‘We Will Not Be Complicit’: Protesting Assault on Yemen, Italian Dock Workers Refuse to Load Saudi Weapons Vessel

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Common Dreams | May 21, 2019

Protesters and workers on strike prevent a Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu, that was prevented by French rights group ACAT from loading a weapons cargo at the French port of Le Havre due to concerns they might be used against civilians in Yemen, from loading cargo at the Port of Genoa, Italy May 20, 2019. (Photo: Massimo Pinca/Reuters)

In an act of defiance against Saudi Arabia’s brutal assault on Yemen—which is being carried out with the support of the United States and European nations—Italian union workers on Monday refused to load a Saudi vessel reportedly filled with weapons that could be used to fuel the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“We will not be complicit in what is happening in Yemen,” union leaders said in a statement.

According to Reuters, dockworkers attempted to have the Saudi ship—officially called the the Bahri Yanbu—barred from entering the Port of Genoa.

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Trump’s trade war against China won’t help U.S. workers

by C. J. Atkins

Peoples’ World | May 16, 2019

Trump’s trade war against China won’t help U.S. workers

In this Nov. 9, 2017, photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, sits next to Chinese President Xi Jinping during an event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Trump is escalating his trade war against China, but China is not giving in to pressure. | Andy Wong / AP

“Trade is a zero-sum game.” “There can only be one winner and one loser, and the United States is losing.” That’s the message Donald Trump has been hammering since before he even came into office. The biggest villain in his nationalist nightmares, beating and cheating the U.S. in the cutthroat game of global economics? China, of course.

The narrative used to justify his escalating tariff war goes something like this: The trade deficit is out of control because China plays dirty. It keeps U.S. products out of its domestic market, undervalues its currency in order to sell things cheaper, subsidizes its state-owned companies, and steals “our” technology to improve its own products.

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‘Unions must provide political education or labor will find itself more powerless than ever before’—Timir Basu on labor in India

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MR Online | April 30, 2019

Timir Basu

Labor around the world is facing a hostile situation to the extent and intensity unprecedented in labor’s history. At the same time, labor in the Global South and Global North is theoretically, organizationally and politically unarmed. In this interview conducted in April 2019 by Farooque Chowdhury, Timir Basu focuses on labor in India, a large economy in the Global South. Basu, once a revolutionary who organized among the poor peasantry, spent years in prison, during which time he focused on organizing prison labor. He has been an editor of Frontier, the radical weekly published out of Kolkata, ever since.

Farooque Chowdhury: You were actively involved with organizing the poor peasantry along revolutionary line. That was days of organizing armed struggle, years ago. Then, after getting out of prison, you actively got involved with organizing unions. You were simultaneously writing on labor and unions/labor movement in two famous weeklies—Economic and Political Weekly and Frontier. Later, over the years, as editor of Frontier, you keenly observe the labor and labor movement in India. What’s the present condition of (a) the labor, and (b) the labor movement in this south Asian country?Read More »

The app economy—Can “gig” workers be organized?

by Wade Rathke

People’s World | April 29, 2019

The app economy—Can “gig” workers be organized?

Uber driver in San Francisco | Jeff Chiu/AP

When we think about organizing precarious “gig” workers, the task seems biblical.

Low pay and no benefits that accrue to gig workers are worsened by the uncertainty of a position where you can only work to deliver something specifically demanded by consumers and at a premium you are often powerless to control.

App companies misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees in order to pass on all of the maintenance and capital costs, aside from web work and marketing, to the workers, avoiding the personnel benefit and equipment costs that are routine for regular employers. Conditions seem to cry out a union.

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Workers of the World unite (at last)

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Great Transition | April 2019

Workers of the World Unite (ethicsalarms)

Once seen as the vanguard of a new social order, the contemporary labor movement has been written off by many progressive activists and scholars as a relic of the past. They should not be so hasty. Rather than spelling the beginning of the end for organized labor, globalization has brought new opportunities for reinvention, and a sea change in both trade unions and the wider labor movement. Most notably, globalization has forced unions to think and act outside the state to build transnational solidarity across countries and sectors. Emerging transnational unionism, if it perseveres, contains the seeds of a new global movement, a new international that extends beyond labor to embrace all forces working toward a Great Transition.

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Labor to oppose rush to enact ‘New NAFTA’

by Mark Gruenberg and John Wojcik

Peoples’ World | March 18, 2019

Labor to oppose rush to enact ‘New NAFTA’

AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington D.C. | Matt Popovich/Wikipedia (CC)

NEW ORLEANS—The AFL-CIO Executive Council announced March 14 that it will oppose any GOP Trump administration and corporate rush to enact a “new NAFTA” quickly in the 116th Congress.

In a detailed statement/position paper released at the end of the council’s meeting in New Orleans, the federation said “if the administration insists on a premature vote on the new NAFTA in its current form, we will have no choice but to oppose it.”

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Tea workers demand hike in minimum wages in India

Peoples Dispatch | March 05, 2019

Tea workers strike

Hundreds of tea workers, hailing from the state of Assam, gathered in the national capital of India on March 4, to protest the discrimination that workers suffer at the hands of the owners on a daily basis. The protesters demanded implementation of minimum wages and entitlement to legal framework to change the working conditions.

Under the banners of Chaaybagan Sangram Samity and Chah Mukti Sangram Samiti, the tea workers, associated with the Darjeeling Hills Terai Dooars, insisted that the dwellers reopen the closed tea garden and pay the dues. While calling for an end to discrimination, in terms of contractual and temporary recruitments, the workers said that bringing changes in labor laws would only bring some improvement in the sector.Read More »