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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 3:17am in

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Labor, Jobs, strike

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The General Strike of 2021

On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that some 4.3 million people had quit their jobs in August. That comes to about 2.9 percent of the workforce – up from the previous record set in April, of about 4 million people quitting.

All told, about 4 million American workers have been leaving their jobs every month since last spring.

Add this to last Friday’s jobs report showing the number of job openings at a record high. The share of people working or actively looking for work (the labor force participation rate) has dropped to 61.6 percent. Participation for people in their prime working years, defined as 25 to 54 years old, is also down. Over the past year, job openings have increased 62 percent. 

What’s happening? You might say American workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions. 

No one calls it a general strike. But in its own disorganized way it’s related to the organized strikes breaking out across the land – Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California, healthcare workers in Buffalo.

Disorganized or organized, American workers now have bargaining leverage to do better. 

After a year and a half of the pandemic, consumers have pent-up demand for all sorts of goods and services. But employers are finding it hard to fill positions. 

This general strike has nothing to do with the Republican bogeyman of extra unemployment benefits supposedly discouraging people from working. Reminder: The extra benefits ran out on Labor Day.

Renewed fears of the Delta variant of COVID may play some role. But it can’t be the major factor. With most adults now vaccinated, rates of hospitalizations and deaths are way down. 

Childcare is a problem for many workers, to be sure. But lack of affordable childcare has been a problem for decades. It can’t be the reason for the general strike. 

I believe that the reluctance of workers to return to or remain in their old jobs is mostly because they’re fed up. Some have retired early. Others have found ways to make ends meet other than remain in jobs they abhor. Many just don’t want to return to backbreaking or boring low-wage shit jobs. 

The media and most economists measure the economy’s success by the number of jobs it creates, while ignoring the *quality* of those jobs. That’s a huge oversight. 

Years ago, when I was Secretary of Labor, I kept meeting working people all over the country who had full-time work but complained that their jobs paid too little and had few benefits, or were unsafe, or required lengthy or unpredictable hours. Many said their employers treated them badly, harassed them, and did not respect them.

Since then, these complaints have only grown louder, according to polls. For many, the pandemic was the last straw. Workers are burned out, fed up, fried. In the wake of so much hardship, illness and death during the past year, they’re not going to take it anymore.

To lure workers back, employers are raising wages and offering other inducements. Average earnings rose 19 cents an hour in September and are up more than $1 an hour – or 4.6 percent – over the last year.

Clearly, that’s not enough.

Corporate America wants to frame this as a “labor shortage.” Wrong. What’s really going on is more accurately described as a living-wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a childcare shortage, a paid sick leave shortage, and a health care shortage.Unless *these* shortages are rectified, many Americans won’t return to work anytime soon. I say it’s about time.

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/09/2021 - 7:00pm in

By Tess Lawrence   Porter reveals he has document signed by Kate! In her second excerpt on Scott Morrison’s Coercive Control of Women, Tess Lawrence doubles down on her treatise calling out Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s dangerous weak and duplicitous leadership. She asserts the continuous political assault and insult of women spills into his incompetency in…

The post Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 2) appeared first on The AIM Network.

Liverpool Philosophers Object to Planned Layoffs at University, Call for Support

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/07/2021 - 1:06am in

The members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool have authored a letter in support of the actions being taken by their union in response to planned layoffs (redundancies) of colleagues in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

While the Department of Philosophy has not been targeted in the latest round of redundancies, they write, “these redundancy proposals, and especially the disreputable manner in which individuals have been targeted for redundancy, should be greatly alarming to academics across all universities and disciplines.”

Here’s the letter:

We are members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. We belong to a branch of the University and College Union (UCU) that is currently undertaking industrial action in response to redundancy threats against colleagues in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (HLS). The way in which these redundancy proposals have been drawn up and pursued would, if it came to be regarded as acceptable outside our University, have severely detrimental consequences for the working conditions of academics in the UK.

This is a plea for support.

47 colleagues in Health and Life Sciences were originally targeted for redundancy under ‘Project SHAPE’. We share our union’s view that the University has, during this redundancy process, blatantly abused research metrics and that it has deployed inappropriate grant income thresholds to ‘rank and yank’ academic staff. UCU models demonstrate that >50% of Russell Group staff in matched disciplinary areas would not meet these redundancy criteria. Please see further: https://ulivucunews.org.uk/project-shape-redundancies/flawed-selection-criteria-for-redundancies/.

We believe that these redundancy proposals, and especially the disreputable manner in which individuals have been targeted for redundancy, should be greatly alarming to academics across all universities and disciplines. The redundancies at Liverpool, if allowed to go through, would set a dangerous, intellectually indefensible, and unjust precedent for dismissing academics on the basis of inappropriate citation metrics and crude grant-capture statistics. Furthermore, the deeply flawed criteria that management at Liverpool is attempting to apply ‘perpetuate research and higher education barriers for women and minoritised groups and those with caring responsibilities’ (https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/metrics-are-clearly-weaponised-against-psychology).

Our industrial action against the redundancy proposals is democratically mandated, under legal statutes that place high demands on unions before industrial action can proceed. Our ballot had a 59.8% turnout, with 83.7% voting in favour of strike action and 90.3% in favour of Action Short of a Strike (ASOS). This was the largest ballot turnout in the history of the branch.

Our industrial action has included working to contract as part of ASOS since 10th May. From 24th May, there were three weeks of continuous strike action. The number of colleagues under threat of redundancy has now been reduced to 21. Nevertheless, management at the University has continued to employ redundancy criteria that UCU members, and >60 full professors in HLS who have written to our University’s Council, regard as deeply flawed and unethical: https://www.hls47.co.uk/new-tab/.

The highly regrettable industrial dispute in which we are now involved would probably have been avoided had management accepted our union’s requests to go to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS, https://www.acas.org.uk). UCU requested in writing that both parties agree to seek the assistance of ACAS in resolving the dispute on 27th January. This was declined by management in writing on 29th January. UCU reiterated this request on 3rd February during collective consultation. This was declined again. Management at the University has not made its reasons for not going to ACAS clear, stating only that it ‘does not consider it appropriate to engage the services of ACAS’ (https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11349/Outrage-as-University-of-Liverpool-threatens-health-and-life-science-jobs-during-pandemic). Collective consultation with UCU was ended by management during the three-week strike.

Since 18th June, UCU has been undertaking an assessment and marking boycott as part of ASOS. Our employer’s response has been to dock 100% of the pay of those UCU members who are participating in this boycott. Shockingly, the employer describes this 100% pay docking as ‘proportionate and necessary’ (https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2021/06/17/important-information-about-the-ucu-assessment-and-marking-boycott). The employer insists that any work that we do for the University while participating in the boycott will be voluntary, unpaid work. The employer only made this statement at 4pm on 17th June, without providing us with any clarity at all as to the practical details of how this highly punitive, union-bashing measure is supposed to work. Punitive actions have continued since, with many union members reporting that they feel intimidated by management communications during this time. In addition, members of staff in many departments, including our own, who have been participating in the industrial action have now had their annual leave requests rejected, apparently regardless of whether they had already taken the statutory minimum amount of holidays.

We call on the wider academic community to aid us in persuading, and putting pressure upon, senior management at the University of Liverpool to revoke the redundancy plans under Project SHAPE. In the face of the extreme and aggressive tactics against organized labour at our institution, we call on the wider academic community to support our industrial action and our union branch.

We would greatly appreciate your support in this very grave situation. Ways in which you could help us and our colleagues include the following.

Thank you for considering supporting us in this distressing and important dispute.

1st July 2021

Dr John Adams, University Teacher
Thomas Brown, Ph.D. student
Dr Rebecca Davnall, Lecturer
Harry Drummond, Ph.D. student
Dr Lucy Frith, Reader
Dr Katherine Furman, Lecturer
Dr Nikolaos Gkogkas, Lecturer
Professor Simon Hailwood
Dr Daniel Hill, Senior Lecturer
Dr Jan Jobling, Lecturer
Zishan Khawaja, Ph.D. student
Dr Robin McKenna, Lecturer
Dr Stephen McLeod, Senior Lecturer
Dr Elias Markolefas, University Teacher
Dr Vid Simoniti, Lecturer
Lauren Stephens, PhD Student
Jack Symes, Ph.D. student
Paul Taylor, Ph.D student
Dr Panayiota Vassilopoulou, Reader
Dr Elizabeth Ventham, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr Rachael Wiseman, Senior Lecturer

The letter is also available here.

(via Robin McKenna)

The Decline of Colombia’s Centaur State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/06/2021 - 11:50pm in

Photo credit: “Paro Nacional, Primera Línea Bogotá, May 28” – courtesy of Maria Paula Betancourt García _____ On April 28,...

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Meet the Neo-Nazi Advising Colombian Police on How to Break the National Strike

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/05/2021 - 3:36am in



CALI, COLOMBIA (Transcript) — Colombia is on strike. And the police and military are terrorizing the population to crush it.

It kicked on when the far-right president President Ivan Duque announced a wildly unpopular tax reform imposing crushing austerity measures on middle class and poor Colombians. Duque’s proposal aimed to pay off debt in order to project stability and satisfy international investors. But that stability for international capital means more instability for the tens of millions of Colombians struggling to put food on the table.

The country is already in dire economic straits  – 43 percent of Colombians are in poverty and 15 percent are in extreme poverty – all of this has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the tax reform proposal is the trigger for deep discontent.

The injustice for the 6,402 innocent civilians murdered by the military and paramilitaries, then covered up. What’s known as the False Positives scandal.

The Duque government’s attacks on the 2016 peace accord that ended the civil war with the left-wing guerrilla group known as the FARC.

The extermination of social leaders, indigenous leaders, human rights defenders, and ex-FARC combatants.

Mishandling of the COVID 19 pandemic. Sheer corruption and impunity.

 

Neo-nazi advises Colombian forces

All of this frustration was just bubbling beneath the surface, and Duque’s austerity proposal boiled the society over.

Facing this unrest, the Colombian government –  a supposed democracy – is acting much more like a far-right, even fascistic, dictatorship. That’s not hyperbole.

This is the figure that provided the intellectual framework for how Colombian police understand the protests.

Colombia Nazi

Source | Semana

His name is Alexis Lopez Tapia. He’s a former leader of a now-dissolved Chilean neo-fascist party called the New Homeland Society.

Colombia Nazi

Source | La Desdémona Blog

In February, he was invited by the Colombian military to give a presentation on how to defeat an uprising. He describes a pseudo-intellectual framework called “Dissipated Molecular Revolution.”

He describes an intercontinental communist conspiracy that has taken place over the last three-plus decades to take over Latin America in a post-modern framework.

It lumps together protesters, disparate social and indigenous movements, armed groups, human rights NGOs, civil society – anyone who dissents from the politics of the state – as part of a subversive conspiracy that the military is wholly unprepared for.

While this might sound like a crackpot conspiracy theory to the average viewer, it resonated with the most powerful figure in Colombia: former president Alvaro Uribe.

Uribe referenced the neo-fascist Alexis Lopez’s “Dissipated Molecular Revolution” theory on Twitter.

Uribe is the mastermind behind the bloodbath in Colombia. He’s widely known to be a puppet master of the current president, Iván Duque, the figure giving the orders to beat and kill protesters.

 

Colombian police ultra-violence

Here a cop chases down a protester and shoots him point-blank.

After a day of initial protests, Uribe sent out a tweet calling on police and soldiers to use their weapons to “defend their integrity.”

Hours later, after a massive online campaign, Twitter deleted his tweet because it was clear incitement to violence.

But it was too late. Colombian forces clearly understood Uribe’s tweet as a green light, a license to kill. And that’s exactly what they did. Police massacred 7 people in the city of Cali, a hotbed of protests.

 

Duque, Uribe and the narco-state

The U.S. gave these helicopters, free of charge, to Colombia as part of what’s known as Plan Colombia – a massive military aid package that was ostensibly about fighting drug traffickers, but was really about defeating the leftist FARC counterinsurgency and punishing their base of support among peasants in rural areas.

In 2016, the FARC and government made a peace deal, so aside from a few holdouts, the FARC doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, there’s more cocaine coming out of Colombia than ever, and the international drug cartels are more powerful than ever.

They control nearly every aspect of the state, police, and military. How do we know this?

A powerful drug trafficker named Jose Hernandez Aponte AKA ‘El Ñeñe’ coordinated a campaign to buy votes for president Duque using stolen money.

This was ordered by Alvaro Uribe. And the legal system has never brought charges against Duque for this because it’s under his and Uribe’s control.

Ñeñe was close with top figures from the military and police too.  The same state forces that are supposed to be battling drug cartels. This is publicly available information, so the U.S. government knows it, even if the corporate-owned media ignores it.

 

Duque orders full militarization

Colombia is a narco-state posing as a democracy. But with the ultra-violent crackdown on the protests, it’s shedding the “democratic” facade.

After four days of mass mobilizations all over the country, Duque announced the withdrawal of the proposal but said another one would be announced in the coming days, a clear attempt to placate the protesters that failed.

Hours after the announcement, Duque declared he is sending the military to the streets.

“Our military forces, trained to act in urban settings, are supporting the work of the national police,” he declared.

At Duque’s side was the army commander Enrique Zapateiro, a hardline who has been involved in the murder and cover-up of innocent civilians, known to be among the most extreme right-wing elements of the military and an instrument of Uribe.

“A friend of mine who is a psychiatrist and had to interview Zapateiro once told me he is psychotic, he has mental issues,” commented journalist Abeldaro Gomez Molina. “And truth be told you can see some imbalances in his way of thinking which is troubling because he is an instrment of Uribe, so we can only expect the worst from him.”

Soon after, police and military killed two more protesters.

In the city of Cali – where protests have been the biggest –  police shot a young protester named Nicolas Guerrero in the head. A popular Colombian DJ was live streaming from the protest so some 70,000 people watched Guerrero bleed to death. That DJ said his phone, Instagram, and Facebook accounts had been hacked, and his friends and family are receiving strange calls asking for his location, forcing him to flee Cali.

 

Paramilitaries attack protesters

As protesters were being massacred In the city of Pereira, another center of protests, the mayor Carlos Maya called on private security to collaborate with the military and police.

“We will call on all business groups and private security forces to create a united front with the police and military to reestablish order and citizens’ security,” Maya announced.

This is an implicit call for paramilitaries to take to the streets explains Lina Maria Montilla Diaz, an official in the Central Union of Workers. “We have the problem of paramilitarism and with these types of declarations they are inviting these paramilitary groups to start working and strengthening their ranks,” she told me.

Meanwhile, vehicles with hidden license plates and men in high rubber boots –  telltale signs of paramilitary activity –  began to appear.

Dead chickens were left outside the headquarters of the left-wing Alternative Democratic Pole party – an unmistakable death threat.

Shadowy groups began to circulate explicit threats against protesters.

Just days after the mayor of Periera’s call for private security to take control of the city, plain-clothed gunmen pulled up in a car and opened fire on Lucas Villa, a university student and yoga teacher.

Lucas Villa has been a highly visible figure in the protests and was apparently targeted for his activism.

“It’s a tax deficit taken from the rich people, the middle class, and the poor. Now we are going to have to pay more for water, internet, coffee, and phone service because we’ve been naive,” he explained to a group of people on a public bus.

At the time of this recording, 34 people have been reported killed. But that’s certainly way below the actual number. According to Colombian journalist Laura Sofia Mejia, the government is covering the real number up.

“Something important is that we contacted one of the institutions trying to get information on how many were killed on a certain night and we were told off the record by an official that the order is not to reveal any information to the press,” she said.

 

Police facilitate paramilitaries

Throughout the strike, the Duque government has insisted that it’s allowing peaceful protest and that the militarization is necessary to battle vandals and terrorists. Generating fear and portraying its heavy hand as the answer seems to be the government’s only chance at subduing the strike. While it was clear that the “vandals and terrorists” narrative was a lie from the start, it all came crashing down on Thursday when a group of men in civilian clothes got out of a vehicle in Cali and opened fire on a demonstration.

Other demonstrators nearby managed to search the vehicle and found police gear inside.

Caught red-handed, the police were forced to admit the vehicle belonged to them.

With their scare tactics failing, Duque and Uribe’s murderous iron fist failing to break the strike, there’s no telling where this goes. Anything could happen.

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000

The post Meet the Neo-Nazi Advising Colombian Police on How to Break the National Strike appeared first on MintPress News.