I speak about the current Labor activity and militancy in this country.
I speak about celebrating Labor Day, and of the need to combat racism, anti-Semitism, and LGBTQ+phobia.
I speak about current banking disasters, the welfare state for the wealthy, right-wing fondness for authoritarians, the right-wing attack on learning about racial and LGBTQ issues, and recent Labor activities at Temple, Penn Medicine, and Rutgers.
Up for debate in Congress is HR 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which President Biden publicly endorsed. The purpose of this bill is to:
penalize corporations that try to bust unions;
protect workers engaged in organizing drives;
allow workers to take employers to court if they violate collecting bargaining laws;
override “right to work” (for less) laws, which several states have implements;
prevent companies who use gig workers, like Uber, from classifying their employees as “independent contractors,” so they couldn’t organize;
and support workers’ rights as they’re engaged in strikes and boycotts.
For decades, corporations have done everything they can to prevent workers from organizing, and the result is the decline of union density, and with it the decline in wages and their ability, since just after the Second World War, to take care of their families with just one paycheck; now, both spouses have to work just to barely get by. Meanwhile, the wages of CEOs have risen, since late in the 1960’s to approximately 415 percent higher than the wages of a front-line worker. In spite of the propaganda from advocates of neo-liberal “free market”, workers and consumers have not benefitted tax breaks and other government handouts to corporations, but have only used the extra money to buy up their own stock to raise the value, and stash it on foreign bank accounts, as shown in the case of the Panama Papers.
No meaningful change for working and low-income people will take please without the ability of workers to organize into unions for their benefit; their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, who fought and sometimes died for the right to organize, knew this. We can’t let them down. Please contact your Congress-members and senators and urge them to vote for the Pro Act. This bill will be another step in bringing America forward to a better place.
Last night I took part in the 34th Annual Awards Night of the Philadelphia Area Project for Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH), an organization dedicated to protecting the health and safety of workers on the job. Here are some photos I took of that wonderful event:
Peggy Ellis, with the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, winner of the Leadership In Health and Safety Award.
My friend Pat Eiding, President of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, winner of the Tony Mazzocchi Award
Nicole Fuller, the new Director of PHILAPSOH, following…
…Barbara Rahke, the retiring Director
Lewis Fitzgerald, the other winner of the Leadership In Health And Safety Award
Christina Martinez, winner of the Crystal Eastman Award
Rick Bloomingdale, President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Wendy Ruterman (left), Dylan Purcell, and Barbara Laker, winners of the Karen Silkwood Award, for the reporting in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the health hazards of Philadelphia public schools.
We had also a commemoration for Cathy Brady, a tireless union activist who was instrumental in pushing for a memorial to Labor in South-West Philadelphia.
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.
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 email@example.com. Please make checks out to Philadelphia AFL-CIO Young Organized.
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;
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny;
US Congressman Bob Brady, and John Greer, who has long been active in organizing the parade, along with Jim Moran;
Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and Randi Weingarden, President of the American Federation of Teachers;
And, last but not least, the working men and women of Philadelphia, and their families.
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.
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.