Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The amorality of R.J. Reynolds, ALEC member

Yesterday's demonstration for morality in Asheville, NC
The shameful treatment of tobacco workers for R.J. Reynolds, ALEC member, recently reduced two members of the British Parliament to tears. They saw men doing grueling work for $7.25 an hour, living in squalid shacks with out hot water or flush toilets. They heard of the sexual abuse women endured just to keep their jobs.

They were touring North Carolina's tobacco fields with U.S. Rep. (and good Teamster friend) Marcy Kaptur. This is what they saw, according to Kaptur in the Nation:
During my visit, I found workers who labor eleven hours a day under grueling conditions at high season for $7.25 an hour. As many as twelve men sleep jammed inside ramshackle, dilapidated trailers or barracks. There is no hot water, no decent laundry facilities, no air-conditioning, substandard electrical and gas wiring, and flush toilets are a luxury. I saw injured workers, including one man who had lost part of his index finger in a work accident, who lacked basic protections and health care. I heard women testify of the sexual abuse they face to secure work and pay, but still they and their children live in squalor in the richest nation in the world. 
My counterparts in the British Parliament, Ian Lavery and Jim Sheridan, were also shocked by what they described as human rights violations. Mr. Lavery said rapists and murderers have it better in prison than many of the tobacco workers in Carolina. Both he and Mr. Sheridan broke down in tears more than once at what they witnessed. 
As my compatriots emphasized, these workers are making only small requests: to establish a guest worker program to end the human trafficking, to end the squalor workers now live in because of poverty wages and to ensure channels of redress without fear of retaliation. We came away with the realization that Americans and the world will not tolerate this level of injustice; they will work to correct it, but these injustices must be brought to light through awareness. 
R.J. Reynolds is a major supporter of ALEC, which seeks to control state politicians and plunder state treasuries. ALEC-allied politicians in North Carolina got control of the lawmaking process in 2012 and immediately passed laws that gave more money to the rich, less to the poor, cut education funding, cut unemployment benefits and made it harder for people who aren't Republicans to vote.

The Rev. William Barber sees a moral crisis in North Carolina. He is leading the Moral Monday movement to bring justice and morality to the state. Last year, Barber began more than 60 weeks of Statehouse demonstrations that resulted in more than 1,000 people arrested for civil disobedience -- and volunteers who are trying to register 50,000 new voters.

Yesterday, Barber led a demonstration of 3,500 in Asheville, urging people to vote out extremist politicians. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times,
The crowd on Monday was about 3,500, according to a police estimate...(Barber) fired up the crowd with a speech that hit many of the themes of the speeches he has given across North Carolina in the last year... 
Barber said lawmakers are hurting schools and children by not adequately funding education. They have taken away rights through sweeping restrictions on how people vote, he said. They have raised taxes on working people and cut taxes for the rich and corporations, he said...
Barber urged every person at the rally to register 10 to 15 new voters. 
"Today is not just Moral Monday but it's the moral march to the polls," he said. "We must blow the minds of MSNBC and CNN when November comes. We must make them say we ain't never seen nothing like this before. It's time for the new South to rise again."