Open Thread WE 10 AUG ~ Strike


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First US general strike in 1877 showed power of labor
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The “Great Strike” of 1877, sparked by starvation wages and brutal working conditions, started among rail workers and then drew in more than half a million others. It alarmed the capitalist rulers. Federal, state and city governments unleashed troops, cops and gangs of thugs on strikers, cheered on by the bosses’ press. Karl Marx wrote that this mighty class battle “could very well be the point of origin for the creation of a serious workers’ party.”

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Unions became better organized as well as more competent, and the number of strikes increased. The Knights of Labor grew to be a national organization of predominately Catholic workers, numbering 700,000 by the early 1880s. In the 1880s nearly 10,000 strike actions and lockouts took place. In 1886 nearly 700,000 workers went on strike. Business leaders strengthened their opposition to the unions, often firing men who tried to organize or join them. Nonetheless, the labor movement continued to grow.

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The strike reached East St. Louis, Illinois, then a busy railroad hub, on July 22 and crossed the Mississippi into St. Louis proper the following day. Seizing on popular support for the action, members of the socialist Workingmen’s Party (WPUSA) organized a general strike that brought the city to a screeching halt. The strike’s demands grew alongside it, having begun with a focus on an end to child labor and an eight-hour work day and then expanding to include calls for the nationalization of railroads, the provision of food to strikers and several other political, economic and monetary reforms. Within days strikers found themselves in charge of much of the city, and the WPUSA’s Executive Committee attempted to form a workers’ council made up of WPUSA members and labor leaders. Though it’s relatively little-known in modern-day America, this was a momentous step in socialist and labor-oriented politics; it was one of the first of its kind, now seen as a precursor to later workers’ councils (called “soviets” in Russian, this model had some success, especially in St. Petersburg, in the 1905 Russian Revolution and, of course, took on new meaning shortly thereafter).

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The time is getting ripe for another show of force by the workers of the US and other nations to diminish the powers of corporate elites. Wage stagnation, climbing inflation, loss of benefits and extreme income discrepancy is a potent
brew. What are chances of forming a more perfect union?

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Credits ~
https://themilitant.com/2021/05/15/first-us-general-strike-in-1877-showe...
https://laborguild.com/2020/07/16/this-week-in-labor-history-vol-8-the-g...
https://brewminate.com/labor-organization-and-the-great-railroad-strike-...
https://www.thoughtco.com/great-railroad-strike-of-1877-1773903

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Open thread so post away on whatever moves you.

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QMS's picture

In more recent developments, union organization is building momentum in the US.

But now, in the wake of a pandemic that showed Americans how much they need the protections unions provide, a growing number of workers are fighting back and proving union-busting to be a losing game. Unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against employers skyrocketed 14 percent during the first six months of this fiscal year compared to the same period last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board, reflecting not only management’s increasing desperation to thwart unions but also workers’ growing determination to hold bosses accountable for illegal interference in union drives.

and

With President Joe Biden’s support, the House passed bipartisan legislation—the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—that would ban captive audience meetings, impose financial penalties on executives who block union drives and stop companies from stalling negotiations for a first contract.

The bill, not yet taken up in the Senate, also would fast-track legal proceedings for workers illegally suspended or fired for union activity, and it would give workers the right to sue employers for violating their labor rights.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/08/how-employers-are-trying-to-thwa...

Workers rights are something worth fighting for.

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Lookout's picture

to break those strikes.
https://listverse.com/2017/09/14/10-tragic-times-the-us-government-massa...

On July 14, 1877, railway workers in Martinsburg, Virginia, went on strike to protest the third pay cut within a year. Workers disrupted rail operations and prevented all train traffic. The strike soon spread to Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Missouri. It was the first national strike in US history.

Within six days, first blood was drawn when Maryland National Guard troops confronted striking workers in Baltimore and opened fire on them—killing 11 and wounding 40.[1] Over the following two days, Pennsylvania National Guard troops killed 40 striking workers in Pittsburgh, firing upon crowds and bayoneting the strikers. At the same time, federal troops killed as many as 18 striking workers on the streets of St. Louis.

This violence proliferated. As many as 44 strikers were killed in Pennsylvania, 30 in Chicago, and eight in New York. By the end of the strike, more than 100 workers had been killed by cops, National Guard troops, and federal soldiers.

In the aftermath of the widespread violence and destruction, both workers and state governments took the events as a sign of a great struggle to come. State governments began growing their National Guard regiments, while labor unions ramped up recruitment and organizing efforts. It would be nearly a century before the bloody contest would come to an end.

My hope is to transition to worker owned business or at least worker profit sharing with worker representation on the boards as in Germany. Of course it is a pipe dream, but a goal none the less.

Thanks for the OT and hope everyone is doing well and has a good day!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

QMS's picture

@Lookout

requested and received federal troops to put down the strikes.
No doubt, a similar reaction would be enacted now.

We finally got some rain last night! Badly needed.

cheers!

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Lookout's picture

@QMS

Already 3.5' this month and it is drizzling again right now. Much needed here too.

Take care and be well!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

QMS's picture

In the shameful US empire war files ..

1079286190_0-88-1468-914_1280x0_80_0_0_6cf1f8d3bf3f8a91820eafedf2853ee8.jpg

On this day, August 10, 1961, the United States began chemical warfare in Vietnam War, having sprayed 77 million liters of defoliants over South Vietnam by the end of 1971. Of that amount, 44 million liters contained dioxin, which causes various diseases and genetic mutations in humans and other living beings exposed to it.

https://sputniknews.com/20220810/august-10th-remembering-a-day-of-traged...

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CB's picture

@QMS
have to deal with the consequences of this inhumane war crime by the US.

Interests of Agent Orange/dioxin victims ensured
August 10, 2022

(VOVWORLD) - This year marks 61 years since the Agent Orange disaster began in Vietnam on August 10, 1961. Agent Orange/dioxin sprayed by the US military on Vietnam’s southern battlefields between 1961 and 1971 caused tens of thousands of deaths and gave millions of people incurable diseases. Since then the Vietnamese government and community have been dealing with the consequences of the toxic chemical and caring for Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

More than 4 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin. More than 3 million are still suffering from effects that have been passed on to a 3rd and 4th generation, who are living with deformities and other birth defects.

Consistent policy, systematic direction

After national reunification in 1975, the Vietnamese Party and State consistently and thoroughly took care of people who participated in the war and were infected with Agent Orange/dioxin and their relatives. Laws and policies on Agent Orange have been fine-tuned. Authorities have issued disability certificates to nearly 3 million people, many of them Agent Orange/dioxin victims. More than 320,000 people who participated in the resistance war and their children infected with Agent Orange/dioxin have benefited from preferential policies. The State spends more than 430 million USD a year on incentives, subsidies, health care, and rehabilitation for AO victims. AO victims and their children receive a monthly allowance, free health insurance, orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation, vocational training, free job applications, and discounts on public transportation. People with severe disabilities, including Agent Orange/dioxin victims, receive orthopedic and functional rehabilitation. Tens of thousands of disabled children, including those suffering effects of Agent Orange/dioxin, are enrolled in special schools.
...
There are 12 Hoa Binh (Peace) Villages, Friendship Villages, centers for fostering children disabled by Agent Orange/dioxin, and 26 other social protection centers offer detoxification, rehabilitation, vocational training, regular care, and boarding for Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

Reproductive health counseling centers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have worked hard to reduce the rate of birth defects. Some localities have conducted psychological trauma surveys and offered psychological support to AO victims.

The Vietnamese Party and State acknowledge that caring for Agent Orange/dioxin victims is an important, long-term task.

The 13 Most Evil US Government Human Experiments
...
[WARNING: video may be disturbing, but is a reality of what Americans used as biological warfare during Vietnam and what we, as Americans, VOLUNTARILY injected into people for “testing” purposes … with the help of a very popular American company.]

Above is a video of what the effects of Agent Orange can do to children of parents affected, or even exposed to it.

While he received funding from the Agent Orange producing Dow Chemical Company, the US Army, and Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Albert Kligman used prisoners as subjects in what was deemed “dermatological research”.

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QMS's picture

@CB

to the Vietnamese innocents? Our vets had to fight to get agent orange listed as a debilitating
disease. (Friendly fire). I lost a couple of buddies to that scourge. If the pentagoons and their ilk
were to be forced to pay for their soul-less transgressions, it may knock down their income
stream a notch. Problem is, who is to make them pay? Congress won't. International courts?
Perhaps the governments of Vietnam could file suit, as our vets had to.

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ggersh's picture

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Food for thought....why do most polls usually come out in the 50/50
range, when the Princeton study shows it as a 60/40 70/30 on issues
that americans want

enhydra lutris's picture

was another biggie. Could be a model for how to do it right. Most of the unions joined in and delegates from all of them formed a strike committee that worked to ensure that the ordinary citizens didn't suffer on account of the strike. They set up soup kitchens, saw to it that milk was delivered to families with small kids and stuff like that. It was broken by a massive show of military and police force including a ton of newly hired cops, threats of using cops as scabs and timidity on the part of international and national level union orgs like the AFL who pressured the locals to cave. Naturally, when it was over the state went after the wobblies even though they weren't the primary instigators or organizers.

When thinking of general strikes today, we need to consider the nature of the workforce and of the various professional thugs and their ability to rapidly mobilize against strikers as well as the need for a consumer strike in parallel. It once was that crossing picket lines was anathema to large segments of the populace, even within living memory. Today that seems to be very much not the case, and that spirit needs to be re-kindled.

HUELGA!!

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

in baseball news

- Rodolfo Castro got the call-up and dropped a call in his return to the big leagues.

The Pittsburgh infielder lost his phone during a slide into third base and the Pirates lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 on Tuesday night.

"I don't think there's any professional ballplayer that would ever go out there with any intentions of taking a cellphone,'' Castro told Pittsburgh media members through an interpreter. "It's horrible it happened to me. Obviously, it was very unintentional.''
...
Third-base umpire Adam Hamari immediately saw the phone and pointed to it on the ground. The 23-year-old Castro picked up the phone and handed it to Pirates third-base coach Mike Rebelo, who had an exasperated look on his face before taking it.

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Here's another article by Patrick Lawrence about our bumbling 'leaders' and the harm they cause.
https://consortiumnews.com/2022/08/09/patrick-lawrence-the-pelosi-fallout/

As readers will know, I am always on for another failure in American foreign policy. House Speaker Pelosi just gave us the biggest and best we have seen in years, although the Ukraine mess is a contender for the title.

During the two-and-some hours Xi Jinping and Joe Biden spoke by telephone prior to the Pelosi misadventure, the Chinese president made a few points it is useful to note. Here is one, as Global Times, the English-language paper owned by People’s Daily, summarized the Foreign Ministry readout of the call:

“Faced with a world of change and disorder, the international community and the people around the world expect China and the U.S. to take the lead in upholding world peace and security and in promoting global development and prosperity. This is the responsibility of China and the U.S. as two major countries.”

The key thought there is joint responsibility, the duty the People’s Republic and the U.S., as the world’s most powerful nations, share toward the rest of the human community. I read it as some 5–to–midnight effort on Xi’s part to talk sense into Biden.

When Pelosi went ahead anyway, the breach was sudden. Apart from the live-fire military exercises, which we read Sunday are going to be held regularly, Beijing severed diplomatic relations with the U.S. in a range of areas — drug interdiction, illegal migrants, cross-border crime and so on. Among these, are several big ones: Talks on climate change and contacts on the defense side, at policy and operational levels, are canceled. So are consultations on maritime security.

The dangers implicit in China’s policy response to Pelosi’s stupidity are obvious. The larger point is that, once again, a person who is of low intellect and unworthy of respect has tumbled the world into a completely unnecessary new era of tension, the bitter taste of which we are soon to know.

The whole article is a short but worthwhile read.

Thanks for the OT QMS and the history.

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enhydra lutris's picture

discovered a new zoonotic virus transmitted by shrews. I seem to recall that they've been an issue since Shakespeare's time. Wink

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris , as old as the hills, probably pre-date old Shakespeare by a lot.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@randtntx

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris , by Shakespeare had one tamed. But that was just theater and therefore fake news.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@randtntx

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

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earthling1's picture

To be anti- union is to be anti-American.
Because America is a union.
All union organizations are exactly like our own government, with elected representatives to voice the concerns of the dues (taxes) paying members.
Generally,they elect a president, vice president (sometimes called a business agent), a financial secretary (collect the taxes or dues), and an executive board (a kind of congress).
They are as American as Mom and apple pie.
Most other organizations we are familiar with are run the same way, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, made up of dues paying corporations.
Big Pharma has its own union with dues paying members, as do the oil corporations, the American Bar Association, and the Screen Actors Guild.
Whatever label is used, they all have one thing in common, they pay for membership. And for their money, they expect those paid leaders to watch out for their interests.
Singling out the labor unions for destruction is discriminatory and un-American.
This is the narrative that we must present.
IMHO

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

QMS's picture

@earthling1

We have seen where the executive branch of unions have worked against the
workers interest. We have also seen where the workers have over-riden the
upper echelon's decisions. Voting as a bloc does have some sway.

Generally, the more organized the workers, the better chance they have to fight
against unfair labor practices. Big unions, like big business, hold some power -
but are corruptible.

I have tried to organize small shops and businesses, but it seems to come down to
fear for member's jobs and pressure from their employers to intimidate.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@earthling1

unwieldy it becomes. Arguably, to even be an organization it must be organized, meaning some sort of rules and structure, else it is some sort of loose association that is always always ad hoc and incapable of committing to anything beyond the moment, essentially a mob. Also it will invariably have to have a process for decision making and it must be able to deal with all kinds of government entities, rules and regulations and it is likely to need some sort of finances for things like obtaining legal counsel and paying bail bondsmen or making cash bail, etc. The instant money gets involved, so do taxing authorities. In the US, and most/all of the several states, as in many countries, the organization most likely to more often than not involve the least hassles, aggravation and busywork will be the corporation, whether it's a union, a church, the starvation army, scouts, or any other not technically criminal enterprise. Corporations are creatures of the state and most states will require certain minimum requirements, even for non-business non=profit entities. These will include a governing body consisting of a board, a president, a secretary, a treasurer, etc. What you enumerated are simply the legal trappings of a legal corporation.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Don't drink and tractor

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