Trail of Tears – 185th Anniversary

As the above link shows, today Is the anniversary of the infamous “trail of tears,” the horrendous forced walk of Cherokees out of their ancestral home in Georgia on May 28, 1830. It is a time to remember the cost that native Americans had to pay for the colonization of this continent,, even after they were nearly wiped out by smallpox..
That cost has never been redressed, not in Canada, not in this country, not in an country in South or Central America. It is past time that it was. The time has come to recognize that native Americans have as much, if not more, right to this country as anyone else and to pay them back. It is time for Whites, particularly fundamentalist Christian and other conservative whites, to stop laying an exclusive claim on our country. Decency and Justice demand it.

The Time is NOW!

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The Florida National Organization for Women is had its state convention in Venice, Florida this past weekend. I wish that this event, held by one of the finest organizations around, got more coverage. Far be it from the corporate, allegedly liberal media to pay much attention to progressive organizations.

This one is greatly needed. The reproductive rights of women are under attack across the nation, including in Florida, where the Republicans dominate the state legislature and one of the county’s most pernicious rogue governors was re-elected last year.  Progress in narrowing the wage gap is slow. Women make up only 20% of the members of Congress. We still have not had a woman president and the woman who is the front-runner for the next term in the White House is mired in themselves fr scandal. Federally mandated unpaid leave is useless to most women and we have no paid-leave law.

We have a long to go towards equality for women. Feminist organizing is imperative. Progress is being slowed to a crawl by conservative excuse-making and male resistance. Men react to the efforts of women to free themselves from the shackles of stereotypes and glass ceilings by increasing the machismo and darkness and considering ares penetrated by women to be female. One one wonders if in the future men will end up living in caves and swing clubs like their ancestors because they consider everything else to be female.

This is the problem: dividing everything into male and female and heaping disrespect onto what is considered female. The time has come, is long past actually, to stop stereotyping people and to respect subjects and activities that have been identified with women. Enough is enough.

Leaked disturbing Walmart training video warns new employees about joining unions,

Leaked Walmart training video warns new employees about joining unions. This post from DeadState shows a rather disgusting training video put out by Walmart to dissuade its associates from joining unions. It shows how slick corporations have become. In fact, it ought to mark Hollywood producers blush.

This particular piece of propaganda purports to show that associates are happy with the way management treats them and don’t want a union. It shows series of associates (are they actual associates or are they actors?), most of them young, echoing the anti-Union theme. This time concentrates on the two major objections that workers, particularly young workers, have to joining a union.

The first is that a union supposedly gets in the way with one-one one interactions with supervisors. With all due respect to the associates, such interactions are inherently unequal. Supervisors have more power than any employee or any associate, whose stock is a small piece of the company. Further, the associate has minimal leverage: her/his only bargaining chip is the threat to quit.  Obviously, a supervisor/manager can much more afford to lose an associate/employee than an associate/employed can afford to quit. That is no disrespect to any associate/employee, it is just reality.

This reality when one realizes that supervisors are not close to being at the top of the power structure. The final authority is wielded by others, people whom associates, except for a few, likely never even meet. This whole associate system is thus a farce to keep control and keep unions out, what is known in business as talking the talk without walking the walk, meaning claiming to do something without actually doing it. An incoming editor of the “Utne Reader” who had worked for other private companies wrote that those who do not talk the talk without walking the walk are crushed by those who do. That is one thing that is wrong with the “private sector”.

The second thing the insidious training video brings up, but less than the other argument, is the issue of union dues . It has one associate saying he worked in a “union shop” and did not like a portion of his paycheck going to the union before he saw it. That money is actually used to fight for better wages and working conditions for workers. Union members gain more from unions than the dues the put in. The right to  not join a union is the right to earn less.

Additionally, unions represent the entire membership in negotiations. Those who are not members are being represented for free while members have to pay for. That is not any fairer than a “union shop” and much worse for workers. Unions have much stronger bargaining positions than any individual could. There is definitely strength in numbers, which company managements, especially that of WalMart, fear.

They fear this strength in numbers so much that the video contains references to the “agenda” of Unions as if it was nefarious. (This is a right wing buzzword that has been used in attacking gay rights groups and other progressive/liberal organizations.) What “agenda”? The only “agenda” of unions, despite the shortcomings of some of them (lack of democracy and accountability) is to improve the standard of living of workers.

They complain in the video hat unions have spent large amounts of money to organize workers, but Walmart management has likely spent more, such as on this slick video. Unions are trying to organize at WaMart needs organizing more than most concerns.

Last, an assertion is made that unions are businesses. That is nonsense. Although officers may make money on the side, they do not make a profit.

Union are not perfect. They compromise with management too much. Members often vote on slate proposed by the leadership. AN initiative was started to provide me re account untability and democracy, but leadership responded with a slate named after the movement that was filled long-time apparatchiks and designed to foil the movement. The Teamsters is suspect because of a history of mob ties and the elevation of Jimmy Hoffa’s son to president of that union.  Although they are the only way news who are that bad, Michael Moore has written that he thinks that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the only good union.

Unions have their faults, but workers would be worse off without them. Private-sector managements are more autocratic than unions and have less interest in worker welfare: experience in poor countries has taught them that they can pay starvation wages and still make a profit. Whether workers join existing unions or make new ones for more accountability, the must keep organizing. Their present and future depend on it.