Tag Archive: Strike

Dec 15 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Joy in the Struggle, Fast Food Workers Are Standing Up by JayRaye

Remembering a Wonderful Day on Picket Lines Across the Nation!



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DONE, & DONE RIGHT!

This is exactly the way it should be done, drumming, chanting, singing, marching, and statements of Solidarity. This diary is a celebration of the joy of the struggle with photos of unity and songs to fight by.

Workers of the world, awaken!

Rise in all your splendid might;

Take the wealth that you are making,

It belongs to you by right.


             -Joe Hill

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Dec 07 2013

Striking for Raising the Minimum Wage

“We Can’t Survive on $7.25”: Fast-Food Workers Kick Off National Day of Action for Higher Pay



Full transcript can be read here

Fast-food workers are walking off the job in about 100 cities today in what organizers call their largest action to date. Today’s strikes and protests continue a campaign that began last year to call for a living wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Early this morning, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Hany Massoud headed to Times Square in New York City where a group of McDonald’s workers were joined by a crowd of hundreds of supporters to kick off their strike. We hear voices from the protest and speak to Camille Rivera of United NY, part of the newly formed New Day New York Coalition, which has organized this week of action to fight income inequality and build economic fairness.

US fast-food workers strike over low wages in nationwide protests

By Adam Gabatt, The Guardian

Thousands due to strike across 100 cities through the day in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality

Thousands of fast food and retail workers went on strike across the US on Thursday in a signal of the growing clamour for action on income equality.

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters gathered outside a McDonalds at 6.15am. As a large “Christmas Grinch” ambled about in freezing temperatures, demonstrators chanted for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour.

It was the first of nine strikes in Chicago, with employees at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Walgreens, Macy’s and Sears also due to walk off shift. Low wage workers were due to strike across 100 cities through the day, including Boston, Detroit, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles and St Louis.

“Poverty Wages in the Land of Plenty”

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Wal-Mart don’t want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by.  This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Wal-Mart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.

“Wal-Mart was put in an uncomfortable spotlight on what should be the happiest day of the year for the retailer,” Josh Eidelson told me, reporting on the coordinated Black Friday protests. “These were the largest protests we’ve seen against Wal-Mart … you had 1,500 stores involved; you had over a hundred people arrested.” Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, with 2.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom are in the U.S. It reported close to $120 billion in gross profit for 2012. Just six members of the Walton family, whose patriarch, Sam Walton, founded the retail giant, have amassed an estimated combined fortune of between $115 billion-$144 billion. These six individuals have more wealth than the combined financial assets of the poorest 40 percent of the U.S. population.

Aug 31 2013

Who Can Live on Today’s Minimum Wage?

If you're stuck working minimum wage jobs like I am, you know what everyone else who earns the lowest pay allowed by law knows: You can't live on minimum wage, certainly not on the part-time hours employers give.

That's why it's heartening to see fast food workers across the nation going on strike to demand better pay.  I pull in $8.30 an hour at around twenty hours a week.  I can't afford even the cheapest of apartments on that.  As a single white male with no dependents, I am ineligible for most public assistance, including welfare, housing assistance, and medical assistance (Medicaid).  I get a pittance in food stamps every month, but it's not enough to keep me fed on a regular basis.  I'm lucky if I can eat once a day.

My entire paycheck is spent paying bills before I even get it deposited to my bank account, which is typically at or near empty.  That is the reality for me and for everyone else who works a minimum wage job.

Some stupid motherfucker was posting on a friend's Facebook page yesterday about how unfair it would be if fast food workers got an increase in wages to earn the same amount as he does in his construction job, because he doesn't expect that an increase in the minimum wage would necessarily bring an increase in his own pay.  According to him, we minimum wage monkeys don't do any real labor, and therefore don't deserve to make anywhere near the same amount of money as someone whose job involves backbreaking physical labor.  This same stupid asshole thinks that we can get higher paying jobs if we wanted to, and that we don't want to.  Bullshit.  If I could get a job working construction, I'd be working it right now.  I've applied for those jobs and they haven't even granted so much as one interview.  Most require that I have my own transportation, which I can't afford because I don't make enough to afford my own vehicle.  Those that don't haven't deigned to give me an interview either.

I can tell you right now that this ignoramus wouldn't last even one full shift working at McDonald's.  He couldn't keep up with the fast pace, and he certainly couldn't deal with impatient, often angry customers, standing on his feet for eight hours or more.  I've done that and it's exhausting.  My back is still screwed up from nearly three years of bending over a work table marinating, trussing, and spitting chicken carcasses for roasting, and I left that job in 2005 — eight years ago.  These days I grind lenses for an eyewear company for barely above my state's minimum wage.  I have to clock out for lunch if I work over six hours, costing me a half hour's pay, because the corporation for which I work doesn't want to pay me for a shift that's long enough to necessitate taking a few minutes to restore my energy levels.

News articles about the fast food strike state that the demand for fifteen dollars per hour would raise pay for full-time workers to thirty-one thousand annually, more than double the current annual average of fifteen thousand.  Some, however, quote workers pointing out that most minimum wage jobs don't provide full time hours.  They allow twenty or under, meaning someone like me might make $7,500 a year or less, and very often it's a lot less.

In an article on NBC Washington, it's revealed that financial woes actually have a negative impact on a person's IQ.  That is, the sheer stress of not being able to afford even the basics, like adequate food and drink, is literally making people dumber.  Starvation wages lead to actual starvation, so the body can't get the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy brain.  Financial worries force people to devote more of their mental power to worrying over how they'll afford to live, leaving much less time and energy for other matters.

Who the hell can live on the current minimum wage?  No one, not without public assistance, which is already slashed to the bone with Republicans and Democrats cutting the social safety net even further.  Many of us are either homeless or soon shall be (myself included).  No one is out there advocating for us.  No one is doing a damned thing to lighten our financial burden.  The vast majority of our tax dollars (yes, we poor folk do pay taxes) go to fund wars and Wall Street, with things like education, housing, food, and Social Security getting less and less.  Yet we're told by ignorant assholes to “suck it up”, stop asking for “handouts”, to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and make do or die.  If we could do that on what we get paid, we would.  But we can't, and even though we work and pay taxes (unlike the obscenely rich), we aren't allowed to have a say in how our tax dollars are spent.

So what's to be done?  Well, I don't know about you, but I for one have no intention of crossing any picket lines, and neither should you.  Don't let striking fast food workers do this all by themselves.  Support them in whatever way you can.  Join them, in fact.  If you know in your heart that everyone has the right to work “a useful and remunerative job” that pays enough to live on, then join them in solidarity and demand an increase in the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour.  Call and write members of Congress in both houses, call and write the White House, march on Washington in the millions and shut the place down, join striking workers on the picket line, donate whatever money and food you can afford to help people who are starving.

This country and this planet are going to hell in a hand basket, but only if We the people let them.  Don't let them.

Apr 21 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the Paterson Silk Strike by JayRaye

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn with Pat Quinlan, Carlo Tresca,

Adolph Lessig, and Big Bill Haywood

Paterson, New Jersey 1913



Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Arrives

On January 27, 1913 at the Doherty Silk Mill in Paterson, New Jersey, a workers committee requested a meeting with management. They wanted an end to the hated four-loom system which had doubled their work load with no increase in pay, and had caused the lay-offs of many of their fellow workers. When four members of that committee were fired, 800 silk workers, almost the entire work force, walked off the job spontaneously. They were without union organization to back them up. Being mostly foreign-born, non-English-speaking, unskilled workers, the AFL’s United Textile Workers did not want them.

But, in fact, there was another textile union in Paterson at that time: the IWW’s National Industrial Union of Textile Workers, Local 152 which local organizers, Ewald Koettgen and Adolph Lessig had established over several years of organizing. It was there, with this stalwart band of 100 Wobblies, that the strikers found a union willing to back up their strike. As it became clear that Doherty would not bargain with the strikers, Local 152 request help from IWW headquarters in Chicago.

On February 25, 1913, national IWW organizers, Pat Quinland, Carlos Tresca, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn arrived to speak at a mass meeting. All three were arrested that night at the meeting. Strikers followed them to the jail and held a rally outside the jail, singing and shouting for their release. Women shouted, “When the strike is won, Gurley Flynn will be the boss!”

By the time Big Bill Haywood arrived, later that week, the strike had spread to silk mills across Paterson. 300 mills were shut down, and 25,000 silk workers were on strike. Big Bill advised the strikers: “fold your arms or put your hands in your pocket and let the manufacturers do the worrying.”

Mar 10 2013

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The West Virginia Court-Martial of Mother Jones by JayeRay



From the cover of the International Socialist Review of March 1913

MOTHER JONES ARRIVES IN WEST VIRGINIA

June 11, 1912

Charleston Gazette

Interview with Mother Jones

I am simply a social revolutionist. I believe in collective ownership of the means of wealth. At this time the natural commodities of this country are cornered in the hands of a few. The man who owns the means of wealth gets the major profit, and the worker, who produces the wealth from the means in the hands of the capitalist, takes what he can get. Sooner or later, and perhaps sooner than we think, evolution and revolution will have accomplished the overturning of the system under which we now live, and the worker will have gained his own.

This change will come as the result of education. My life work has been to try to educate the worker to a sense of the wrongs he has had to suffer, and does suffer-and to stir up the oppressed to a point of getting off their knees and demanding that which I believe to be rightfully theirs. When force is used to hinder the worker in his efforts to obtain the thing which are his he has the right to meet force with force. He has the right to strike for what is his due, and he has no right to be satisfied with less. The people want to do right , but they have been hoodwinked for ages. They are now awakening, and the day of their enfranchisement is near at hand.

Reprinted in the March 1913 issue of the International Socialist Review. (pdf!)

Mother Jones gave this interview shortly after her arrival in Charleston. She came by train from Butte, Montana where she had been working with the copper miners of the Western Federation of Miners. Now, she was in West Virginia to assist the the striking miners of the United Mine Workers of America. The miners of Paint Creek were striking for renewal of their contract. The operators were refusing to sign a new contract preferring instead to bust the Union. At issue were all of the usual grievances: dangerous conditions, short weights, payment in company scrip, poor housing, low wages, blacklisting, poor medical care, and never-ending debt. But above all, the miners hated the brutal company-guard system.

To break the strike, the operators had contracted with the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency which supplied them with three hundred gun-thugs who began a campaign of terror against the miners and their families. Even before Mother Jones arrived, there had been clashes with the company guards, and loss of life on both sides. The guards had more weapons, including machine guns, but the miners had more men, seven thousand by some accounts.