From the Labor Commission of the CPUSA, updates, information, news, analysis, and organizing materials in solidarity with workers of the world.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

For the well-dressed Tea Party Patriot, a national online retailer, is seeing a spike in sales of its $16.99 “Colonial Man Economy Wig,” which has wavy white synthetic hair and a ponytail. It is made in China.

Also moving nicely is the $7.99 tricorn hat, also manufactured in China, and the “Generic Colonial Man” costume for $84.99, says Dotty Zolper, merchandise manager. “He comes with knickers, pants, a vest and a long jacket,” she says.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicago's Unemployed Action Center

by Bill Appelhans

The Unemployed Action Center in Chicago has been working in the community organizing folks to join the fight for jobs around the belief that a job that pays a living wage is a right not a privilege.

The following is about one of those folks who came by in July to see what we were about.

Janet entered the building moments before I got there. I saw her go in. She was looking at the listings in the foyer when I walked in. When I asked if I could help she replied she was looking for the Unemployed office. I told her she had just found the right person. Nobody else from the UAC had arrived yet.

By the time I opened the room where the center works and we got seated, Mac, Kirsten and Bobbie had joined us. For the next half hour or so the five of us talked about who we were, what we were trying to do and her unemployed situation.

Her story: at the end of 2008 she was laid off from her job at a small factory. Earlier in 2008 the company had relocated from the neighborhood to a suburb and she then began commuting to the job until being laid off. She had been working for the company for over 30 years. The factory employed some 40+ workers when it was in the area but had shrunk to a small handful by the time she was laid off.

In October she started collecting unemployment comp and continued doing so through the normal 26 weeks and 2 extensions of 13 weeks each. The checks stopped coming October 2009 and has not received any aid since. A tragic end of story.

Well, not quite. We kept talking about it and wondered why she wasn't receiving aid by way of the continuing extensions that had taken place. She said she had received notice in the mail about the end of her benefits and other info about the possibility of her attending school for nursing. She was also notified she should come into the Unemployment office to discuss it.

After more discussion and questioning we came to see she had come to believe the end of benefits notification along with the schooling was the beginning of a whole new bureaucratic process that would not result in any further benefits. She called a few times about the training and was told she would have to pay for it which of course she could not afford. At that point she walked away. Note: she does not use a computer so all this was done the old fashioned way - going down to the office - which most of remember could discourage the most determined.

Now we four UACers must have all gotten up on the wrong side of bed that day because we found a way to further torment this poor lady. It seemed to us, we told her, she should still qualify for benefits and that the school thing was not a condition to do so. We suggested she return to the Unemployment office with her paperwork and check out her status. Mac, angry over the injustice and no doubt inspired by the opportunity to strike a blow, then volunteered to take her down right then and there, sans paperwork, to get an immediate judgment. She was a bit hesitant but we drove home the idea she had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. At least by the end of the day she would know where she stands. Finally she agreed and, praise the lord and pass the ammunition, off they went.

They returned about an hour or so later. Janet was glowing and Mac had the "don't mess with the workers" attitude about him. She was told, based of her story, she would be reinstated in 7 to 10 days. Mac said he was told, after asking to make sure, it was a done deal. Janet hung around talking for a bit longer then said she was excited to get home so she could announce the news. Then she gave each one of us a big hug and kiss and a 'see you next week'. Bring a crowd, we answered. I believe there were a few wet eyes to be seen.

The next week she was back and told us she received the reinstatement papers just two days after the visit along with notification that the checks would begin soon. And they have.

Janet now comes every week and is playing an important role in the Center's work.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Locked-out Honeywell workers reject Kryptonite

By Scott Marshall

Metropolis, Illinois - Over 2500 steelworkers and supporters converged on Metropolis Illinois for a mass rally and march against Honeywell this past Saturday. (see video here) Metropolis calls itself the home of Superman.

The Metropolis Honeywell nuclear conversion plant starts the process of making nuclear fuel and uses some of the most dangerous chemicals on earth. The plant employs about 220 union workers. Some 42 have died of cancer and another 27 are struggling with the disease. Honeywell wants to cut health care and pensions for these United Steelworkers Local 7-669 (USW) members.

The locked out workers had offered to work without a contract while continuing negotiations. But Honeywell refused. The company locked them out and brought in scabs instead.

The workers enjoy the support of the community in this working class town of 6500 in southern Illinois near the West Virginia border. Union members and supporters came on buses from around Illinois and West Virginia to march in solidarity. Contingents included United Steelworkers, United Mineworkers, United Auto workers, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Operating Engineers, Communication Workers of America, Plumbers and Pipefitters, and several other unions in a spirited display of union solidarity.

Darrell Lillie, the steelworkers local union president, told the cheering crowd, "with your support we will stay out one day longer than Honeywell, until we get justice for our members." Jim Robinson, USW District 7 Director told the rally that Honeywell, like many giant multinational corporations, is trying to use the economic crisis to bust unions and drive down hard won union wages and benefits.

But as one striker told me, "we won't process that kryptonite."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kellogg's latest "prize" in the box

Washington Post
Monday, Aug. 2, 2010

"This summer, when Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops and Honey Smacks, the company blamed elevated levels of a chemical in the packaging.
Dozens of consumers reported a strange taste and odor, and some complained of nausea and diarrhea. But Kellogg said a team of experts it hired determined that there was "no harmful material" in the products."

So there you have it. The company is taking care of business.

They found elevated levels of a chemical in the packaging but their experts found no harmful material in the products.

Therefore it must be that the consumers who complained of nausea and diarrhea must have been eating the boxes.

The EPA, which is part of Big Government, should mind its own business. The free market forces will solve this problem without the intrusion of government bureaucrats.

This is how it works: as more and more people become sick or worse, sales will drop and the industry will be forced to correct the problem or go out of business.

This self-correcting feature of the marketplace is one of the cornerstones of what made America great.

The sacrifices made by consumers who are victimized fall under another well known marketplace truism that companies know and trust to guide them in their mission: "You can't Make an Omelette without Breaking a Few Eggs."

The eggs, uh rather the people, play an important role in a company's Research and Development programs. If consumers become sick or are injured by a product an analysis is done and various fixes are made until reports of illnesses and injuries stop.

This trial by error procedure is time-tested and has a success rate of 100% given enough time and data (consumer problems) to develop solutions.

An important aspect of this procedure is it does not interfere with the basic mission of any company to make profit until a later time.

Note also that success is achieved without the input of a single Big Government entity.

Time and time again the genius of the marketplace and its leaders cannot and will not be outdone.

Finally, while on the subject, I would like to take this opportunity to go back and restate, on behalf of the nation, an apology to another victim of Big Government interference:

O BP, we are heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and we detest all our unfair judgments, because of thy righteousness, but most of all because they offend Thee, BP, Who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to criticize no more and buy, buy, buy. Amen

Now in recognition of my duty as a citizen to contribute to the welfare of the country, I will have a bowl or two of Froot Loops.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shirley Sherrod and the killing of hope and change

The broader tragedy of this incident is the extent to which the feelings of national pride and hope for the future that elected our country's first minority President have been corrupted by those who resist and fear change.

Sowing fear, distrust and anger is a simple matter. All that those who would sow those seeds need do is abandon their beliefs in honesty, principle and integrity and replace them with greed and hate.

This war against change, progress and hope began within moments after the election.

These agents of backwardness and destruction have found the seeds they plant, made up of words of fear and images of hate, find fertile ground in the nation's fields of social and economic crises these same agents created under the previous administration of Bush and Cheney.

They seek to exploit those shoots fear and anger they plant to destroy the momentum of the positive national self esteem that could be felt here and around the world when we, the people, voted our hearts, our commitment to progress and our belief in the humanity of America.

It would do us no harm to step back and remember the pride and hope we felt in ourselves and for our neighbors the morning after the election. Those moments before the haters, the profiteers, the power seekers began their war on the our journey down the road of change and hope.

The nature of the contempt those haters, profiteers and power seekers have for society drives them and gives them confidence of success. But their success will be our loss.

We must reject those who would create a society that lives in fear and feeds on hatred.

We need to remember that: Yes we can!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Love me, love me, I'm a Free Marketeer

Breaking News:

An oil producing corporation announced the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico
has become part of its ongoing commitment to support Green programs
that conserve energy.
The company's scientists and engineers have found the oil in the
water acts like a lubricant between the water and the hulls of
watercraft operating in the contaminated areas thus reducing drag
which saves fuel.
The company has applied for international patents for its discovery
and has announced its accountants are at this moment working
feverishly on rate schedules users of its discovery will be charged.
Also, it's legal department is seeking exclusive access rights to
all major shipping lanes in the world which it plans to contaminate
with this new energy-saving discovery.
In addition the company says it is petitioning the Nobel Committees
that it be awarded the Grand Slam of Nobel Prizes that include the
prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Peace and Economic
Soon after the announcement, Wall Street announced it is suspending
all trading as a result of a massive sell-off of unrelated shares to
raise money to buy shares in the oil company.
Meanwhile, a company executive said at a press conference he has
gotten his life back and it is better than ever and the lesson we
should all take away from this is to trust the free enterprise system
because the market place will always find a way to exploit any
disaster it creates.
"Life is good," he said, ending the press conference.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mexican Miners fight back: An Interview with Napoleon Gomez

By Scott Marshall

Vancouver, Canada - In this wide ranging video interview (below), Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, President of Los Mineros, the Independent National Miners, Metallurgical and Steelworkers Union of Mexico, talks about the Mexican government's recent strike-breaking attack on copper miners in Cananea, Mexico. He describes some of the international solidarity the miners are getting from around the world and tells us about the talks now going on with the United Steelworkers union (USW), aimed at merging the two unions into a North American wide industrial union that can take on transnational giants like Grupo Mexico, the owner of the Cananea mine and the third largest copper company in the world. The new union will unite Mexican, Canadian, Caribbean and US workers.

We sat down during a break at the second congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on June 22nd in Vancouver. Gomez has been living in exile in Vancouver for the last four years with the support of the United Steelworkers. He moved first to the US and then to Canada fearing for his and his family's safety in the face of illegal attacks on the union by the Mexican government.

Even in exile, Gomez has been overwhelmingly elected president five times by the union's membership despite the government's illegal refusal to ratify the election results. Gomez continues to manage the unions affairs from his office in the USW's Vancouver offices. His support in the union is so strong that other companies in Mexico, that have contracts with Los Mineros, travel to Vancouver for bargaining sessions with the union.

Our interview followed a briefing on the situation in Cananea for the US delegation to the ITUC congress hosted by Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada and Fred Redmond, USW International Vice President for Human Affairs. Arlene Holt Baker, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President, thanked Gomez for the update and pledged the continuing support of the US labor movement in building the necessary solidarity to win justice for the Mexican miners.

Napoleon Gomez - Interview at International Labor Congress from Scott Marshall on Vimeo.