Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fired UPS Workers Win Their Jobs Back!

In the wake of a relentless grassroots labor-community solidarity campaign, UPS waved the white flag and agreed to rehire all 250 New York City drivers the company fired last month. The campaign united drivers, elected officials, and even UPS customers.

UPS issued termination notices to 250 drivers in March for a 90-minute work stoppage they had carried out on February 26.

Jairo Reyes, a 24-year driver, had been fired for starting work too early, and was walked off the job. This violated the Teamsters’ contract, which called for a 72-hour waiting period and a hearing before a worker could be walked off.

Drivers gathered in the parking lot to show their displeasure. “Our contract had been violated so many times,” Reyes told Labor Notes. “This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Leech Lake Becomes 8th Tribe to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe have become the 8th federally recognized Native American tribal grouping to allow same-sex couples to marry, wedding Arnold and Matthew Dahl-Wooley.  8 US federally recognized Native American tribes now allow same-sex marriage.

Arnold and Matthew Dahl-Wooley have been living on the reservation as a couple for a decade after meeting in Oregon 15 years ago, and had been campaigning for same-sex marriages to be performed on Arnold’s traditional tribal lands for the last two years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

UPS Fires Workers for Walk-Out

UPS has escalated its retaliation against 250 workers who walked off the job for 90 minutes on Feb. 26 to protest the firing of a fellow union brother, Jairo Reyes, at the Masbeth hub in Queens, N.Y. (See our earlier story at  http://socialistaction.org/2014/03/ups-threatens-workers-who-protested-firing/.) On March 6 the company informed all 250 drivers they were being given “working terminations.” The drivers had stayed on the job while their union, Teamsters Local 804, negotiated with the company on a resolution to the dispute.

On March 31, the company fired 20 of the 250 workers, walking them off the property at the end of their shift. According to UPS spokesperson Steve Gaut, the fired drivers were chosen at random out of the list of employees who had participated in the protest.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Partial Victory for Victimized Antiwar Activists

On Feb. 26, the U.S. District Attorney in Chicago was forced to unseal the applications and affidavits submitted in advance of raids involving over 70 FBI agents on the homes of nearly two-dozen antiwar and Palestine solidarity activists in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Grand Rapids, MI.

The documents reveal that the government carried out a McCarthyite operation based on a collection of lies and out-of-context statements collected over a period of years by a government informant sent into the Twin Cities Antiwar Coalition at the time of the Republican National Convention held in that region in 2008.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

"Wear green on St. Patrick's Day or get pinched." That pretty much sums up the Irish American "curriculum" that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today's high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

80 Years Ago: Minneapolis Teamsters Strike

The year was 1934. It was a cold February in Minnesota, as many Februaries in Minnesota are cold. The temperature had dropped below zero, and people were scrambling for coal to heat their homes and businesses. But no coal was to be had. Teamsters Local 574, along with other workers in the Minneapolis coal yards, had gone on strike. Sixty-five out of 67 coal yards were closed within three hours of the strike, and no coal was being moved anywhere in the city. After three days, the bosses agreed to negotiate, and after a vote on collective bargaining in mid-February, the union won the right to recognition along with small wage increases for most workers.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Want to Create Jobs? Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline!

In the coming months, President Obama will decide whether to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude tar-sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. We know that the pipeline would greatly aggravate climate change, allowing massive amounts of the world’s dirtiest oil to be extracted and later burned.

The payoff, say supporters such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a job boom in construction industries, which are currently suffering from high unemployment. Earlier this month, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue called on the president “to put American jobs before special interest politics.”

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Contradictions & Limits of "Localism"

Jordy Cummings (JC): Your book is called No Local and it is an immanent critique of inward looking reactions to neoliberal capitalism. One poignant episode you recount surrounds urban agriculture, and the idea that we’ve come to a really problematic situation when poor people are encouraged to grow their own food in addition to working their jobs and raising their kids. What is the political or strategic problem with localism? What are your thoughts, for example, on campaigns like “Occupy the Economy” and so forth?
Greg Sharzer (GS): First I’d like to quickly define some terms. ‘Local’ is a space distinct from larger regional, national and international spaces. But it’s also relational, a moment in the global capital circuit. It’s amorphous, changing depending on what you’re measuring: political, social, economic, and so on. ‘Localism’ is the fetishization of scale. It’s assigning some positive benefit to a place precisely because it’s small. It’s impossible to be anti-local, unless you’re against units of measurement. But I think it’s a mistake to think that small is always beautiful.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Scarlett Johansson: New Face of Apartheid

Scarlett Johansson is the new face of apartheid. Her very public decision to quit Oxfam and continue her role as Sodastream’s “global brand ambassador” is appallingly racist. Here’s why.

Sodastream operates a factory in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone, which is located on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The company not only profits from the stolen land but also exploits Palestinian labor.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Top 10 Examples of Corporate Welfare

Here are the top ten examples of corporate welfare and welfare for the rich.   There are actually thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments but these ten will give a taste.

One.  State and Local Subsidies to Corporations.  An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations.   Over 48 big corporations received over $100 million each.  GM was the biggest at a total of $1.7 billion extracted from 16 different states but Shell, Ford and Chrysler all received over a billion dollars each.  Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential, Boeing and casino companies in Colorado and New Jersey received well over $200 million each.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sentencing of Disarmament Activists Postponed Again

The Asst. US Attorney asked me, “You write an online column, don’t you?” I thought, “I’m so sure you read Counterpunch.” But instead answered, “Yes, I do.” “And you called this a ‘kangaroo court’ didn’t you”? I gladly said, “Yes.”

“Do you still hold that opinion?” the prosecutor asked. Again, I readily said, “Yes.” It was a surreal moment. I found myself not just reporting on my friends Greg Boertje-Obed, of
Duluth, and former Duluthian Michael Walli, but testifying from the witness stand on their behalf.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Feminist Rebellion Today

The following presentation was given by Christine Marie, representing Socialist Action at a Nov. 10 panel discussion called Feminist Rebellion Today.

I want to focus my remarks on two aspects of the issue of violence and the way that it relates to the whole fight for an end to gender oppression. First, I want to talk about the context in which sexual violence is on the rise, here and globally. Secondly, I want to address the elephant in the room: what is the root cause of gender oppression and what does that mean about the fight to end it once and for all.

The amoral, drug addled, anti-social, thieving Wolf of Wall Street

If your inner anti-capitalist has ever suspected that major financial institutions are home to a bunch of coked up wankers, Martin Scorsese has proved you right in his new film The Wolf of Wall Street writes Liam Mac Uaid. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort is advised on his first day on in the office that the secret of professional success and longevity is a daily cocktail of masturbation and cocaine. However, what Scorsese does not do is to offer a subtly excoriating critique of contemporary capitalism. That’s his style. No one who has watched Goodfellas comes away thinking that Scorsese wants us to disapprove of the Mafia. He is at his best when he is showing a closed society observing its own rules. Whatever moral judgement is made about the characters is left to the viewer while the director shows them squarely on their own terms. You may feel that Belfort is an amoral, drug addled, misogynistic, anti-social, thieving, wife beater but the director lets him provide the narrative to his own life and career.   There are only a couple of scenes in which the impact of financial speculation on the rest of the population is hinted at. Belfort’s first wife has some qualms about him taking the life savings of postal workers and cab drivers. His sincere response is that he knows how to spend it better than they do. Then, right at the end of the film, his nemesis is sitting on a tube train surveying the travellers who inhabit a parallel universe to Wall Street.

Contact Us

To contact the Northern Worker or the Duluth/Superior branch of Socialist Action you can send an email to adamritscher@yahoo.com or call (715) 817-2281.

Socialist Action on Elections

Every election sees lots of politically conscious people hitting the pavement to campaign for their candidates. Voter registration drives, leafleting and yard sign distribution have become the order of the day for many activists.  We in Socialist Action certainly commend people who take politics seriously and who are committed to fighting for what they believe in. And we believe that elections can a play a positive, albeit limited, role in the struggle for change.  However, when asked who we will be supporting in the upcoming elections, our answer often surprises many.

As a matter of principle we never support candidates of the main capitalist parties - the Democrats and Republicans.  We also decline to support the candidates of the various liberal 3rd parties, like the Greens or the Justice Party.  Instead we support what is called working class political independence.  This holds that working people should only support Socialist or Labor parties and candidates.  And when there isn't a Socialist or Labor candidate on the ballot, we either abstain from voting or spoil our ballot.