Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Walmart workers, Detroit firefighters, Chicago teachers protest today

Walmart warehouse workers on strike in California today
(UPDATE: New grafs 1-2 with additional protests today.)

Warehouse workers along the Walmart supply chain walked off the job today in Mira Loma, Calif., as activists in dozens of U.S. cities prepare to protest multinational corporations that impoverish workers. In Detroit, firefighters protested the city's bankruptcy, in New York, citizens protested hospital closings and in Chicago teachers protested against massive layoffs when a private college gets $33.5 million in public money to build a stadium.

In Wisconsin, 22 protesters singing pro-union songs -- including an 80-year-old woman -- were arrested in the state Capitol.

Today's actions are only the latest in a growing revolt against the exploitation of America's workers and attacks on our freedom. In North Carolina, citizens rose up against repressive, ALEC-driven legislation during Moral Monday protests at the Statehouse. As of Monday, 11 weeks of massive demonstrations and civil disobedience resulted in 925 arrests.

In cities throughout the country, low-wage fast-food and retail workers are engaging in one-day strikes. Last week, workers at a Dunkin Donuts in Chicago and at a McDonald's in New York City walked off the job for a day to protest their dangerously hot workplaces. That same day, low-wage workers for federal contractors stopped work and mobbed Union Station in Washington, D.C. It was the third such strike in eight weeks.

In late May, dozens of Walmart workers all over the country went on strike against low wages and management retaliation. They rode by bus in self-styled freedom rides to the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. A little earlier, Durham school bus drivers in Rhinebeck, N.Y. staged two short Unfair Labor Practice strikes to protest their poverty wages.

This growing worker movement for justice is engaging the broader public. Oxfam America recently reported the results of a poll that showed a huge majority of Americans think the government should be helping the working poor:
America's poverty rate is now at its highest level in two generations, and many Americans are in jobs that do not pay a living wage. 100 million of us have a hard time putting food on the table, and almost half of America's children live in poverty or near poverty. 
...poverty everywhere is about power, not scarcity; it is the result of imbalances in power that privilege some and marginalize others. 
The growing poverty among working Americans is even getting mainstream news attention. As LA Progressive noted, the New York Times, generally no friend to workers, is reporting on the rampant exploitation of workers and the plundering of the citizenry by multinational corporations:
...are labor conditions in America becoming so bad that even the national paper of record is demanding social justice? A look at this past Sunday’s Section A revealed no fewer than three stories delving into the predatory practices of employers and financial players.
Over at The Nation, Josh Eidelson tells us about today's strike in California. About 30 of the 200 warehouse workers were expected to strike at an Olivet International warehouse that contracts with Walmart. Writes Eidelson,
Today’s strike is backed by Warehouse Workers United, a project of the Change to Win union federation. It comes two months after twenty-one Olivet warehouse employees filed a formal complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, alleging rampant safety violations: emergency exits blocked by boxes and merchandise; forklift brakes, seatbelts and horns that don’t work; workers loading shipping containers in the dark; triple-stacked and unsecured boxes; lack of ventilation or adequate water amid intense heat; “a risk of workers being hit by forklifts” and workers “trapped inside trailers as they drive off.” 
“It’s important that I make it home to my family safe, in good health," Garcia told The Nation. “I don’t want to get injured [at work] like my other co-workers.” Along with “a good salary,” said Baizabal, “we want simple things we have the right to, like clean water.” She said that workers’ repeated efforts to address issues with Olivet had proven a dead end: “For me, it took a lot of courage to go to managers with our concerns. And then we kept doing it, and every time, they ignored us.”
One worker says she makes $8 an hour. In a good week she earns $300, while her rent alone is $800 a month.

You can help by clicking on this link and doing what they tell you.

And remember the words of Mother Jones,
You...ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.