[R-G] Class Action: The Million Worker March, October 17
furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sat Oct 16 10:59:46 MDT 2004
Class Action: The Million Worker March, October 17
August 31, 2004
Why are some Americans mobilizing to publicly gather and speak out
about their working lives? Just ask a top organizer for the Million
Worker March (MWM) protest in Washington, D.C. on October 17.
"The Million Worker March is a response to attacks on working
people," said Clarence Thomas, secretary-treasurer of Local 10 of the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), and co-chair of
the MWM. Two examples he cited are the outsourcing of jobs abroad and
privatizing of public services at home under the Bush White House.
American workers have been the losers.
Recently, Thomas' Local 10 of the ILWU -- the union of Harry Bridges
that led the 1934 general strike in San Francisco -- passed a
resolution for the MWM, an effort to advance a workers' agenda. Its
demands include universal single-payer health care, a national living
wage, and a protected Social Security system.
A workers' agenda stands in contrast to the dominant corporate agenda
with its free-trade agreements such as the NAFTA, Thomas added. Such
agreements have increased the freedom of corporations to boost
profits and lower wages by shifting factories from rich nations to
poor nations. This trend of American corporations moving production
to low-wage countries has been called the "race to the bottom." In
the U.S., the service jobs being created pay lower wages than factory
work, in general. Low wages increase profits in the short term.
In addition, the Million Worker March opposes the U.S. military
occupation of Iraq, backed by Bush and Senator John Kerry, the
Democratic Party's presidential candidate. An open letter to the
American anti-war movement from the MWM states its "agenda in
opposition to military adventurism abroad and class war at home we
will not be soft-soaped at election time and sold out immediately
Better cooperation between the anti-war and union movements would
help to minimize such a sell-out. On that note, the MWM seeks to
redirect federal government spending on Iraq to unmet human needs in
America. The number of Americans living in poverty and without health
insurance rose last year, according to a new Census Bureau report.
What is being spent on military operations in Iraq is not being spent
on the American people. Consider this, from the Institute for Policy
"The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war through this year could
have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for
over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million
elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire engines; over 20 million
Head Start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million
children." (For more details, visit www.ips-dc.org.)
As Bechtel and Halliburton profit from the reconstruction of Iraq,
other U.S. corporations are squeezing their work forces. United
Airlines, for example, has moved to end its defined pension benefit
plans. Further, U.S. taxpayers would be forced to bail out the
carrier to the tune of over $6 billion for United to cut its pension
Corporations' gains are taxpayers' and workers' losses. Against this
backdrop, recent data from the Census Bureau found that the top fifth
of U.S. households increased their share of national income from 44
percent in 1973 to 50 percent in 2002. During the same 29-year
period, the bottom 20 percent of household saw their share of
national income fall from 4.2 percent to 3.5 percent. As an economic
and political force, the MWM seeks to reverse the redistribution of
income to the top fifth from the bottom fifth in America.
Endorsers of the MWM include the International Action Center,
National Education Association, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NY
City, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal
Employees Local 1550, Houston, Texas. In addition, the Teamsters
International has contributed $10,000 to the MWM and John R.
MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper's Magazine, has also
endorsed the mobilization.
In the meantime, John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, has written
a letter to the national organization's locals advising them to shun
the MWM, asserting that it will divert energy from the presidential
election set for November 2.
What energy the MWM is able to generate, both before and after
Election Day, is crucial to turning the tide of the class war at home
and imperial war abroad.
For more information about the MWM, visit
http://www.millionworkermarch.org/, and look for more Seven Oaks
coverage of, and interviews regarding, the Million Worker March.
Seth Sandronsky is the co-editor of Because People Matter, a
Sacramento-based progressive newspaper.
* Critical Montages: <http://montages.blogspot.com/>
* Greens for Nader: <http://greensfornader.net/>
* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* OSU-GESO: <http://www.osu-geso.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://www.solidarity-us.org/>
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