government to support their right to join together and collectively bargain for better wages and benefits. As right-wingers have eroded workers’ bargaining rights over the past half century, unions have declined, and with them, workers’ ability to secure raises. This is true in Mexico too, where there are virtually no legitimate, worker-run unions.

Timothy A. Wise, a research fellow at Tufts University, put it this way to the New York Times: “Mexico is seeing exactly the same phenomenon as in the United States. Workers have declining bargaining power on both sides of the border.”

To ensure there are no more crummy trade deals, workers must be at the table when these pacts are negotiated. To get better wages, workers in all the countries involved in these deals – from China to Mexico to the United States – must be able to form real, worker-controlled labor organizations to bargain with corporations.
Leo Gerard is the president of the United Steelworkers International union, part of the AFL-CIO. Gerard, the second Canadian to lead the union, started working at Inco’s nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario at age 18. For more information about Gerard, visit usw.org.


Categories: Human Rights

DSA Staff Form a Union

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 19:01

Staff of Democratic Socialists of America Join The NewsGuild-CWA
Washington DC – Staff at Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the United States, requested and received voluntary recognition of their union. They are joining the Washington-Baltimore Local of The NewsGuild-CWA. July 27, 2017.
The group is excited to continue building on the exponential growth of DSA over the past year and to enact the political direction decided upon by the membership by advocating for sustainable working conditions and a workplace where all are treated with dignity and respect.
In a mission statement, DSA staffers explained why unionizing is a natural extension of the principles that guide their work:
“We need to practice what we preach, whether promoting diversity among leadership and staff, providing accommodation for people with disabilities, or creating the kind of community – one based on shared accountability, democracy, and transparency – that allows everyone to thrive. As an organization, we can also use this as an important example of workplace organizing.”
“We are dedicated to fighting capitalism and promoting democracy and socialism. If DSA is to be successful in this fight, national staff members must have the same protections and bargaining power we advocate for and desire for all workers,” said Administrative and Office Coordinator Eileen Casterline.
YDS Organizer Ryan Mosgrove continued, saying that the group is working “to establish structures which will promote DSA’s long-term health and stability as we work together towards the eventual triumph of democratic socialism.”
###
The NewsGuild-CWA is the premier union for journalists, representing 25,000 reporters, photographers, ad employees and other media workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild (Local 32035) represents approximately 3,000 workers in and around Washington DC & Baltimore.


Categories: Human Rights

National Day Laborer Organizing for March in Texas – Sept. 2

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 18:39

National Day Laborer Organizing Network – News & Updates

Hi Friends,

In Texas and across the country, people are coming together for a unity rally in Austin, Texas on September 2nd. Will your organization join the effort?
Texas is the new ground zero in the fight for immigrant rights and for Latino equality. The politics of racism, scapegoating, and xenophobia are emboldened, and the risk of it spreading to other states is real. The governor has already signed legislation mandating racial profiling, threatened legal action to end legal protections for Dreamers, and endorsed the repugnant strategy that seeks to make life unbearable for Latinos so that they “self-deport” from the state.

In the face of these attacks, the response from our sisters and brothers in Texas has been inspiring. Immigrant and civil rights leaders are organizing in unprecedented ways, and together, sending a clear message that communities will defy this extremist agenda.

In support of our members, partners, and those fighting from the bottom-up, we launched #BastaTexas – a website, a frame, and a hub to lift up and connect bold, creative, and effective efforts to resist and overcome the attacks on immigrants and people of color.

On September 2, we are joining efforts to plan a unity march, rally, and concert in Austin.
Will you endorse the September 2nd action and help us build a movement to turn the tide in Texas?
Endorse the event here. And share the FB event.

– NDLON team

PS. And if you’re ready to travel to key cities in Texas to help organize for the coming weeks, let us know, and join the Freedom Summer volunteers!


Categories: Human Rights

Sanctuary Now Campaign

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 17:40

 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 24MARCH17 – San Francisco janitors and other workers supporting AB 450, a bill introduced by Assembly Member David Chiu, to protect workers during immigration raids and enforcement actions. David Huerta, President of United Service Workers West, SEIU. Copyright David Bacon

As democratic socialists, we stand in solidarity with all undocumented immigrants in the struggle against capitalist exploitation.

Our ultimate demand is for full equality and legalization of all undocumented workers in the United States. Only full legalization will end the super-exploitation of immigrant workers, which will in turn improve the conditions and bargaining position of all workers.

The current system of borders is profoundly unfair – capital is allowed to move freely while human beings are policed, harassed, and detained.

Donald Trump won the presidency in large part by promising to crack down on immigrants, with a special emphasis toward undocumented workers. This scapegoating of an entire segment of the working class is a debacle for all sectors of the progressive movement in this nation.

The common liberal position on “immigration reform” leaves out much to be desired; we do not crave guest worker programs that benefit big businesses; we do not believe that the main reason to defend the rights of undocumented immigrants is because no one else will do “those jobs”. We think that someone’s worth as a person is not tied with how much economic growth that they will generate. As democratic socialists and internationalists, we are uniquely positioned to take a stand on this issue in ways that other groups will not.

Sadly, under the bigoted and nativist presidency of Donald Trump, undocumented people in the U.S. are facing a climate of fear and repression with little relief in sight.

Progressive immigration reform at the federal level seems like a fairly remote possibility in the current period. But on a local level the situation is different. We believe that fighting for sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants is the best way to oppose the current wave of anti-immigrant repression. At virtually every level of society – from school campus, to neighborhood, to city, to state – we can push policies that will blunt the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies from targeting, harassing, kidnapping, detaining, and deporting the undocumented members of our communities. Concrete examples of such policies include:

 

  • Shutting off all information sharing between ICE and local authorities;
  • Forbidding local authorities from questioning people about their immigration status, and from acting as enforcers of immigration laws; much like HIPAA protects medical personal information;
  • Halting any cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement;
  • Demanding that undocumented immigrants have legal representation and financial support in deportation proceedings, with priority given to those currently inside detention;
  • Demanding due process for all, regardless of citizenship status;
  • Fighting back against every policy that criminalizes undocumented immigrants.

 

These reforms will not in and of themselves end the repression of undocumented immigrants, but they will be a step towards liberation, and can serve as a basis with organizing and alliance-development.

Why should this proposal be a priority for DSA, given that we cannot effectively work on every important issue that exists?

As socialists we stand in solidarity with the workers of all countries. This includes workers from other countries who have migrated to the U.S. to escape war, repression, or to seek a better life. The current system of borders is profoundly unfair – capital is allowed to move freely while human beings are policed, harassed, and detained.

Furthermore, many migrants arrived to the United States because of how U.S. imperialism forced their home countries to serve the economic and political interests of the United States ruling class. This international servitude has historically been enforced through coups, trade deals, and proxy warfare, impoverishing the home countries as their wealth is largely siphoned to the United States and other Western nations.

Imperialism creates conditions of “super-exploitation” for workers in oppressed nations, where workers toil under harsher conditions and with fewer rights in order to maximize profits for the foreign capitalists pulling the strings. These conditions of super-exploitation persist when workers migrate to the U.S. without official documentation: they lack legal protections and live under the constant threat of deportation, making it near impossible to demand better working conditions.

The common liberal position on “immigration reform” leaves out much to be desired; we do not crave guest worker programs that benefit big businesses; we do not believe that the main reason to defend the rights of undocumented immigrants is because no one else will do “those jobs”. We think that someone’s worth as a person is not tied with how much economic growth that they will generate. As democratic socialists and internationalists, we are uniquely positioned to take a stand on this issue in ways that other groups will not.

Finally, through making this campaign a key area of work in the next few years, DSA will distinguish itself as an organization on the left that is honestly committed with transforming U.S. society. By genuinely demonstrating our solidarity, we will increase trust and build bridges toward communities of color to construct a cohesively diverse and inclusive democratic socialist organization.

How exactly will we apply direct pressure to the campaign target, and how/why is DSA specifically well-positioned to do so?

DSA is a growing, radical, multi-issue and multi-identity organization with chapters all over the U.S. All of these factors make DSA especially well-suited to launching a locality-based sanctuary campaign.

Tactics of this campaign would include both applying political pressure to elected officials (shaming political leaders – especially progressive ones – do stand up for what they say they believe in) as well as conducting non-violent direct actions designed to slow or block the government’s machinery of detention and deportation. Actions of the latter sort always need to be carefully planned and discussed with members of the immigrant rights community, even if no individuals from those groups will directly participate.

One more point should be made about direct actions. Many community-based immigrant rights organizations are (rightfully) apprehensive about carrying out visible protest actions right now, because members of these groups or their friends, families, and neighbors could be targeted for detention and deportation in response. DSA chapters can mobilize people in solidarity with undocumented immigrants who will not themselves be faced with these threats. This kind of solidarity activism has a long history in the United States, going back to the 1960s Freedom Riders, white college students who stood with the Black liberation movements knowing they would not face the same level of racist violence from police and white supremacists.

Who is the organized opposition/who are potential allies?

The most crucial allies for this campaign are grassroots and non-profit immigrant rights organizations who are already fighting this fight. DSA should reach out to these groups and take direction from them, create platforms for their members to speak, and develop action plans in close collaboration with community members.

 

A version of this resolution has been submitted to the resolution’s committee of the DSA convention. It has been integrated into Resolution 41 for consideration.  The document was collectively written by the Sanctuary City Working Group of DSA-LA with major contributions from Femi Taiwo, Noah Goldman, Jack Linares, and Eric Gardner.

 

 

 


Categories: Human Rights

Historic Farmworker California Exhibit

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 20:39
HISTORIC STATE FAIR EXHIBIT RECOGNIZES FARMWORKERS
by David Bacon
Capital & Main, 7/25/17
https://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com/2017/07/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes.html
https://capitalandmain.com/historic-state-fair-exhibit-recognizes-farmworkers-0725Cutting the ribbon at the farmworker exhibition (left to right): Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez, State Sen. Ben Hueso, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Freddie Rodriguez, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez, Assemblymember Anna Caballero, State Fair CEO Rick Pickering (partially obscured), Sacramento City Councilmember Eric Guera, State Sen. Ed Hernandez (partially obscured), State Treasurer John Chiang and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.

For over 160 years the California State Fair/Cal Expo has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state’s agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers.

This year that changed. Rick Pickering, chief executive officer of the California Exposition & State Fair, and Tom Martinez, the fair’s chief deputy general manager, asked the United Farm Workers to help put together an exhibit to remedy this historical omission. As a result, for the first time the fair, which runs through July 30, has an exhibition that not only pays tribute to field laborers, but also acknowledges the long history of their struggle to organize unions.

Growers are not happy, and fair organizers got some pushback. But at the ceremony inaugurating the exhibition, State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the head of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, explained why they no longer have veto power. “We wouldn’t be here without the work of farmworkers,” he said. “The legislature now includes members who worked in the fields themselves, or have family who did, who know what it’s like to work in 100 degree heat, to suffer the hardest conditions and work the longest hours. We want our families to work in better conditions and earn more money.”

Some of the farmworkers who came as guests of the fair were veterans of that long struggle. Efren Fraide worked at one of the state’s largest vegetable growers, D’Arrigo Brothers Produce, when the original union election was held in 1975. However, it was only after the legislature passed the mandatory mediation law, forcing growers to sign contracts once workers voted for a union, that the first union agreement went into force at the company in 2007, covering 1,500 people.

D’Arrigo workers maintained their union committee through all the years between 1975 and 2007, organizing strikes and work stoppages to raise conditions and wages. “I’m very proud to see that we’re included here,” Fraide said, gesturing toward the photographs on the walls in the cavernous exhibition hall. “It shows who we are and what we went through. Si se puede!”

As the workers were introduced by UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, they stood up from their seats to applause. Rodriguez noted that some farmworkers, like those working at Monterey Mushrooms’ sheds near Morgan Hill and Watsonville, now make a living wage of between $38,000 and $42,000 in year-round jobs with benefits. “This exhibition recognizes that farm labor is important work, and that it can be a decent job if it includes labor and environmental standards. It can come with job security, and can be professional work,” he emphasized.

“What’s been lacking is an acknowledgment of the people who do the work,” charged Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, son of the capital city’s late mayor, Joe Serna, and nephew of former UFW organizer Ruben Serna. “This exhibition documents their political activism. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for the farmworkers movement.”

In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte
Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95

SPECIAL OFFER:
order the book on the UC Press website:
ucpress.edu/9780520296077
use source code  16M4197  at checkout
receive a 30% discount

En Mexico se puede pedir el libro en el sitio de COLEF:
http://libreria.colef.mx/detalle.aspx?id=7560

Die Apfel-Pflücker aus dem Yakima-Tal
http://www.nrhz.de/flyer/beitrag.php?id=23990THE REALITY CHECK – David Bacon blog
http://davidbaconrealitycheck.blogspot.com

EN LOS CAMPOS DEL NORTE:  Farm worker photographs on the U.S./Mexico border wall
http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=fc67a76dbb9c31aaee896aff7&id=0644c65ae5&e=dde0321ee7
Entrevista sobre la exhibicion con Alfonso Caraveo (Español)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJeE1NO4c_M&feature=youtu.be

Cat Brooks interview on KPFA about In the Fields of the North
https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=263826  – Advance the time to 33:15

“Los fotógrafos tomamos partido” – Entrevista por Melina Balcázar Moreno – Milenio.com Laberinto
http://www.milenio.com/cultura/laberinto/david_baconm-fotografia-melina_balcazar-laberinto-milenio_0_959904035.html

Attack on Immigrants – video of presentation about immigration raids and migration
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_msXdhsGmc&feature=youtu.be&t=1m6s

Book TV: A presentation of the ideas in The Right to Stay Home at the CUNY Graduate Center
http://booktv.org/Watch/14961/The+Right+to+Stay+Home+How+US+Policy+Drives+Mexican+Migration.aspx

KPFA – Upfront with Brian Edwards Tiekert
https://soundcloud.com/kpfa-fm-94-1-berkeley/david-bacon-on-upfront-9-20


Categories: Human Rights