On November 6 there will be a demonstration against the new Québec budget and its attack on health care in that province. Here`s the notice from the Collectif Emma Goldman. The original French version is at their site.
@@@@@@@@@@ November 6: Action in Chicoutimi against the budget and the commodification of health care
After holding a public meeting in Chicoutimi on the question " Liberal Budget: How to roll back government? " on October 21, the Collectif Emma Goldman now invites you to take action with us on November 6 to say no to the commodification of health care, with expected increased costs previewed in the last budget and the privatization of public services.
- We believe it is essential that all human beings can enjoy equal access to quality public health care . - We believe that the Government has been contemptuous of health personnel in its negotiations of the Common Front and we support their struggle. - We are supportive of the social movement on pensions in France and support their Day of Disturbance also on November 6.
We will be holding a picket and a press briefing: Saturday, November 6, 14.00, Chicoutimi Corner of Jacques Cartier and Sydenham, near the major seminary
Re-launching the fight, our health is not for sale!
Coming up this November 6... a social for the North West Slo-Pitch League. Here's the promo. WWWWWWWWWW
NWSPL social Sat Nov 6th at Glenwood cc 8pm-1am Time Saturday, November 6 at 8:00pm - November 7 at 1:00am
--------------------------- Location Glenwood cc 27 Overton st Winnipeg, MB
More Info Hey there NWSPL nation !The ball season isn't over just yet! We are having our windup social & awards night on Sat Nov 6th at Glenwood cc 27 Overton street from 8pm-1am. Tickets are only $10.00 so come out & enjoy a great night of fun , friends, great silent auction prizes, awards,food&drinks along with a few games & surprizes! Come cheer on the winning teams & mvps as they receive all their hardware. All team captain have tickets but if you or someone you know need more then let me know asap! We also have a donation letter on the league website if you are able to help out with some silent auction prizes. Hope to see everyone out for a crazy party to wind down the 2010 season! Lets all have a blast & blow the roof off the club! We have some great prizes starting to roll in now! a 42 inch plasma tv, nhl jerseys, nintendowii, huge camping package,patio set just to name a few!
Coming up on November 27...a fund raiser for the purchase of the A-Zone at 91 Albert Street here in Winnipeg. title to be held cooperatively.
@@@@@@@@@@ Dance, Dance, Insurrection! Another property is possible... Time
Saturday, November 27 at 8:00pm - November 28 at 1:00am
Location Ukrainian Labour Temple 591 Pritchard Avenue Winnipeg, MB
--------------------------- More Info
This is a Benefit Social for the A-zone Coop - a group of tenants coming together to buy 91 Albert St. in the Exchange District. Come out for a fun night of carnival games, music and dancing!
Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased at Mondragon Bookstore and Coffeehouse (91 Albert St.). The money raised will go towards the tenants' effort for collective ownership and preservation of this vital community space.
Upcoming: CUPE Educational Nov.8th + Rob Ford 'Welcome' Dec.1st Hello Everyone, Two Important upcoming events listed below.. 1) CUPE Raise the Rates Educational: for CUPE Members who are interested in hearing about and getting involved in the Raise the Rates Campaign 2) Give Rob Ford the Welcome He Deserves! --------------- 1) **please forward Why are Social Assistance Rates a Workers Issue? Join us for the Raise the Rates & Special Diet Campaign Educational Monday November 8, 2010 from 6 to 9 pm CUPE 4400: 1482 Bathurst St, Suite 200 **On-Site Childcare and Food Provided
At the 2010 Spring CUPE Ontario Convention, we took an important step in continuing to build solidarity with our community allies and fighting poverty by voting to support an emergency resolution to endorse and actively support the campaigns to raise social assistance rates and to stop the McGuinty Government's cut to the Special Diet program. Join fellow CUPE members for an educational on the Raise the Rates and Special Diet Campaign to get the word out in our workplaces about why raising social assistance rates is a workers issue and what can be done to take this issue on. For more information, contact: 416-596-7927 / firstname.lastname@example.org CUPE Ontario: Save the Special Diet and Raise the Rates: http://cupe.on.ca/doc.php?document_id=1114&lang=en CUPE Ontario Statement on the Special Diet Allowance: http://cupe.on.ca/doc.php?subject_id=227&lang=en _________________ 2) PLEASE POST WIDELY - On Dec. 1, Rob Ford becomes Mayor of Toronto. A public event is being organized by community groups and grassroots activists to keep watch on Rob Ford and his anti-people agenda. Further details will be announced shortly, please invite all your friends. Keep visiting http://ocap.ca/ and http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/ for updates.
The ITF has released the following press statement today.
ITF deplores continuing imprisonment of Shahabi, Osanloo and Madadi
29 October 2010
1. Commenting on the continuing imprisonment of members of the Vahed Syndicate, ITF Inland Transport Secretary Mac Urata said: “The injustice continues. There had been some hopes that the union’s treasurer, RezaShahabi, might be released today, but they look like they will come to nothing - just like the regime’s empty promises to release MansourOsanloo. We invite the Iranian government to prove us wrong and show that they can still do the decent thing and release these innocent workers.”
He continued: “We are reliably informed that RezaShahabi is being heavily interrogated, despite reported health issues, and being denied legal advice and contact with his deeply worried family. His family have paid 60 million Toman (USD 60,000) in bail, but his release is still nowhere in sight.”
RezaShahabi was arrested on 12 June this year without any charges being specified by the authorities. In August the ITF’s 42nd Congress in Mexico City unanimously adopted an emergency resolution to demand his and MansourOsanloo and EbrahimMadadi’s immediate release.
2. In the recent weeks, some transport unions including the Belgian BTB and the Dutch FNVBondgenoten have given the status of honorary membership to Osanloo and other detained leaders of the union.
3. During the ITF's Respect and Safety Action Week, 6 - 12 October, 100 members of the Belgian ACVTranscom protested in front of the Iranian Embassy in Brussels to demand freedom for MansoorOsanloo and other imprisoned Iranian trade unionists. So did the Japanese JRU union delegation in Tokyo but their request to meet with the envoy and to submit a letter were refused. Bus members of the union will write postcards to the President of Iran on this matter. Earlier, on 17 September, Norwegian Transport Workers Union, Fagforbundet and two other unions demonstrated outside the Iranian Embassy in Oslo, prior to the UN's General Assembly in New York where the Iranian President was scheduled to attend.
Here's one for all you Canadian history buffs. Next Wednesday, November 3, Charlotte Gray, author of 'Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike' will be speaking on the history of the town of Dawson in the Yukon. So get out your gold nuggets for this interesting lecture sponsored by Canada's History Magazine. CHCHCHCHCH
Charlotte Gray, Author of Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike Time Wednesday, November 3 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm
--------------------------- Location Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall, University of Winnipeg 515 Portage Avenue Winnipeg, MB
------------------------- More Info Charlotte Gray, author of the critically-acclaimed Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike, will be taking us on a visual journey to the Yukon frontier town of Dawson City. Charlotte spent three months there as a Writer-in-Residence at Berton House, the childhood home of Canada's beloved author, Pierre Berton.
Charlotte will share with us the history of the town, as well as images and stories of the eccentric characters she met there.
South Korea is due to host the next G20 meeting soon. It will no doubt be true to form with protests being violently repressed. Whether SK can live up to the heights of overkill recently demonstrated on the streets of Toronto is an open question. What is sure is that South Korea has yet to live up to its commitments to bring its labour legislation in line with international standards. Here is an item from the international union federation the IUF about what sort of country the g20 meeting will be held in this time around.
KLKLKLKLKL International Unions Call for Action on Labour Rights Abuses in Korea When Korea joined the OECD in 1996, a condition of adherence was a commitment to reform its industrial relations legislation in line with ILO standards. Not only has there been no reform, but the situation has markedly deteriorated.
In the runup to the G20* meeting scheduled for November 11-12 in Seoul, South Korea, international union organizations are calling for pressure on the Korean government to bring its repressive labour law and employment regime into line with international standards and its own commitments.
The ILO has repeatedly called on the government of South Korea to amend its labour legislation, which criminalizes legitimate union activity, blocks large numbers of public sector workers from joining unions or bargaining collectively and promotes the massive use of precarious employment relationships to effectively deny workers their collective rights.
Despite its 1996 pledge, current and previous Korean governments has refused to ratify ILO Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining).
Article 314 of the Penal Code on "obstruction of business" is routinely used to arrest and imprison union leaders and members and impose fines totalling millions of dollars in order to cripple union activity. Over 300 trade unionists have been imprisoned over the past 18 months.
When the crisis affected production at Ssangyong Motors, management responded to union demands to negotiate worksharing by unilaterally dismissing agency workers. In the course of the strike which followed (May-August 2010), riot police consistently used violence against the workers, including using electroshock weapons. ( See previous posts here at Molly's Blog- Molly )
A loose definition of "essential services" allows the government to deny large numbers of public sector workers the right to join a union. Unions of government employees, teachers, construction and transport workers are refused the right to represent over 250,000 workers.
Outsourced, subcontracted (dispatched) and other forms of precarious work have been aggressively promoted to deny whole categories of workers their right to union representation. Some 50% of all employed persons in Korea today lack an open-ended, direct permanent employment contract. The KCTU Korean metalworkrers have identified companies making use of up to a hundred labour contractors in a single factory - all to prevent workers from joining a union and bargaining with the real employer.
In an important decision last year, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association called on the government of Korea to stop the abusive use of precarious contracts to deny workers their rights.
The only labour law reform, however, is proposed legislation to extend the current two-year period after which dispatch workers must be made permanent - to 4 years! Sungjong Lee, Policy Director of the IUF-affiliated Korean Federation of Private Service Workers' Unions (KFSU), denounces the proposed legislation because it will be used by employers to evade their obligation to regularize precarious workers: most employers, says Lee, will simply replace irregular workers as their contract conversion approaches with new, precarious hires.
Newly proposed legislation would also expand the range of job classifications allowed for dispatch (agency) work from the current 32 with up to 17 additional job classifications (in accordance with "market needs"). According to Nambee Park, President of the IUF-affiliated Korean Women's Trade Union, this has already encouraged the conversion to agency work of many directly-employed women workers, with a consequent loss of security, wages and benefits. If the remaining restrictions on agency work are done away with, says Park, the result will be a further expansion of low wage work, deepening insecurity and gender discrimination
The global union federations, the ITUC and TUAC are together calling for pressure on G20 governments to make sure the urgent need for labour law reform comes to the fore at the G20 meeting. A briefing note, sample letters and background materials for trade unions are available on the website of the International Metalworkers Federation in English, French, German, Russian and Spanish.
But you needn't live and work in a G20 country to take action in support of our Korean sisters and brothers! Unions everywhere can use these campaign materials to urge your government to pressure the government of Korea, to organize actions and protests at South Korean government representations and to inform your members and the wider public about the current situation - and the urgent need for change.
*The Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors is made up of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and the USA.
Please go to this linkto send the following message to the President of South Korea.
Dear President Lee Myung-bak,
I join with the International Metalworkers' Federation in calling for the Korean government to honour its international commitments and respect workers’ rights.
Repeatedly workers and trade unions in Korea are subject to violations of human and trade union rights. The number of arrests and severity of prison sentences as well as physical violence is increasing.
When Korea joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996 it was on the proviso that your government would take the necessary measures to bring Korea’s labour law in line with international standards.
Korea has failed to adhere to or ratify ILO conventions no. 87 (right to freedom of association) and no. 98 (right to collective bargaining) and your government has repeatedly refused offers of technical assistance from the International Labour Organisation to bring your legislation into line with international standards.
The Korean Government routinely uses criminal sanctions under Article 314 of the criminal code to arrest and imprison trade unionists for exercising their legitimate right to conduct trade union activities.
The Korean law denies workers in precarious or irregular employment the right to join a trade union and bargain collectively. Employers systematically engage workers on precarious employment contracts specifically to prevent them from forming and joining trade unions.
Public sector workers are subjected to anti-union discrimination and disciplinary measures and their collective agreements are unilaterally cancelled by the Government. Whole categories of Government workers are prevented from organizing through an overly broad definition of “essential services”.
I call on the Korean government to honour your international commitments and respect workers’ rights.
OCAP SPEAKS OUT ABOUT RECENT TORONTO CIVIC ELECTION:
No doubt they are cheering at the Fraser Institute with the recent election of Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto. Never mind that "fiscal conservatives" have had a very dismal record at keeping budgetary deficits under control. One has only to look to our "beloved" federal government to see what "ending the gravy train" actually means. let alone the record of conservatives in power elsewhere in North America. Deficits are them. What is actually means is dealing out the gravy to others that are more favoured by a conservative mind-set. This will mean just as much expenditure, though on different items. True to his word ford's first priority on becoming Mayor of Canada's largest city is a "war on graffiti". What this means in reality is diverting the works and engineering department of Toronto from such things as road repair to cleaning walls. Looks good on the surface I guess.
Ford's election has made news across the world- literally. It has even been reported in the Chinese 'People's Daily'. How significant it is is another matter entirely. When the heat dies down it is likely that Ford will not be able to keep even a fraction of his "promises" about "cutting waste". A lot of his voodoo economics rests upon the assumption that there is enough spare city land to sell off to his friends (at no doubt reduced prices) to push the city into a surplus situation. The idea of tax cuts coupled with no reduction in services is, of course, pure fantasy.
It is, of course, civic election season here in Canada. Ford's election is actually less significant than that of the election of NaheedNenshi as Mayor of Calgary. Not that his reign will be any different from that of a conservative such as Ford in terms of waste and cronyism. Yet, it was significant not just because he is of East Indian heritage (via Tanzania) nor because he is a Muslim. In Calgary !!! What is most significant is that he has been a University professor. The idea of Calgarians elected an "intellectual" of any political stripe says volumes about how much that city has changed in the past few years.
Meanwhile here in Winnipeg we will have our own civic election tomorrow. As usual Molly will not be voting. In terms of the mayoralty candidates it is the crooked right represented by Sam Katz versus the bureaucratic left represented by Judy Wasylycia-Leis. Hardly anything to chose from. It's all who you want picking your pocket and how you want the ill gotten gains spent. I'm almost tempted to vote in the local councillor elections just because the property developer candidate Jeff Browaty, the incumbent, approached me while I was trying to do some yard work and annoyed me. Never mind that he is into real estate which in my mind means he should be automatically barred from running for municipal office. His attitude and his physical appearance reminded me of two things. One is that he looks just like a mass murderer ala Colonel Russell Williams down in Ontario. The other is that he looks and acts like the high school "football hero" that school authorities used to use to bully the students back when I was young. Perhaps such people have more likelihood of ending up as mass murderers. To my family's great credit my brother broke the collarbone of one of these thugs when we were in high school. Threatening, pushy, obnoxious and interfering with my work. Sorry, Jeffy-poo, there are some you can't bully into putting a sign on the lawn. Don't even bother speaking loudly and demandingly at me. I'm not one of your underlings.
Ah well, the politics are over, but the struggle continues. Here's an item from the Ontario Coalition against Poverty (OCAP) about their opinion of Toronto's new Mayor.
CPCPCPCPCP OCAP Gets Ready To Confront Rob Ford
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Gets Ready to Confront New Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Eight years of the progressive Mayor David Miller has meant little for the poorest people in Toronto. The former City Council and David Miller are responsible for 312 shelter beds for the homeless being cut with only 60 ever replaced. Promises of new shelters have been empty rhetoric, with people waiting years for any new spaces to open up. Gentrification has continued at high speed, Toronto Community Housing is looking to sell off properties, while the waiting list for housing is almost 10 years long. Transit fares have gone up and accessibility was one of the first things to be cut from the budget. Welfare rates are shamefully inadequate, while city administrators willfully deny people access to vital benefits such as the Special Diet Allowance. Poverty in Toronto has continued to grow under a so-called progressive Mayor. The City of Toronto is increasingly divided between the rich and the poor.
Now Toronto has elected Rob Ford as its new Mayor. OCAP knows Ford and his priorities all too well. He has consistently supported cuts to Welfare/ODSP including the recent cut to the Special Diet Allowance, spoken out against social programs, community housing, affordable transit, the homeless and immigrants. Ford's rhetoric in this campaign has been to 'end the gravy train at City Hall' and to 'respect the taxpayer'. What Rob Ford really means is all too familiar; cutting social services, housing and transit, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy. We will see cuts to services that poor people need on top of an already existing lack of funding to services thanks to Miller. If anything, the 'gravy train' for the rich will be all that Ford cares about.
"Rob Ford's agenda is the same as Mike Harris’ was in the 1990s –attacking poor people to benefit the wealthy." says OCAP organizer John Clarke. “During the Harris period Ontario saw unprecedented civil dissent and disruption, we are putting Ford on notice that he ought to expect the same." OCAP will be working with communities across Toronto to fight Ford’s agenda and defend the rights of poor people.
This Wednesday, October 27, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) will be holding a day of Action across Ontario where they will protest the continued erosion of workers' rights and benefits by the employers. Here's the announcement of times and places. CAWCAWCAWCAW
CAW Auto Parts Workers 15,000 Strong Demonstrate Across Ontario ----------------------------
CAW members in the auto parts sector will be demonstrating outside their respective workplaces on Wednesday, October 27 for a province-wide Day of Action. In more than 100 workplaces across Ontario, workers will be staging rallies, calling for an end to the downward pressure on working conditions and employer demands for severe contract give-backs.
This is the first time such a large-scale effort has been orchestrated by Canada's auto parts workers. The Day of Action also includes a massive outreach effort to non-unionized auto parts workers, including those employed by Magna.
CAW National President Ken Lewenza and Assistant to the President Jerry Dias will be attending the rally at Burlington Technologies, located at 3267 Mainway Drive in Burlington at 12:30 p.m.
Here is a cross section of key rally locations and contact information:
Brampton Benteler Automotive 9195a Torbram Road - 10:20 a.m. Gerry Harvey, CAW Local 1285 2nd Vice President (cell) 416-456-2310
Guelph CPK Interior Products (Formerly Guelph Products) 500 Laird Road - 10:00 a.m. Robin Dudley, CAW Local 1917 President (cell) 519-993-8985
Ingersoll Autrans 17 Underwood Road - 11:00 a.m. KelleeJanzen CAW Local 2163 President (office) 519-425-9028
Hamilton/ Dundas El-Met Parts 47 Head Street, Dundas - 12:00 p.m. Randy Smith, CAW Local 504 President (cell) 905-973-3231
Kitchener Lear Seating 530 Manitou Drive - 11:25 a.m. Tim Mitchell, CAW Local 1524 President (cell) 519-749-5110
London/ Glencoe Cooper Standard 268 Appin Road, Glencoe - 11:00 a.m. Tim Carrie, CAW Local 27 President (cell) 519-318-1022
Oakville Automodular 2335 Speers Road - 11:00 a.m. Angus MacDonald, CAW Local 1256 President (cell) 905-467-5133
Stratford Cooper Standard Automotive 1030 Erie Street - 10:00 a.m. rolling to 12:30 p.m. Kim Kent, CAW Local 4451 Vice President (cell) 519-272-9004
St. Thomas Legatt & Platt (formerly Crown North America) 43 Gaylord Road, Unit #2 - 12:00 p.m. Ryan Dolby, CAW Local 2168 President (office) 519-631-2005
St. Catharines Tora Investments Inc. 15 Cushman Rd - 12:00 p.m. Wayne Gates, CAW Local 199 President (cell) 905-328-9532
Tillsonburg Reiter Automotive Systems (formerly Mastico Industries Ltd.) 73 Goshen St. - 12:00 p.m. Fran Ward CAW Local 1859 President (office) 519-688-0051
Toronto Woodbridge Foam 8214 Kipling Avenue, Woodbridge - 9:30 a.m. Roland Kiehne, CAW Local 112 President (cell) 416-801-1120
Windsor/ Tecumseh Canadian Engineering 2265 South Cameron Boulevard - 12:00 p.m. Gerry Farnham, CAW Local 195 President (cell) 519-980-4195
Integram Seating 201 Patillo Road, Tecumseh - 11:00 a.m. Dave Cassidy, CAW Local 444 Financial Secretary (cell) 519-999-7708
Woodstock TRW (Formerly Kelsey-Hayes) 155 Beard's Lane -12:00 p.m. Ross Gerrie, CAW Local 636 President (cell) 519-535-2014
The following item is from ZCommunications. I have to say that I have serious disagreements with what follows, being as it is pretty well standard academic post modernist "theory". I have another name for this speculation that is hardly kind. To say the least the concept of "race" is hardly a novel invention derived from the Spanish Reconquista. A lot of the "geneology" of racism that follows from this is utter fantasy. I wonder if they actually belive this sort of nonsense in the academy today. It is, of course, nonsense to ascribe the actions of genocide to some European "deviation", no matter how much American influenced post modernists may want to believe this. Racism and its cause "xenophobia" predates "capitalism", and it will exist beyond the abolition of same especially if the theorists of post-modernism have their way and privilege certain "races". In that case genocide will exist under different names. In other words this sort of thing is very much a program for further ethnic conflict rather than being something "liberatory". But I'll let the reader judge. Here is the article. All that I can say for now is that I am grateful that I don't have to do the proper bows that people such as Znet have to do to be proper leftists. Who knows if they understand the implications of nonsense, and how others view them for it. But anyways here is the article that has some very good points mixed with the silliness.
ZCZCZCZCZC Race, Racism, Xenophobia and Migration
By Bill Fletcher Friday, October 22, 2010
From October 8-11 in Quito, Ecuador, the 4th World Social Forum on Migration was held. Hundreds of activists and scholars from around the world participated in some of the most interesting plenary sessions and workshops of any conference I have attended.
"The conference was an eye-opening experience. Migration was examined on various levels, including global economic, political, military and environmental factors, all of which influence migration. The International Labor Organization estimates that at least 83 million people are currently migrating, a figure that is bound to grow for many reasons, particularly climate change. Yet in the face of this mass migration of human beings, there are political forces that have taken advantage of the fear that is often produced through demographic changes in order to advance right-wing, irrationalist and xenophobic politics. This, too, was addressed at the conference.
"I was asked to deliver a key note speech to one of the plenary sessions that addressed discrimination and xenophobia. The following is the text of the remarks that I delivered. I hope that you find them of interest and use."
--Bill Fletcher, Jr. ~~~ Let me begin by thanking the organizers for inviting me to engage in this discussion.
The nature of the remarks I am to offer—which focus on the issues of race/racism, xenophobia and migration—are more than enough for a multiple week class. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for you, I do not have multiple weeks to deliver it. So, in the next fifteen minutes my hope is to offer an overview of the relationship of these issues and end with some suggestions regarding a manner to rethink global solidarity in the context of migration in the 21st century.
We must begin by establishing, without any ambiguity, that “race” is not a biological or genetic category, but is a political construction. The origin of ALL of humanity is to be found in southern Africa, so in that sense, all of humanity is African.
Yet the notion of race, and the corresponding practice and theory of racism is very real. Prior to both the so-called “Reconquista” in Spain with the Catholicization of Iberia and the purge of the Moors and the Jews in the 15th century, as well as the English occupation and colonization of Ireland in the 16th century, “race,” as we have come to know it, did not exist on planet Earth. While there were certainly religious, tribal, ethnic and imperial conflicts, this was transformed over the course of the end of the 15th century and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Race came to be associated with so-called inferior and superior peoples, and fundamentally with the occupation of lands and the displacement of populations. Eventually, this came to be associated with skin color, but it is worth noting that in the beginning race did not depend on skin color, with Irish Catholics and Spanish Jews being a case in point. This overall process of racial construction was linked with the development of capitalism and in that context, the notion of race must be understood as an ideological and institutional mechanism for both the suppression of specific populations in perpetuity, as well as the introduction of social control over the working masses as a whole, be they of the suppressed/oppressed population or of the suppressor/oppressor population.
In Latin America, the art form and classification code called the castas, along with the introduction in both North and South America of slavery for life for specific populations—Africans—and marginalization and genocide perpetrated others—Indigenous—had nothing to do with science generally or genetics specifically. Rather, it became a means to divide up populations, turning them against one another through the associated system of racial privileges that tended to be meted out according to how close someone got to being supposedly pure white. “White” was always the reference point for the dominant bloc, even though this did not in any way mean that everyone who was designated by the ruling classes to be “white” was automatically part of the ruling classes. It has also been the case that who is and is not considered white in a specific society is not always self-evident. A classic example from US history in the early 20th century was the debate over whether Armenians were to be considered “white” or not.
In sum, the construction of race was linked, from the beginning, to the rise of capitalism and later imperialism. It was not an add-on or a device that was to be used and thrown away at a whim.
The second piece that is important to grasp about race and migration is that the current global wave of migration, which the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates to be more than 86 million, is fundamentally different from earlier waves during the history of capitalism, i.e., those from the 1500s through the early 1900s. In the waves of migrations that began with the invasion of the Western Hemisphere and the colonization of other parts of what we reference today as the global South, the migrating populations were part of the process of colonization and, as in the cases of the USA, Canada, Australia, and South Africa, to name just four locales, the establishment of formal settler states. These migrating populations, irrespective of whether they were persecuted in their European countries of origin, served as part of a process in the construction of colonial and settler states. Even when they engaged in wars of independence with their European colonial sponsors, these were struggles that were not truly emancipatory, but were struggles to redefine the terms of a particular relationship. To put it another way, most of the independence struggles represented a break with a colonial power—and a renegotiation of the relationship—but not a break with the key social and economic institutions, e.g., slavery in the Western Hemisphere; the Latifundia in Latin America, that were hallmarks of the colonial period. As such, the native populations were never true allies with the insurgents, but were, at best, allies of convenience (example: Native Americans used by both sides in the French and Indian Wars 1754-1763).
It should be noted that there were other migration patterns that did not originate in Europe. Migration from China and Japan to the Western Hemisphere in the mid to late 19th century, for instance, had a different character and particularly in the case of the migration of these Asian populations to the USA, there was intense hostility that was visited upon Asian migrants, a hostility that has lasted for generations. This is worth noting since the European migrants, even when experiencing a hostile reception by prior European migrants, were generally absorbed into the “white bloc” after their ‘credentials’ as white people were established. Asian migrants in the 19th and early through mid-20th centuries faced a very different challenge since they were not accepted into a white bloc. They were placed, depending on the country or territory to which they migrated, into a racial hierarchy but they were not considered white people.
The character of migrations began to change in the early 1900s when populations from colonies proceeded to relocate to the imperial centers. The migration patterns that we are witnessing today are a continuation and acceleration of this process. In the absence of self-determination and with the deformed economic and political structures imposed on colonial and semi-colonial territories, populations began to shift. Separately, there were population shifts between and among colonial and semi-colonial countries. The migration of Haitians to the Dominican Republic that began in the 19th century, for instance, is just such an example of the latter, and one that reminds us of the manner in which xenophobia can take on genocidal proportions when a so-called native population is manipulated through fear. Specifically, race was constructed in such a way in the Dominican Republic that there was a generalized denial of the African roots of most of the population and a distain for anyone described as being “black.” The dictator Rafael Trujillo took advantage of this situation to move an anti-Haitian pogrom in 1937 in which more than 20,000 Haitians were murdered, having been blamed by Trujillo as having been the source of the Dominican Republic’s many problems.
Current waves of migration, then, have as their source both a continuation of these factors, plus additional factors, including but not limited to wars, neo-liberal globalization, imperial foreign policies and climate change. Time does not permit me to examine each of these. In this situation, however, we must note, that the ‘racialization’ of migrants has taken on a particular significance.
At the global scale such racialization is found in the broad characterization of European/white vs. non-European/non-white. What this means, particularly in the post-World War II context, is that the “problem” of migration has usually been associated not with the general question of migrants and refugees, but the specific question of the shifting of non-white populations away from their homes of origin to the imperial metropole (usually meaning to the country that was the historical imperial/colonial dominationist force over their particular oppressed nation/territory/people). The non-white migrant has been presented as the ‘evil’ or the problem by the so-called “nativist” forces in the global North on a racial basis. As the theorist Etienne Balibar has pointed out, however, this racial construction is a bit different from traditional racial notions since it does not OVERTLY presume superiority/inferiority (certainly on an alleged genetic basis) but rather articulates an ‘other-ness’ based on cultural incompatibility.
To explain this point for a moment, let us take an example from the United States. As you know, the issue of illegal or undocumented migration has been a major watchword for the political Right since at least the 1970s. In the USA, the face of the undocumented migrant is, in the popular imagination, not color neutral but is brown and black. It is largely—though not exclusively—the face of the Latino despite the fact that undocumented migration has never been restricted to this group. In the 1980s and early 1990s there was significant Irish migration to the USA, an important percentage of which was undocumented. Yet Irish migration to the USA during that period was never defined by right-wing or mainstream sources as being problematic. For all intents and purposes it was ignored. Documented AND undocumented migration from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Mexico during that same period, however, was defined as being a problem because the unspoken message was that the Irish can be absorbed into the dominant white bloc in the USA, whereas the Haitians, Dominicans and Mexicans represent an “OTHER” population that is culturally incompatible.
The racialization of migrants, however, is not something that is limited to conflicts in and with the global North. The xenophobic response to migrants in parts of the global South, be it the genocide against Haitians in the 1930s under the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic or the more recent attacks on migrants in South Africa by mobs, points to forces largely driven by limited—and often declining—resources that results in toxic competition between populations. This competition becomes racialized where the migrants are portrayed as the force that is incompatible with the needs and existence of the dominant population. They become the “Alien,” so to speak, both literally—that is, in terms of the law—and figuratively—that is, in terms of the popular imagination. This competition for resources, we must note, is not something that exists in the abstract but is a phenomenon related to the rise of neo-liberal globalization and the dramatic polarization of wealth and resources we have witnessed on a world scale. When we have a situation, for instance, where 225 individuals have the accumulated wealth of the bottom 47% of the world’s population it becomes clear that those at the bottom will be struggling to make do with what is left to them by those who have accumulated so much.
With regard the question of migration and the dialectic between the global North and the global South, we must understand that the political Right plays upon what a US Hip Hop/Rap group called “Public Enemy” described once as a fear of a Black planet. When I use the term “Black” here I mean it more in the manner that many of us used it in the 1960s and 1970s, that is a term referencing not just people of more recent African origin but people from the former colonies and semi-colonies. Changing global demographics along with changing economics and politics have become a source of fear and insecurity for much of the global North, specifically, for the so-called white populations. The fundamental source of this insecurity actually is rooted in both the weakening of traditional imperialist relationships along with the rise of neo-liberal globalization and its transformation of both domestic and international conditions for working people. To put it another way, as the living standard for the working population in the global North declines due to the neo-liberal transformation—including the transference of wealth to the rich—the ‘spatial’ violations that are the result of migration come to represent more of a perceived threat to that same population. That “threat” may be in terms of competition for employment in certain sectors, but more often than not it is a psychological threat in which the working populations of the global North come to recognize that imperialism’s impact can no longer be perceived as being solely an external matter but is also manifested internally…that is, the security that once existed is now long-gone.
What are some of the implications of this analysis? Let me suggest the following.
1. A progressive response to migration cannot be grounded on abstract moral principles but must be grounded in an understanding of the historic relationship between the migrating population and the target of migration: The absence of an analysis that provides a context inevitably leads to failure. If one cannot explain the historical roots as to why a migration pattern is unfolding and the relationship of the policies of the migration target to the migrating population, then the migration may not make any sense or can be perceived as the equivalent of an invasion.
2. The destruction of lands, nations and peoples by imperialism, and its current incarnation as neo-liberal globalization is resulting in unprecedented population shifts: The impact of imperialism on land use, climate change, ethnic rivalries, etc., is leading to increasing competition for resources as well as population shifts. In this environment right-wing ideologies, grounded in a racialization of other populations, has advanced in both the global North and global South with the objective of excluding or marginalizing migrant populations, and in some cases, exterminating them altogether.
3. Racialization, as a process, is not only a matter of the perception of the migrating population by the ‘native’ population but also the manner through which the migrating population perceives dynamics within migrating target nation: This particular point is one that could and should be the topic of an entire discussion. The migrating population does not migrate with a blank consciousness, particularly on matters of race. It travels to the target nation with a racial consciousness that is shaped by the ideologies, histories and experiences from the home country. It is also shaped by the perceptions of the racial hierarchy in the target country. Thus, and by way of example, Latinos migrating to the USA from the Dominican Republic, are shaped by the historical antipathy between the Dominican Republic and Haiti; the bizarre racial denial and oppression that was perpetrated by the Trujillo regime; as well as understanding of how white supremacy operates in the USA, including but not limited to which populations have what standing in the US imperial/racial hierarchy.
4. A radical, anti-racist practice must be introduced in order to build solidarity and respond to anti-immigrant and xenophobic ideologies and practices: The racialization of current migration has several objectives. One is the creation of a permanent, marginal, powerless and subordinate working stratum. This is summarized in the notion that migrant workers will do work that ‘native’ workers avoid. The other aspect of the racialization is exactly the opposite, that is, the use of the “Other” as a way of creating a renewal of the dominant white bloc and the uniting behind a right-wing populist agenda. Right-wing populism can sometimes be confused for progressive, popular-democratic politics, if one avoids race. Right-wing populism often seizes on language from the Left in order to strengthen its base among working people from the ‘native’ population. To break this alignment, the racist nature of right-wing populism must be unpacked and exposed and a politics advanced that focuses on the development of an alternative, progressive bloc.
The struggle for justice for migrant workers is directly connected to the struggle against neo-liberal globalization. The destruction of Earth’s resources and the massive accumulation of wealth by a minority of the planet to the disadvantage of the majority, means that billions find themselves in a struggle for survival. One option has become migration, but rather than migration being accepted as the reality of a modern economy, it has brought with it demonization of those who migrate, covert exploitation of the migrant, and the use of the migrant in fundamentally racist ways to serve as scapegoat for the economic injustice being felt by so many.
The struggle for justice for the migrant worker is inextricably connected to the fight for racial justice, and, indeed, the fight for broader social justice. This struggle must be integrated into our various battles and not placed to one side as one additional issue on a long list of issues.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president ofTransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.
This just in from CeaseFire.ca , a public education conference call on the Harper government's plans to blow $16 billion dollars on 'stealth fighters'. One might think that in light of the government's ballooning deficit that they should be a bit more "conservative" with our money. Ah well, for some things there will be to times of austerity. One should note that "stealth" fighters are pretty well the definition of an offensive weapon. They are only useful over somebody else's airspace. In any case the amount that may be spent on such toys has more or less been buried by the feds. Can we call this "Stealth by stealth" ? Here's the invite from CeaseFire.ca.
Join our Canada-wide campaign conference call Canada-wide campaign conference call NO STEALTH FIGHTERS Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:00 noon ET (1:00 AT, 11:00 CT, 10:00 MT, 9:00 PT)
With Steven Staples and special guest Michael Byers
Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. His work focuses on Arctic sovereignty, the law and politics of military force, and international humanitarian law. He is the author of War Law (2005), Intent for a Nation (2007) and Who Owns the Arctic? (2010).
Join us to learn more about Stephen Harper's plan to spend $16 billion on "shock and awe" stealth fighters.
JIMMY JOHNS WORKERS UNION LOSES ELECTION IN CLOSE TALLY:
Close but no cigar. The Jimmy Johns Workers' Union in Minneapolis lost the Labour Board election that would have seen them representing workers in the 10 outlets in that city. the final tally was 85 in favour of the union and 87 against. US labour law says that a majority of those eligible to vote would have to vote yes to certify a union as the bargaining representative. In this case that would have meant 103 workers.
The IWW isn't giving up, and hopefully future efforts will be rewarded. The reader can see more and keep up to date on developments at both the Jimmy Johns Workers' Union site and also that of the Twin Cities IWW. Management fought a dirty campaign against the union, and there are quite a few unfair labour practices complaints in the works. As the following article from Business Week shows, red-baiting was part of their book of tricks. Nothing remarkable about this. What is remarkable, and it bodes well for the health of the American body politic, is that almost half the workers involved were unimpressed by scare words like "socialist-anarchist".
JJWJJWJJWJJW Union’s Bid to Organize Minneapolis Sandwich Shops Rejected October 23, 2010, 12:01 AM EDT Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Union efforts to recruit workers at U.S. fast-food restaurants were set back yesterday as Minneapolis employees at Jimmy John’s sandwich shops rejected a bid to affiliate with organized labor.
The Industrial Workers of the World, a Chicago-based group, failed to win enough votes at 10 shops where the union’s supporters complained of low wages and too few working hours. A tally showed 87 workers against the union and 85 in favor, with 103 votes, a majority of those eligible, needed to win, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The parties have seven days to file objections.
“We make minimum wage, and if the companies could pay us less, I’m sure they would,” said Ayo Collins, 20, who delivers sandwiches and is a union organizer at Jimmy John’s, a Champaign, Illinois-based chain with 1,000 U.S. shops. “We don’t have health care either.”
Success at Jimmy John’s would have been a breakthrough for organized labor in the fast-food business, where 1.3 percent of workers belong to a union and organizing is difficult because of rapid turnover and a young workforce, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The drive signals that working conditions are “perhaps a real social problem that requires a more pressing solution,” he said.
Mike Mulligan, who owns the 10 franchises in Minneapolis that were targeted in the campaign, said he has been “more than fair” to his workers. He said the workers include a high percentage of minority employees and he has “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment. Most employees have been with the company for less than six months, and are paid minimum wage of $7.25-an- hour, he said.
The I.W.W., known as the Wobblies, has 1,600 U.S. members and few union contracts with employers. The socialist union ( "socialist" is a fair description, but it should be stressed that this doesn't imply any support for any electoral socialist party ie "small s" socialist- Molly )says on its website that there can be “no end to injustice and want until the profit system itself is abolished.” The union has tried in the past to organize baristas at Starbucks Corp.
Employees at two Jimmy John’s in downtown Chicago, which wasn’t part of the I.W.W. organizing, said yesterday that pay is low and hours are inadequate.
“Three hours Monday through Friday isn’t enough,” said Julian Western, 20, who said he makes $8.25 an hour at the Jimmy John’s at 2 N. Riverside Plaza and works side jobs to supplement his income. “You need a second job just to get enough to get by, pay bills.”
Western and his friend Susana Contreras, 20, a cashier and baker at a nearby Jimmy John’s, said they hadn’t heard of the effort in Minneapolis. He said the Wobblies would succeed if they tried to organize in Chicago.
“A lot of people are complaining about the hours and pay,” said Western, who works the cash register and hands out sandwiches. “They’d be more than happy to cooperate.”
Mulligan, a retired senior vice president with grocer Supervalu Inc., said he met frequently with workers in the past six weeks to combat the union effort. He told workers the I.W.W. is a “socialist-anarchist” group, and that the union wouldn’t be likely to improve their working conditions.
“They’re trying to take down the quick-service industry,” said Mulligan, who became a franchisee after he leaving Supervalu as a way of going into business with his son. “Our employees don’t deserve these people, and these people don’t deserve our employees.”
Robert Bruno, director of the labor education program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said it’s significant for labor unions to target fast-food workers as potential union members.
“Some of the traditional rationales against unions in the industry -- that the workers are too young, they don’t stay on the job -- isn’t true any longer,” Bruno said. “Something has changed in the economy. It signals that you can’t take these workers for granted.”
--Editors: Steve Geimann, Larry Liebert
To contact the reporters on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at email@example.com; Flynn McRoberts in Chicago at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Here's how the Jimmy Johns Workers' Union themselves see the matter.
JJWJJWJJWJJW Unfazed by near tie, Jimmy John’s Workers vow to continue campaign by Twin Cities Iww on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 8:14pm.
Jimmy Johns Workers Union (Industrial Workers of the World) Contact: Erik Forman, 612-598-6205, Ayo Collins 612-281-0882
October 22, 2010
Unfazed by near tie, Jimmy John’s Workers vow to continue campaign Workers report widespread illegal activity by company MINNEAPOLIS – Workers at 10 Jimmy John’s franchise locations in Minneapolis are crying foul after a near tie in a union certification election marred by misconduct by owner MikLin enterprises. 85 workers voted in favor of unionization and 87 against, with two unknown contested ballots. Under the National Labor Relations Act, a tie goes to the employer.
Workers reported strong evidence of several violations of the National Labor Relations Act on and before election day, including attempted bribes of workers, management asking workers to wear anti-union pins, threats of mass firings, and anti-union firings. MikLin Enterprises currently stands charged with 22 alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act.
“We are extremely disappointed with the company’s conduct in this matter; rather then letting simply letting us vote, management chose to break the law repeatedly during the last six weeks. They spent over $84,500 on a vicious anti-union smear campaign, that's over $1000 per vote. We do not recognize these election results as legitimate and will continue to fight for our demands,” said Erik Forman, a worker at Jimmy John’s and a union member.
Ayo Collins, a delivery driver, says the union “hasn’t put all their eggs in one basket” and has multiple avenues of action still open to them. He says the union is considering taking legal action against the company over their misconduct in the runup to the election.
"In a company with turnover approaching 50% each month, a majority at any given moment only means so much. We have a mandate- more than 85 of us are committed to continuing the fight for decent wages, consistent scheduling, sick days, and the basic respect and dignity that all workers deserve. This is just the beginning of the fight," said Collins.
The Jimmy Johns Workers Union, open to employees at the company nationwide, is the first fast food union in the nation, and is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.