Southern Workers Assembly unites with the March on Washington
No More Trayvon Martins or George Zimmermans – Organize the South!
Southern Workers Assembly statement:
The Southern Workers Assembly (SWA), along will millions across the U.S. and internationally are outraged by the Sanford, Florida court’s no guilty verdict of George Zimmerman, the racial profiler, stalker and murderer of unarmed, and innocent young Trayvon Martin.
This unjust verdict is part of a racist climate that has been intensified by the capitalist economic crisis that is attacking the entire working-class and scapegoating Blacks, oppressed people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ people and labor unions to divide the U.S. working-class.
The U.S. South has been the bastion for racist hate crimes and not guilty court verdicts that continue to uphold the Dred Scott decision – that Blacks have no rights that whites are bound to respect. These deeply felt atrocities from racists and the courts, reinforced by the institutionalized racism in the economic, social and political system that affects working class Blacks and people of color at work and in society, can only begin to heal when the working-class carries out the mantra that An Injury to One is An Injury to All.
Southern Workers Assembly: A Rank-and-file Call to Action for Labor to Mobilize to Join the Front Line Struggle
Starting in late April and continuing into July, several thousand people from across North Carolina, lead by Rev. William Barber II, President of the NC NAACP have marched every Monday into the state legislative building in Raleigh and packed the rotunda. Over 600 people at the various actions blocked the door to the Senate chambers and refused to move until they were arrested.
Listing legislative assault after legislative assault on poor and working people, he questioned the crowd in his fiery sermon: “What do we do when we are under attack? “ The crowd chanted in response: “We fight; we fight; we fight!”
On May 13, Southern Workers Assembly Co-Coordinator Saladin Muhammad, along with several rank-and-file members of UE local 150-NC Public Service Workers Union, American Postal Workers Union, National Association of Letter Carriers and a staff person from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (AFL-CIO) and several student labor activists got arrested as part of a labor delegation. More labor activists have been arrested since then. Below is a statement that was issued from the SWA at the rally:
We are here as a rank-and-file labor delegation, to visibly join in this important frontline struggle for civil and human rights; and as a call to action for other rank-and-file workers in unions and worker organizations throughout the state to become a more visible and organized part of this struggle at our workplaces and communities, and not allow our voices to be silenced or separated from the voices of the people.
The attacks on workers, the poor, and marginalize and immigrant communities, in addition to being an attack on the core human needs and rights that all who honor social justice have fought, got beaten, gone to jail and died for, is also aimed at silencing our collective voices and actions to challenge these human rights violations. Those in power in the NC legislature are trying to dis-empower and dismantle the organizations of working and poor people that unite us across race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and abilities to act and speak collectively against the injustices that we experience on our jobs and in society.
The bills that seek to gut the state personnel act, that cut the amount and length of time of unemployment benefits, to ban the use of payroll deduction for state and local government workers to voluntary contribute union dues, to make the ban on collective bargaining rights for public sector workers and voluntary card check for private sector workers a constitutional amendment, and to cut Medicare instead of expanding it when there are millions without health insurance and voting rights, are an attack on basic democracy.
Yet, these legislators are doing everything to increase the power of the employers to exploit, mistreat and divide the workers to increase their power, including their power to privatize vital public services. They want organization, power and resources for the chambers of commerce, the manufacturing associations, the corporate lobbyists, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and cuts in corporate taxes. They want to bring the Art Popes and other corporate elites to have direct power and control over all branches of government.
If we don’t take a stand to defend and expand democracy, we are risking losing the weak job security rights we have, we are risking the rights and dignity of future generations, as we see the education of our children now being sacrificed before our very eyes.
The attacks on the people’s rights are an attack on labor rights; and the attack on labor’s rights an attack on the people’s rights.
North Carolina Regional Worker Speak-out Forums
Sponsored by Southern Workers Assembly, UE local 150-NC Public Service Workers Union, Public Schools First NC, Nat’l Association on Mental Illness-Granville Co, Teamsters local 391, NC Association of Educators, International Worker Justice Campaign
- Sat. June 8: Granville/Vance/Person/Warren County area: 11:00am – 1:00pm
Betty Lue’s Restaurant
1597 HWY 56E Creedmoor, NC
More info call 252-314-2363
- Sat. June 15: Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area: 4:00pm
700 South Salisbury St. Raleigh
To help or participate call 919-231-2660
- Sat. June 22: Goldsboro/Wilson/Kinston/Greenville/Rocky Mount area: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Rebuilding Broken Places
2105 N William St Goldsboro
For more info call 919-273-2735
FLOC and allies March on Reynolds Shareholders Meeting and Demand the Company do More Than Talk
Farmworkers and their supporters turned out in full force on May 9 at the Reynolds American 2013 Shareholders Meeting. At one of the largest and most energetic events since the beginning of the campaign, over 300 people including labor, clergy, students, and community allies rallied and marched through the city calling on Reynolds to do more than just talk with FLOC.
Over 40 allies went inside the meeting that morning, armed with points of order and questions to keep the meeting’s focus on farmworker issues. Reynolds executives were clearly rattled by the large presence and persistent questions, and fumbled over important questions such as how they planned to ensure that human trafficking did not exist in their supply chain. In an interview with the Winston Salem Journal following the meeting, Reynolds said they were taking steps to improve conditions on farms, including participating in multi-lateral talks with a variety of stakeholders, talking directly with FLOC, and partnering with Telamon, an agency which provides grants to farmers to improve migrant housing.
But we won’t let Reynolds just throw some money at the problem. Farmworkers don’t need charity, they need fair pay and fair work conditions. Reynolds executives committed to meeting with FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez on May 23rd. The Campaign for freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in the tobacco supply chain will continue until an agreement is signed and we will let our allies know about developments and next steps.
Thanks to all who came out to support and those who were there in spirit. Hasta la victoria!
Georgia Teamster sanitation workers organize and vote to strike
Sanitation workers in McDonough, Ga., walk out
By Dianne Mathiowetz on April 28, 2013
An important labor strike is happening in McDonough, Ga., just south of Atlanta. Workers at Republic Services/Allied Waste are members of Teamsters Local 728 who won their election in 2011. They began an unfair labor practices strike on April 15, caused in part by the illegal firing of a union supporter.
Republic Services is a waste management company with contracts in numerous cities and counties across the U.S. It made $572 million in profits last year. Its single largest stockholder is Bill Gates, who owns some 25 percent of its shares.
Republic has negotiated contracts in other locations, including Atlanta, that provide higher wages, holiday pay for Martin Luther King Day and other benefits that it refuses to give the McDonough workers.
A big issue for these garbage workers who drive big trucks and pick up tons of waste matter every day is safety. They charge that the equipment is faulty and that repairs are not made despite their filing repeated reports. A day’s work can stretch to 14 hours or more. They say the company is cheating them by not paying for the time it takes to bring the truck back to the yard when their route is done.
The company’s insulting response to the demand for a paid holiday on MLK day was to hold a barbecue for the employees that day.
This past Jan. 21, many McDonough Republic workers marched with other area sanitation workers at the front of the annual King Day event in Atlanta. Of special significance was the presence of Memphis sanitation workers, whose struggle for a union and respect on the job brought Dr. King to that city 50 years ago. He was assassinated there on April 4, 1968.
Republic workers are walking the picket line in other places, too. Outside Youngstown, Ohio, workers have taken on the company’s anti-worker stance. That strike began March 27, and sympathy walkouts spread to at least five other Ohio locations. Job actions at Republic facilities in California and Tennessee also occurred in this same time period.
“I’m on strike because this giant waste corporation thinks it can get away with breaking the law to intimidate us and bully us, and cheat us out of pay for time that we worked,” said Renard Henley, a residential driver in McDonough. “We organized and chose to be represented by the Teamsters in 2011, but the company refuses to bargain in good faith with us for a fair contract. I’ve been talking with other workers on the Facebook page, and we have been following the Youngstown strike closely. We have all had enough of the company’s greed.” (teamsters. org, April 15)
Following an interview with Republic strikers on “The Labor Forum,” a show on Atlanta’s progressive community radio station WRFG 89.3 FM, a temp worker who had been placed by his agency at Republic for a month called in. He said that when he saw the picket line on April 15, he refused to take the job. He knew them to be hard workers and he supported their efforts to be treated fairly. “I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I didn’t stand with them,” he said.
Similarly, a customer brought her garbage bags to the door of the Republic offices and told them to do right by the workers.
The McDonough Republic workers have maintained a 24-hour picket line with high spirits and strong solidarity from other Teamsters and union activists. For additional information, contact Teamsters Local 728.
Check out the links below about the McDonough, Georgia Republic Services sanitation worker’s successful organizing campaign in 2011 and their participation, with workers from Memphis and Dekalb County sanitation, in this year’s Atlanta MLK march on 1/21/13.
In early March 2013, the workers took over their company safety meeting with chants of “What do we want? Contract!” and announced directly to their management team that they had taken and unanimously voted in favor of the strike authorization.
The Company responded with providing additional dates for bargaining. The workers intend to keep the pressure on until we reach a tentative agreement for fair and just collective bargaining agreement.
- MLK March Atlanta 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAcg-asUbxc
- Local news article on representational election victory: http://www.henryherald.com/news/2011/dec/28/republic-waste-employees-unionize-workers-rights/
- Organizing video with worker testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK5dHc2megs