Tag Archives: Protest

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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So Lab Rats are Smarter Than Libertarians

Lab rat works to free captive where no obvious capital incentive exists.

Empathy: the one human emotion that makes Ayn Rand roll in her grave and gives all Free Staters and other Libertarians the willies — except when their own necks are on the line and they could use a hand.  It is well known that Ayn Rand had no problem living off the empathy of those who came before her and struggled for her right to receive social security and Medicare benefits in her old age.  Regardless though, Libertarians continue to preach that the way to peace is just to be a self centered prick and not bother to worry about the consequences of your actions on others, or to stop and help others.

Of course, according to this study, proof exists that lab rats are smarter than Libertarians, since they’ve apparently figured out that helping out your friends and neighbors and even sharing your booty is a good thing for your own future welfare; we all need each other and more than likely sometime down the line you will need others to give a damn about you when you and be willing to work to make your life — and in turn their life, better.  What a concept! Sounds like socialism!

Let’s take that thought a little further down the road of Logic and Plain Simple Thinking (deserves capitalization since its so under-rated these days), cut a little with Occam’s Razor and viola! We come across this excellent animation from Upworthy, made by Roman Krznaric on the power of empathy as a force for human change.  A very good animation and talk on the power of human empathy; what it means and how has a natural human emotion, we all have the ability to harness this to make positive social change and work toward peace, locally and globally.

Enjoy:

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Sierra Club and 350.org Rally Washington

The Sierra Club and 350.org rallied in Washington DC on the 18th of this month to draw attention to the XL Pipeline for which construction is already underway and activists are putting up a long battle on the ground against.

In New England, the Trailbreaker Tar Sands pipeline also proposed, but unfortunately, the focus seemed to be mostly on the XL line.  The struggle against both pipelines is ongoing.

See story here, Big Tar Sands Rally in Washington

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Wal-Mart Actions Around New Hampshire

Protesters in Manchester on South Willow Street on Black Friday.

Actions against the employment practices of Wal-Mart happened in three locations in the state this past Friday after Thanksgiving — known as “Black Friday”.

Activists from Occupy NH, Occupy Seacoast, the I.W.W. union and Occupy North Country set up protests, handed out flyers and in one instance, reportedly clashed with local police.

In Manchester participant Mark Provost said, “People were generally positive, honking their horns, waving their fists in solidarity, the jig is up, people know what is going on.”

In Somersworth, NH

In Somersworth Occupy the Seacoast held a protest outside the store in the morning, according to David Holt, “9 put of 10 people that reacted to us when we were outside were positive, gave us the thumbs up or honked and waved in support.”  David said that the group also went inside Wal-Mart with their signs, “We walked thru the Walmart with our signs and the management tried to herd us out, they called the police but we were gone before they showed up.”

When they were outside David said, “One cop pulled over in a cruiser and rolled down the window and we weren’t sure what he would say but he said he was behind us 100%.” Of the numbers of people in Occupy David said, “We had a wide range of people that had never come to an occupy event before, one of the people event printed up pamphlets and handed them out about what Walmart does.”

Some reported that an individual had a clash with the police in Littleton, but that person has asked not to speak to the press, so no further information is available at this time.

More about the action in Somersworth from the Foster’s Daily Democrat: Demonstrators in Somersworth Call for Changes at Wal-Mart

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XL Pipeline TransCanada uses SLAPP Suits to Bully Protesters

Police arrest and unchain a blockader from a backhoe on the XL construction site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Trailbreaker page:

“As the Winnsboro, Texas tree blockade enters its fourth week, over 50 blockaders publicly demonstrated on the Keystone XL easement despite the threat of a newly-expanded Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by TransCanada and egregious criminal overcharges by local law enforcement. Here’s a photo of our spokesperson, Ron Seifert, holding the stack of legal papers we just got served.https://i0.wp.com/tarsandsblockade.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/We-got-served_Small.jpg

Due to the SLAPP suits’ outrageous claims, the tree blockaders have by-and-large felt too threatened to safely reveal their identities, despite their protest being nonviolent. Today’s defiant walk-on protest is the largest in the history of protests surrounding Keystone XL construction sends a clear signal that we will not be deterred by SLAPP suits and other legal threats to limit our civil liberties.”

SLAPP suits (acronym meaning Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) are specifically designed as tools to use the court system to prevent action of defendants that the plaintiff (the person bringing the suit)  find objectionable.  Historically SLAPPS have been used by companies or famous individuals to suppress negative press about them or their company.

Lately though, corporations that find themselves under attack by civic groups and non-profit public interest organizations have started using SLAPPs in an effort to stop the groups actions.  One of the distinguishing features of a SLAPP is that the content of the suit itself usually contains vague language, references to wide spread claims of financial injury, requests for redress in large sums of money and demands for the court to issue injunctions against the defendants to get them to stop their activities.

Since free speech is a protected right, the desired outcome of the SLAPP, while loaded with legal claims such as defamation of character, obstruction of free trade, emotional injury or distress, the real objective of the lawsuit is to first intimidate the defendant, especially by requesting monetary damage awards similar to a tort (a suit asking for redress for actual damages through monetary award).  The idea is that the suing party (plaintiff) hopes to scare the defendant which large monetary damage requests and complicated legalese.

As in the example with the TransCanada XL pipe line protesters, SLAPP filings can be quite large, creating a costly burden for the defense — someone has to read and process all that.

Many states outlaw the use of SLAPPs but more conservative judges have demonstrated more sympathy to business interests and less toward citizen action.  Some states such as California offer immediate redress against SLAPPs by offering the right to a speedy hearing and the right to demand consideration of dismissal under anti-SLAPP rules.

But no matter what state laws or judge’s sympathies may prevail, someone’s time and energy must go into defending against these cases.  Many SLAPP suits can continue on repeatedly for years, reflecting the power imbalance of low-fund or no-fund citizen’s groups against the bottomless pit of funds that large trans-national corporations like TransCanada possess.  TransCanada’s monetary reserves, like those of many other large corporations challenged by citizen’s groups, an sustain its SLAPP activities for a long time, thus achieving the greater goal of getting the group to give up out of sheer exhaustion of their funds.

While many people like to think of non-profit groups as running a tight ground campaign, money runs the wheels in our society and in the case of XL, the money to fight the protests runs deep.  On the positive side, protesters have challenged SLAPPs and won not only their day in court, but have had the entire cases thrown out.

Currently protesters are in jail and more will be expected to be jailed in this action.  Everyone’s help is vital.  You can contribute to the costs incurred by those standing on the front line in defense of our environment and public safety.

As the site says, “Six of the eight arrested today have been released from jail on charges of criminal trespass which is a class C misdemeanor. The bail was $1,500 each, a total of $9,000. The two blockaders who locked themselves to Keystone XL machinery will see a judge in the morning.”

Go to the site and “give a generous donation to their bail fund” and also help to support their continued work and possibly any upcoming court proceedings or even to help with just regular logistics of this vital action.

Hog-tied protestor at XL site.

See more photos and breaking updates here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/9th-action/

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How Psychologists Subvert Democratic Movements

Here is a posting of a very good article on how the institution of psychiatry in America has fallen in the last few decades.  From a field that with psychology, at one time devolved from a practice that worked to support the quest for human peace of mind into an arm of the capitalist state.  The popularization of the use of drugs as a means to ‘correct’ anxiety and depression are based on the idea that there exists nothing inherently wrong with living in a system that is increasingly oppressive to most working people and children.

No doubt the profit-driven pharmacology sector has banked well on the popularity of fixing the individual instead of fixing the social problems the individual struggles with.  In addition, the practice of singling out individuals as opposed to looking at the inter-play of groups and social structures that individuals function under allows the continued dehumanization of state sanctioned capitalism to go unchecked and unanalyzed.

In this article a former practicing psychologist testifies to his first-hand witness of the use of drugs and individual therapy in the alienation and dismissal of dissent as an indicators of mental disease rather than being the proverbial canary in the coal-mine, warning of the increasingly oppressive economic and social conditions of our present day society.

How Psychologists Subvert Democratic Movements


By the 1980s, as a clinical psychology graduate student, it had become apparent to me that the psychology profession was increasingly about meeting the needs of the “power structure” to maintain the status quo so as to gain social position, prestige, and other rewards for psychologists.

 Academic psychology in the 1970s was by no means perfect. There was a dominating force of manipulative, control-freak behaviorists who appeared to get their rocks off conditioning people as if they were rats in a maze. However, there was also a significant force of people such as Erich Fromm who believed that an authoritarian and undemocratic society results in alienation and that this was a source of emotional problems. Fromm was concerned about mental health professionals helping people to adjust to a society with no thought to how dehumanizing that society had become. Back then, Fromm was not a marginalized figure; his ideas were taken seriously. He had bestsellers and had appeared on national television.

Read more…

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NYC – Not a Place to Stand, Walk, Talk, Move or Breath Without Arrest

Chris Faraone of the Boston Phoenix describes his experience as a guest of the NYPD while down for the Occupy Anniversary:

I wasn’t supposed to be sitting in a bar, my right elbow bent like a bastard, on the night of September 17, 2012. It was the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street – a movement I’ve been covering for about a year – and the plan was to be out in the streets, tweeting, taking pictures, and scribbling obscenities in my notepad. That’s what I do. I’m a reporter. It’s my fucking job.

But I wasn’t on the streets, recording so much senseless brutality. Instead I was a victim of it, having gotten viciously tackled and abused less than two hours after reporting for duty. I hardly planned for this; if I had, I would have left my weed at my motel. But having covered comparable actions in more than 20 American cities over the past year, I’ve learned how to get my story without getting bagged. Or so I thought.

For the rest: The Full Story of How A Boston Journalist Got Arrested on Some Bullshit at the Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

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Save Public Education – The Core of Democracy!

Save Our Schools! Rally – September 22, 2012

Veteran’s Park, Manchester New Hampshire

4 – 6pm

For more info: See Facebook

The Corporate Education Reform Agenda

by Tom Crean for Socialist Alternative

It is becoming increasingly clear that the future for working class and poor youth in the United States is bleak. Three years into the most severe economic and social crisis of the capitalist system since the Great Depression, the unemployment rate for teenagers 16-19 years old is 26 percent. A recent study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies points out that the employment-population ratio-the ratio of the number of people employed to the total working-age population- which is a broader measure of labor market health than the unemployment rate, has fallen by about 20 percentage points over the past decade to 25.6 percent for teenagers. This is a record low in the post World War II period.

The picture is even worse when looking at the situation for poor black and Latino youth. The employment-population ratio for African Americans ages 16 to 19 was 14.4 percent in July. Since middle class youth will still go to college and one way or another find their way into jobs, albeit perhaps jobs that pay less than the ones they would have expected to get in the past, the picture is not as grim for them. But a whole generation of poor youth now essentially has no experience of paid employment. This is truly a lost generation.

Why begin a discussion of the state of education with unemployment statistics? This is the right place to start because most people would agree that a key aim of education should be to prepare young people for a better life than their parents had. The corporate elite that dominates our society also looks at education in relation to the future, but from the more narrow perspective of training the next generation of workers.

Continue reading: Save Our Schools!

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What If

WHAT IF

What if we had a world
Where everybody helped each other
And tried to build each other up
In stead of tearing each other down
And blowing each other into pieces.
Would not suffering be banished?
With helpful hands and gentle hearts
Could we not bring humanity to a pinnacle?
Why must we continue to fail at
The only Commandment that ever mattered,
That being to love each other
So as to be willing to give up ones life
For a friend,
To turn the other cheek
And to love our enemies.
This was a Commandment,
Not an aspirational guideline
And apparently
the most difficult one of all to follow.
As a species, if we eventually
fail to follow it,
We deserve to reap the dire seeds
Of our own destruction and demise.
A meeker species will eventually
Inherit the earth
And i will thankfully be gone.
Already in my lifetime,
I have seen enough.
What if,
Peace.
Mike Murburg 08/29/12
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Screw the Troika!

Europe is awakening to resist the efforts of the German-led bankers to use the Euro to squash public services and safety nets in order to increase profits for the global elites.  Mirroring in many ways the strategies imposed upon Americans here at home by capitalist elites, the global capitalists have started the slaughter of the people’s rights on European soil as well.

Here, the site Igualistarista puts out the call from Portuguese resistance activists to stand up and protest against the austerity measures pressuring Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain in an effort to get them to succumb to secondary status to as laborer-serf countries for European capitalist interests.  So without further delay:

Screw the Troika, We Want Our Lives!

This is a call to protest made in the last few days by Portuguese activists for a new day of protest against what is known as the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank). You can find the protest and the original call in Portuguese here:

Que se Lixe a Troika! Queremos as nossas Vidas – Screw the Troika,  We Want Our Lives!

It is necessary to do something extraordinary. It is necessary to take to the streets and squares in both our cities and our countryside. To join voices and hands. This silence is killing us. The noise of the mainstream media fills the silence, reproduces the silence, spreads the network of lies that puts us to sleep and annihilates our desire. It is necessary to do something to reverse the submission and resignation, to do something against the filtering of ideas and against the death of the collective will. It is necessary to once again call upon our voices, arms and legs, of everyone who knows it is in the streets that the present and the future is decided. It is necessary to overcome the fear that is constantly spread and, once and for all, see that we no longer have much to lose, and that the day will come when everything has been lost because of our silence and our surrender.

Read the rest of this excellent post Igualistarista

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