Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
“I’m sick and tired of the videos about plant closings," she said. "That’s intimidation. That scares me. I have a family. I have bills.”
“Talking about a union, that is forbidden at Nissan,” Ruffin said. “They try to persuade you against unions. I want to hear both sides. I’m tired of Nissan’s side.”
Coworker Douglas Brooks agreed. “I come to work and I give my best, 100 percent. We are people with families and lives. If we live in America, let’s act like we live in America," he said. "Being from Mississippi doesn’t mean we’re all morons. There’s got to be something good about unions because they’re still around.”
Workers told a panel that included local ministers and officials such as state NAACP President Derrick Johnson that they face increasing pressure from company managers and officials to disavow any interest in joining the UAW. They are routinely called into one-on-one meetings and into group sessions where anti-union videos are shown. Some workers said their pro-union sympathies have put them under increased scrutiny from managers for any slight infraction that could lead to getting them fired.
“They probably got a picture of me up at HR (Nissan’s human resources office) with a big X across it,” openly pro-union Nissan employee Wayne Walker said. “A union troublemaker. … When you first come to this place they put the fear of a union in you. Keep you fearful. They’ll say, `You lucky to have a job.’ We want a union and a contract.”
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has made no secret of his anti-union views and once strongly warned Nissan workers that a union “is not in your best interest” shortly before an election at the company’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn. Workers there rejected the union.
(Below is Isiac Jackson Jr.)
“We believe that as American citizens we have a right to free choice,” Alliance chair Isiac Jackson Jr. told the workers. “God gave us a right to choose. We’re going to be out there walking the line for you.”
Jackson said the Alliance’s next goal is to gain entrance into the plant, where members can tell the other side of the union story.
Nissan worker James Brown said he believes Nissan workers in Canton would support a union if a fair election were held. “The key is to take fear and intimidation away. This is the key to having a fair election," he said. "So many of my co-workers say they want it but are afraid to come out publicly.”
Friday, November 9, 2012
Labor, civil rights, immigration and other social justice activists will gather in Charleston, S.C., December 7-9 to convene the 9th bi-annual Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference and take what organizer Dane Strobino calls another step forward in “building a genuine Southern Workers Assembly and alliance.”
The group was active at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and the implications of the re-election of President Barack Obama is likely to be a major topic of discussion. They know they have their work cut for them in a region that largely was on the losing side in the presidential election, voting against Barack Obama's bid for a second term in office. Only Virginia and probably Florida went against the Southern grain.
In some key ways, the SHROC is building on the earlier work of groups such as Southern Conference for Human Welfare in the late 1930s and 1940s, an organization that championed working-class Southerners at the time when Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared the South as “the nation’s number one economic problem.”
This is the region with the nation’s largest black population, a growing Latino population, one that used to be called the “Solid (Democratic) South” and that was a key component of Roosevelt’s election-winning coalition. You might think politics today would finally be more competitive down here. Why isn’t it?
Here are a few reasons as seen by this Southern born-and-bred observer:
The South is still pretty much a top-down place whose political, business, media and religious elite run things and who refuse to budge from a rock-ribbed allegiance to minimal government, a give-away-the-store attitude toward business, an image of Jesus that reflects very little of what’s taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Sadly, this is still a race-haunted South. Southerners, by the way, led in the number of ugly, racist responses to Obama’s victory on Twitter.
What has been long clear in the Republican agenda is that the GOP would like to turn the nation into one large South—de-regulated and anti-union with the barest of services provided by government.
If Republicans ever succeed in that goal, maybe the South will cease being the poorest region because every region will be poor.
And the South is poor. Let’s look at some statistics offered recently by Gene Nichol, law professor and director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina, in the Texas-based Progressive Populist .
Of the 12 poorest states in the nation, 10 are Southern. Mississippi’s shameful 23 percent poverty rate is at the very bottom. Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia aren’t far behind. The nation’s poverty rate is 15 percent. The South has more poor children than any other region. More than one-quarter of the children in nine Southern states are poor. Go South if you want to find people without health insurance. That’s where you’ll find more of them than in any other region.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
On the evening of March 18, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed striking sanitation workers in Memphis, and this is what he told them:
The next year, a great leader of both the civil rights and labor movements, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founder A. Philip Randolph, had this to say: “The labor movement has been the home of the working man, and traditionally, it has been the only haven for the dispossessed; and therefore, I have tried to build an alliance between the Negro and the American labor movement.”
(To the right, Tyson Jackson at the UAW office in Canton, Miss.)
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Big money pours into presidential politics while Walmart workers and Louisiana salt mine workers fight for their rights
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The world’s retail Goliath may be finally feeling some pain as a result of the growing number of slingshot-wielding Davids at its feet.
Workers have long complained about poor pay, poor benefits and management insensitivity to workplace issues at Walmart, but the company has been resolute in preventing them from ever joining a union and speaking as one voice.
Is a change in store for Mr. Sam's company?
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Meredith is still on a mission today, and again it has to do with public education. He wants to "challenge every American citizen to commit right now to help children in the public schools in their community." And, in doing that, he says, "I'm still marching against fear" and for courage and commitment.
Friday, September 21, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. – Labor patriarch Victor Bussie, confidante of presidents, senators and governors, saddens at a half-century-old memory of a politician and friend who gained national notoriety for exploits that included an affair with a French Quarter stripper but who was simply “Uncle Earl” to the working people of Louisiana.