Tag Archives: human rights

Remembering Karen Silkwood: A Modern Heroine for Workers, Gone but Never Forgotten

alewitz silkwood mural

Mural by Mike Alewitz, 1994, dedicated to Karen Silkwood’s memory.

 

Today, February 19th, 1946, Karen Silkwood was born.  If she had not been the victim of a still mysterious crash on November 13th, 1974, she’d be 68 years old today.

Ms. Silkwood was a chemical technician at the Kerr-McGee Fuel Fabrication site in Oklahoma.  Silkwood was a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union and was later elected to her local’s bargaining committee, being the first woman chosen to that position. (from wikipedia).

Silkwood’s life was cut short on the night of November 13th in an auto accident, the fault of which has never seen resolution.  Many facts point to the possibility that Kerr-McGee had a part in her death in order to silence the results of her building work about the safety violations of the Kerr-McGee plant.

Kerr-McGee finally settled with Silkwood’s family after her death regarding her high levels of plutonium in her blood from her work at the plant.  This only after a historically long court battle and finally an appeal all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1979 by the company that refused to pay or admit any wrong-doing in her death.  A settlement was finally reached with the family.

Silkwood’s life and legacy of fighting against corporate power should serve as inspiration for all future works.  Corporate power has increased in this country by leaps and bounds since Silkwood’s efforts to challenge the shady practices of Kerr-McGee that put worker’s lives in danger for the sake of profit.  The outright hostility and disregard for human life of corporate capitalism is repeated over and over again in the millions of stories and struggles of workers in this country and across the globe.

We can never assume for a minute that any corporation as the safety of the workers as their primary goal in operations; its not.  Their primary goal, as according to the requirement of capitalist competition, is to make a profit and expand operations.  The toll taken to workers on the front lines of producing a profit for companies is seen as an impediment, not a part of, the model of profit and production.

Let us never forget the sacrifice of Karen Silkwood and work always with her legacy as our inspiration.

For more about Karen Silkwood see the links below:

Wikipedia summary: Karen Silkwood
PBS Frontline special: Nuclear Reaction, The Karen Silkwood Story
A television mystery show telling her story: Karen Silkwood, A Life on the Line

h/t Linda Horan, a strong sister dedicated to worker justice in New Hampshire

 

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Cartoon for the Day, Stephanie MacMillan


Stephanie MacMillan’s work can be found here :  Daily Affirmations for the Revolutionary Proletarian Militant

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Why I Hate Anti-Racist White Allyship

While enjoying all the the glorious world has to offer, Eunice occasionally takes the time to help out the coloreds.

Sometimes one just runs across nuggets of truth and beauty in the most unexpected places, hiding in small corners, waiting to be discovered.  Such is the way in which we ran across the musings of Kathryn Brown.

In New Hampshire where the population diversity in most of the regions runs about 1% it has traditionally been easy for most in New Hampshire to assume racism happens elsewhere.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Racism happens as an attitude; its an American construct that none of us can escape and therefore, all of us have a responsibility to root out if we want the just society we claim to want.

Kathryn Brown advises white folks, from her perspective on how to begin to assist in deconstructing racism and also, why sometimes that struggle needs to stay within the ‘white’ community because ‘white’ folks have plenty of work to do.  She isn’t saying she hates white folks or their wanting to share in the struggle and their desire to fix things; just don’t assume you are of a special class of person (becoming a more privileged person actually) because you want to do this work.  Its our responsibility anyway as citizens of planet earth and members of the human race.

Why I Hate Anti-Racist White Allyship

I keep hearing conversations, reading online and in my own inboxes questions from white people about allyship relating to Ferguson and issues of race. “What can I do?” “Why not all lives matter?” “Is this only for black people? Why?” “Do you even want support from white people? If so why is everything prefaced with Black?”

I appreciate this dialogue. I appreciate the support. The improvements we have made as a country and the battles we have won would certainly not have happened without multi-racial support. Including white support. Freedom summer is one example. Many white people have told me this is the first time they’ve grappled with these issues on a daily basis. Thinking about race and feeling attacked or excluded because of it can be maddening. If there is anything we can all agree on it’s that. Thank you for your support and reflection.

However, I hate the notion of anti-racist white allyship. I actually hate the notion of allyship all together- it implies that attacking oppressive systems is the natural duty of oppressed populations. Have you ever heard anyone say black anti racist? No because it’s implied and accepted that someone black would be against racism. Why? Because it’s assumed that’s a natural by product of their day to day reality. Nothing chosen or worth of exaltation.

Thus, It also implies that to be a white person against oppressive racist systems means being an exception (read exceptional). It norms NOT being anti racist.  It gives credit and recognition to whites who choose to engage in anti- racist work. There is no place for ego or exceptions in anti-racist work. [italics editor]

To be black means daily having difficult conversations and grappling with the realities of systems and institutions at best not designed for you to win and at worst designed for you to fail. It is not a choice. It is not an exceptional Facebook worthy experience. It’s a byproduct of birth.

A recognition of white privilege is not condemnation to hell. Privilege takes on many forms and comes as a result of choices we make and choices we didn’t make.

I was on an airplane about to miss my connecting flight. So was the lady sitting next to me. She was in a wheelchair. I wasn’t. As a result of nothing I did my privilege in this case meant being able to sprint off the plane and catch my flight. She couldn’t. She didn’t. She had been traveling over 24 hours. It sucked.

The thing that sucks about privilege is that sometimes you have it, you benefit from it and there’s nothing you can do about it. I wasn’t trying to prevent her from catching her flight. I wasn’t trying to rub it in her face when I sprinted up as soon as wheels touched down. I was just operating within my normal context . My normal privilege and the ableist systems designed for me to win.

At times, white privilege is oppressive and undermining to people of color. Even from those with the best intentions and efforts to check it. It just is. So yes- I think it’s important to have all black spaces to organize. I think it’s important to have multi- racial coalitions as well.

I also think it’s as important if not more important for white “allies” to organize in white communities. To talk to their co-workers, family members and friends. I find it frustrating that many whites seem to enjoy the exceptional status that commonly accepted notions of anti-racist white allyship encourage but refrain from difficult conversations and confrontations with those who are not of color.

True solidarity in my mind means leveraging your privilege to improve the spaces and communities you’re a part of black or otherwise. True solidarity means continual reflection on white privilege without co-opting conversations about black oppression to make it about the inclusion of whites.

True solidarity means a recognition of universal humanity. We will never move beyond divisive systems if we continue to celebrate white anti-racist allyship as exceptional.

I’ve ranted enough- check out David Leonard (often writes for the root) if you’re interested. He writes about this a lot .

Kay Bee
Kathryn Brown lives in Atlanta, Georgia, is a writer and lover of the finer arts and has a blog, Musings of a Quarter Life Gypsy.

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Manchester Marches for Mike Brown

Folks in the city of Manchester and surrounding areas disgusted with the grand jury verdict have decided to make their voices heard.

 Michael Brown is seen on a tie worn by his father during the funeral

Photo from Reuters news service, mourners at Micheal Brown’s funeral.

 

On Saturday at 1:00 pm people will meet at Veteran’s Park to possibly do a small march and some sharing as well about their thoughts about the murder of Mike Brown and the fact that his murderer has been set free.

Veteran’s Park is located downtown on Elm Street between Central and Merrimack Streets. There will be plenty of parking around on Elm, Central and Merrimack Street.

Bring your friends, bring signs that express your outrage and be ready to express your outrage at this latest injustice against innocent citizens in this country.

For more information please see the Facebook event page at:

Manchester Marches for Mike Brown

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Random Catch from Facebook

Tomorrow marks the termination of the Tower of London, a remembrance of British troops who served in World War I.  Ceramic poppies were made and planted in honor of each soldier killed in the conflict. While the establishment makes their own remembrance of war, we prefer those who make the deeper observations about war and human assumptions and social systems that support it.

Writing from Core Luminous

The Irony of the image of a bloody moat around a kings safe house and prison, the power protected by the sea of blood, the blood of men and women .. real living people, their lives utterly thrashed in the name of power.

The fact is that we live within a social system of hierarchical power, which is violent, extremely dangerous and at present causing great harms. It’s a similar dynamic to an abuse relationship that has become Institutionalized *(-if a number of people, who share a psychological issue, build a social structure, it will carry and express their psychology within it.)

and then, over time, as the Institutions garner more power, they never let go of it, and in time the Institutions ‘needs’ – to enhance it’s power and status, to run a bigger budget, deal with competition, etc – takes priority and so the cycle continues, to replace human community needs, and the institutional behavior becomes more embedded.

 Writing from Keeb Questions

This is very strange, almost like a river of blood spewing from one of the windows of the Tower of London, a venue of torture and horror. We rarely question the relationship between dependency and deception; in the space between power is able to rise and take hold. Power exists because we are not sovereign. Tyrants, those that pretend to be your friend (your government) and those that don’t (your dictator), exist because we put them there. Don’t say i am fighting to preserve my way of life, that way of life is corrupt. If you want to end war give up being British. Queen, country, all that rot.

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November 5, 1855

Today in Labor History

m07-elec-post-480Eugene V. Debs – labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president, and first president of the American Railway Union — is born. “The Republican and Democratic parties, or to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.”

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Senator Mary Landrieu Reminds Southerners of that Peculiar Institution

Yesterday an NBC reporter asked Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu why Obama’s approval ratings in the south were consistently so low.  Without hesitation Senator Landrieu (Democrat) responded after noting that while the south has strong economic ties to the oil and gas industry, there’s something else, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

No kidding.  The degree of vitriol, blaming and shaming that has been directed at Obama has surpassed anything in history, besides possibly presidents that deserved such treatment such as Franklin Pierce or Richard Nixon.  Couple that with the resurrection of Jim Crow type threats, such as hanging nooses in front yards to using racist stereotypes to demean and degrade the president, one has to wonder sometimes what century people are living in.

No doubt the Republicans don’t like being called ignorant bigots, but look at their policies and the statements of many politicians and especially the expressions that burst on the public scene within Tea Party rallies.  Someone called the dog whistles so loud they all came running out of the pen.  Now here we are with Obama having served two terms and experiencing obstructionism unlike any other president, save possibly prior to the civil war when the south drew together in opposition to the threat of abolition.  But this is 2014 isn’t it?  Why do southerners and conservatives draw back and bare their teeth when anyone dare mention the ‘R’ word: Racist!  The attacks on Landrieu for her comments contain all the predictable smear.

Being called out can get pretty uncomfortable, especially when its true and you’ve got no possible way to evade the obvious.  Hence the “conservative” who supports policies that deny the existence of racism in this country, that want everyone who suffers from racism or inequality to just “get over it”.  Sure, but why can’t conservatives just “get over it” with being called out for denying history? (Oh wait, there’s more recent evidence of Republicans not being racists! Check out this from Alternet!) Possibly because getting over it would mean then addressing issues that persist that relate directly to the construct of division of people and communities by skin color in order to keep bondage and general oppression in place.

slave bracelets

America will be forever chained to its past until it deals with it and heals the wounds.

Considering that Africans, although kidnapped and held against their will, managed to build the south and provide much of the profit for the northern merchant class as well for at least a good 200 years, you’d think the south might have a wee bit of gratitude.  If one adds to that the period after emancipation when black folks still experienced a system that locked them into a state of servitude by skin color separation and social ghettos one would wonder why anyone would even dare to deny that a system of race based oppression grew in this country.   The mansions and plantation houses from Virginia to Mississippi visited by people all over the country are usually fawned upon for their splendor and architectural beauty.  Does anyone recognize or attempt to understand the pain and suffering that went on at those places? The unpaid hands who built them?

There are so many questions that must be asked if justice will ever be reached on the damage caused by slavery and the social system derived specifically to keep it in place and everyone in their place; including poor white folks.  Instead,  when any mention of the former “Peculiar Institution” and its relationship to the south occurs, an unprecedented howl of righteous fervor rises from below.america be like

Unlike most other accusations of racism directed at the south or conservatives in general, Landrieu’s cannot be shunned as mere criticism from uppity northerners or carpet-baggers, because she is actually one of their own.  Landrieu has had the audacity to break the unwritten code of the south wherein public figures shy away from public discussion relating to that Peculiar Institution and Reconstruction.  You can talk all day and the rest of your life about the “The War of Northern Aggression” and how President Andrew Johnson’s quick work turned Reconstruction into Deconstruction and put former rebel officers (treasoners) back into political positions and returned a defacto culture of slavery to the south.  But never ever mention that the south had anything to do with forcing an entire mass of people into bondage and hard labor to build the original American aristocracy, both north and south.

There’s too much at stake as everyone knows, as every white southerner has always known.  As every white southerner who ever inherited any wealth derived from the antebellum period knows, admission of guilt is only the beginning to opening the floodgates of justice.  As always, those who beat their chests the loudest about something usually have the most to hide. In this instance, the so-called “pro-liberty” and “pro freedom” party would rather keep the rate at which liberty and freedom are meted out, under their sole control.

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Carpenters Get Hot on Cheating Contractors

whatever 011On Thursday in Seabrook, NH, the carpenter’s local 118 got busy drawing attention to large contractors cheating labor out of pay and benefits and the state out of revenue. Focusing on a drywall company known as Metro-Walls, the carpenters held what they call a “banner line” to inform passersby of this issue.

The carpenters made their intent clear to remain in front of the construction site as long as Metro-Walls continued operating in violation of the law.

“Missclassification is the biggest problem in the industry right now, its destroying the industry slow but sure. We definitely intend to fight this to the bitter end, we’re not going anywhere, as long as misclassification continues, we’ll be on the front lines.”

“The real victims here are the guys being misclassified and they don’t even know it.” said Johnnie Berry, organizer for Carpenter’s Local 118.

Missclassification of workers involves the practice of cheating works out of workman’s compensation, unemployment eligibility and any future social security benefits.  Since the employer pays either all or a portion of the costs for these programs through payroll deductions, the incentive is high for unscrupulous employers to skirt payment of any of these, keep the employee entirely “off the books” and pay the employee cash instead, or “under the table” as commonly referred to.

We contacted Jim Craig, the Commissioner of Labor whose department handles the enforcement of labor law in New Hampshire. We asked to what extent its a problem in New Hampshire, “It hasn’t been qualified yet in New Hampshire, but I think there’s an enormous underground economy, I think its a national problem.”

We asked about why enforcement seems too slow for many, “You know the trouble with this is these guys move fast, ” explaining that in the construction business in particular a contractor may be on a project for a limited time and also the department handles many investigations that complicate their ability to allocate manpower on just this issue, “We also have to investigate many other labor issues.” he said adding, “We’ve come a long way — we have better enforcement, we have a couple inspectors working just on this issue now.”

We also asked Mr. Craig about the process wherein those found in violation often receive reduced fines and as such operate with labor fines as a cost of doing business, “We’re trying to change that and one way is with attorneys representing the department and we’re working on trying to change the definition of employee, making it more clear.”

As a result misclassification, employers unfairly compete for large contracts due to their reduced labor cost and also avoid responsibility for accidents or injuries on the job.  These costs then fall to the public in lost work time, unpaid medical care and strains on local assistance programs to deal with basic unmet needs to workers and families.

Metro-Walls is one of many companies working on two shopping center expansion projects on Lafayette Road in Seabrook, NH and has a substantial history of labor law violations according to reports made by Local 118 of the New England Regional Carpenters, Manchester New Hampshire.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road.  Metro-Walls is contracted for hanging sheetrock.

One of many projects occurring on Lafayette Road, Seabrook, NH.  Metro-Walls holds the contract to hang sheetrock.

The Department of Professional Employees provides a detailed explanation of the most common types of misclassification on their website here.

More information can be found at the IRS website Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Contractor?

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Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth About Themselves

prison factory

From our friend Arnie over at Inzane Times, weighing in on the ugly truth about the corporate prison system and their efforts to get our Congress and state legislators to sell off justice:

Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth about Themselves

March 17, 2013 by aalpert

FORM 10-K IS A TREASURE TROVE OF INFORMATION

Maggie Hassan made it pretty clear during her successful campaign for governor that she has no interest in turning over control of New Hampshire’s prisons to for-profit corporations.  The majority of Executive Councilors elected in November feel the same.  While the State is still formally reviewing proposals from four private companies to build and operate its prisons, the chance that a contract for prison operation would be drawn up in the next two years is about as close to zero as it can get.  So why have at least two of the companies (CCA and MTC) bothered to invest in lobbying services to defeat HB 443, a bill which would ban private prisons in New Hampshire?

Read more on: Corporate Prison Leaders Tell the Truth About Themselves directly from the source.

For more on the privatization of public services: check this excellent article at truthout.org : Five Poisons of Privatization

thanks to the folks over at the Privatization Blog

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Yes its Amazing the Society for Cutting Up Men Hasn’t Come Back

Contrary to what most folks are told my radical feminist friends at Rad-Fem Central, do not huddle together in dark, moist, odoriferous corners of humanity, training the next generation of Femi-Nazis to cut men in sixteen pieces just for fun. Real feminists are engaged in the maddeningly repetitious activity of pushing the revolutionary idea that women are human.  These feminists have no problem pointing out the oddly primitive way in which women here in the United States are still held captive by their bodies by a small minority of males and their female helpers who apparently cannot get their head around the idea that women’s bodies are not property, are not vehicles for made for male entertainment or vessels for production of male heirs and possibly units of future production, but just parts of a larger person called a human known as woman.

Thank you Seven Bowie for your thoughts which are welcome at Rad-Fem Central and where we also have this silly idea that even men can be feminists because seeing women as human and deserving of total “liberty” (ask Ron Paul what he thinks about women and their rights to that precious “liberty” he and his libertarian followers like to bleat about so much) just doesn’t seem like that difficult a job to us, even for men.

AMERICAN TALIBAN: WOMEN HAVE NO RIGHT TO THEIR OWN BODIES, BUT THEY’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS.

Yes you read the title correctly. For the past couple of years, women have been subjected to legislative rape, both on the federal and state level as historically high numbers of laws have been passed that thwart their rights to decisions about their reproductive lives and thus to their own self-determination – their rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Scratch just below the surface of all that, and you have what is known as reproductive slavery.

What's next? Burkas?

WHAT’S NEXT? BURKAS?

On the federal level we have Republicans refusing to renew the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because they don’t believe LGBT, students, Native American or Latino women deserve protection from abuse and domestic violence. And in 2012 we had a chamber full of men debating on whether women had any right to birth control whilst they refused to allow any women on their panel or allow any women to even speak during hearings on the subject.

Amidst all these efforts to keep women from having any say about their rights to make decisions about their own bodies are Taliban-like assertions that these same women, while not capable of having any jurisdiction over their own bodies, are somehow responsible for those of men.

Read more here:

American Taliban: Women Have No Right to Their Own Bodies, But They’re Responsible for His

 

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