Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or moreJanuary 25, 2014
Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.
By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.
Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.
A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.
Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.
“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly
“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”
An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.
The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.
A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.
Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.
“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”
Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”
He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).
Full article

Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or more
January 25, 2014

Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.

By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.

Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.

A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.

Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.

“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly

“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”

An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.

The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.

A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.

Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.

“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”

Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”

He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).

Full article

Teachers’ Day protests in Turkey met with violent police repressionNovember 23, 2013
Hundreds of teachers faced a police crackdown on Nov. 23 as they joined in a march in Ankara to protest the government’s policies on education on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Seven protesters were injured during the crackdown, while one female teacher sustained cerebral trauma due to the impact of a gas canister fired by the police.
The teacher, Aslı Akdemir, has been transferred to the hospital. Doctors said although severe, her injury wasn’t life-threatening.
The demonstrators, who came to Ankara from all over Turkey, assembled at the iconic Tandoğan Square on a call from the teachers’ union Eğitim-Sen. However, the police did not allow the crowd to pursue their march past Kızılay Square, resorting to tear gas and water cannons after the demonstrators forced police barricades,  aiming to pursue their protest.
Police chased the teachers in side streets surrounding Kızılay Square. Two people were detained, the Daily Hürriyet reported.
Tension on education rose this week after the government announced plans to change the status of test prep institutions, known as dershanes, transforming them into private schools. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they would not back down on the measure. The test prep institutions have been criticized for favoring the high-income families.
Source

Teachers’ Day protests in Turkey met with violent police repression
November 23, 2013

Hundreds of teachers faced a police crackdown on Nov. 23 as they joined in a march in Ankara to protest the government’s policies on education on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Seven protesters were injured during the crackdown, while one female teacher sustained cerebral trauma due to the impact of a gas canister fired by the police.

The teacher, Aslı Akdemir, has been transferred to the hospital. Doctors said although severe, her injury wasn’t life-threatening.

The demonstrators, who came to Ankara from all over Turkey, assembled at the iconic Tandoğan Square on a call from the teachers’ union Eğitim-Sen. However, the police did not allow the crowd to pursue their march past Kızılay Square, resorting to tear gas and water cannons after the demonstrators forced police barricades,  aiming to pursue their protest.

Police chased the teachers in side streets surrounding Kızılay Square. Two people were detained, the Daily Hürriyet reported.

Tension on education rose this week after the government announced plans to change the status of test prep institutions, known as dershanes, transforming them into private schools. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they would not back down on the measure. The test prep institutions have been criticized for favoring the high-income families.

Source

Madrid trash collectors protest against layoffs
November 4, 2013

Trash collectors in Madrid have started bonfires and set off firecrackers during a noisy protest in one of the Spanish capital’s main squares as they prepare to start an open-ended strike.

Hundreds of street cleaners and garbage collectors who work in the city’s public parks converged on the Puerta del Sol plaza late Monday.

They were due to walk off the job at midnight in a strike called by trade unions to contest the planned layoff of more than 1,000 workers.

Madrid’s municipal cleaning companies, which have service supply contracts with the city authorities, employ some 6,000 staff.

The labor groups want the city council to intervene and halt the job cuts.

Source

Incredible Bangladeshi garment workers hold boss hostage for promised bonuses in an act of desperationOctober 15, 2013
Minimun-wage workers in a garment factory in Bangladesh finally extracted a long-promised bonus from their boss after holding him captive in the factory for over 18 hours.
The factory boss — who was unharmed — had held back payment of worker bonuses for the Eid al-Adha holiday. Unions are celebrating the success of the bold worker action as a “positive development” in the context of a long fought labor dispute.
The workers forced their way into the office of owner Delwar Hossain and locked him in when he said no money was available.
Police, relatives of the owners and the factory owners’ group, the BGMEA, launched talks with the protesters and a police official said Hossain was released after bonuses were paid to 900 workers late on Sunday.
“I see it as a positive movement as the workers were not violent and were able to realize their demand peacefully,” said Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation trade union.

Source

Incredible Bangladeshi garment workers hold boss hostage for promised bonuses in an act of desperation
October 15, 2013

Minimun-wage workers in a garment factory in Bangladesh finally extracted a long-promised bonus from their boss after holding him captive in the factory for over 18 hours.

The factory boss — who was unharmed — had held back payment of worker bonuses for the Eid al-Adha holiday. Unions are celebrating the success of the bold worker action as a “positive development” in the context of a long fought labor dispute.

The workers forced their way into the office of owner Delwar Hossain and locked him in when he said no money was available.

Police, relatives of the owners and the factory owners’ group, the BGMEA, launched talks with the protesters and a police official said Hossain was released after bonuses were paid to 900 workers late on Sunday.

“I see it as a positive movement as the workers were not violent and were able to realize their demand peacefully,” said Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation trade union.

Source

pragtastic
workingamerica:

RT @829strikeLAS pic.twitter.com/TYxIY3RUef #Vegas #829strike #lowpayisnotok

Low-wage non-union fast food workers walked off the job today in nearly a thousand stores in over 50 cities to demand a living wage of $15.
We don’t need another war; we deserve quality jobs that pay living wages!

workingamerica:

RT @829strikeLAS pic.twitter.com/TYxIY3RUef #Vegas #829strike #lowpayisnotok

Low-wage non-union fast food workers walked off the job today in nearly a thousand stores in over 50 cities to demand a living wage of $15.

We don’t need another war; we deserve quality jobs that pay living wages!

Unions give lift to Turkish protest movement
June 18, 2013

Turkish labor groups fanned a wave of defiance against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority, leading rallies and a one-day strike to support activists whose two-week standoff with the government has shaken the country’s secular democracy.

Riot police again deployed in Turkey’s two main cities, and authorities kept up their unyielding stance against the street demonstrations centering on Istanbul’s Taksim Square. But Monday’s police sweep was less forceful than in recent days, with only scattered firing of tear gas and water cannon on pockets ofprotesters.

After activists were ousted from their sit-in in adjacent Gezi Parkover the weekend, two labor confederations that represent some 330,000 workers picked up the slack Monday by calling a strike and demonstrations nationwide. Unionists turned up by the thousands in Ankara, Istanbul, coastal Izmir and elsewhere.

The turnout defied Turkey’s interior minister, Muammer Guler, who warned that anyone taking part in unlawful demonstrations would “bear the legal consequences.” But one analyst called the rallies a “legitimate and a lawful expression of constitutional rights.”

"People are raising their voices against the excessive use of police force," said Koray Caliskan, a political science professor at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University. Demonstrators, he said, were showing they were no longer cowed by authorities, and "the fear threshold has been broken."

In a sign that authorities were increasingly impatient, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc floated the prospect that authorities could call in troops to quash the protests.

Erdogan’s opponents have grown increasingly suspicious about what they call a gradual erosion of freedoms and secular values under his Islamic-rooted ruling party. It has passed new curbs on alcohol and tried, but later abandoned its plans, to limit women’s access to abortion.

Source

This should be the role of unions in movements - support, solidarity, militant organizing. 

On May 17, 18 & 19 hundreds of people including parents, students and teachers have taken to the streets in Chicago, US, to protest against local education authority’s plan to close public schools
May 19, 2013

The protest, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), started on Saturday and is set to last until Monday evening.  This comes after the Chicago Central District released a list of 54 elementary and middle schools to be closed before the next school year. The Chicago Board of Education is planning to vote on the closures in the coming days. 

City officials say the closures are needed in order to deal with a one-billion-dollar annual deficit. In March, thousands of activists, union leaders, teachers, parents, and students participated in a similar protest in the city.

The closures involve the highest number of schools to be closed down in a single year in any city in the United States. The plan will shift about 50,000 students to different schools, while threatening the careers of more than 1,000 teachers.  Over the past decade, at least 70 cities in the US have closed down public schools. 

Source

Capitalism’s austerity is diminishing our education infrastructure. I desperately hope to see an escalation of education activism in this country – from unsustainable student loan debt to busted teachers’ unions to mass school closures & the school-to-prison-pipeline. We need a movement to demand massive, drastic, radical reform to the way we address education in this country. I think it’s obvious that people’s frustration is growing. 

Greek workers walk out to protest ban on teachers’ strike
May 14, 2013

Greek public sector workers walked off the job on Tuesday to protest against a government decision to ban a strike by high-school teachers, shutting down several schools and reducing staff at hospitals to a minimum. Invoking emergency legislation, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has threatened teachers with arrest and dismissal if they go ahead with a planned walkout on Friday that would disrupt university entrance exams, as he tries to show Greece’s foreign lenders that Athens is sticking to unpopular reforms.

The action on Tuesday was the latest in a string of anti-austerity strikes since 2010, when Greece adopted severe budget and wage cut measures as part of its international bailout. The turnout was not near someone of the movement’s larger demonstrations; turnout in demonstrations last year topped 100,000 at times. But activists insist that they are committed to fighting for humanity.

"Our message, that we fully condemn these policies, was sent, despite the low turnout," ADEDY’s general secretary Ilias Iliopoulos told Reuters. "The government must make up its mind and show that it does care about students and teachers.

The conservative-led coalition wants teachers to put in two more hours of work each week to reach the average levels of high school teachers’ working hours in Europe, and transfer 4,000 of them to remote parts of Greece to plug staffing gaps.

These measures would allow the government to dismiss about 10,000 part-time teachers when their temporary contracts expire, causing outraged unions & citizens alike to call for the 24-hour strike on Friday and rolling strikes next week.

The government responded by invoking a law that allows it to mobilize workers in the case of civil disorder or natural disasters.

ADEDY had disagreed with the high school teachers’ decision to hold a strike on the first day of exams because it would inconvenience students. However, it opposed the government using emergency laws to pre-emptively ban the action, saying this was undemocratic and violated workers’ constitutional rights. ADEDY and GSEE, Greece’s largest private sector union, are also planning a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday.

More than 1,000 high-school teachers marched to parliament late on Monday, holding banners reading: “No to the civil mobilization and this terror!” and “It won’t pass”.

GSEE and ADEDY represent more than half of Greece’s workforce, which has been shrinking rapidly during the crippling recession after years of austerity. As unemployment grows, unions may not yield as strong of turn outs as they have when they had higher membership, but the increasingly impoverished people of Greece will not tolerate limitless government oppression.

Source

Fire kills ‘last survivor’ in Bangladesh building collapse
April 28, 2013

A fire broke out in the wreckage of the Bangladesh garment factory which collapsed last week, killing what has been characterized as the last remaining survivor.

"The fire broke out as we were cutting a beam to bring out what we believe was the last remaining survivor from the collapsed building. We managed to douse it, but as we came back we saw her dead," the country’s fire chief Ahmed Ali told AFP on Sunday.

Firefighters described a nearly 11 hour struggle to bring her out alive, with many seen weeping on television following her death. Her battle for survival had captured the hearts of Bangladeshis watching the drama unfold on television.

Rescue workers moved to postpone a decision to use heavy machinery to clean up the debris in a bid to boost her chances at survival. A volunteer recounted hearing her make a feeble cry for help from underneath the wreckage early on Sunday.

"When we first arrived on the scene, she pleaded with us to not to leave her. We gave her water, oxygen, saline and food. And she ate and hang on," a volunteer involved in the rescue operation told the agency.

"She was a brave lady and fought until the end", Ali said. “We took the challenge but we lost. It’s broken all our hearts. Everyone became emotional," he continued. At least three rescue workers were injured when the blaze erupted on Sunday.

Rescue workers have abandoned efforts at the scene of the wreckage which is now consumed by flames, refocusing their efforts on finding any possible survivors in other parts of the decimated eight-story building.

Firefighters continue to work desperately to douse the blaze.

"Hopefully we will be able to control it," Brig. Gen. Mohammed Siddiqul Alam Shikder, who is overseeing rescue operations, told AP.

Authorities put the latest death toll at 379, with the number of causalities expected to increase as hundreds remain unaccounted for. Earlier on Sunday, four other people were dug out from the debris after spending nearly 100 hours beneath a mass of broken concrete and metal. Another woman was pulled from the wreckage but later died, fire service officials said.

About 2,500 people have been rescued from the collapsed building which housed five garment factories in the commercial suburb of Savar, located some 20 miles from the capital, Dhaka. Around 1,000 of those rescued sustained serious injuries, as many had limbs amputated in order to free them from the rubble.

The fire came hours after the owner of the illegally-constructed building was captured Sunday while attempting to flee into India via a border crossing.  He is set to face charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death. Two other owners of garment factories based in the complex were taken into custody on Saturday.

Officials said the eight-story complex had been built on spongy ground without the correct permits, and more than 3,000 workers - mainly young women - entered the building on Wednesday morning despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.

Bangladesh’s garment industry is valued at some $20 billion annually, making it the third largest in the world after China and Italy according to 2011 figures. Many of the workers earn approximately $38 a month to make some of the top international brands in often squalid conditions.

Wednesday’s collapse has sparked days of protests and clashes, with police deploying tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to suppress often violent demonstrations.

Garment workers blockaded a highway in the neighboring industrial zone of Gazipur on Sunday, demanding the death penalty for the owners. The country’s opposition has called for a national strike on May 2 to protest the incident.

Source

Morocco’s labor unions launch mass demonstrations against the government & economy
March 31, 2013

Thousands of members of two of Morocco’s largest labor unions marched through the capital on Sunday to protest the Islamist-led government’s planned economic and labor reforms and its failure to stem unemployment and inflation.

Described as a “national march of protest” pushing for greater freedoms and rights, the few thousand demonstrators, brightly attired in yellow baseball caps and smocks, were smaller in number than past anti-government demonstrations by this North African nation’s labor movement.

The protesters were particularly irate over government plans to reform laws dealing with labor unions, including docking the pay of strikers and measures that the government says would increase transparency in union finances.

Chanting, the “people want the fall of the government” and calling for the departure of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, the activists marched through the colonial-era streets of downtown Rabat in a light rain.

Benkirane’s moderate Islamist party won the most seats in elections following pro-democracy uprisings in 2011, and he took the helm of the government promising to fight corruption and address the North African country’s huge gap between the rich and the poor.

His fractious coalition has achieved little, however, and is currently embroiled in the sensitive process of reforming the massive subsidies and pension systems.

"The government has done nothing so far, not for the economy, not for social reforms and not even for the fight against corruption," said Bouchra Sandeel, a teacher from Marrakech marching in the demonstration.

She expressed fear that efforts to reform the subsidies on fuel and food staples would hit the poor hardest in this country of 32 million.

Talib Ait Ahmed, a cannery worker from the southern coast city of Agadir, said he was protesting for a better life for workers in the face of the rising food prices and widespread unemployment.

Ait Ahmed acknowledged that the government faces constraints, but complained that the prime minister wasn’t doing anything to improve economic mobility and expand the small middle class.

"He’s not reacting. He sees the problem but hasn’t taken it in hand yet," Ait Ahmed said.

Source

Democracy@Work: A Movement toward democratic workplaces
Ricahrd Wolff on raising money to start WSDEs
February 28, 2013

Where would WSDEs obtain the money needed to start and/or later grow their enterprises? Existing WSDEs have answered that question practically in a variety of ways. In addition, we can suggest still other ways that could be established. The problem of raising the money needed to start or grow a workers’ cooperative or self-directed enterprise is solvable. Of course, each WSDE will need to locate and access money resources and not every WSDE’s efforts to do so will be successful. That was always true for capitalist enterprises as well. Financing issues are always enterprise problems, but they are not an insurmountable barrier for transition to a WSDE-based economy.

Here then is a discussion of some ways WSDEs have raised money. One widespread practice is to require each worker in a WSDE to contribute a kind of entry fee in cash that becomes part of the capital of the enterprise. Other known sources for capital are local or regional social institutions (such as municipal or regional governments, religious establishments, non-governmental community centers and organizations, foundations offering grants or loans, trade unions, and political parties). Federal or central governments have also provided such capital. Thus, for example, under Italy’s Marcora Law since 1985, lump sum grants for establishing worker cooperatives may be chosen by unemployed workers (with certain conditions) in lieu of weekly unemployment compensation checks.

As is clear already above, the provision of money to WSDEs can take the form of grants, investments, or loans. Grants refer to provisions of money to WSDEs for which grantors do not expect a cash return. Grantors motivation is support for social transition to a greater number and/or greater social influence of WSDEs. In contrast, investments are motivated by desire for a cash return with or without the additional motivation of support for such a social transition. WSDEs could allow common shares to be purchased by such investors and could pay dividends to their owners. Of course, in a WSDE it would be the workers, in their collective capacity as their own board of directors, who would determine whether to pay a dividend and at what rate. WSDEs could likewise issue preferred shares paying fixed dividends and bonds paying fixed interest rates. WSDEs could also borrow from banks.

By these means, WSDEs would secure financing in ways similar to how capitalist enterprises have been doing so, but with these key and major differences. No matter how money is secured, the internal organization of the WSDE cannot be compromised since its existence and indeed growth is the premise and purpose of securing the money. Thus, if common shares were sold by a WSDE, the purchasers would not have the right that they enjoy in capitalist systems, namely to select by voting who will be on the board of directors of the WSDE. That is because the constituting definition of WSDE is that only the workers and all the workers comprise the enterprise’s decision-making board of directors. In short, providers of money to WSDEs would need to accept the operating principles governing WSDEs.

Many providers of money capital to WSDEs have accepted those principled conditions. Indeed, as the example of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation shows, when WSDEs grow large enough, they can establish and grow their own bank subsidiaries or allied bank enterprises – themselves also WSDEs. Needless to say, banks organized as independent WSDEs or as subsidiaries of non-bank WSDEs will all the more readily facilitate and broaden access to money for further WSDE growth and expansion.

We may also suggest further ways in which money could be raised for WSDEs. If supported by strong political organizations in economies where capitalist enterprises still predominate, financing for WSDEs might become a major political objective of those organizations. For example, during recurring capitalist downturns, high unemployment could be addressed by suggesting a government employment program focused on providing the money (and perhaps also the technical and managerial supports) for WSDEs as the best way to revive employment. Italy’s Marcora Law provides one effective model for doing this. Others might entail building on existing initiatives such as Small Business Administrations , Women’s Business Administrations and Minority-led Business Administrations that exist in various forms in many countries. They enable certain kinds of businesses to get special government supports (grants, below-market-rate loans, technical assistance, preference in government purchasing, and so on) because the growth of those businesses is thought to be a worthwhile social goal. A political movement supporting the growth of WSDEs could ask that they be accorded the same sorts of special government supports for parallel reasons.

An example of such reasons is that the increase of WSDEs would provide all workers with a real freedom of choice. Workers could compare and choose between employment within capitalist enterprises or within WSDEs. In capitalist countries today no such choice exists for the vast majority of workers. Consumers too would have a new choice available to them: they could purchase goods and services from capitalist or from WSDE sources. They could support the organization of production they prefer (much as many can now choose according to country of origin, physical ingredients, and whether “fair trade” has been observed in exchanges prior to the act of purchasing the final product).

Of course, the history of nearly all successful WSDEs shows that self-financing was often important. That is, net revenues of a WSDE were partly used to enable growth of that enterprise and/or provision of money to another WSDE. Where a country or a region had a significant tradition of other kinds of cooperative enterprises (credit unions, purchasing coops, sales coops, ownership coops, and so on), it might well be possible to appeal successfully to them for money provision to establish or grow WSDEs. The grounds for such appeals would be twofold: (1) to extend the cooperative principle governing those other enterprises into the process and organization of production itself, the hallmark of WSDEs, and (2) to thereby strengthen the larger cooperative movement for all its component parts. For example, WSDEs could join or partner with credit unions, while credit unions might find ways to help finance WSDEs premised on such partnerships, etc.

Final thought: establishing WSDEs might also become a policy of new social movements. Partnerships between such movements and WSDEs might well strengthen them both.

Source

Posting this because I’ve been thinking about how best to raise initial funds for a Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprise – I hope to be able to start the process in the next 12-18 months.

justice4janitors
justice4janitors:


Ruby Bishop is a mother of 4 and a grandmother. She’s also a janitor at the Scripps building in downtown Cincinnati. Every night, Ruby cleans the offices of parents and grandparents whose lives are very different than hers. 
As a single mom working low wage jobs, Ruby always had to rely on food stamps to feed herself and her children. While her kids were growing up, she often had to balance multiple jobs in order to keep a roof over their heads, and then barely had time to spend with them. 
 “Every single day was a struggle,” Ruby says. “I get so sad when I see the young moms I work with trying to do it now, because I know exactly how hard it is.”
Ruby says she inherited her work ethic from her mom, who raised 15 children by herself in Kentucky.
“She taught me to respect people and to make it on my own,” Ruby says. “So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve made it on my own, but it’s been hard.”
Ruby lives with a friend in order to afford rent. She has no health insurance, so she doesn’t take the blood pressure medicine she needs. She just can’t afford it. About a year ago, Ruby had to have emergency dental surgery. Because she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t pay the full amount, the doctor sued her for the cost of the surgery. Now her wages are garnished every paycheck to pay off the medical bill.
“I don’t go to the doctor anymore,” Ruby says. “Not for anything.”
Thousands of Cincinnatians are in the same boat as Ruby. While the CEOs of our city’s Fortune 500 companies have helped themselves to higher salaries and bigger bonuses, poverty and segregation in our city have been rising steadily. Cincinnati currently has a poverty rate of 30.6%—more than double the state poverty rate—and a child poverty rate of 48%—the third highest in the nation.
Ruby has no car and often struggles to get a ride downtown to work. She sometimes has to ask one of her kids for a ride, but she says she hates to ask them for help because they’re struggling too. 3 out of Ruby’s 4 grown children work as janitors in Cincinnati—just like their mom. 
In 2007, Cincinnati janitors organized a union to improve these jobs. It was a big step forward for low wage workers in the city, but today, Ruby and her coworkers are still fighting to make these better jobs.
“I don’t want my kids to struggle like I have, but unless we improve these jobs, our kids and grandkids will suffer too,” Ruby says. “Whether it’s janitorial jobs or fast food—these are the jobs our kids and grandkids are going to be doing.”

http://justice4janitors.tumblr.com/ is a follow-worthy blog doing important work for the janitors of Ohio. This is from the description on their page:

Columbus and Cincinnati janitors clean the headquarters of some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the country. Despite their hard work, full-time janitors in Cincinnati and Columbus are on average paid less than $18,200 a year—below the poverty level and not nearly enough to support a family. They are now trying to negotiate new contracts with the cleaning contractors who employ them. Will you join them to take a stand for living wages and benefits?
Sign the Columbus petition
Sign the Cincinnati petition

justice4janitors:

Ruby Bishop is a mother of 4 and a grandmother. She’s also a janitor at the Scripps building in downtown Cincinnati. Every night, Ruby cleans the offices of parents and grandparents whose lives are very different than hers.

As a single mom working low wage jobs, Ruby always had to rely on food stamps to feed herself and her children. While her kids were growing up, she often had to balance multiple jobs in order to keep a roof over their heads, and then barely had time to spend with them.

 “Every single day was a struggle,” Ruby says. “I get so sad when I see the young moms I work with trying to do it now, because I know exactly how hard it is.”

Ruby says she inherited her work ethic from her mom, who raised 15 children by herself in Kentucky.

“She taught me to respect people and to make it on my own,” Ruby says. “So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve made it on my own, but it’s been hard.”

Ruby lives with a friend in order to afford rent. She has no health insurance, so she doesn’t take the blood pressure medicine she needs. She just can’t afford it. About a year ago, Ruby had to have emergency dental surgery. Because she didn’t have insurance and couldn’t pay the full amount, the doctor sued her for the cost of the surgery. Now her wages are garnished every paycheck to pay off the medical bill.

“I don’t go to the doctor anymore,” Ruby says. “Not for anything.”

Thousands of Cincinnatians are in the same boat as Ruby. While the CEOs of our city’s Fortune 500 companies have helped themselves to higher salaries and bigger bonuses, poverty and segregation in our city have been rising steadily. Cincinnati currently has a poverty rate of 30.6%—more than double the state poverty rate—and a child poverty rate of 48%—the third highest in the nation.

Ruby has no car and often struggles to get a ride downtown to work. She sometimes has to ask one of her kids for a ride, but she says she hates to ask them for help because they’re struggling too. 3 out of Ruby’s 4 grown children work as janitors in Cincinnati—just like their mom.

In 2007, Cincinnati janitors organized a union to improve these jobs. It was a big step forward for low wage workers in the city, but today, Ruby and her coworkers are still fighting to make these better jobs.

“I don’t want my kids to struggle like I have, but unless we improve these jobs, our kids and grandkids will suffer too,” Ruby says. “Whether it’s janitorial jobs or fast food—these are the jobs our kids and grandkids are going to be doing.”

http://justice4janitors.tumblr.com/ is a follow-worthy blog doing important work for the janitors of Ohio. This is from the description on their page:

Columbus and Cincinnati janitors clean the headquarters of some of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the country. Despite their hard work, full-time janitors in Cincinnati and Columbus are on average paid less than $18,200 a year—below the poverty level and not nearly enough to support a family. They are now trying to negotiate new contracts with the cleaning contractors who employ them. Will you join them to take a stand for living wages and benefits?

Sign the Columbus petition

Sign the Cincinnati petition

Thousands of union workers & supporters have swarmed Michigan’s capitol this morning fighting against the union-busting right-to-work bill that could be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder later today.

“What’s really unfolding here in Michigan is a long, protracted battle. I don’t think labor will walk away and lick their wounds and say they lost this one,” said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor industry group at the Center for Automotive Research.

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Turning Lansing into Madison: An anti-union sneak attack in MichiganDecember 7, 2012
Republicans in Michigan are trying to push through legislation to turn one of the historic strongholds of the labor movement into a “right-to-work” state.
Union members and their supporters have until Tuesday to mobilize a response that can stop the two houses of the legislature from a final vote and Gov. Rick Snyder from signing the legislation. The call of organizers is: “Turn Lansing into Madison on Tuesday.”
Thousands of activists and union members gathered in the capital on Thursday to protest as the anti-union “right-to-work” proposal when it was considered and rammed through in both the Senate and House on the same day that it was introduced.
Similar legislation was passed and signed into law in Indiana, the first time such a measure has made inroads in the Midwest. Now, Republican Snyder is making a move in Michigan—and putting forward a bill during a lame-duck legislature in the hopes of rushing it through before the end of the year.
Outside and inside the Capitol building, chants of “No justice, no peace!” and “We are the 99 percent!” rang out. The protesters were locked out of the Capitol for hours at one point. Claiming the “structural integrity” of the building was not safe with so many people inside, Michigan state troopers kept the crowd outside, prompting chants of “Whose house? Our house?” and “Let Us In!”
Inside, representatives and senators were deciding the future of unionism in Michigan. Only when a court injunction was served on Snyder that ruled the lockout unconstitutional were demonstrators let back into the building.
The protests on December 6 started with eight demonstrators being arrested around 1 p.m. when they tried to enter the Senate chambers. State troopers maced others.
According to the Detroit News, procedural rules require a five day layover for a piece of legislation to pass from one chamber to another.
This will give unions and activists time to organize opposition. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), promised that the Tuesday demonstration would be “the big one.” Activists and officials from the UAW, state and regional AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Steel Workers, AFSCME and many other unions were present at last Thursday.
Full article

Turning Lansing into Madison: An anti-union sneak attack in Michigan
December 7, 2012

Republicans in Michigan are trying to push through legislation to turn one of the historic strongholds of the labor movement into a “right-to-work” state.

Union members and their supporters have until Tuesday to mobilize a response that can stop the two houses of the legislature from a final vote and Gov. Rick Snyder from signing the legislation. The call of organizers is: “Turn Lansing into Madison on Tuesday.”

Thousands of activists and union members gathered in the capital on Thursday to protest as the anti-union “right-to-work” proposal when it was considered and rammed through in both the Senate and House on the same day that it was introduced.

Similar legislation was passed and signed into law in Indiana, the first time such a measure has made inroads in the Midwest. Now, Republican Snyder is making a move in Michigan—and putting forward a bill during a lame-duck legislature in the hopes of rushing it through before the end of the year.

Outside and inside the Capitol building, chants of “No justice, no peace!” and “We are the 99 percent!” rang out. The protesters were locked out of the Capitol for hours at one point. Claiming the “structural integrity” of the building was not safe with so many people inside, Michigan state troopers kept the crowd outside, prompting chants of “Whose house? Our house?” and “Let Us In!”

Inside, representatives and senators were deciding the future of unionism in Michigan. Only when a court injunction was served on Snyder that ruled the lockout unconstitutional were demonstrators let back into the building.

The protests on December 6 started with eight demonstrators being arrested around 1 p.m. when they tried to enter the Senate chambers. State troopers maced others.

According to the Detroit News, procedural rules require a five day layover for a piece of legislation to pass from one chamber to another.

This will give unions and activists time to organize opposition. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), promised that the Tuesday demonstration would be “the big one.” Activists and officials from the UAW, state and regional AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Steel Workers, AFSCME and many other unions were present at last Thursday.

Full article