To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
August 13, 2017
RE: Heyer; alt-right swamped; An Inconvenient Sequel; Detroit water shutoffs; UAW loses election
Heather Heyer opposed racism, anti-Muslim hysteria, the Klan and neo-nazis, and Trumpism, and her last facebook post was "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention". She was a paralegal, and a major part of her work was helping disadvantaged people. She is one of many people across the country who oppose the white supremacists and fascist alt-right whenever they appear.
The "unite the right" rally featured heavily-armed white supremacists aping fascist stormtroopers, and seeking to intimidate any opposition. White supremacists are a key part of Trump's support base, while the conservative Republicans have spurred them on and sought legal protection for them. The murder of Heyer follows a script written by racist politicians who, of course, will hide their bloody hands. But everyone knows that this year a number of Trumpist politicians made a point of encouraging the running down of demonstrators with cars. In May 2017 the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill to protect drivers who injure protesters. Similar bills were introduced in the Tennessee House and Senate. And in North Dakota, in response to the opposition at Standing Rock to the Dakota Access Pipeline, GOP state rep Keith Kempenich pushed a bill to shield drivers who injure or kill protesters on public roads. The bills supposedly don't legalize intentionally injuring or killing anti-Trump demonstrators, but they certainly encourage it.
The murder of Heather Meyer may have been intended to intimidate the anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters, but it has not worked. Her memory will encourage yet more opposition to the racists. In Virginia and elsewhere, the racists and alt-right fanatics will continue to be met with mass opposition. Below we report on a event in Seattle.
.From an account by a member of Seattle Workers' Voice:
Under a liberal mayor and city administration, the cops and Klan went hand in hand today (Sunday, August 13) in Seattle: the fully armored riot squad blocked 1500 or more demonstrators from getting anywhere near the Proud Boys/Trumpists/Nationalists rally at Westlake. A small group dressed in black futilely tried to crash through the police lines and suffered at least one arrest, but 200 or more others found ways to sneak around the police and join some 100 counter-protesters who'd gone straight to Westlake. So despite the police mobilization to keep us away from them, the 60 or more right-wingers were constantly booed, heckled, and chanted against anyway.
Below is the call for the demonstration by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS):
Hello OWLS friends and community/labor activists,
The ultra-right continues to push its inhuman political agenda, and will be in Seattle on SUNDAY, AUGUST 13 for a so-called "prayer" vigil. Please attend a counter-protest if you can, and help spread the word. By standing united, in solidarity, labor can send a message: AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL.
Solidarity Against Hate
Sunday, August 13, 1pm-4pm
Meet at Denny Park, 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle
March downtown together
Seattle has hosted a few too many hateful, violent, far-right extremist rallies this year. Again, far-right extremists will converge on Westlake Park in Seattle on August 13th.
The same violent, street-fighting crews that have been hopping from Vancouver, WA to Portland, OR to Seattle, WA and back again are expected to be principal participants in this event. When they come, they bring violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia (among other forms of bigotry).
The community is coming together in solidarity against this open display of bigotry and anti-labor bravado. Join this growing united front -- the Greater Seattle IWW General Defense Committee Local 24, Seattle Solidarity, the Freedom Socialist Party - Seattle Branch, Radical Women Seattle Branch, International Socialist Organization - Seattle Branch, ANSWER Seattle.org, Party for Socialism and Liberation - Seattle, SAFE in Seattle, Veterans for Peace - Chapter 92, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), and the many, many others in a display of strength in solidarity with our targeted community members against the barrage of hate and violence coming from the ever-emboldened far-right. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to get your organization on board with this action please email email@example.com
POINT OF UNITY: The bigotry, racism and violence that far-right organizers are bringing to Seattle on August 13th cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Regardless of our diverse political affiliations and views, we understand that solidarity and unity in action is our strongest weapon. Solidarity enables us to overcome the barriers towards building a powerful, democratic working-class movement.
We will be shoulder–to-shoulder with all in our community who are targeted by the far-right in a unified, orderly, and strong counter-protest. <>
A friend and I went to see the new Al Gore movie, An Inconvenient Sequel. First thing we noticed was a table in the theater lobby where Citizen's Climate Lobby was collecting signatures for a carbon tax. No one was there, but it was notable they have a presence.
The movie had some positive features describing the problem. It showed graphic closeup video of glaciers in Greenland where water is melting so fast it's undermining the glaciers. It showed snow pack exploding from heat. It showed statistics on temperature rise. A very sad but dramatic part was where it showed large graveyards for victims of tropical storms in the Philippines. It showed Gore giving impassioned speeches (really!) about global warming to large crowds.
Negatively, it's weak on what to do except, apparently, become a believer in Al Gore and trust in capitalism to solve problems. Much of the movie is about Gore contacting world leaders and negotiating deals. He's at the Paris Climate Summit talking to John Kerry and other government and corporate leaders. The dramatic high point comes when Gore talks the head of a solar energy corporation into giving India new solar cells, so India can have cheap electricity and won't build some new coal-fired plants. He also talks bankers into considering low-interest loans to India so they can afford to borrow money to build solar generating stations.
As an afterthought, the movie mentions Donald Trump coming into office and implementing the pullout from Paris, etc. Gore's reaction is simply, "We'll do it without Trump." Like the government policy doesn't matter. In recent interviews I've seen on TV, Gore carries this to the point of over-optimism. "Renewables are getting more and more cheap, the world is going in that direction," etc. In the movie, when Indian activists accuse the U.S. of dragging its feet and doing nothing, Gore is quick to respond, "You’re overlooking X, Y, Z; many positive things are happening in the U.S." He doesn't want anyone to be blamed for anything; just keep a happy face and trust market forces to bring about needed change.
By Pete Brown, Detroit Workers' Voice <>
Recently in Detroit a panel of public health experts called for a declaration of a public health emergency due to the city shutting off water to thousands of city residents. A recent study by a local hospital found that people with water-borne illness were approximately one-and-a-half times more likely to live on a block that experienced water shutoffs. Due to the way the data was collected, experts could not pin down the addresses more precisely. But the general results were clear: if your water is shut off, you’re much more likely to suffer diseases like the MRSA infection.
The study was first published in April. On July 26th a panel of experts and community activists met at the Wayne State University Law School to discuss the study and come up with recommendations. One of the main speakers was Dr. Wendy Johnson, director of La Familia Medical Center in New Mexico and formerly director of public health in Cleveland. Johnson detailed some of the main consequences of having your water shut off: dehydration, poor hygiene, mental health issues due to the inability to bathe, and the ripple effects of contagious diseases. Another consequence she mentioned is poor nutrition: because a person cannot cook at home, he/she ends up buying fast food and sugary soft drinks, trying to find the cheapest food and drink available.
Johnson concluded by saying, "This is not rocket science; you don’t need five letters after your name to know this stuff; you all know it intuitively. Water is life." (Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, July 26)
Johnson denounced local public health officials for not coming to the public meeting sponsored by the Law School's Center for Civil Rights. The past and present directors of Detroit public health refused to attend because of their political interest in trying to make Detroit look good. Johnson said, "It is astonishing and unconscionable that I have to be here today," she said, noting that the city appears to have prioritized profit over the community. (Ibid.)
Actually it's not surprising that an out-of-state medical expert had to be called in, considering Michigan's record of ignoring community activists. In Flint local and state politicians ran roughshod over residents who complained about their water, until finally some activists sent it for analysis to a well-respected lab in Virginia. Only when someone out of state analyzed the water did state officials finally admit the truth, that Flint water was carrying toxic levels of lead and other metals. Now Detroit appears to be trying to beat Flint’s record of neglecting public health. Between 2014 and 2016 the water department shut off water to about 80,000 homes -- each presumably with a few people living there -- and this year it's expected to shut off 18,000 more.
City officials say they have new pay-over-time plans to help residents pay their water bills, but still it’s expensive for many people in Detroit, where the poverty rate is almost 40%. Anyone who falls behind in their payments is scheduled for shutoff, which only drives them deeper into poverty. The city refuses to consider plans for making water more affordable or for devising payment according to one’s ability to pay.
The panel concluded with a call for a declaration of a public health emergency in Detroit. (Jennifer Chambers, Detroit News, July 26) This would be a good first step, but residents and water activists need to press local politicians to pay attention to this matter. County and state politicians need to be pressured as well. Because of the potential spread of infectious disease, this emergency could affect people all over southeast Michigan, where millions of people live. After Flint it's hard to believe, but local and state politicians are still ignoring the threats to people’s access to clean water.
By Pete Brown, Detroit Workers' Voice <>
The United Auto Workers has lost another union representation election, this time on August 4 at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi. Below is a comment by Tim Hall of the Detroit Workers' Voice.
Bankruptcy of the UAW leadership's organizing tactics:
* the UAW labor traitors called an election before 50% of the workers had signed union cards,
* while half the organizing committee was inactive,
* while the organizing committee did not reach the whole plant,
* while 900 of the workers had not yet been contacted by the organizing committee,
* while no workers were emboldened enough to challenge the vicious anti-union propaganda of Nissan management in the small (25-worker) meetings called by management to bombard workers with anti-union lies,
* and while no struggles or campaigns were launched on in-plant issues to show the workers a way to fight.
UAW President Dennis Williams claims the reason the union lost was the corruption scandal (involving Fiat and UAW officials). Well, Dennis's buddies were involved, true, but Dennis does not want the UAW leadership's tactics and methods of organizing challenged. He does not want an active, fighting rank and file, just like his predecessors going back to past UAW Presidents Bob King, Woodcock, Fraser and, yes, Walter Reuther himself.
The only answer is a fighting rank-and -file worker movement. And it, and it alone, can solve what to do with the UAW leadership and the union structure.
(There is more information about the election in the "Labor Notes"
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