Money ≠ Speech Overpass Light Brigade Protest

(source)

President Obama is currently contemplating issuing an Executive Order requiring disclosure of campaign contributions for federal contractors. This would be a very exciting victory for our movement to shine the light on corporations that are attempting to buy our elections. It is very likely that significant grassroots pressure will make the difference.

Join us as we encourage President Obama to shine the light on corporate corruption of our democracy as part of nationwide rallies on April 2 – the year anniversary of the McCutcheon U.S. Supreme Court ruling that further put our democracy up for sale. The McCutcheon decision equated money with free speech – Sean McCutcheon argued that the $120K cap on contributions to individual campaigns limited his free speech, and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. The ruling applies to corporations also since they earned corporate personhood in the 2010 Citizen’s United decision.

We will debut our Overpass Light Brigade-inspired signs that will read “Money ≠ Speech”. We plan to meet in the Boston Common right in front of the Mass State House. We will have a rally, take some great pictures, and those willing to carry the signs to a walking bridge over Route 28 will share our message there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/731130780338495

Tues 3/31, 5 PM, Stop Harvard’s Discrimination!

(source)

On Tuesday, March 31, starting at 5 pm, workers, students and allies will picket to get justice for survivors of employment discrimination by the world’s richest university. Please join us in Harvard Yard at Massachusetts Hall, steps from the Harvard Sq T stop in Cambridge (map). We’ll expose three specific cases of workplace discrimination:

Judy Rouse: an active UNITE HERE shop steward, Judy worked in a dining hall where managers called workers of color derogatory names. Judy was written up for her union activity and even assaulted by a manager. When she called the HUPD* to report the assault, Judy herself was terminated, and slapped with a no-trespass order in a flagrant abuse of police power.

Nassim Kerkache: famous for his dedication on the job, Nassim became a union rep in HUCTW, and stood up to a boss who made racist comments about him & his co-workers. Nassim’s reward was to have the boss tell him to pick between being laid off or demoted three salary grades! Denied promotion in favor of a less-qualified, US-born colleague (who made efforts to help management sweep sexual harassment under the rug), Nassim was fired after he took a disability leave.

Paul Casey: employed for 30+ years, Paul was targeted by an administrator who perceived him as disabled and tried to get him to quit. After taking an approved leave to have his hip replaced, Paul pushed himself to return to his busy job. He came back to work only to be told a few weeks later that he would be laid off due to “lack of work.” His job duties were simply assigned to co-workers.

PHONE/EMAIL ZAP: Please call or email William Murphy, Harvard’s Director of Labor Relations, any time at 617 496-9193, bill_murphy@harvard.edu. Suggested message, “I am appalled by convincing narratives of discrimination against terminated employees Judy Rouse, Nassim Kerkache and Paul Casey. I call on you to use all your influence to see that their cases are promptly resolved! Failure to do so will invite further consequences.”

For more information about workplace discrimination at Harvard, please visit twoharvards.wordpress.com.

Harvard University Police Department
Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers

Wed 3/18, Union Activist On Trial! Pack the Court / Donate!

(from act-ma)

Dear All,

This Wednesday 3/18/15, IWW Delegate Jason goes on trial for phony charges including assaulting a police officer. Jason was attacked by the cops and slammed with a frame-up because he attended a peaceful, legal picket on 11/14/13. There are two ways you can help:

Pack the court! Come to Jason’s trial at Cambridge District Court, 4040 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford, MA 02155 (a short walk from the Orange Line’s Wellington T). The trial starts Wednesday at 9 a.m. (Jason’s lawyer advises court-appropriate attire for supporters).

Donate! Please click here http://igg.me/at/DefendJason to help with Jason’s legal and living expenses. You can also send checks to: Boston IWW, PO Box 391724, Cambridge, MA 02139 (please indicate your check is intended to assist Jason).

Background: On 11/14/13, I was picketing with other union members in front of Cambridge’s Insomnia Cookies. Insomnia workers had joined the IWW and gone on strike in August due to long shifts ending after 2 a.m. with no breaks, for pay below minimum wage. They demanded health benefits, $15/hr and a union, and were all promptly fired.* The cops had been trying to shut down our pickets for months, becoming ever more aggressive in their attempts to help crush the fledgling Insomnia Workers’ Union.

That night in November, scores of Cambridge and Harvard cops swarmed our picket and demanded we shut down our portable PA. We promptly turned it off. The cops surrounded me (I’d been holding the PA) and began to push me backwards into the street. Concerned for my safety, my friend and fellow IWW delegate Jason cried out to the cops that they should let me be. Immediately four of them piled on Jason, one of them seizing him by the throat and covering his mouth and nose. They punched him, bloodying his face, threw him down on the ground, and pinned him partially under a car. Finally they dragged Jason away, and he was hit with false charges that could bring jail time.

Bravely refusing to accept a disadvantageous “deal” that would limit his employment opportunities, Jason has held out for a trial. The fact that he has open charges means he cannot find regular work, and is relying on odd jobs for income.

Jason goes on trial Wednesday, after months and months of appearing in court due to the frame-up. Please come to the trial to show support, or make a donation to assist Jason, and please forward this email as widely as possible.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

–Geoff for the Boston Industrial Workers of the World

* The union’s campaign ultimately won back pay and offers of reemployment for the strikers.

Farmers Rally Against Sprouts Greenwashed “Farmers Market”

WHEN: Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 1pm

WHERE: Sprouts Farmers Market, 1530 Geary Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94597

WHAT: Farmers and supporters of the Gill Tract Farm Coalition will rally to tell Sprouts “Save the Gill Tract! Don’t pave over this historic farmland!”

On March 14th, farmers and supporters of the Gill Tract Farm are gathering to demand that Sprouts “Farmers Market” stop their plans to pave over public historic farmland in Albany, CA to put up a big-box store. The farmers and supporters are demanding that all 20 acres of the historic Gill Tract be protected as an education and research center in urban agriculture and food justice, including a productive urban farm.

Farmers like Hank Herrera want to highlight the hypocrisy of Sprouts calling itself a “farmers market” while it is destroying the historic Gill Tract farmland to build its newest store.

“Sprouts is not a Farmer’s Market. Using that name for a big-box supermarket is an insult to local farmers who are actually working to fix our broken food system.” – Hank Herrera, New Hope Farms & Gill Tract Farm Coalition

Supporters from the labor and food justice communities, like Brooke Anderson, are also expressing their concerns with Sprouts.

“We do not need another corporate supermarket giant that exploits its workers, especially not on public land. We need a real farmers market.” – Brooke Anderson, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project

In late February, UC Berkeley cut down 53 trees in preparation for the construction of the new Sprouts store, despite an ongoing lawsuit regarding the projects’ Environmental Impact Report. Farmers and supporters want to see the land used for a community-university partnership exploring innovative solutions to problems in our food system.

Background:

Despite almost 20 years of local organizing against commercial development, UC Berkeley continues to push for a chain grocery store and commercial retail space on the Gill Tract.

In April 2012, Occupy the Farm raised the profile of this 20-year community struggle by camping on the land and planting a publicly-accessible farm on the Gill Tract. Under pressure from community activists, Whole Foods pulled out of the proposed development, and instead opened two blocks south of the tract. Occupy the Farm helped win temporary protection for a portion of the land, some of which is now the vibrant Gill Tract Community Farm. Farmers hope to see this project expand to all remaining 20 acres of the historic farmland stewarded by the University of California, Berkeley for research and education for the public good.

occupythefarm.org

Ferguson Finances, Simplified

Editorial

The latest Justice Department report has revealed that 150 years after the formal end of slavery a new kind of race based profiteering is alive and well in Ferguson, MO. To the police department and town officials of Ferguson the lives, well being, livelihood, dreams and bodies of the descendants of African slaves are nothing more than little pots of money waiting to be harvested via traffic tickets, dog bites and noise complaints. All so that business as usual could continue as usual, so that the poor would stay poor–or get even poorer—and the rich could stay rich. What Ferguson officials and all like them want more than anything else is for nothing to change. No one, but especially not a Black someone, can be allowed to work their way out of the muck not when court fees for minor infractions multiply exponentially and anyone Black can be arrested at any time for just about anything, all for the enrichment of the 1%.

But things cannot stay the same; things must change. And the change must be economic. The only way to stop the capitalist system from finding new ways to divide us along race lines and make a profit from those on the wrong side of the line–the not white side–is to tear down the system, starting with the financial system.

Why is the town of Ferguson—like all other municipalities, the states, and the federal government–not able to meet its financial obligations from tax revenues? Why are the tax paying citizens of Ferguson, an everywhere else, not able to make enough money to keep their town a float? Why does it always seem like there “is not enough” to go around?

It’s the bloody 1%. The bankers; the financial services industry (which serves no obvious social utility); insurance and more insurance; the layers of bureaucracy that make all our lives hell by putting six fingers in every deal and six salaries in between our tax dollars and the services they are supposed to procure, are the problem. Not the least of these are plasma sipping cretins that own the health insurance industry and suck every health insurance dollar dry before it reaches the clinicians–who unlike the overlords–actually work for a living.

Hit ‘Em Where They Live

What is most needed is vast, far reaching and radical simplification of how the federal government takes in and distributes money. Our world is too complicated and that complexity hides dishonesty. We have a tax system that compels lying and economy where half the jobs are either “make work” funded by the government, about to be zapped away by technological innovation or both. We must do what we can to eliminate the expensive complexity that hides avarice and bigotry and clear the way for a simpler more honest world. That means a much straighter line between money coming in and money going out.

Replace All Entitlements With A Basic Income Guarantee and Healthcare.
A New Tax Code for A New Economy.
Direct government production of housing.
Single Payer Healthcare

Replace All Entitlements With A Basic Income Guarantee and Healthcare

In the immortal words of Jennifer Aniston in the movie, “Friends with Money”, “Why don’t they just give the money to poor people?” Why indeed. If every tax paying resident of the US received a Basic Income Guarantee of $21,000/yr, there would be no need for a Department of Social Services and labor really would be free from the demands of capital. Secure in knowing that they could purchase goods to fulfill the majority of their basic needs on the open market, workers would be free to move out of dying industries and chart new economic territory. You could call this “A Trust Fund For Everybody.”

A New Tax Code for A New Economy

The 17 volume federal tax code is so complicated and changes so often–changes to the tax code are type of legislation most often passed by Congress–that it is not possible to actually put your hands on a copy of it because by the time you touch it, it has been altered to fit the needs of the 1%. It must be re-written from scratch and become a vision; not a chicken wire and duct tape escape hatch for people who don’t work for a living.

Direct Government Production of Housing.

Housing is expensive because there are too many suits lining up for their “taste”. The federal government should produce small, multifamily units itself and sell them itself so that landlords who occupy their land are able to collect rental income from their units. The founding fathers believed that the country would prosper if it were a country of small farmers/slave owners. The knew that property is the key to prosperity, although they displayed a cruel streak when defining “property.” Today in the city and suburbs the family farm is the owner occupied small multi-family residence. In Boston those are the triple deckers that let the Irish prosper.

Slavery, as re-invented by Ferguson and many other town officials, we could do away with if our tax dollars went to the pockets of people who actually build housing. Instead we feed bankers, insurance companies, real estate agents and the countless pencil pushers and fundraisers now paid to development “non-for-profit” single family housing, the cost of which is barely affordable, offers no way out for low income workers and no new source of income.

Single Payer Health Insurance.

Socialized medicine is good medicine. Our health insurance system is the laughing stock of the developed world and a moral abomination.

Another world is possible, let’s start by getting rid of the one we have now.

A.