Labor and Women’s Rights Movement Plan Ambitious Mass Protests to Fight TrumpismMarch 3, 2017
Photo Credit: Michael Wende / Shutterstock.com
Sectors of the U.S. labor movement are throwing their weight behind an International Women’s Day call for mass actions to protest the gendered violence wrought by neoliberalism, from workplace harassment to environmental destruction to the gutting of welfare systems.
Timed for Wednesday, March 8, the global day of action was “organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women,” according to the International Women’s Strike, which describes itself as a grassroots movement.
The mobilizations also have the backing of the organizers of the January 21 Women’s March, the largest inaugural protest in U.S. history. While Women’s March organizers have termed March 8 “a day without women,” actions will include rallies, protests, direct actions and teach-ins, in addition to a more traditional work stoppage. Similar actions are slated to sweep nearly 30 countries, from Mexico to Bolivia to Russia.
Tithi Bhattacharya, who is active with the U.S. arm of the International Women’s Strike, is a longtime activist for Palestinian justice, a professor of South Asian History and the director of Global Studies at Purdue University. She told AlterNet, “We knew very well when we used the word ‘strike’ that women (and men) in the vast majority of workplaces will not be able to go on strike. How could they? Union density is currently at its lowest in this country. Moreover, even where unions exist, they usually carry no-strike clauses in their contracts. A vast number of people work in states where striking has been criminalized for years.”
“But despite these challenges,” Bhattacharya continued, “the involvement of labor unions and labor groups has been amazing.”
Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools just announced it will close down March 8 because it expects large numbers of employees to go on strike.
Under the banner, Women Workers Rising, major unions and workers’ organizations are calling for a demonstration at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., to “end workplace violence and harassment and promote pay equity, one fair living wage, paid leave and labor rights at work.” The action is being organized by One Billion Rising in coalition with at least eight union or worker organizations, including National Nurses United, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, OUR Walmart, the American Federation of Teachers, Jobs with Justice, the Domestic Workers’ Alliance and other labor and social justice groups.
“Every day, we see the Trump administration’s attack on women’s bodies and lives, especially immigrants and women of color,” Andrea Cristina Mercado, the campaign director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, told AlterNet. “Our work, contributions, and humanity continue to be undervalued. That is why we endorsed A Day Without Women—as a way of showing opposition to the terrorizing and criminalizing of our communities.”
“While some domestic workers are participating, we did not call on members to strike, because it’s hard for many who are caring for elders or children to take a day off,” Mercado continued. “But there are so many ways to show resistance, and on March 8, we will stand together, and embody radical sisterhood.”
The day of action has earned the endorsements of union locals and workers’ organizations, including Labor for Palestine, Rutgers AAUP-AFT and UAW Local 2325 — Association of Legal Aid Attorneys. Among the endorsers is the SEIU Lavender Caucus, which describes itself as “the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgender (L/G/B/T) Caucus of the Service Employees International Union, whose purpose is to facilitate open and respectful communication between the L/G/B/T community and the labor movement.”
Megan Moskop is a New York City teacher and an organizer with the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. Moskop said MORE officially endorsed the March 8 day of actions “because 70 percent or more of the teaching profession in New York City is women. Sexism in our profession is rampant. We only have the most basic family medical leave. Part of the reason it is such a hard job is because it’s a job women have traditionally done.”
“When women are standing up in the international community and saying sexism is real, we want to stand alongside them,” Moskop said.
The U.S. platform for the International Women’s Strike includes calls for labor rights, a halt to gender violence, environmental justice and an “anti-racist and anti-imperialist feminism,” stating: “This means that movements such as Black Lives Matter, the struggle against police brutality and mass incarceration, the demand for open borders and for immigrant rights and for the decolonization of Palestine are for us the beating heart of this new feminist movement.”
In addition, the platform calls for “full social provisioning” and issues the demand “that the welfare system work to support our lives rather than shame us when we access such rights.”
Organizers say they draw inspiration from mass protests far beyond U.S. borders. “Following the example of Icelandic women in 1975, Polish women went on a day-long strike to halt plans for criminalizing abortion and miscarriage on Oct. 3, 2016,” the International Women’s Strike writes. “That planned legislation was immediately withdrawn by the government. Similar issues brought Korean women to protest several times that same month against introduction of higher penalties for doctors performing abortions. On Oct. 19, 2016, Argentine women responded with massive hour-long strikes and rallies to an inhuman femicide and brutal repression [by police] of the Women’s National Meeting.”
Union members told AlterNet that these kinds of mass protests are sorely needed in the United States, and that labor’s participation is often driven by the rank and file. “It’s important to see labor use its power to move protests further and go from demonstrations to strikes,” Peter Lamphere, a member of MORE-UFT and a teacher in New York City, told AlterNet. “We’ve seen that already in the immigrant community and with New York City taxi workers.”
On February 16, thousands of people across the United States walked off the job, shut down their stores and restaurants and stayed home from school to participate in an immigrant strike against the deportation policies of the Trump administration. The strike was accompanied by mass protests in cities and towns across the country, including Chicago, Raleigh, Austin and San Francisco.
Those mass protests followed a one-hour strike on January 28 by the New York Taxi Workers, in solidarity with large-scale protests against Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslims. “Drivers stand in solidarity with thousands protesting [the] inhumane and unconstitutional Muslim ban,” the 19,000-member strong union declared over social media.
“We see the Trump administration as posing an existential threat to the labor movement, so right after the election we immediately got involved in pushing UFT to take whatever action it could to challenge what Trump was doing,” Lamphere emphasized. “So we pushed for the union to endorse the Women’s March and sent buses. The women’s strike is the next step coming out of that.”
Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.
March 3, 2017
February 6, 2017
From: Wright, Deborah
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2017 11:34 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Cc: Alexi Shalom
Subject: Fw: Strikers have a message for Trump & Schwarzman
FYI. Let’s also not forget our very own sisters and brothers in UAW Local 1508 in Green Island, NY who have been locked out by Honeywell since last May!
From: Blum, Richard
Sent: Monday, February 6, 2017 11:04 AM
To: Wright, Deborah; Taylor, Bret
Cc: Hofmeister, Beth
Subject: FW: Strikers have a message for Trump & Schwarzman
FYI. Please distribute.
700 striking workers at Momentive in Waterford, NY have a message for Donald Trump and Steve Schwarzman: What about us? *
Trump promised to restore good jobs for millions of American workers, and picked Wall Street billionaire Stephen Schwarzman to Chair his “Strategic and Policy Forum” to help create jobs and boost economic growth.
But Schwarzman isn’t a champion for working people. He’s a Wall Street billionaire with a personal fortune of $11.1 billion and has a history of driving down workers’ standard of living at the companies he owns.
Momentive fell prey to Schwarzman’s Wall Street financial interests that destroyed good jobs, and cut pay and benefits. Apollo Global Management – the firm that owns the bulk of Momentive – has also been one of the puppet masters driving down workers’ standard of living at Momentive for years. Workers are paying the price for their greed, but they are standing strong and making sacrifices on the picket line to protect their livelihoods.
Stand with the working families on strike at a rally on February 9th right outside Schwarzman’s posh Park Avenue apartment to demand good jobs in upstate New York.
When: February 09, 2017 • 5:30 PM
Where: Steve Schwarzman’s Apartment • 740 Park Avenue , New York, NY
RSVP: MomentiveWorkers.com/ SchwarzmanRally
“They’ve been doing this to us for years. We aren’t greedy, we aren’t asking for much — just a fair contract, and some decent benefits for the younger guys,” said Momentive worker John DeSantis.
Let’s make sure Schwarzman and Trump hear us loud and clear Feb 9: If you really want to support good jobs and benefits for workers, start in Waterford.
Communications Workers of America
* Check out the article in the NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/ new-york/n-y-plant-workers- hope-trump-honors-promise- create-jobs-article-1.2963002
CWA District 1
80 Pine Street, 37th Floor
New York NY, 10005
Text CWAD1 to 69866 to Join Our Text List.
February 2, 2017
From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2017 10:59 AM
Subject: FYI: Two More Events Today: Protest Uber & Labor for Standing Rock
Thursday, 5-6pm in NYC:
Protest at Uber’s Headquarters NoBanNoWall
Location: 3100 47th Ave, Long Island City, NY
Facebook event page
Join us to protest Uber on the day before Uber CEO Travis Kalanick meets with Donald Trump as part of his advisory council.
**** PLEASE NOTE: We’ve updated the our protest end time to 6 PM so that folks can head over to Foley Square for the Rise Up for #RamarleyGraham protest****
Now is the time for all those who value justice and equality to join together in holding Uber accountable, not only for its complicity with Trump’s hateful policies but also for impoverishing workers.
Backed by billions from Wall Street, gig economy corporations like Uber and Lyft are upending labor standards for which workers have spent centuries fighting.
Let’s send Uber and its gig-lord allies a message: workers’ rights and democracy come before profit. #NoBanNoWall
LIST OF SPONSORS IN PROGRESS
ALIGN New York
Black Lives Matter Greater New York
Center for Popular Democracy
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Labor for Palestine
Make the Road New York
Muslim Democratic Club
National Lawyers Guild Labor and Employment Law Committee
New York Communities for Change
New York Immigrant Action Fund
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Progressive Action Committee
New York Taxi Workers Alliance
New York Worker Center Federation
New York Working Families Party
Strong Economy for All
Thursday 8-9pm EST:
Urgent Labor for Standing Rock Conference Call with Water Protectors
In recent days, Donald Trump has met with pro-DAPL building trade leaders and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, and pressured the Army Corps of Engineers to grant a final easement for DAPL. Today, highly militarized police made mass arrests of 76 water protectors.
In response, Chase Iron Eyes of the Lakota People’s Law Project and Last Real Indians will speak about what those of us in organized labor can do at this point to support water protectors at Standing Rock.
Call times in US/Eastern: Thursday, Feb 02, 2017, 8pm (1 hour). To participate, please register here.
January 31, 2017
From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 2:41 PM
Subject: FYI: NYC Protest Calendar
“Event calendar of NYC protests, political actions, protests, demonstrations, workshops, organizing trainings, and planning meetings. Attend, act, and create social change!”
November 17, 2016
From: Letwin, Michael
Date: Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 12:31 PM
Subject: FYI: How We Can Stand With Standing Rock
Despite brutal state violence so familiar to NYC communities of color, Water Protectors at Standing Rock are continuing to engage in nonviolent mass resistance against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on Sioux treaty land.
As the harsh northern winter sets in (with temperatures plummeting into the teens this week), here are some ways that each of us at Legal Aid can help:
- Sign the Urgent Call on the AFL-CIO: Reverse Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline (14k+ signers and rising).
- Join, or donate to, the NYC labor/community delegation going next week to build a winterized camp and deliver a vehicle to Standing Rock for sustained solidarity.
- Donate and/or offer legal assistance to the Water Protector Legal Collective/NLG, a nonprofit organization coordinating criminal and civil litigation for water protectors in Standing Rock, in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild.
- Reply via email to host a Standing Rock report back from our recent Labor for Standing Rock delegation in your office or community.
October 25, 2016
From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 5:02 PM
Subject: From Labor for Standing Rock: Urgent Mobilization This Weekend
During the past few days, highly-militarized police in North Dakota have escalated brutality and arrests against Native American opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
To demand an end to this growing repression, defend indigenous rights, and stop DAPL, Labor for Standing Rock has called Union Camp this weekend (October 29-30) at Standing Rock.
To support this historic campaign, please:
For more info: LaborForStandingRock@gmail.com
September 21, 2016
From: Korotzer, Daniella
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 3:30 PM
Subject: FYI: Please Sign Call On AFL-CIO to End Support for Dakota Access Pipeline
This petition will be delivered to:
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
[When signing, please list trade union and/or other affiliation in the comment box]
Urgent Call on the AFL-CIO: Reverse Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline
Labor for Palestine, September 17, 2016
As trade unionists and social justice activists, we urgently call on the AFL-CIO to reverse its disgraceful support for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
DAPL continues more than 500 years of settler-colonialism, dispossession, and genocide against indigenous people in the Americas, who are defending the Earth’s vital resources against the same corporate greed, state violence, and repression that violate workers’ rights on a daily basis.
Like the Black and Brown Lives, Immigrant Rights, Palestinian, and other freedom struggles, the courageous Sioux resistance at Standing Rock has become a worldwide beacon for all who fight injustice.
In solidarity, numerous trade union bodies — including the Amalgamated Transit Union; California Faculty Association; Communications Workers of America; Industrial Workers of the World; IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus; National Nurses United; New York State Nurses Association; National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981; United Electrical Workers; SEIU 503 OPEU; Border Agricultural Workers; and the Labor Coalition for Community Action, which includes the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work — #StandWithStandingRock.
Workers’ rights are inseparable from indigenous rights. We need decent union jobs that protect, rather than destroy, the Earth — there are no jobs on a dead planet.
An injury to one is an injury to all: #NoDAPL!
Labor for Palestine Co-Conveners:
Suzanne Adely, U.S.-MENA Global Labor Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW
Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired)
Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NYC (retired)
From Standing Rock to Occupied Jerusalem: We Resist Desecration of our Burial Sites and Colonizing our Indigenous Lands (Palestinian BDS National Committee, September 9, 2016)
Open Letter from U.S. Trade Unionists to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: Boycott Apartheid Israel (Labor for Palestine, December 4, 2009)
May 20, 2016
Members of Legal Services Staff Association/UAW 2320 and Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 join the Verizon strikers picket line.
*No contract, no work!
*On strike, shut it down, New York is a union town!
May 12, 2016
From: Letwin, Michael
Date: Thu, May 12, 2016 at 3:00 PM
Subject: FYI: Donate to the Verizon Striking Families Solidarity Fund
Please forward widely!
Being on strike is a hardship for every family. Some may have resources that they can turn to in these difficult times, but others will have extraordinary needs that they’ve been struggling to meet even before facing the hardship of being on strike.
Donations to the Verizon Striking Families Solidarity Fund will be used exclusively to assist striking families with special needs who are facing very difficult financial circumstances.
The strike is strong and the outpouring of support and the demonstrations of solidarity for striking workers is tremendous. Thank you for standing with us.
If you prefer to contribute by check, contributions should be sent to Verizon Striking Families Solidarity Fund, c/o CWA, 501 3rd Street, NW, Washington, DC
From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 12:37 PM
To: CRIMINAL ATTYS ALL; 1199 Members; CIVIL BENEFITS CHAT GROUP; CIVIL BKLYN AGING ALL; CIVIL BNO ALL; CIVIL BRONX ALL; CIVIL CONSUMER LAW CHAT GROUP; CIVIL DAP CHAT GROUP; CIVIL EMPLOYMENT LAW ALL; JUVENILE ATTYS ALL; JUVENILE APPEALS ALL; CIVIL EXTERN ATTYS ALL; CIVIL FAMILY CHAT GROUP; CIVIL HCLO ALL; CIVIL HEALTH LAW ALL; CIVIL HOMELESS RIGHTS ALL; CIVIL HOUSING ADVOCATES CHAT GROUP; CIVIL IMMIGRATION ALL; CIVIL LAW REFORM ALL
Subject: FYI: Is the NYPD running a scab escort service? (Socialist Worker)
Lena Weinstein and Danny Katch report that cops in Queens decided to “protect and serve” Verizon scabs by driving them through a picket–literally–outside their hotel.
May 10, 2016
A Verizon striker, injured by a New York City police officer driving a scab truck, is taken to the hospital
A MONDAY morning protest by striking Verizon workers to give an early “wake-up call” to scabs at their Queens hotel ended with a police hit-and-run on a picketer–and hundreds of workers angered that police had turned themselves into taxpayer-funded chauffeurs for a powerful corporation.
Verizon, which has posted profits of $39 billion over the past three years, provoked a strike with its 39,000 workers in the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) by demanding that workers accept the elimination of job security and forced two-month transfers to other states.
Since the strike began on April 13, the company has run an extensive scab operation, with out-of-state independent contractors attempting–and often painfully failing–to do the work of union technicians, electricians and customer service workers.
One of the most effective tactics for striking workers has been to confront the scabs–both on the job and in their hotels. Not wanting to deal with the disruptions of angry picketers, more than a dozen New York City hotels have kicked out their scab guests, and a number of chains have announced they won’t accept scabs at any of their hotels.
But when several hundred members of CWA Local 1106 and 1109 gathered on May 9 outside the City View Inn, they found an NYPD determined help Verizon scabs steal union members’ jobs.
After a several-hour-long standoff–which included scabs attempting to provoke picketers by screaming obscenities at them from the safety of police protection–cops escorted the replacement workers into police vans and unmarked company trucks (in an effort to hide its scabs, Verizon hasn’t put them in its normal white, red and black vehicles).
Then, to the amazement and disgust of the strikers, the cops got behind the wheels of the scab trucks and NYPD vans–and drove the scabs out of the hotel.
One police-driven vehicle hit a striker near the hotel gates and then sped off, leaving the injured worker on the ground–the vehicle clipped another car in its haste to get away from the scene. It took 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and take the victim to the hospital.
Jose Collado of CWA Local 1106 described the chaotic scene. “There was a lot of shouting when the cops tried to move the scabs out. The cop panicked, and that’s when the union brother was knocked to the ground. And then they called in even more police for backup.”
Verizon workers were stunned and outraged at the actions of police. “This was a bad call on the part of the NYPD, putting NYPD officers behind the wheel like that,” said Mike Ciancarelli, president of CWA Local 1106.
One striker added: “Other people would have been arrested for hit-and-run if they’d done the same thing. I was never a fan of the police before, but this has opened the eyes of some people.”
Another CWA member said: “For them to drive scab tricks and assault us, it’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable that police would act as private security for Verizon–they’re supposed to be public servants.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
THE COPS’ actions are even more outrageous when you consider the many crimes of the corporation they are providing private security for.
Verizon is infamous for avoiding taxes. It paid negative 1.8 percent in federal taxes from 2008 to 2012–meaning this massively profitable corporation actually got money from the government rather than giving to it.
The company has increased the “digital divide” by not carrying out installation of broadband networks in working-class neighborhoods across New York City, causing Mayor Bill de Blasio to accuse the company of reneging on its franchise agreement with the city.
And now Verizon is trying to destroy the living standards of the workers who built the landline business that is the foundation for everything the company has achieved in wireless.
Gary Morgan of Local 1106 talked about the seriousness of Verizon bringing in so many replacement workers. While the company has its managers driving company trucks, the unmarked vehicles are different. “These are the real scabs,” he said, “the ones taking our jobs. The company has been preparing for this strike for years. They envision a future without the union.”
Collado and Morgan have been on picket lines against Verizon before. The company has changed since previous strikes, however, said Collado. Noting the smaller percentage of union members at Verizon today as compared to years past, he commented, “We don’t have the same leverage that we had before.”
Everyone on the picket line knows that the stakes are high. According to Ingrid Cuello, a field tech with 24 years on the job, and a shop steward and picket captain:
We’re trying to save our jobs. They’ve brought these scabs in from out of state, and we’ve been following the trucks around, and we can see they’re engaging in unsafe practices. The company would rather pay all of them more than give us what we’re asking for because they want to do away with the union.
That’s what makes confrontations like the one outside the City View Inn yesterday morning so important. Unions like the CWA got to where they are today with militant strikes that confronted scabs and stopped the company from getting its work done. Chasing scabs on their jobs and out of their hotels takes an important step in that direction by making the work of being a scab harder.
The tactic of targeting hotels began in the first week of the strike with members of CWA Local 1101 in Manhattan, and it’s been spreading across the New York City area. After yesterday’s incident, the question is whether strikers are going to have to confront cops scabbing for the company. Workers report that CWA District 1 has filed a formal complaint with Mayor de Blasio over the actions of police yesterday.
Far from being intimidated, workers in Queens reacted to the police scab escort service by being more determined than ever to take the fight right at Verizon. That militant spirit is going to be necessary to escalate the fight against a company that’s out for blood.