Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hello again!

Wow I forgot I had a blog.

Somethings I've been thinking about lately:

Nato/G8 in the spring and the fact that Rahm is probably going to hire private security to hurt a lot of us

how to engage young workers since the retail industry profits off them not being invested in their work

what might come out of the occupy movement

making time for myself without feeling guilty.

changing relationships with friends to deepen our understanding of each other and influence one another in positive ways.

What have you been thinking about?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Walmart's New Low

Keeping workers on a short leash is a profitable business move. And Walmart is king when it comes to cutting workers' pay to a bare minimum. Shorter shifts, more people on staff to fight over those shifts, part time hours to keep people off benefits. We've heard it all before. But this week I found Walmart sink to an all time new low.

Walmart is now employing temp workers to stock shelves in my community. This is the country's largest employer. This is exactly the reason why Walmart needs to be unionized.

Walmart sets the model for all other retailers to follow. Jobs that could support a worker are constantly under fire because of practices like these. They have created a model that cheats workers from thinking their work is valuable and the majority of the American population has come to accept it. Retail is one of the fastest growing employment sectors why not fight to let everyone live better?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Reason Glenn Beck is an Idiot.

let me preface this post with the idea that I don't engage in knee jerk political "debate" that 99% of the internet world engages in. I understand such shock jocks like Beck are created to be a distraction to keep everyone enraged over issues that do not effect their life one bit because it's beneficial for the corporate machines who create them. With that in mind please read on.

Today while at Sandmeyer's Bookstore, an excellent Chicago book seller, I stumbled across Glen Beck's book. I don't remember the title but he was dressed like Stalin which made me laugh a little because he's always talking about communists like it was 1958. Anyway I swished through a few pages and came to his take on Unions. "When will America be through paying her dues?" The statement implied that once we reach an elevated level of comfort we need to quit demanding more and be happy with what we've got. Uhm, America did that over past decades when we refused to improve our products and technology and insisted on protectionist trade practices that ultimately led to the export of our manufacturing jobs. So from the very beginning of the chapter he's uninformed.

A little tidbit on the side also suggested if people wanted a union so much why don't they just join one. As if this nike cliche of "Just do it" was somehow all that you needed to form a union in your workplace. And that is what set me off. Critics of labor unions seem to think that to bring a union into your workplace you just walk right up to your boss and say, "Hey, you're making a lot of money off us and we'd sure like a union please." Then the kindly old boss says,"Why of course! Let's have an election tomorrow!"

Having an election in the workplace takes months of secretive preparation. You have to talk about the issues with co-workers you trust, you have to have meetings, you have to make sure one of your co-workers isn't a snitch because if your boss finds out you are a union supporter YOU WILL BE FIRED. They will find a way to make it look like it was your fault-"oh five minutes late, called in sick, didn't get a task completed"--FIRED. Management spends millions to keep the union out and it's no accident union supporters suddenly have a declining performance. Even if we do finally get to election amidst the owner's slew of lawyers, pay incentives, and one on one meetings of intimidation, the company can sit on their ass and not negotiate a contract because money makes the law.

This misunderstanding is not just perpetuated by the far right, many even headed people don't know how hard it is to unionize a workplace. And the corporate machine media would like to keep it that way. They want everyone to think people don't have unions because they don't want them, not because management spends billions of dollars to keep them out.

This is why the employee free choice act is so important. Union membership is at an all time low of around 7% yet the media still treats the idea of unionization as if it were a large threat to the state of our nation. The fear they are creating is at the loss of monetary gain they stand to loose from working people demanding more. We saw it play out with the health care debate. Profit over people blatantly in your face--they don't want you to have a larger piece of the pie and they certainly aren't going to serve it to you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

As of Late...

Things have been going very well with my current organizing campaign. I have also been looking for ways to become an ally in the neighborhoods I have been working in beyond this specific campaign. I met with a person today from one of the stores and asked what community groups we could go to with our ideas and my heart sank when that person said,"there aren't any, everybody wants to get out."

I have had similar conversations with other people as well. People worried their children will not go to a good high school and in turn won't get to attend college. And that sentiment keeps coming back, what they want more than anything for their children is for them to "get out" of these neighborhoods.

The economic lines have been drawn in this city and the service and retail jobs that are thought of as "temporary work" are the only definite source of income in some neighborhoods. It is these jobs that aren't going to leave that we need to secure as living wage jobs. The declining wage and job insecurity only pushes neighborhoods further into poverty. If people are not making money they have no money to spend, and that will not attract new investments to the neighborhood and this is a cycle that will perpetuate itself as violent crime and instability in the area flourish.

I only get a brief moment to talk with most workers, it's not always enough time to discuss all these elaborate issues that result in the armed robbery that is happening in their workplace. But it is an urgent conversation.

The other half of this is that I do not live in these neighborhoods and do not want to appear that I have all the answers and am going to be a leader. My main objective is to help people understand their rights and not feel helpless.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act

If the Employee Free Choice Act passes it would be a major victory for working people.
It would be easier for a new union to form and those brave workers would not be subjected to company intimidation while waiting for the NLRB to recognize their efforts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Occupied Republic Factory

Upon entering the factory you see the walls covered with written messages from supporters. Support came out from individuals, other unions, worker centers, immigration agencies, and area schools.

Behind doors the workers have formed a human barricade of about 200 UE members. They take turns, 8 hours each maintaining the line.

These photos are from the rally this afternoon at the Bank of America on La Salle.

Turn out was strong, especially for a weekday afternoon. There are talks of a weekend rally as well.

It is surprising how quickly the press was to call the negotiations finished. Even other union blogs carried stories that negotiations had been resolved. It is a timely process and even after they are through with Bank of America the UE must take a vote with its members. Just because Bank of America concedes a little doesn't mean it's anywhere near over.

You can follow the union on twitter for up to date information or check their website

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Deer Hunting With Jesus

I just finished Deer Hunting With Jesus by Joe Bageant. It is an exploration into the political needs and realities of Southern working class people. Begeant's main thesis is that the average southern citizen spends so much time working and trying to make ends meet that they have no time to participate in democracy by educating themselves on current topics. Bageant points out that this is where the divide between educated urban liberals and the poor working class of the south has its greatest divide and most tension. Because those who make a comfortable living that affords them the time for these activities often neglect the socioeconomic situation and pass judegements. Bageant makes a thoughtful point when he states that it doesn't matter if news outlets blatantly get the facts wrong because these people are not fact checkers and are not going to question a corporate machine. There's no time. So let's say a certain news agency puts ridiculous lies out there or mislabels someone's heading during an interview, what is the likelihood that these people will just believe it?

Since democratic participation no longer constitutes citizenship consumerism quietly steps in to take its place. This was solidified after Sept. 11th when Bush asked Americans to get out and shop as it was the "most important thing they could do for their country." This dangerous mentality creates a downward spiral of credit card debt and personal emptiness that the interviewees did not know how to fill. (On a related note the television yesterday stated that winning American Idol was the "American Dream." So I guess we can forget about owning our own homes and providing for our families-the economy is going to crap so hope you can sing!)

What is also interesting, and has been pointed out by other various authors like Thomas Frank who wrote, What's the Matter with Kansas, is how political parties that have no interest in the economic lives of working people have brought these people into their party to believe it is in their best interests. Mostly because these parties prefer to build a platform based on single issues that provoke a gut reaction based more in heart than logic and perpetuate the idea that you don't have to be 'informed' you just 'know what's right.'

Bageant uses a historical legacy of Scottish cruelty to explain some current atrocities that I did not particularly agree with but overall it was surprisingly excellent, although some comments from interviews were terrifying. Some of the interviewees were racist, but I believe this speaks for the authenticity of the interviews because these are people the author knows and shares a community with. It is a light read, there are no notes or citations which always makes me feel uncomfortable when reading a book, but it is an excellent personal insight into these people's lives.