Friday, June 24, 2016
Labor South roundup: Brexit & neoliberalism; a visit with veteran Hollywood character actor Nehemiah Persoff; and Nissan hypocrisy in Mississippi
It’s time for another Labor South roundup, plus a heads-up on things to come.
The Brexit vote and neoliberalism
The British vote this week to exit the European Union is causing huge disruption in U.S. and international markets while being treated to a lot of handwringing by a head-scratching mainstream press. Yet Enrico Tortolano of openDemocracyUK says the following:
“Voting to leave the EU is a no-brainer for the Left. The European Union is remote, racist, imperialist, anti-worker and anti-democratic: It is run by, of, and for the super-rich and their corporations. A future outside austerity and other economic blunders rests on winning the struggle to exit the EU.”
Furthermore, “Neoliberal policies and practices dominate the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Court of Justice and a compliant media legitimises (sic) the whole conquest.”
Check out the following link: http://portside.org/2016-06-21/eu-and-other-neoliberal-nightmares
Of course, anti-immigrant forces have also been on the Brexit side of the issue in this complex development. What we’ve seen in Britain is some of the same populism that has helped drive the Trump and Sanders presidential campaigns in the United States—a deep disdain for the longstanding collusion of Big Banks, Big Corporations and Big Government, yet on the Trump side one that is confused by an equal disdain for the migrant workers victimized by that same collusion.
Still, it is hard to argue with Tortolano’s description of the EU and its worship of the “neoliberal Holy Trinity of public spending cuts, privatisation (sic) and the removal of trade union rights.” Witness European leaders’ hard-fisted policies toward Greece and other economically struggling countries in Europe.
Tortolano believes migrants actually suffer more under the EU because it supports the policies that force workers to leave their home countries in an often tragic search for better work and a better life.
In California with veteran actor Nehemiah Persoff
(To the right, Nehemiah Persoff in 1960)
Yours truly recently returned from a week-long trip to California, where I, among other things, interviewed veteran character actor Nehemiah Persoff, approaching his 97th birthday, at his Cambria, Calif., home. I’m doing a profile of Persoff for Noir City magazine.
Jerusalem-born Persoff, a painter for the past quarter century, was once one of Hollywood’s most familiar faces in film and on television, beginning with his brief appearance in On the Waterfront (1954) to major roles in Humphrey Bogart’s last movie, The Harder They Fall (1956), Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956), and—my favorite--as Nazi Carl Lanser in the segment “Judgment Night” on television’s Twilight Zone (1959). Each of these films addressed important social justice issues without being didactic. Persoff also was memorable as Little Bonaparte in Some Like It Hot (1959) and Barbara Steisand's father in Yentl (1983)
Persoff began his career with theater and acting groups in New York City, including the famed Actors Studio, and recalled during my interview his early work performing for striking union members and for workers on the picket line.
Be on the lookout for Noir City’s next issue at the end of the summer!
UAW fighting Nissan hypocrisy in Mississippi
Students and activists will join with the United Auto Workers this weekend in bringing attention to the hypocrisy of the Nissan corporation’s sponsorship of a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of civil rights activist James Meredith’s 1966 “March Against Fear”.
Many among the predominantly black workforce at the company’s Nissan, Miss., plant have complained of its virulent anti-unionism, its use of temporary workers at lower wages and benefits, arbitrary decisions regarding work hours and medical treatment, and the overly restricted use of its air-conditioning units during Mississippi’s hot summer months.
Popular Resistance, a University of Mississippi student organization led by rising sophomore Jaz Brisack, is among the groups planning to bring light to Nissan’s hypocrisy this weekend.