Rochester’s favorite dissident, Jack Spula, has written a good essay on public subsidies and the need for libraries.Comments closed
Category: Politics & Activism
If you know anything about Rochester’s progressive scene, you know the writing of Jack Bradigan Spula. Now you can peek into Jack’s brain again, via his new blog The Rochester Dissident. Do yourself a favor and check it out today.Comments closed
(24 October 2005) BRIGHTON â€“ Itâ€™s 7 p.m. A light rain is falling. Snaking down Ambassador Drive in Brighton is a long line of silent workers, candles held in cups under their umbrellas. The line moves slowly down the street, a silent testament to labor solidarity in an age of â€œevery man for himself.â€
The men and women of Caldwell Manufacturing, proud members of IUE-CWA Local 81331, are bringing their fight for justice and security into the neighborhood where Caldwellâ€™s owners live. The message? Ted and Jim Boucher are letting their greed overcome their family history.
Caldwell Manufacturing makes parts for windows â€“ parts that youâ€™ll find in most houses, including those on Ambassador Drive. For three generations, Caldwell has been run by the Boucher family, and the company has long provided good union jobs for Rochester workers. Now, though, Ted and Jim Boucher are attempting to bust the union by removing the union security clause from the workersâ€™ contract. If theyâ€™re successful, Caldwell would be an open shop, a move that would pave the way to remove the union completely. And that would likely be the first domino in a long chain of anti-union activity in the Rochester area.
As the vigil moves through the streets of Brighton, keeping a silent watch, it may be difficult to connect these 50 rain-soaked workers and community members to the larger fight for Rochesterâ€™s future. But the connection is clear. Rochester needs good jobs with a living wage, health care, pension benefits, and job security. One proven way to provide those jobs is a union contract. These workers and their supporters in the community are fighting for the very life of this area.
Two by two, pairs of workers knock on the doors of the homes in the Bouchersâ€™ neighborhood. They politely explain why the vigil is happening, and hand the residents a flyer outlining the situation. The response is largely positive, and the effect is immediate. By the end of the vigil, a local trial lawyer who lives on the street has come forward, offering to put a pro-worker sign in his front yard.
As the rain falls, the workers quietly return to their cars. This nightâ€™s action is over, but the morning brings the promise of more to come. The fight for Rochesterâ€™s future is under way.
Which side are you on?
For more information on the Caldwell strike, and on other local labor issue, visit Joan Collins-Lamberts’ blog, Work Related.Comments closed
ID is ridiculous. Here is the only debate that matters.Comments closed
Tonight I was elected to the board of Abundance Cooperative Market. Abundance is a shareholder-owned co-op. In other words, it’s owned by the folks who shop at the store. The co-op has a general manager, but the policies and practices of the co-op are governed by the board, on which I now sit.
I’ve written before about Abundance, and about the idea of shopping locally. The Abundance Co-op is modeling a better world, and I ran for the board to help protect that cooperative system. The store turned its first profit this year, and as it grows, it’s vital that we remain true to the principles on which the co-op was founded. The “co-op” is the people — the store is just a happy result of the people’s efforts.
I’m excited to start working with the board. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for me as I start on this journey, feel free to contact me.Comments closed
Go to JibJab.com right now and watch the Big Box Mart video. You can thank me later.
(By the way, Jay Leno showed this whole video on The Tonight Show last night. And no, that is not a type-o.)Comments closed
If you’re a folk fan, a progressive, a worker, or just someone who loves great music and storytelling, you need to check out Starlight On The Rails, the new boxed set from folk singer and raconteur Utah Phillips.
Here’s a link to the album at the iTunes Music Store, and here’s Chris Nickson’s review from the All Music Guide:
Utah Phillips has become an American folk institution — or is that an anti-institution? A former union organizer, he might not be well known in the greater scheme of music, but he’s certainly worth this four-CD, 61-track box set. What makes it especially fascinating is the fact that each of the cuts is accompanied by Phillips’ reflections on the pieces, whether performed by him or others. He’s as much a raconteur and philosopher as songwriter. With its mix of live, studio, and unreleased performances, it justifies calling itself definitive, whether on the topical “Talking N.P.R. Blues,” which excoriates not only the corporatization on public radio, but also the attitudes of the FCC. He can be funny, he can be serious, but whatever tack he takes, he makes his point concisely and effectively. He’s lived a hobo’s life, been there and done that, a symbol of America that’s fast disappearing, a time where the ideas of Mark Twain helped define a growing nation. He’s known the drifters, the characters, the politicians. Some he’s liked, some he’s loathed. But along the way he’s lived and acted for his conscience and written some fine songs, such as “Yellow Ribbon” and the title cut. For anyone who’s a fan of his work, this is a must-have purchase. But even for those less familiar with his canon, it’s a vital peek into America as it was, and in some small corner, still is. Hopefully he’ll be around for many years to come, remaining an inspiration to a younger generation of troubadours, celebrating people and loudly criticizing what needs to be criticized. (Â© 2005 All Music Guide)Comments closed
This cartoon accompanied this wonderful article from American Scientist.One Comment
Chris Clarke has a very interesting interview with Ward Churchill on his blog. Most of the interview is about Native American issues, and at one point, Churchill makes a very arresting comment about implementing a progressive agenda on land you stole from someone else:
“You can take all the progressive agenda items you want, including environmentalism and ecology, OK? The movement to combat sexism, the movement to combat racism, the movement against oppressive class structures, all of it. And if in the end, you come up with a scenario in which all of those goals are suddenly realized, do you know what you end up with? You end up with a society that is still predicated fundamentally in colonialism. It would still be a colonial society because it would have been implementing these relations, however progressive they may seem on their face, on somebody else’s land without their permission. You’ve still got an imperialist culture. You’ve got a culture that will reinvent all these forms you thought you just combated and destroyed. You gotta deal with the fundamental issue first and work out from there. You gotta lay a foundation for a different social order, a different social consciousness and all the rest of it. And the place to begin that, of course, is in relation to the land.”
Sometimes I agree with Churchill, and sometimes I don’t. I must admit, though, that I’d never really considered this particular point before. What do you think? You can click on Submit A Comment right below this message to add your thoughts.Comments closed
OGDEN, NY — Security guards bully workers. Workers call police to protect them from guards. Police arrive and hassle workers. Security company turns out to be owned by the brother of one of the cops. That cop is also moonlighting as a security guard. Welcome to Ogden!
The Ogden Police are routinely called to the picket line at Caldwell Manufacturing, where the workers have been on strike since August. Ted Boucher, owner of Caldwell Manufacturing, brought in scabs to staff the production lines, and he also hired guards from C.O.P. Security to direct the cars out of the parking lot as the workers marched across the entrance. That the workers are legally entitled to picket in that spot is of no consequence to the guards who enforce Caldwell’s anti-union policies.
Recently, the C.O.P. Security guards have been roughing up the strikers. Security guards have knocked down workers. Just days ago, one of the guards shoved a woman with both hands. In the face of this escalation, the union (IUE-CWA Local 331) has begun calling the police on their own behalf. But when the police arrive — even when they’ve been called by the union — they immediately bypass the workers and head straight for the guards to get the story. Turns out that one of the security guards is Sergeant Dale Barton of the Ogden Police Department. Thatâ€™s right, he works for C.O.P. Security and for the police force the workers depend on to protect them from C.O.P. Security. Better still, Dale Bartonâ€™s brother is Rick Barton â€“ the president of C.O.P. Security.
Why are the workers on strike? Because Ted Boucher, the owner of the company, decided not to bargain in good faith with the workers. He was censured by the NLRB, and he has appealed that ruling.
As Joan Collins-Lambert wrote on her blog Work Related: “The strike at Caldwell is about something more enduring than tomorrow’s paycheck. It’s about a union’s right to exist, and about a company’s obligation to bargain in good faith with its union workers. Among other things, Caldwell management wants to remove union security clauses in the collective bargaining agreement, and eliminate dues check-off. In other words, it wants the union to commit suicide.” That about sums it up.
So Boucher appealed, and the union workers reluctantly but unanimously decided to strike.
Last Thursday, Sept. 29, was a typical afternoon on the line. The most belligerent of the rent-a-cops, whom Iâ€™ll call Dom, shoved another worker today. The cops showed up and immediately pulled aside one of the strikers, keeping him in the back of a patrol car for about 30 minutes before letting him go. I talked to the cops, and told them that if anyone needed to be removed, it was Dom, not the worker. I pointed out that Dom consistently bullies the workers, while the police do nothing to protect the workers’ legal right to picket. The cop was nonresponsive.
Later in the afternoon, a woman pulled up beside one of the police cars to talk to the officer inside the car. Seeing a golden opportunity, I immediately began making fun of the officer over my megaphone. When the woman left, the officer — Lockwood by name — rode up to me and accused me of slandering his wife. I said it was in fact him I was yelling at, and I told him he should be ashamed of himself for protecting the “rights” of Ted Boucher over the rights of the workers. The workers surrounded me as Lockwood and I argued back and forth for a few minutes, until I got bored and walked away.
When it was time to go home, I did what everyone else before me had done and made a perfectly safe u-turn on the road to get back to the main highway. Within seconds, Lockwood was behind me with his lights flashing. One of my coworkers was in the car with me, and we were laughing uproariously as Lockwood approached the car to write me a ticket for “making an illegal u-turn on a curve.” He wrote up the ticket and held it in the window of my car. I took out my pad and pen and asked him for his name. “It’s right there on the ticket,” he said, but I took my time writing it down anyway. “I have an emergency call,” Lockwood protested, “take the ticket.”
So a company breaks the law, is censured, and then appeals, forcing its employees to take their fight to the street. The police support the company, taking sides against their neighbors. Thereâ€™s a serious conflict of interest at work in Ogden, and itâ€™s directly harming the workers on the picket line.Comments closed
Go see this video now:
The Legendary KO: “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
And when you’re finished with that one, head over to Norm Jensen’s fantastic site One Good Move and watch the Pigs On The Wing video posted there.
You’re welcome.Comments closed
I’ve wriiten before about Abundance Cooperative Market, Rochester’s only shareholder-owned cooperative grocery store. It’s a fantastic place, and a wonderful model of how cooperative economics can work. Now I’m running for the board. If you want to know more about why I’m running, check out my campaign flyer. Thanks!Comments closed
Once again, I’m a labor union organizer.
I know, I know. I said I’d never do that kind of work again. I had a really negative experience the last time I did it, and I got burned out in a hurry. This time, though, I was talked into it by my friend Mike Roberts, who just became the organizing director for UNITE HERE in Rochester. Mike and I talked about the gig for a long time, and he laid out his vision for the organizing department. His ideas sounded exciting and militant, so I joined up.
UNITE HERE, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a recently merged union. UNITE was the textile workers union (the folks in the movie Norma Rae, for example). As textile jobs moved to the Third World, UNITE became the union of Xerox workers and other industrial folks. HERE is the hotel and restaurant union. The two decided to merge recently, and now we’re working to organize workers in hotels, industrial laundries, call centers, and food service operators.
I’ll tell you more as the job develops. I won’t always be able to talk in specifics, of course, but I’ll do my best.
In the meantime, you can find out more about my union with these two links:
And while you’re surfing the Web, check out Work Related, a great new blog about Rochester’s labor movement, written by labor educator Joan Collins-Lambert.Comments closed
If you’re still deciding where to send your money, I recommend AmeriCares. They have a very low overhead, so more of your money goes directly to aid. Here are some useful links:
Charity Navigator’s tips for donating to relief for Hurricane Katrina
Network For Good’s listing of relief agencies dealing with Hurricane Katrina
For union members: The AFL-CIO’s site for hurricane relief. They’re also looking for 1,000 union volunteers to go down South to help. More information is at the site.
Whatever you do, do something. Thank you.Comments closed
If you really want to be enraged, visit the Pittsburgh Indymedia site to see videos of the police using dogs, pepper spray and tasers on nonviolent protestors. Disgusting. Is this what this country has come to? The answer, of course, is yes.
Pittsburgh Indymedia – Protestors Attacked By PoliceComments closed