Archive for the ‘Feature News’ Category

Technology and Workers Organizing In The Global Economy

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Technology and Workers Organizing In The Global Economy: What’s Really Happening? What’s Needed?
What are the technology issues workers and unions face in the global economy and how can they overcome these new challenges? The digital revolution is having profound affects on the global workforce. This panel will look at these issues and what new questions labor is confronted with.

Richard Stallman – Free Software Foundation (www.stallman.com)

Making Change at Wal-Mart Organizing Campaign (http://makingchangeatwalmart.org)

Steve Zeltzer – KPFA WorkWeek Radio & Labor Video Project, CWA Media Workers Freelance Unit

 

 
More 2012 Conference Videos Here

Occupy Wall St. Making Live Video History

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

[From AdBusters: http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/occupywallstreet.html ]

See Also: http://occupywallst.org/

Apart from the historic street revolution going on right now at Wall St for the past six days, is a live streaming revolution as well. Armed with a barrage of hand held phone and various imaging devices all connected to a Livestream account, activists are proving that internet organizing coupled with live streaming video is THE new direction for messaging a vital alternative to the main stream press. Rather than relegating the framing of this ongoing protest to media sources intimately allied to the corruptions they are seeking to expose and change, the Wall St. activists are providing direct information about who they are and why they’re there on an almost 24/7 basis. A partial list of goals and demands reads like a new constitutional document:

On September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis, an innocent man, was murdered by the state of Georgia. Troy Davis was one of the 99 percent.

Ending capital punishment is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more wealth than half of the country’s population.

Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges.

Ending police intimidation is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about occupywallst.org being in spam filters.

Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track.

Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.

Ending political corruption is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work.

Ending joblessness is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty.

Ending poverty is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance.

Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries.

Ending American imperialism is our one demand.

On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world.

Ending war is our one demand.

Labor can take a cue from this action to bring live street coverage to the burgeoning realities of the war on working people. The activist groups staging this action are seeking the support of labor unions. For more of the story see:
http://www.truth-out.org/occupywallstreet-more-hashtag-its-revolution-formation/1316784846

-John Parulis

Ethical Quandary for Social Sites- NY Times

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Two days after using Flickr to display photos of police officers fromEgypt’s feared state security force, Hossam el-Hamalawy watched in disbelief as they vanished, one by one, from the popular social networking site, which he had been using since 2008.

Ben Curtis/Associated Press
Hossam el-Hamalawy, an Egyptian blogger and rights activist, put photos of Egypt’s security police on Flickr; some were removed.

“I thought I was being hacked,” said Mr. el-Hamalawy, a prominent Egyptian blogger and human rights activist who had uploaded the headshots of the police from CDs found by activists early this month at the State Security Police headquarters in Nasr City.

He later learned in an e-mail from Flickr that the photos had been removed because he did not take the images himself, a violation of the site’s community rules.

“That is totally ludicrous,” he said. “Flickr is full of accounts with photos that people did not take themselves.”

Built as a platform for amateur and professional photographers to share their work, Flickr is among the social media networks, like FacebookTwitter andYouTube, that are increasingly being used by activists and pro-democracy forces especially in the Middle East and North Africa.

That new role for social media has put these companies in a difficult position: how to accommodate the growing use for political purposes while appearing neutral and maintaining the practices and policies that made these services popular in the first place.

YouTube was one of the first social media networks to wrestle with content posted by a human rights advocate that conflicted with its terms of service. In November 2007, YouTube removed videos flagged as “inappropriate” by a community member that showed a person in Egypt being tortured by the police.

They were uploaded by Wael Abbas, another Egyptian blogger involved in opposing torture in Egypt. After a public outcry, YouTube staff members reviewed the videos and restored them. The company, owned by Google, now has a process in place to deal with such questions.

Facebook has remained mostly quiet about its increasing role among activists in the Middle East who use the site to connect dissident groups, spread information about government activities and mobilize protests. But Facebook is now finding itself drawn into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has been pushed to defend its neutral approach and terms of service to some supporters of Israel, including an Israeli government official.

Yuli Edelstein, an Israeli minister of diplomacy and diaspora affairs, sent a letter last week to Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to remove a Facebook page created on March 6 named the Third Palestinian Intifada. The page, which calls for an uprising in the occupied Palestinian territory in May, has more than 240,000 members.

“As Facebook’s C.E.O. and founder, you are obviously aware of the site’s great potential to rally the masses around good causes, and we are all thankful for that,” Mr. Edelstein wrote. “However, such potential comes hand in hand with the ability to cause great harm, such as in the case of the wild incitement displayed on the above-mentioned page.”

More here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/business/media/28social.html?_r=1&ref=business

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire- A Tragedy of the Past?

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Assault on Collective Bargaining in the US is Illegal

Monday, March 14th, 2011
International Labor Rights Group: Assault on Collective Bargaining in the US is Illegal
by Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, March 12, 2011
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The International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR) sent a notice to the Wisconsin Legislature, explaining that its attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers is illegal. (See http://www.nlg-laboremploy-comm.org/index.php?pr=Solidarity_Page.)

Anyone who has watched the events unfolding in Wisconsin and other states that are trying to remove collective bargaining rights from public workers has heard people protesting the loss of their “rights.” The ICLR explained to the legislature exactly what these rights are and why trying to take them away is illegal.

The ICLR is a New York based non-governmental organization that coordinates a pro bono network of labor lawyers and experts throughout the world, www.laborcommission.org. It investigates labor rights violations, and issues reports and amicus briefs on issues of labor law.

The ICLR identified the right of “freedom of association” as a fundamental right and affirmed that the right to collective bargaining is an essential element of freedom of association. These rights, which have been recognized worldwide, provide a brake on unchecked corporate or state power.

In 1935, when Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the NLRA, or the Wagner Act), it recognized the direct relationship between the inequality of bargaining power of workers and corporations and the recurrent business depressions. That is, by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power of wage earners, the economy fell into depression. The law therefore recognized as policy of the United States the encouragement of collective bargaining.

While the NLRA covered U.S. employees in private employment, the law protecting collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors has developed since 1935 to cover all workers “without distinction.”

The opening paragraph of the ICLR statement reads:

“As workers in the thousands and hundreds of thousands in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio and around the country demonstrate to protect the right of public sector workers to collective bargaining, the political battle has overshadowed any reference to the legal rights to collective bargaining. The political battle to prevent the loss of collective bargaining is reinforced by the fact that stripping any collective bargaining rights is blatantly illegal. Courts and agencies around the world have uniformly held the right of collective bargaining in the public sector is an essential element of the right of Freedom of Association, which is a fundamental right under both International law and the United States Constitution.”

The ICLR statement summarizes the development of this law from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through the International Labor Organization’s Conventions on Freedom of Association (that is, the right to form and join unions) and on Collective Bargaining. It cites court cases from the United States and around the world. All embrace freedom of association as a fundamental right and the right to collective bargaining as an essential element of freedom of association.

Some anti-union voices argue that since federal employees presently do not have the right to bargain collectively, neither should state workers. In fact, the argument should go the other way. The law cited in the ICLR statement means that denying Federal employees collective bargaining rights – which they have had over the years when presidents have recognized them by executive order – is just as illegal as denying collective bargaining rights to state public employees. President Obama should take this opportunity to reinstate the rights of Federal employees to collective bargaining.

Jeanne Mirer, who practices labor and employment law in New York, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild.

Michael Moore: “America Is NOT Broke”

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Michael Moore: “America Is NOT Broke”

Saturday 05 March 2011

by: Michael Moore | MichaelMoore.com | Speech

Michael Moore: “America Is NOT Broke”
Michael Moore spoke to protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, on March 5, 2011.
America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer “bailout” of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can’t bring yourself to call that a financial coup d’état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic — and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

I have nothing more than a high school degree. But back when I was in school, every student had to take one semester of economics in order to graduate. And here’s what I learned: Money doesn’t grow on trees. It grows when we make things. It grows when we have good jobs with good wages that we use to buy the things we need and thus create more jobs. It grows when we provide an outstanding educational system that then grows a new generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and thinkers who come up with the next great idea for the planet. And that new idea creates new jobs and that creates revenue for the state. But if those who have the most money don’t pay their fair share of taxes, the state can’t function. The schools can’t produce the best and the brightest who will go on to create those jobs. If the wealthy get to keep most of their money, we have seen what they will do with it: recklessly gamble it on crazy Wall Street schemes and crash our economy. The crash they created cost us millions of jobs. That too caused a reduction in revenue. And the population ended up suffering because they reduced their taxes, reduced our jobs and took wealth out of the system, removing it from circulation.

The nation is not broke, my friends. Wisconsin is not broke. It’s part of the Big Lie. It’s one of the three biggest lies of the decade: America/Wisconsin is broke, Iraq has WMD, the Packers can’t win the Super Bowl without Brett Favre.

The truth is, there’s lots of money to go around. LOTS. It’s just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know they have committed crimes to make this happen and they know that someday you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn’t work, they’ve got their gated communities, and the luxury jet is always fully fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when the people demand their country back, the wealthy have done two very smart things:

1. They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day – this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart — because you — yes, you, too! — might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep you head down, your nose to the grindstone, don’t rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.

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2. They have created a poison pill that they know you will never want to take. It is their version of mutually assured destruction. And when they threatened to release this weapon of mass economic annihilation in September of 2008, we blinked. As the economy and the stock market went into a tailspin, and the banks were caught conducting a worldwide Ponzi scheme, Wall Street issued this threat: Either hand over trillions of dollars from the American taxpayers or we will crash this economy straight into the ground. Fork it over or it’s Goodbye savings accounts. Goodbye pensions. Goodbye United States Treasury. Goodbye jobs and homes and future. It was friggin’ awesome and it scared the shit out of everyone. “Here! Take our money! We don’t care. We’ll even print more for you! Just take it! But, please, leave our lives alone, PLEASE!”

The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter, their glee, and within three months they were writing each other huge bonus checks and marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers. Millions lost their jobs anyway, and millions lost their homes. But there was no revolt (see #1).

Until now. On Wisconsin! Never has a Michigander been more happy to share a big, great lake with you! You have aroused the sleeping giant know as the working people of the United States of America. Right now the earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge. Your message has inspired people in all 50 states and that message is: WE HAVE HAD IT! We reject anyone tells us America is broke and broken. It’s just the opposite! We are rich with talent and ideas and hard work and, yes, love. Love and compassion toward those who have, through no fault of their own, ended up as the least among us. But they still crave what we all crave: Our country back! Our democracy back! Our good name back! The United States of America. NOT the Corporate States of America. The United States of America!

So how do we get this? Well, we do it with a little bit of Egypt here, a little bit of Madison there. And let us pause for a moment and remember that it was a poor man with a fruit stand in Tunisia who gave his life so that the world might focus its attention on how a government run by billionaires for billionaires is an affront to freedom and morality and humanity.

Thank you, Wisconsin. You have made people realize this was our last best chance to grab the final thread of what was left of who we are as Americans. For three weeks you have stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois — whatever it took, you have done it, and one thing is for certain: Madison is only the beginning. The smug rich have overplayed their hand. They couldn’t have just been content with the money they raided from the treasury. They couldn’t be satiated by simply removing millions of jobs and shipping them overseas to exploit the poor elsewhere. No, they had to have more – something more than all the riches in the world. They had to have our soul. They had to strip us of our dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down so that we could not even sit at a table with them and bargain about simple things like classroom size or bulletproof vests for everyone on the police force or letting a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job — their $19,000 a year job. That’s how much some rookie pilots on commuter airlines make, maybe even the rookie pilots flying people here to Madison. But he’s stopped trying to get better pay. All he asks is that he doesn’t have to sleep in his car between shifts at O’Hare airport. That’s how despicably low we have sunk. The wealthy couldn’t be content with just paying this man $19,000 a year. They wanted to take away his sleep. They wanted to demean and dehumanize him. After all, he’s just another slob.

And that, my friends, is Corporate America’s fatal mistake. But trying to destroy us they have given birth to a movement — a movement that is becoming a massive, nonviolent revolt across the country. We all knew there had to be a breaking point some day, and that point is upon us. Many people in the media don’t understand this. They say they were caught off guard about Egypt, never saw it coming. Now they act surprised and flummoxed about why so many hundreds of thousands have come to Madison over the last three weeks during brutal winter weather. “Why are they all standing out there in the cold? I mean there was that election in November and that was supposed to be that!

“There’s something happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you …?”

America ain’t broke! The only thing that’s broke is the moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from now on. Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it’s one person, one vote, and it’s the thing the rich hate most about America — because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakable basic fact: There are more of us than there are of them!

Madison, do not retreat. We are with you. We will win together.

*

Media & The Wisconsin Labor Struggle

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Media and the Wisconsin Labor Struggle from John Quinlan on Vimeo.

Moderator Bob McChesney joins John Nichols (The Nation), Frank Emspak (Workers Independent News), Molly Stentz (WORT-FM Community Radio), Matt Rothschild (The Progressive), and Lisa Graves (Center for Media and Democracy) in a discussion of how the newsmedia have reported on and influenced the American labor movement historically, and in the context of the recent Wisconsin Labor Struggle. Recorded Thursday, March 3, 2011 at Madison, Wisconsin’s historic Orpheum Theater. Produced under the auspices of the Labor and Working Class Studies Project, an initiative linking labor, campus, and community.

Egyptians Connecting To The Internet Via Modem, Fax, Ham Radio

Friday, February 4th, 2011

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/29/egyptians-connecting-to-t_n_815852.html#s232601&title=Anonymous

At the recent LaborTech conference, we gave a seminar on live streaming that included references to obtaining a special modem that works with ham radio to access the internet—the Egyptians are doing it!

More on how the Mubarak Regime shut down the Egyptian internet: here

From The Bottom Up

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Candi Peterson

Featuring, Candi Peterson – WTU General V.P.
I started out my union career as a Washington Teachers’ Union building representative for itinerant teachers and related service providers. Years ago, a soon to be departing colleague urged me to take on this role because she was planning to retire. She argued after all that I would be good in this job because of my outspokenness. I remember thinking how could I reach the almost 200 or so union members who were spread out in our schools. Building ties to people, came easy for me in part due to my background in the field of social work. I reasoned to myself that a great deal of my career had been spent working with those who didn’t want to be reached. Surely, I thought I’d be up for the challenge connecting to union members.