Philly Labor Supports Our Veterans

The Labor movement in Philadelphia is proud of our military veterans, and honors their service with these programs:

On Saturday, November 17, at 2:30 PM, there will be a “fight night” the Sheet Metal Workers Local 13 Hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard, to raise funds for “A Lift For A Vet,” a program of Local 5 of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. I A Lift For A Vet’s purpose is to buy and install vertical transportation systems, such a home lifts, chair lifts, and elevators, into the homes of disabled military veterans. For further information about the boxing event of A Lift For A Vet, please contact Ed Loomis, IUEC Local 5, at (215)397-8706, or go on the web, www.iuec.com/lift_for_a_vet.

Philadelphia Labor is also taking part in raising funds for a memorial for those who have fallen in the Global War On Terror, in Afghanistan and Iraq. The organizers of the memorial need your help to build a monument for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in America’s longest war.   To see about donating to this effort, please visit the website, www.gwotmemorial.org.

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Young Organized Philadelphia

Young Organized Philadelphia, the youth (40 and under) arm of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, will hold a fundraising event at Revolution House, 200 Market Street ( http://www.revolutionhouse.com/) in Philadelphia, from 5:30 PM-7:30 PM, on Monday, September 24. Sponsorship levels are Platinum at $1000.00, Gold at $500.00, and Silver at $250.00. Please send your RSVP to Jack O’Neill, President of Young Organized, at (215)280-6826, or joneill@ibew98.org. Please make checks out to Philadelphia AFL-CIO Young Organized.

Labor Day 2018 in Philadelphia

On Monday, September 3, I took part in the Philadelphia area’s Labor Day march and family celebration. The march began with a rally at the Sheet Metal Workers’ hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard, with Labor leaders and elected officials speaking:

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General;DSC00602

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny;DSC00598

US Congressman Bob Brady, and John Greer, who has long been active in organizing the parade, along with Jim Moran;DSC00601

Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and Randi Weingarden, President of the American Federation of Teachers;DSC00596

And, last but not least, the working men and women of Philadelphia, and their families.

The Mason Missile, August 27, 2018

 

Greetings!

Upcoming is Labor Day, the holiday commemorating the working men and women of America.

What is there to celebrate lately? Here we have a “populist” President, supposedly the champion and voice of (white) working-class Americans-always assumed to be white-who signed a tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans, and fighting against the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

trump’s attitude, and the attitude of plutocrats in this country, is one of condescension towards(white) working people, that they are too addicted to opioids and the drug of racism to see who their real enemy is-the same plutocratic class- and they feed working-class people with racially-coded fears of “law and order,” “crime in the streets,” “lazy welfare bums,” “affirmative action programs taking jobs away from deserving white workers,” etc.-trump updated this tactic to rail about “MS-13” and “rapists” coming over the border with Mexico- not mentioning that our tax policies have been long skewed in favor of corporations and the wealthy-people who pay lobbyists to alter the tax code in their favor, and to approve federal contracts with certain defense industries. (The news media, also large corporations, have played along with this; however, I think they’ve been pretty good lately at standing up to the trump tantrums.)

Along with this is the Supreme Court’s decision on the Janus case, which limits the ability of public-sector unions to do their work in representing their clients; I have no doubt the learned justices of the Court welcomed this decision, for they sympathized with the corporations-and the Koch brothers-trying forever to weaken and finally destroy unions in this country. The decision upset me terribly.

However, I have been buoyed by the Labor victories throughout the country, the successful teachers’ strikes in such conservative states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona; and the voting down of the referendum in Missouri for “right-to-work” (for less)-in Missouri, another conservative Republican state.

We have to overcome the idea that the plutocratic class would automatically rain their blessings on us proletarians, that they know what is best for all of us with their nearly total control of the economy; as a Democratic Socialist, I believe that we the people should have a say in the economic destiny of the nation, since it deals with OUR jobs, OUR ability to pay our bills and purchase OUR groceries, etc. An editorial in the New York Times of May 9, 2018 tells about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is now the wealthiest man in human history, worth $131 BILLION! (I could live easily on one lousy billion.) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/opinion/jeff-bezos-spend-131-billion.html

Since Bezos can’t spend all that money, what does he plan to do with it? Not charitable donations, like the old Robber Barons like Carnegie and Rockefeller carried out with their fortunes (made with the sweat and muscle of workers they overworked and underpaid). Bezos’ bright idea is space travel, including regular trips to space-space tourism!

We have problems aplenty on THIS planet-global warming through the use of carbon-based fuels, illiteracy, unemployment, infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric power stations) collapsing, famine, genocide-and Bezos wants frequent-flyer points to Mars! Bezos can do whatever the hell he wants with his money, okay, I’m cool with that; but with the constant deregulation of business practices, the weakening of trade unions, the tax policies favoring people wealthy enough to buy and sell members of Congress, it has led to widening extremes of wealth and poverty-the likes of which eventually leads to violent social upheaval-let’s say it, revolution.  We HAVE to educate ourselves on the issues, organize at our communities and our worksites, and get out and vote this November

Also upcoming are the High Holy Days, Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, where we re-assess our lives, give up what no longer is good for us, and realize whatever good is in us and around us. Currently we are in the Hebrew month of Elul, when we sit back and reflect on our lives over the past year. Self-improvement is a long process, taken step by step; if you slip and fall on your way to advancing and improving, that’s okay, it’s all part of the learning process, just get back on your feet and keep walking. An excellent guide to the High Holy Days, and the other Jewish holidays, is Seasons of our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays by Arthur Waskow, one of the leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement and head of the Shalom Center (https://theshalomcenter.org/).

On that note, I bid everyone L’shana tova, a sweet, happy, and prosperous year to you all.

 

 

Labor Day 2018

I will join other trade unionists in the 31st Annual Tri-State Labor Day Celebration, on Monday, September 3, 2018. we will assemble at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall, 1301 S. Columbus Blvd (at Washington Avenue) in Philadelphia, hold a kick-off rally, them parade, towards Penn’s Landing for food, refreshments, and fun for the kids. Please take pride in being a workers-you made this economy and country-and join in the fun, you deserve it.

Rally for Immigrants at Penn’s Landing

Yesterday I attended a rally, at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, to support immigrants, particularly protesting the caging of immigrant children and forcibly, and cruelly, separating them from their families. It was sponsored by POWER (Philadelphian Organized to Witness, Empower, and Renew), the Granny Peace Brigade, along with several union organizations, such as Unite/Here, Electricians Local 98, 1199C (hospital and health care workers), IUPAT, UFCW Local 1776, and LIUNA

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Along the way, I passed by the Irish Monument, honoring the Irish immigrants who fled their homeland to escape the famine in the 1840s. This is fitting for the rally, reminding all of us that, except for the people who were here originally, we’re all descended from immigrants. DSC00583DSC00589

Here are representatives of one of my favorite organizations, the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee. DSC00590

The Mason Missile, July 2, 2018

Greetings!

This is Independence Day-what do we have to celebrate? We have a regime (I won’t call it an “administration”) that separates immigrant children as young as several months from the parents, as a bureaucratic form of punishment for entering this country “illegally” (which is classed as a misdemeanor).

That has never happened before, and this practice inflicts trauma upon these children and their parents-but what to the alpha males ruling our affairs care? They show what kind of big strong men they are by terrorizing people who can’t resist, talking about a “zero tolerance policy,” and have sadistic fun doing it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the Bible, the Apostle Paul letter to the Romans, chapter 13, verses 1-7, (RSV) as an excuse to justify this: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience.  For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.”

That verse had always been a favorite of slaveholders and authoritarians, using some biblical justification for their domination of their subjects. It would not hold sway except for some true believers of the Leader.

(Were he to go further down the chapter, Sessions would have found verses 8-10 “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”)

This is the kind of thing that conservatives, who have whined about “big government taking control of our children,” have warned us about- but it’s happening to dark-skinned foreigners, so they say nothing. I’m pleased, though, that people have risen up against this; I doubt, though, if it would influence this regime from ending the practice, but hopefully, it would make people on the ground ashamed to implement such policies on behalf of their superiors up the chain. There is also institutional resistance to this evil practice, as several state governors have refused to send their National Guard units to the border for this kind of duty.

There is also publicly confronting the top officials responsible for these policies, such as the crowds shaming Stephen Miller and Kristjen Nielsen-as they ate at MEXICAN RESTAUANTS-and Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave the little restaurant. Now the conservatives complain that the officials are being oppressed and bullied-any worse than the little kiddies in the detention centers separated from their families, scared out of their minds, feeling lost and abandoned, put through possibly all kinds of abuse, not knowing if they’ll ever see their parents again?  Can’t we look at THAT, Americans, and know the shameful thing going on in our name, and with our tax dollars?

With protests against unjust conditions, there are always complaints about how the protestors behave-“They’re not polite, they’re not civil, they use such bad language!” But what about trump’s line in a rally, “I’d like to punch him in the face”? His instigating violence against protestors by his fans? The incidents of white people calling the police on African-Americans for such crimes as sitting in a Starbuck’s, playing golf, napping in a dorm at Yale, holding a cookout in Oakland, mowing a neighbor’s lawn for a few bucks, selling water for money for tickets to Disneyland?

It’s as if we need permission by our conservative superiors to protest unjust conditions, from which they benefit, and the consequence of which they don’t suffer (so it’s no skin off their asses)-and such permission won’t be forthcoming. No one will give us our rights-we’ll take them. It’s just a way for them to not deal with it-but there are people who deal with it every day, and they won’t take it anymore, and will let everyone know they won’t take it.

Again, let’s discuss “big government“-the boogie of right-wing propaganda for decades, since the New Deal and beyond. This is the scare used when the issue is using the mechanism of government, local, state, or federal, to restrict the ability of corporations to swindle consumers and oppress workers. Added to this is the Labor movement, the institutional gathering of workers for their mutual benefit, to prevent corporate bosses from forcing workers into long hours, in oppressive and unsafe worksites, for merger pay.

With the Janus decision of the Supreme Court-which says workers who don’t want to be in a union do not have to pay the “agency shop” fee, but would still be protected by the union-The ability of unions to protect workers is in trouble. But do we take it lying down? No, we organize, just like our forbearers did a century ago, in the face of company thugs, police and militias, and hostile courts, judges, and governments. We have a history and tradition to draw our strength from.

Indeed, activism abounds throughout the nation against the trump agenda-and NO, I will not show him any respect! Along with the protests against the immigration policies along the border, there are protests by high school kids against the gun violence they witnessed, when they had to see their friends killed by gunmen who had too easy an access to an AR-15, and the #MeToo movement of women who refuse any longer to put up with sexual harassment from rich and powerful men.  The Labor movement can tap into that energy, and once again be the insurgent force our plutocratic masters fear it to be.

Bye!

Pennsylvania Labor History Society Conference

I have attended a conference of the Pennsylvania Labor History Society (PLHS), taking place in Erie. I’m proud to be a life member of this group dedicated to raising up the history of workers organizing for their rights, the kind of history that has for SOME reason been excluded from our history books. School children need to learn of this kind of history, of working people seeking a better life through banding together.

Today’s discussions included a talk by Doctor Judy Lynch about the forming of worker organizations in the 19th Century, which were treated by the courts and the law as criminal conspiracies. The unions of that time called themselves “benevolent societies”, providing assistance to members during hard times and burial benefits, and trying to show they are not threats to the social order or criminal conspiracies. But, alas, the bosses, with the government behind them, sought to crush any and all efforts by workers to uplift themselves.

All over Pennsylvania, and every state in the Union, there is labor history, and we need to work to dig it up and let the world know of it. Yes, the labor movement is imperfect, it followed the prejudices and conventions of the era, and many sought to make themselves acceptable to the public, like Sam Gompers tried to do with the old AFL. But the trade union movement has been one of America’s greatest social movements, uplifting workers to higher living standards. I urge all people to please support the labor movement, and join a union if you are not already in one, to find protection and empowerment.

 

Benefit Events for Women Against Abuse

One of the fine groups I have worked with over the years is the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). CLUW has been effective in giving women in the trade union movement a start in getting involved in their unions, making them more effective instruments for social change, and making them more sensitive to the needs of working women.

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Philadelphia CLUW will hold a fund-raising benefit for Women Against Abuse, to be held at AFSCME District Council 47, 1606 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, at 5:30 PM. Women against Abuse is Philadelphia’s only shelter for battered women and children staffed by union members, in this case UAW. The shelter only accepts women and children in crisis.

Along with cash donations, you are asked to bring such new items as Muslim head and face coverings for women, women’s clothing, sweat and yoga pants, all sizes of underwear, gift cards (please, no Wal-Mart!), diapers, pull-ups, baby formula, baby carriers, such toiletries as toothpaste and shampoo, tampons and sanitary napkins, water bottles, notebooks, portfolios, blank cards, etc.

For further information, please contact Laura Wentz, President of Philadelphia CLUW, at  (215)588-5026; cluw.philly@gmail.com; or www.phillycluw.org.

 

Labor Issues at Walnut Street Theater

Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States (IATSE), AFL-CIO, are protesting discriminatory practices by the management of the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia against a disabled employee, and for retaliating against a stage employee for requesting a union representative.

For further information, please contact IATSE Local 8, 2401 S. Swanson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148; (215)952-2106; on the web,  http://www.iatse8.com/index.cfm.