Article 43

 

American Solidarity

American Solidarity - Time To Stand Up

Thursday, October 07, 2021

General Strike

image: general strike

Almost EVERYWHERE I LOOK these days - from the hard to believe U.S. LABOR SHORTAGE, to FRANCE’S Yellow Vests- workers are fighting back.

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On the Call for an October 15 General Strike

By Ari Saffran
Socialist Revolution
September 20, 2021

History proves that those in power never grant concessions out of the goodness of their hearts. Anything that fundamentally changes peoples’ lives must be fought for and won. As this lesson seeps into the minds of millions, a small group of online organizers have sent out a call for a general strike on October 15.

Despite not being backed by any recognized part of the labor movement, their appeal has received a healthy echo on social media, with several thousand participating in its organizing channels. This is symptomatic of the growing class consciousness, discontent with the status quo, and increasing willingness to fight back among American workers and youth.

The basic aims of the strike are certainly laudable. They include wage increases, improvements to working conditions, and political reform. Calling for a general strike is a qualitative advance over many past campaigns, which merely demanded this or that legislative solution. The active agent of a “call for legislation” is the bourgeois politician who makes backroom deals and whips votes to cobble together a majority. A general strike, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the organized, concerted action of the working class. However, there is much more to organizing a general strike than just calling for one.

Who should we place demands on?

Revolutionaries believe that once the working class is conscious of itself as a class and the essential role it plays in the functioning of society, it can change the entire system. Every strike, struggle, or mass movement is part of a learning process as the working class moves through leaps and setbacks towards this kind of consciousness. As part of this process, Marxists place demands on the leaders of the labor movement and the left.

These individuals owe their positions to the structures of the organized working class. In the US, the unions are the only mass workers’ organizations, as we do not yet have a political party of our own. And even though they are currently controlled by an entrenched bureaucracy, the working class must fight to regain the unions if the movement is to progress. If the individual leaders will not listen to our demands, many workers within these organizations certainly will, and they will either transform the unions into genuine tools of struggle, or, failing that, understand the need to create new, more militant and fully class-independent organizations.

This is very different from placing demands on the politicians of bourgeois parties, who are accountable only to rich donors and the capitalist media. Asking them to make changes in favor of the working class is naive at best, and foments illusions in the idea that labor and capital have common interests. It implies that capitalist society offers genuine democracy for everyone. The bitter truth is that workers should expect nothing from any capitalist governmentand the Biden government is such a government. The capitalist rulers do give reforms at certain times, but this is only ever a byproduct of class struggle, when the bosses feel that their system as a whole is threatened. When the movement dies down, they claw the reforms back, one way or the other.

With this in mind, any appeal for a general strike should be directed at the labor leaders
, as it is ultimately their responsibility to call and organize for it. Furthermore, a general strike should not be conceived as something merely to “pressure” the bosses but rather, to demonstrate to the workers their vast potential power and how class unity could transform the situation. A 24-hour general strike in 2021 would rock American society and set the stage for a further escalation of the class struggle.

Who can call a general strike and how would it be organized?

Strikes are effective when they shut down production, construction, transit, communications, distribution, services, etc. Along with its massive societal majority, the power of the working class derives from the fact that it alone does all the work that makes the world run. Withholding that labor causes the whole machinery of society to halt.

Insofar as every workplace requires a collective effort to operate, that power is not the power of an individual, but of the workers as a group. To entirely shut down an operation, all workers must participate as one. A strike is not an individualԒs choice to call out of work - listed as an option for how to participate on October 15 - which already happens every day for various reasons. Rather, it is a conscious, collective action to be planned, organized, discussed, and implemented by a significant majority in a workplace, industry, or society as a whole.

A serious call for a general strike, therefore, cannot be declared from outside the mass organizations of the working class, namely the trade unions. If the leaders of the AFL-CIO, or at least the leaders of some of the bigger unions set a date, organize, and mobilize for a general strike, it would have a greater chance at being successful and of winning the active support of many as-yet unorganized workers.

Those calling for a general strike this October 15 clearly have good intentionsbut they do not have the authority among the workers to get a serious echo among the class as a whole. Nonetheless, in the absence of influence in the mass organizations, the call and its accompanying demands can still serve an educational purpose.

The key is to understand that if the present union leaders will not provide what the working class needs, then another leadership must be constructed. Building an alternative will take time, but a first step would be to call on the trade union leaders to actually organize a general strike around a series of class demands. Those calling for the October 15 action could use the opportunity to start developing a network of workers who agree with the call and demands. This could be the beginning of a class-struggle network in the labor movement, which can build a class-struggle leadership over time.

Approaching it this way would unite the more serious and committed activists around a real program for change. The basic message should be that the task of changing society must be carried out by the working class itself. Especially coming out of a period of numerical decline of the labor movement, this educational aspect, far from an afterthought, is a key field of struggle. Doing this correctly, however, will require painstaking work and careful consideration.

What kinds of demands should be raised?

We applaud the fact that the October 15 call puts forward a series of demands. However, Marxists believe that demands should not only serve to expose the exploitation and injustice of life under capitalism, they should collectively point toward a clear solution: the need for a workers’ government, and in the case of the US, the urgent need for a workers party as a step in this direction.

Demands such as Free healthcare for all,Ӕ 12 weeks paid maternity leave,Ӕ four-day workweek,Ӕ and $20 minimum wageӔ are a good start, but are quite modest in the grand scheme of things. For example, a minimum wage of $24 an hour would just barely keep pace with productivity gains since the minimum wages peak purchasing power in the 1960s. And as far back as 1935, the bourgeois economist John Maynard Keynes argued that a three-day workweek was possible at that time, with no drop to existing labor productivity or profitability for the capitalists. Just think of what would be possible on the basis of the technical advances made since then!

Another demand is for a ғ25% corporate tax rate (No loopholes). This was effectively achieved in the US in the past without adversely affecting the fundamentals of capitalism. The corporate tax rate was nearly 53% during the 1960s, and until fairly recently stood at 35%. Through creative accounting, there will always be loopholes or other ways of avoiding the taxman. The real question is this: why allow them to keep any of it?
The ԓearnings being taxed are the surplus value created by the working class, which is appropriated by the capitalist class. In our view, the collective wealth generated by society as a whole should be owned, controlled, and administered by society as a whole. Instead of higher taxes, the workers should demand nationalization of the top 500 companies, to be run under democratic workersԒ control.

Socialist Revolution also demands full employment, a 20-hour week, and a minimum wage of $1,000 per week. Demands like this would expose capitalisms inability to provide a dignified life to the majority in the midst of material plenty. It would also show the kind of world thatҒs possible when the working class takes charge.

In addition to these demands, there should be explicitly political demands. Politics is concentrated economics, and for the working class to really change society, it needs political representation of its own. We should call on the labor leaders to stop supporting the political parties of the enemy class and initiate a party of the workers. A mass working-class socialist party could eventually win broad support and establish a workers government. The only way to stop the capitalists from doing what is in their interests is to break their power and throw out the entire system.

Who should run society?

General strikes occur more often than a US-centric perspective might lead one to believe. In Greece, France, and many other countries where the labor movement is stronger and the working class has historically been organized into mass parties, general strikes are fairly frequent occurrences. Unfortunately in practice, they rarely achieve their stated demands.

This is especially true if their aims or duration are limited in advance, as the capitalists can sit on their reserves and ride out the storm, while workers canҒt stay on strike forever. Furthermore, given the current state of the labor and left leadership, they often include only limited sectors of the economy, limit themselves to narrow demands, and are only half-heartedly mobilized. Far from posing the question of power, such strikes serve merely to “let off steam” without threatening the status quo.

A genuine general strike, however, in which a majority of the workers participate, poses a key question: who really runs society? An all-out general strike is part of the workers struggle to take decisive control of politics and the economy. It does not merely ask for reforms, but serves to unleash a new balance of social forces in the context of a pre- or fully revolutionary situation.

With the US labor movement on the back foot due to decades of class collaboration, and without a mass party of our own, a lot of groundwork must be laid and a lot of experiences had before a successful all-out general strike can take place. For example, a one-day general strike would serve as a dress rehearsal for the workers, a stepping stone toward more decisive action in the future. But even a one-day general strike is not something that can be improvised. But abstract calls for mass action will necessarily bring limited results - which can be demoralizing and push those who participate to draw incorrect, pessimistic conclusions.

It is with all of this in mind that we believe the call for a general strike on October 15 should be seen more as an educational opportunity than an all-out call to pose the question of power. We welcome the initiative of the comrades working on organizing towards October 15 and hope to work together to bring much-needed political and theoretical clarity to the working class.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/07/21 •
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Friday, April 23, 2021

NWO - Lockdowns a Year Later

 image: global reset

Texas Ended Lockdowns and Mask Mandates.
Now Locked-Down States Are Where COVID Is Growing Most

By Ryan McMaken
Mises Wire
April 21, 2021

Early last month, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced he would end the states mask mandate and allow most businesses to function at 100 percent capacity.

The response from the corporate media and the Left was predictable. California governor Gavin Newsom declared the move “absolutely reckless.” Beto O’Rourke called the GOP a “cult of death.” Joe Biden called the move “Neanderthal thinking.” Keith Olbermann insisted, Texas has decided to join the “side of the virus” AND SUGGESTED Texans shouldn’t be allowed to take the covid vaccine. Vanity Fair ran an article with the title ”REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS CELEBRATE COVID ANNIVERSARY WITH BOLD PLAN TO KILL ANOTHER 5000,000 AMERICANS.”

Other states have followed in Texas’ wake, and Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are now all states where covid restrictions range from weak to nonexistent.

Georgia and Florida, of course, are both notable for ending lockdowns and restriction much earlier than many other states. And in those cases as well, the state governments were criticized for their policies, which were said to be reckless and sure to lead to unprecedented death. Georgia’s policy was denounced as an experiment in “human sacrifice.”

Yet in recent weeks, these predictions about Texas’ fate have proven to be spectacularly wrong. Moreover, many of the states with the worst growth in covid cases - and the worst track records in overall death counts - have been states that have had some of the harshest lockdowns. The failure of the lockdown narrative in this case has been so overwhelming that last week, when asked about the Texas situation, Anthony Fauci could only suggest a few unconvincing lines about how maybe Texans are voluntarily wearing masks and locking down more strenuously than people in other states. In Fauci’s weak-sauce explanation we see a narrative that simply fails to explain the actual facts of the matter.

Texas vs. Michigan

The Texas situation is just one piece of a state-by-state picture that is devastating for the lockdowns-save-lives narrative.

For example, letגs look at covid case numbers as of April 20.

Case numbers are a favorite metric for advocates of stay-at-home orders, business closures, mask mandates, and repressive measures in the name of disease control.

In Texas, the total new cases (SEVEN DAY MOVING AVERAGE) on April 20 was 3,004. That comes out to approximately 103 per million.

Now, lets look at Michigan, where a variety of strict mask mandates and partial lockdowns continue. Restaurant capacity remains at 50 percent, and the state continues to issue edicts about how many people one is allowed to have over for dinner.

In Michigan, the seven-day moving average for new infections as of April 20 was 790 per million = nearly eight times worse than Texas.

imake

By the logic of lockdown advocates, states with harsh lockdowns should have far fewer cases and less growth in cases.

This, however, is most certainly not the case. In New Jersey, for example, where lockdowns have been long and harsh, case growth is nearly four times what it is in Texas. And then there are Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maine, and New York, all of which have new case growth rates of more than double whats going on Texas.

Indeed, the only state with notably lax covid policies thatҒs in the top ten of case growth is Florida, which nonetheless is experiencing growth rates that are slower than in states run by lockdown fetishists like Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy.

Moreover, Florida’s covid-19 overall outbreak has been far less deadly than those in the states that embraced lockdowns long and hard. New Jersey, for example, has the worst covid death rate in the nation at 2,838 per million as of April 20. Right behind are New York and Massachusetts with total deaths per million at 2,672 and 2,537, respectively.

Florida, on the other hand, is twenty-eighth in the nation in terms of covid deaths, at 1,608. Texas has total deaths per million at 1,721.

image

In other words, Florida isn’t likely to catch up to New York or New Jersey any time soon, and it’s certainly not going to soon catch up with Michigan, which is leaving other states in the dust in terms of case growth. For those who are scared to death of covid, they’d be better off in Florida or Texas or Georgia than in the states that have long embraced lockdowns and claim to be “following” the science.

So how can this be explained?

The lockdown advocates don’t seem to have an explanation at all.

Last week, Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) struggled to come up with an explanation as he testified to Congress.

In previous weeks, Fauci tended to rely on the old tried-and-true claim that if we only wait two to four more weeks, cases will explode wherever covid restrictions are lessened or eliminated. Lockdown advocates tried this for months after Georgia ended its stay-at-home order, although Georgia consistently performed better than many states that continued their lockdowns.

But now that were six weeks out from the end of Texas’s mask mandate and partial lockdowns, Fauci could offer no plausible explanation. Rather, when pressed on the matter by Representative Jim Jordan, Fauci insisted that what really matters is compliance rather than the existence of mask mandates and lockdown mandates:

There’s a difference between lockdown and the people obeying the lockdown… You know you could have a situation where they say, We’re going to lock down, and yet you have people doing exactly what they want/

Jordan asked if this explains the situation in Michigan and New Jersey (and other states with quickly growing covid case rates). Fauci THEN CLAMIED HE COULDN’T HEAR THE QUESTION, and Jordan was cut off by the committee chairman.

No one who is familiar with the situation in states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia, however, would find it plausible that the spread of covid has been lessened in those areas by more militant use of masks and social distancing. Fauci’s testimony was clearly just a case of a government expert grasping about for an explanation.

But don’t expect Fauci and his supporters to give up on insisting that New York and Michigan are doing “the right thing” while Texas and Florida are embracing ?human sacrifice” as a part of a “death cult.”

The actual numbers paint a very different picture, and even casual observers can now see that the old narrative was very, very wrong.
Jordan asked if this explains the situation in Michigan and New Jersey (and other states with quickly growing covid case rates). Fauci then claimed he couldn’t hear the question, and Jordan was cut off by the committee chairman.

No one who is familiar with the situation in states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia, however, would find it plausible that the spread of covid has been lessened in those areas by more militant use of masks and social distancing. FauciҒs testimony was clearly just a case of a government expertӔ grasping about for an explanation.

But dont expect Fauci and his supporters to give up on insisting that New York and Michigan are doing ғthe right thing while Texas and Florida are embracing ԓhuman sacrifice as a part of a ԓdeath cult.

The actual numbers paint a very different picture, and even casual observers can now see that the old narrative was very, very wrong.

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Posted by Elvis on 04/23/21 •
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Friday, March 19, 2021

Another Medicare for All Attempt

image: uninsured

The reason the U.S. government created Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment and disability insurance is that entrepreneurs and corporations would not provide these essential services, or did so with unacceptable costs and restraints (such as denial of health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions).
- The Economy We Need

The health care bill is not about health care. It is about protecting and increasing the profits of the insurance companies. The main feature of the health care bill is the individual mandate, which requires everyone in America to buy health insurance… What the US needs is a single-payer not-for-profit health system that pays doctors and nurses sufficiently that they will undertake the arduous training and accept the stress and risks of dealing with illness and diseases.
- Health Care Deceit - Obamacare

Obamacare, which should more correctly be called by its secret Corporate name, Baucus-care, makes 30 million people buy private health insurance, a near-worthless middleman racket that produces nothing, but is an exquisite parasite that does intrude to the max between doctor and patient for the sole purpose of extracting profit. And taxpayers have to pay for all those who can’t.
- OpEd News, July 1, 2012

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Jayapal, Dingell Introduce Medicare for All Act With 112 Co-Sponsors

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer
Common Dreams
March 17, 2021

Affirming that healthcare is a basic human right and that people must come before profits, Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Debbie Dingell introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2021 on Wednesday, exactly one year after the first coronavirus cases were confirmed in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Dingell (D-Mich.) unveiled the landmark legislation at a virtual town hall Wednesday afternoon, where they highlighted the devastating effects of a virus that has killed more than 537,000 people in the United States while leaving millions more uninsured due to pandemic-related job loss and underemployment.

THE BILL (pdf) - BACKED by a record 112 House co-sponsors - guarantees healthcare to every U.S. resident as a human right. It provides comprehensive benefits including primary care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, mental health, long-term services and supports, reproductive healthcare, and other services. It eliminates copays and private insurance premiums.

“Our movement is growing,” Jayapal said at the opening of the town hall. “We are joining together at this pivotal moment for healthcare across America. It was exactly one year ago that every single state across this country had a confirmed Covid-19 case, and in the 365 days since, the case for Medicare for All has never been clearer.”

In a STATEMENT introducing the bill, Jayapal noted that the country is currently experiencing the highest increase in uninsured people ever recorded. 

“While this devastating pandemic is shining a bright light on our broken, for-profit healthcare system, we were already leaving nearly half of all adults under the age of 65 uninsured or UNDEERINSURED before Covid-19 hit,” said Jayapal. “And we were cruelly doing so while paying more per capita for healthcare than any other country in the world.”

On Tuesday, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen PUBLISHED a report showing that around 40% of U.S. Covid-19 infections and 33% of virus deaths are attributable to a lack of adequate health insurance coverage. At the onset of the pandemic, around 87 million Americans were uninsured or underinsured.

“There is a solution to this health crisis - a popular one that guarantees healthcare to every person as a human right and finally puts people over profits and care over corporations,” said Jayapal. “That solution is Medicare for All - everyone in, nobody out - and I am proud to introduce it today alongside a powerful movement across America.”

Dingell said in a statement that A SYSTEM that prioritizes profits over patients and ties coverage to employment was no match for a global pandemic and will never meet the needs of our people.”

“In the wealthiest nation on Earth, patients should not be launching GoFundMe pages to afford lifesaving healthcare for themselves or their loved ones,” she asserted. “Medicare For All will build an inclusive healthcare system that won’t just open the door to care for millions of our neighbors, but do it more efficiently and effectively than the one we have today.”

“Now is not the time to shy away from these generational fights,” stressed Dingell, “it is the time for action.”

Representatives of the more than 300 local, state, and national organizations endorsing the bill agreed.

“Physicians cannot give patients the care they need in a fractured and profit-driven system,” said Dr. Susan Rogers, a Chicago-based internal medicine physician and president of Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), in a statement. “For too long, doctors have watched helplessly as our patients delayed or skipped needed careeven walked out of our hospital doorsחbecause they could not afford to pay.”

“We can’t let Congress sit on their hands while our patients suffer and die needlessly,” added Rogers. “It’s time to invest in a system that is designed to improve health outcomes, not profit margins. It’s time for single-payer Medicare for All.”

Connie Huynh, healthcare for all director at the community organizing network People’s Action, said in a statement that “everyone deserves healthcarepandemic or notחand Medicare for All can get us there… We need Congress to put people before profits and support Medicare for All.”

Public Citizen president Robert Weissman SAID in a statement that “after Covid-19, there is simply no excuse for the U.S. not to adopt Medicare for All and join all other rich countries by treating healthcare as a right.”

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Posted by Elvis on 03/19/21 •
Section American Solidarity • Section Dying America
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Monday, March 01, 2021

PRO Act - H.R. 842

union workers

“Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.”
- Thomas Palley

U.S. labor laws need a major update and the PRO Act is a great start
The PRO Act will empower NLRB to force corporations into bargaining with workers if they interfere in union drives

By Tom Conway - President United Steelworkers Union
Salon
February 14, 2021

When workers at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions tried to form a union, the company quickly brought in five full-time UNION-BUSTERS to torment them day and night.

The hired guns saturated the Bridgeport, Michigan, plant with anti-union messages, publicly belittled organizers, harangued workers on the shop floor and asked them how they’d feed their families if the plant closed.

The months of endless bullying took their toll, as the company intended, and workers voted against forming the union just to bring the harassment to an end.

“Fear was their main tactic”, recalled Duane Forbes, one of the workers, noting the union-busters not only threatened the future of the plant but warned that the company would eliminate his colleagues’ jobs and health care during a labor dispute. “Fear is the hardest thing to overcome.”

LEGISLATION now before Congress would ensure that corporations never trample workers rights like this again.

The PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE (PRO) ACT , introduced on February 4, will free Americans to BUILD BETTER LIVES and curtail the scorched-earth campaigns that employers wage to keep unions out at any cost.

The PRO Act, backed by PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN and pro-worker majorities in the House and the Senate, will impose STIFF FINANCIL PENALTIES on companies that retaliate against organizers and require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to fast-track legal proceedings for workers suspended or fired for union activism. It also empowers workers to file their own civil lawsuits against employers that violate their labor rights.

The legislation will bar employers from permanently REPLACING WORKERS during labor disputes, eliminating a threat that companies like Orchid Orthopedic often use to thwart organizing campaigns.

And the PRO Act will empower the NLRB to force corporations into bargaining with workers if they interfere in union drives. That means an end to the MANDATORY TOWN HALL MEETINGS that employers regularly use to disparage organized labor and hector workers into voting against unions.

Orchid Orthopedic’s union-busters forced Forbes and his colleagues into hour-long browbeating sessions once or twice a week for months - and that was on top of the daily, one-on-one bullying the workers endured on the production floor.

“There was nowhere to go,” Forbes, who’s worked at Orchid Orthopedic for 22 years, said of the relentless intimidation. “You couldn’t just go to work and do your job anymore.

A GROWING NUMBER OF OF AMERICANS, many of whom saw unions STEP UP TO PROTECT MEMBERS during the COVID-19 pandemic, seek the safe working conditions and other protections they can only achieve by organizing.

That includes Forbes and his colleagues, who endured years of benefit cuts but still put their lives on the line for the company during the pandemic.

They launched an organizing drive to secure a voice in the workplace. They also sought job protections to prevent the company from discarding them “like a broken hammer” - as one worker, Mike Bierlein, put it - when it’s done with them.

But as more Americans seek the benefits of union membership, employers escalating attacks on labor rights make the PRO Act ever more important.

Corporations DROP HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS every year on “union-avoidance consultants” like the ones Forbes and Bierlein encountered - to coach them on how to thwart organizing drives.

The higher the stakes, the dirtier employers play. Tech giants Google and Amazon used their vast technology and wealth to propel union-busting to a new level.

Google not only electronically spied on workers it suspected of having union sympathies, but RIGGED ITS COMPUTER SYSTEMS to prevent them from sharing calendars and virtual meeting rooms.

Amazon DEVELOPED PLANS FOR SPECIAL SOFTWARE to track unions and other so-called “threats to the company’s well-being.” In Alabama, where thousands of Amazon warehouse workers JUST BEGAN VOTING on whether to unionize, the company showed anti-union videos and PowerPoints at mandatory town hall meetings, posted propaganda in bathroom stalls and sent multiple HARASSING TEXT MESSAGES to every worker every day.

“It really opened my eyes to what’s going on,” Bierlein, who’s worked at Orchid Orthopedic for 18 years, said of the unfair tactics his company employed against organizers. THE DECK IS STACKED AGAINST WORKERS.

The PRO Act will help to level the playing field and arrest the decades-long erosion of labor rights that significantly accelerated under the previous, anti-worker presidential administration.

It will require employers to POST NOTICES informing workers of their labor rights, helping to ensure managers respect the law. The legislation will enable prospective union members to vote on union representation on neutral sites instead of workplaces where the threat of coercion looms.

And the PRO Act will make it more difficult for employers to deliberately misclassify employees as contractors with fewer labor rights. That change will give millions of gig workers, including those driving for shared-ride and food-delivery companies, the opportunity to form unions and fight for better futures.

Right now, employers often stall negotiations for a first contract to punish workers for organizing or frustrate them into giving up. The PRO Act will curb these abuses by requiring mediation and binding arbitration when companies drag talks out.

Orchid Orthopedics campaign of intimidation and deception lasted until the very end of the union drive.

As the vote on organizing neared, Forbes said, the company promised it would treat workers better in the future if they decided against the union.

Instead, after the vote fell short, the company quickly increased the cost of spousal health insurance. That left Forbes more convinced than ever that workers need changes like those promised in the PRO Act to seize control of their destinies.

“I’m all about right and wrong,” Forbes said, “and the way we were treated was wrong.”

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Posted by Elvis on 03/01/21 •
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Bernie

image: bernie sanders 2019

The Movement Bernie Started Is Bigger Than Any One Person. Have Faith in That Movement, Not Just the Man

By Emily Kirklin
Common Dreams
October 6, 2019

Senator Bernie Sanders is not just one man. He is a movement. What he represents is a set of ideals that will pull this nation out of the soul-sucking quicksand in which we currently find ourselves.

After the news of the senators recent health setbacks, many people are worried about the future of the Sanders campaign. I was one of them. I found myself thinking, “Will the voters confidence be shaken? Will the people vote for someone who may not be able to weather the stress of the presidency? How can we keep asking him to sacrifice his health for the good of the nation?”

I wasn’t sure. I’m still not. My father had a heart attack, stents, and more a few years back. I cant honestly say that I would want my dad to put himself through such grueling work. I want him for myself, and I want to make each moment we have last as long as possible. These should be happy days of enjoying life’s simple pleasures and each others company. Can I really ask so much of someone when I’m not willing to give it up myself? So, I spent some moments in introspection, imagining the various scenarios and what ifs of a future without Bernie. They all seemed a bit lackluster. But I thought, maybe its time. He has already given the Democratic Party and this country so much. The issues at the forefront today, like HEALTHCARE and STUDENT DEBT, are so dramatically different from what they were four years ago, and we have Senator Sanders to thank for that. Without his voice, representing the millions of disenfranchised voters across this land, we would still be in that sandpit, slowly sinking to the bottom. He has thrown us a lifeline. We can’t let that go.

Is it time for him to hand the rope to someone else to struggle onward? To let the man rest and enjoy life with his family? But who could take on the struggle? Is any single person up to the task? Perhaps not. But then I realized, that isn’t really the point of Bernie’s campaign: “Not me, us.” Not one single person, but all of us pulling together. This movement is so much bigger than one person.

The movement does not begin and end with Sanders. From the first day he steps into the Oval Office, the change begins, like a pebble thrown into the water, reverberating through the depths, rippling across the surface. Every individual within his administration will be a part of the revolution. Every person who chooses to stand at his side represents the ideals of integrity, honesty, humility, transparency, and responsibility to our environment, responsibility to those who are voiceless.

The reason people support Bernie Sanders is not because of the man; it is because of THE IDEALS that he represents. He fights for the issues that are dear to us, and people trust him to fill his administration with those who will carry on in these fights. I have no doubt that his administration will be one of moral integrity. That every person appointed and hired will truly have these ideals at heart and will have the moral fortitude to stand up to corporate interests and lobbyists. A government for the people and by the people. And while I would love for Sanders to fill the role of president for four whole years, we would be blessed to have even one day because that’s all we truly need. For just a moment, someone to put their foot in the door, so the rest of us can gather the strength to get out of this sandpit, push open that door more fully, and allow in the integrity and compassion we’ve been missing.

Ultimately, the choice is his, but knowing Bernie, I believe that hell be fighting with every bit of his strength until his final days (may they be many years from now!), win or lose, rain or shine, because that is simply the type of person he is.

So, as selfish as it may be, I ask that he keep fighting for us. Just a little longer. I am willing to put my faith in the movement as a whole. I am putting my faith in every person that is a part of this. Keep pulling. Not me, us.

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image: bernie sander and alexandria ocasioo-cortez

Why We Need Young People To Run the Country - And Why I’m Voting for Bernie Anyway
You cant trust anyone over 30 years in office. Except maybe one

By Dayton Martindale
In These Times
October 24, 2019

Young people are badly underrepresented in the U.S. government.  The average age of Senators is currently 63, a full 25 years older than the median U.S. resident. In the House, it’s 58. The four leading presidential contenders, including Trump, are all in their 70s. Joe Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972 - he has been one of the planetגs most powerful people for nearly half a century, longer than most have been alive.

Politics is often construed as noble public service, but it is also a tremendous privilege. Federal officeholders wield POWER over not only U.S. voters but also many who have no say in our elections, including residents of other countries and those under 18. In fact, climate change, nuclear war and environmental pollution have the potential to affect all life on this planet for centuries if not millennia to come.

Probably no single government should have such power. At the least, a supposed democracy should share this power as widely as possible. In reality, most ordinary people never get near it.

Over time, this power corrupts. As Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) TELLS US:

Behind closed doors, your arm is twisted, the vise pressure of political pressure gets put on you, every trick in the book, psychological and otherwise, is used to get us to abandon the working class.

“As a consequence of my fundraising I became more like the wealthy donors I met,” wrote Barack Obama of his 2004 Senate campaign in The Audacity of Hope. “I spent more and more of my time above the fray, outside the world of immediate hunger, disappointment, fear, irrationality and frequent hardship of the other 99%. I suspect this is true for every senator: The longer you are a senator, the narrower the scope of your interactions.”

The youth counterculture of the 1960s used to claim that you can’t trust anyone over 30. Obama’s words suggest that you can’t trust anyone whos held federal office for over 30 years.

The ancient Athenians would have agreed. They believed elections favor the wealthy and influential, instead appointing (male, non-slave) citizens to political positions for one-year terms through random selection.

Despite high-profile successes such as the victory of Ocasio-Cortez (age 30) over Joe Crowley (age 57), most Congressional incumbents can rest relatively easy, with well above an 80% likelihood of reelection. What we get is an insulated class of professional politicians, propped up by a relatively wealthy and old donor class. As Astra Taylor ARGUES in the New York Times, structural obstacles from age limits to economic precarity to the Senate’s rural-state bias hinder young people (who disproportionately live in cities) from entering politics.

On the surface, this may seem only a modest injustice - can’t millennials just wait our turn? But the importance of youth representation becomes clear when you begin to consider climate change: The old folks in Congress will die before the worst impacts hit. (While the elderly poor are already getting slammed by heat waves and storms, the elderly poor are not who sit in Congress.) They can dismiss youth-led calls for “a Green New Deal as a green dream, or whatever” (Nancy Pelosi, 79), knowing they will be safely in the grave while future generations struggle to make a life among the wreckage. An aging elite is refusing to PASS THE TORCH and using that torch to set the planet alight. As GRETA THUNBERG asked: How dare they?

Of course, age should not be the only factor in making our presidential decisions. It is perhaps ironic that the oldest candidate, Bernie Sanders, has the most ambitious plan to rein in climate change, student debt and war, all issues disproportionately affecting the youth; he also eschews corporate fundraising and, according to Ocasio-Cortez, who recently endorsed him, has maintained consistent and nonstop advocacy for the 99% despite his 34 years in elected office. This is probably why the vast plurality of millennials planning to vote in the Democratic primary - this author included - back him.

It is probably not coincidence, however, that the long-tenured Sanders has been reluctant to embrace such institutional reforms as abolishing the filibuster or expanding the Supreme Court. Several younger candidates, such as Pete Buttigieg (37) and Kamala Harris (55), are much more open, as is Elizabeth Warren (70). Their relative youth and newness to politics may give them a fresher perspective on how government should be operated. (Warren, although just eight years younger than Sanders, has only held elected office since 2013.)

In fact, Buttigieg, the youngest candidate at 37, introduced “intergenerational justice” as a campaign theme and has voiced the strongest support for court packing. (Unfortunately, the details of his court-packing plan are needlessly convoluted and, like his whole campaign, leave much to be desired.)

Sanders’ other electoral weaknesses - his IMPROVED but RACE and GENDER - baggage and old grudges from 2016 (not totally his fault); concerns about his heart - also correlate with age and length of time in politics. All of this suggests that passing the torch to a younger, more diverse suite of left politicians will need to happen sooner than later.

It is to his credit that Sanders is doing this, both directly and indirectly. The organization that came out of his 2016 campaign, Our Revolution, is actively working to build up new progressive leadership at every level of government. And many of the young people mobilized by that campaign have gone on to hold office, from Ocasio-Cortez to socialist Chicago alderman Andre Vasquez (now 40). Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn., age 38), too, says she was inspired to run for Congress by the Sanders campaign.

We may have seen a glimpse of the future in New York this October, where Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez shared a stage before an audience of 26,000.

“Are you willing to fight for young people drowning in student debt, even if you are not?” Sanders asked to close his speech. “Are you willing to fight for a future for generations of people who have not yet even been born, but are entitled to live on a planet that is healthy and habitable? Because if you are willing to do that, if you are willing to love, if you are willing to fight for a government of compassion and justice and decency - [then] together we will transform this country.

Later, in a joint interview, Ocasio-Cortez was asked whether she would work in a Sanders administration. Bernie jumped in: “Yes, you would!”

This is part of a debate about whether age matters in a presidential candidate. Read the first entry, “Ageism Has No Place in a Presidential Election,” by Susan Douglas, HERE.

SOURCE

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Can Bernie (Really) Save America?

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
January 24, 2020

Lately, as Bernie surges in the polls, I get the question slightly resentful accusation, really - that I don’t like Bernie. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love Bernie, I’ve always liked Bernie, I call him grandpa on Twitter in a kind of childish ironic affection to make fun of pundits who...mean it. Everybody, in fact, should like Bernie.

Bernie’s fantastic, and he’d make a great President, for many reasons. He’s an outsider among the K St Beltway clique that runs DC. I grew up among people like this, so I know viscerally just how indiserish they can be. They’ve never had a new idea in their lives - because if you live within fifty miles of K St, and work in this class of people, life’s never been better.

(This class of people - lets call them America’s technocratic elites - are the precise equivalent of their Soviet counterparts. They’ve failed dismally, they don’t know it, and they don’t care, because nobody can ever hold them accountable. Except maybe a Bernie.

The failure of Americas technocratic elites 0 the Yale and Harvard educated set that works at McKinsey or Goldman for a few years, and then slides into cushy jobs as lobbyists, consultants, undersecretaries of this and that is so spectacular, though, that it makes the world’s jaw drop. The average American lives in poverty, unable to pay the bills, piling up debt, and dying in it. He or she doesn’t have decent healthcare, education, food, water, not to mention income or retirement (which is now an impossibility.) What the? No country since the Soviet Union has been so fatally mismanaged as America.)

That brings me to the biggest reason to like Bernie. He doesn’t subscribe to the crackpot ideas that destroyed America from within - making it collapse into poverty, despair, rage, greed, and the hate all those eventually become. He just flatly dismisses them as the crackpot thinking they are, and always have been.

What are some of those ideas? You know them so well they’re invisible American pundits and intellectuals talk of nothing else, even though those ideas have failed catastrophically, just like Soviet ideology. There’s “trickle-down economics” while wealth is busy trickling up. There’s deficit-cutting while the average person struggles to pay basic bills. There’s the idea that government should be “drowned in a bathtub” so colossally stupid, because who else can provide you decent healthcare and retirement? That capitalist? LOL.

I could go on forever. The great thing about Bernie - the refreshing, courageous, and true thing about Bernie is that - he can grasp and speak the simple reality that mainstream, status quo, elite American ideas have failed catastrophically. Let me put all the above even more simply.

America made a socioeconomic choice - a fatal one. It wasn’t going to be like any other society. No it was exceptional, and always had been: a promised land. Here, people would learn to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps - and along the way, they’d learn the virtues of industry, hard work, and decency. They’d become better people and everyone would grow rich. All it would take was a little punishment, a little selfishness, a little bit of hard-heartedness. Or maybe a lot. “Tough love” is what American pop culture calls all that.

The problem, of course, is that America’s economic exceptionalism didn’t work. Making Americans beg each other for dollars to pay for healthcare online didn’t make anyone better off - it just made people dead. Turning the middle class into the new, desperate poor didn’t lead to some kind of mass movement of generous and beautiful peopl - it just led to neofascism, as they sought even more powerless people to hate. Making working class Americans work around the clock and never take vacations didn’t add to more industry in fact, it only led to abusive monopolies, and mega-billionaires that corrode democracy.

American ideas have failed in every possible way - and hence, as a result, Americas having something very much like a Soviet collapse.

And yet the weird thing is this. Here’s the part where you might hate me. But dont. I don’t say it to be mean. I say it in the way of gentle, loving constructive criticism, yes really. The biggest reason to like Bernie might also be Bernie’s biggest shortcoming, in the end.

Let me explain. It’s not really about Bernie, but the movement hes come to spearhead “democratic socialism.” Bernie understand that American ideas have failed. And so he’s reaching for a new set of ideas. But does he have to? Does the wheel need to be reinvented? Christ, I sound like a punditly ass when I write - insert Ezra Klein voice - so let me try again.

European social democracy is the most successful system of organization humankind has ever invented. Yes, really. I’m a social democrat - in a mild way, I don’t care much for politics, and I’m not fanatical about it, I prefer disco and my puppy - not for ideology’s sake. But because I can’t deny reality. The empirical reality of social democracy’s stunning success is too strong and obvious to be denied, by any thinking person.

Europeans live not just the world’s longest, happiest, richest, healthiest, sanest lives by a very, very long way - but history’s. Moreover, they’ve accomplished that in just one human lifetime - from the ashes of war. The magnitude and triumph of such a thing isn’t taught in America, but it should be. It might just be humanity’s greatest accomplishment, ever. The European miracle should be taught to every child in preschool, so that they really understand what human prosperity is made of, where it comes from.

Now let’s come back to Bernie. Bernie’s big challenge isn’t really his own. It’s part of a larger movement. American “democratic socialism.” Now, this set of ideas, which was made in America, which is purely American, isn’t European social democracy. In fact, it proposes a very different way to achieve a similar kind of society. The ends might be similar, but the means aren’t. What are the differences?

Democratic socialism isn’t interested overly in building great and transformative national institutions - like Britain’s NHS or BBC, like Frances pension system, like Germany’s system of corporate of governance. It doesn’t really aspire so much to build something like “An American National Health System” or “An American BBC” or “An American Worker Led Governance System,” as it does to - well - nobody really knows. This is a movement without a direction and a vision at the higher levels of social reimagination… precisely because Americans are frustrated - but like Americans, being exceptionalists, they don’tt want to copy those dirty Europeans - they want to to do it their own way.

The result is that - democratic socialists tend, ironically, to be cautious incrementalists, not transformational revolutionaries. That’s going to make a lot of them angry but I think it’s fair to say that much on a global scale. They want Medicare For All not an American Healthcare System. They want more public media, maybe - not an American BBC. They want a higher minimum wage not often a mandatory contract between industries and workers or reformed corporate boards on which workers sit. Do you see the difference? Itחs true that some democratic socialists will support all the above. But as a movement, revolutionary transformations are not so high on its agenda incremental changes, like extending existing institutions, are. So far as I can see, anyways.

Let me try to make the difference crystal clear.

җDemocratic socialists support incremental changes to policies, usually Ӕ what they dont seem to support nearly as much is revolutionary changes to institutions. Why doesnגt America have its own BBC? ItҒs own NHS? Something like Frances bargaining system Ғ where the government and whole sectors (like, say restaurants) negotiate wages across industries? The answer to that question and I think itחs an important question goes like this.

American democratic socialists arenҗt interested in learning much from European social democracy. They want to reinvent the wheel. They want to bewell, something that҅s important to Americans: innovators, pioneers, and so on. And so nobody, really, on the democratic socialist side says something like җhey, lets just copy BritainӒs healthcare system, Frances pension system, and GermanyҒs corporate governance system. (If anyone, Liz Warren did that Ҕ but her team blew it, and thats another story.)

But is there any need to reinvent this particular wheel ג when its the most powerful and successful thing humanityגs probably ever created? I mean that metaphor weirdly literally. Is there any need to reinvent European or Canadian style social democracy when itҗs literally the most powerful and successful model of human organization ever createdby a very, very long way? Or is there just a need to҅learn from it, to literally institutionalize it in America?

(Why reinvent something that works so beautifully well? Can you even ever reinvent it?)

Now, you might think all that’s abstract, a point without a point. But I assure you it’s not. Not really understanding or admiring the depth and immensity of social democracy’s historic triumph creates real problems for American democratic socialists - because they don’t really understand it’s workings, necessities, demands, morality, ethics, or responsibilities, either.

Take Bernie’s tax plan. There is a very big problem with it. It effectively says to Americans that their taxes don’t have to rise (apart from maybe factoring in healthcare) to achieve something like a social democracy. But that is very, very unlikely to be true. The price of a true social democracy is simple. People give up somewhere close to half their income to enjoy expansive public goods. That wheel, my friends, cant be reinvented. To suggest that the average American can pay maybe 25% in taxes - and enjoy European levels of public goods just isn’t a very good one. It’s selling people social democracy, but on capitalisms easy, comfortable terms. Does that sound reasonable to you?

There’s a very simple reason for that, by the way. The definition of a social democracy the simplest one, anyways - is that about half the economy is socialist, and the other half capitalist. So half the economy is made up of public healthcare, media, retirement, childcare, transport, and so on while half is your everyday capitalist iPhones and designer handbags and whatnot. But you canחt achieve that balance when the average persons paying something like 25% in taxes. Because, quite obviously, for half the economy to be public, social, collective, so too, the average person has to give up something like close to half of what they earn to make that happen (just like in most of Europe).

That brings me back to a Very Big Problem. Let me put it bluntly. Americans are not generous people when it comes to their society. I don’t mean that in a mean way just in an empirical one. The price of decades of predatory capitalism and red scares has been that the average American is very, very, very much against ever really paying higher taxes. It’s just a politically unpalatable idea - which is precisely why even Bernie’s way of selling democratic socialism is to point out that you break even in net terms.

He has to resort to that rhetorical tactic precisely because Americans dislike paying taxes, because they hate their government - because, and this is the part they don’t get - they still distrust the idea of collective action and public goods, deep down. That says: Americans haven’t made the moral and cultural shift social responsibility really demands yet. But Bernie’s not fully asking them to make it, either.

Everyone hates paying taxes. Europeans don’t exactly love it. But they seem to understand the logic, the responsibilities, of the kind of social contract above. If you want a society where public goods are expansive and collective action has power, a true social democracy then you must also share something like half of what you have, to make that true. You can’t have it both ways.

Do you see that point? How it really works? You can’t have an economy that’s a social democracy half capitalist, half socialist, one where labour has just as much power as capital - unless people are also willing to share up to about half of what they have. It just isn’t possible, by definition.

But that is the problem Americans have. They want it both ways. They want the benefits of living in a social democracy ג at the price of living in a capitalist one. Bernies still promising them that ג or at least a flavour of that, a taste of it. That is a great shortcoming, my friends.

I dont think such a thing is possible ג to have a social democracy, on capitalisms terms. To have a functioning modern society ג but people only sharing a quarter or less of they have and make. For the simple reason that such a society can only ever be 25% or so made of public goods which are socially owned, operated, managed. (That is more or less where America is today 25% social, 75% private. You canחt go much lower than 25% because then you dont have roads, teachers, and police at all. Going from 25 to 50% is how you have healthcare, college, retirement, childcare, and so on.)

The fundamental idea democratic socialists have Ғ that really marks them out as different from social democrats is that they can tax the ultra wealthy to pay for a functioning modern society. But that logic isnחt going to work in the long run. It isnt capable of real transformation. Sure, you can tax the rich and have a nice nest egg for society. But itҒs a one-off. What happens after you tax their wealth and income to bits? To keep a society operating consistently, perpetually, and stably at a balance of half public, half private which, again, is what social democracy is, and what public healthcare, retirement, education, and so on really consist of - the average person has to give up something pretty close to half of what they make, create, produce, own, and earn.

Yes, really. I don’t think Americans are there yet. I don’t think they/re ready to make that sacrifice - because that’s how they still see it, as a sacrifice, not as what it truly is: a form of investment.

Social democracy works because people are investing half of what they earn and own right back in everyone else. I am investing half of me in you, but you are doing right back for me, too. Then and only then do expansive public goods become possible, does labour have equal power to capital, can collective action really force social change. Less is not enough. Half is a critical threshold for a very good reason, which Ill come to shortly.

Make that choice, though, and everyone, that way, rises, astonishingly fast, to a just as astonishingly high standard of living - like I said, it took Europe just seventy years to become enjoy history/s highest living standards, ever. A social surplus fairly redistributed - then generously reinvested - that is the formula for human prosperity.

America’s democratic socialists, though, don’t seem to fully understand that. Again, I don’t say that in a mean way. Their movement is young, and there’s much to learn. Still, for them, the central idea is that a social surplus can be taken from the rich, and used to create a functioning society for everyone else. That is a part of how a true social democracy works, to be sure - but only a small part, really. The larger part is that people just everyday, average, normal people are wise, courageous, brave, generous, empathetic, and defiant enough to, despite their struggles and travails, invest half of what is theirs in everyone else. That is what keeps Europe a gentler and happier and saner place, too. That sense of togetherness, the lack of selfishness, the wisdom of a beautiful choice.

The wisdom of a beautiful choice. What do I mean by that? Think about the morality and ethics of (the economics and politics of) social democracy for a moment - how improbable and beautiful it really is.

When I invest half of me in you - all of you - what am I really saying? We are equal, all of us. We all have inherent and inalienable worth, and it is precisely equivalent. In hard terms. In concrete terms. Half for me half for you. Your education, retirement, healthcare, and so on. Nothing could be fairer. Let me say it again. Nothing could be fairer. Me giving half of myself to everyone else is the foundation for history’s most succesful social contract because it is what permits morality, economics, and politics to converge. Then we are equal, then we are in balance, then we are walking beside one another all of us. There is a much truer reason, then, than why Americans - even their leftists really understand, why social democracy became history’s greatest success story. A deep one, that cuts right down to the soul.

The question, though, is whether Americas democratic socialists are ready to learn all that. That strange and astonishingly beautiful link between morality, ethics, economics, politics, society, and power that social democracy really makes. Just what a great insight and breakthrough it really is - one so great that human though hasn’t fully recognized it yet. The threshold of half and half, and what it says about the freedom and equality we give - and the power and prosperity we receive.

It has taken Europe centuries of pain and millennia of strife to recognize the beauty in such wisdom. Let us then be gentle with America, and say: perhaps it will take a little while longer yet.

(Bernie will make a fantastic President. He’s awesome. But nobody’s perfect. I say all this gently, not with spite. America has a long, long way to go towards social democracy - and that’s with Bernie. Take it from someone who understands all the above intimately, because they’ve lived and studied both social democracy and capitalism. Without him, of course, America’s inevitable plunge from poverty towards fascism only accelerates, and becomes irreversible.)

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Posted by Elvis on 11/15/19 •
Section American Solidarity
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