Social Protest Lit.: Nelson Mandela, South African President, etc.

An excerpt from the 1961 statement “The Struggle is My Life” by Nelson Mandela . Mandela was a South African apartheid foe sentenced to life in prison in 1964 and not released until 1990. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected president of South Africa in 1994, 1918-2013.

1990 South Africa
1990 South Africa

This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

Those who are voteless cannot be expected to continue paying taxes to a government which is not responsible to them. People who live in poverty and starvation cannot be expected to pay exorbitant house rents to the government and local authorities. We furnish the sinews of agriculture and industry. We produce the work of the gold mines, the diamonds and the coal, of the farms and industry, in return for miserable wages. Why should we continue enriching those who steal the products of our sweat and blood? Those who exploit us and refuse us the right to organise trade unions? Those who side with the government when we stage peaceful demonstrations to assert our claims and aspirations? How can Africans serve on School Boards and Committees which are part of Bantu Education, a sinister scheme of the Nationalist government to deprive the African people of real education in return for tribal education? Can Africans be expected to be content with serving Advisory Boards and Bantu Authorities when the demand all over the continent of Africa is for national independence and self-government? Is it not an affront to the African people that the government should now seek to extend Bantu Authorities to the cities, when people in the rural areas have refused to accept the same system and fought against it tooth and nail? Why should we continue carrying these badges of slavery? Non-collaboration is a dynamic weapon. We must refuse. We must use it to send this government to its grave. It must be used vigorously and without delay. The entire resources of the Black people must be mobilised to withdraw all co-operation with the Nationalist government. Various forms of industrial and economic action will be employed to undermine the already tottering economy of the country. We will call upon international bodies to expel South Africa and upon nations of the world to sever economic and diplomatic relations with the country.

 

Right-To-Work Should Give Up Union Gains

110308_labor_unions_ap_328According to an article by the AP, the Right-To-Work movement across the U.S. is gaining more and more momentum as GOP governors and statehouses move to disable union rights by making it illegal to require workers to pay union dues .

The highest profile battle over a Right-To-Work bill over the last few years has been in Wisconsin. When a failed attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker occurred (he is also a leading GOP presidential candidate) for attacking unions beginning back in 2011, he signed one of these new anti-union bill earlier this week making Wisconsin the 25th state to do so.

Nearly 800 union-related bills have been proposed in statehouses this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reports also show that union membership has been steadily declining since the 1980s, when it measured at 20 percent of all workers. In 2014, only 11.1 percent nationally belonged to a union.

Now let us be honest in this assumption, if that makes sense: These workers do not want to pay union dues while receiving all the monumental advances won through blood and hardship by organized labor. The labor/owner struggle over the past centuries should not be afforded to ungrateful employees who want to take advantage of modern salary contract negotiations. So here is a list that should apply to workers who do not want to pay union dues according to the Right-To-Work laws:

1) 16 hour work days are mandatory

2) 6-day work weeks are mandatory

3) No breaks are afforded

4) No workers’ compensation for those injured on the job

5) Pennies on the current dollar should be afforded for work-wages for they will not be negotiated by a union

6) No OSHA laws should be observed which protect workers from dangerous working conditions

7) Employees can be fired off-hand without any given reason with no recourse to union appeals processes

8) You have to bring your children to work everyday so their little hands and fingers can work small pieces machines that may indeed allow them to lose those little hands and fingers

Need To Organize at Work More Now Than Ever!

union_yesI was reading an excerpt from author Marianne Cooper’s book today called “Cut Adrift: Families in Insecure Times” at Salon.com (According to the Amazon summary, “Cut Adrift makes an important and original contribution to the national conversation about inequality and risk in American society.”) and I began to think about the decline of unions and unionizing in America today.  Part of it reads below:

In this new [employment] environment, unions are struggling. Although manufacturing workers have a long history of labor organizing, service sector workers such as restaurant and retail employees [which makes up 80% of occupations in America today] do not, making it harder for service employee unions to grow. Moreover, globalization, technological changes, and the spread of flexible work arrangements have combined to enable employers to make an end run around unions by moving jobs to countries or parts of the United States where anti-union attitudes and laws predominate. As a consequence of these developments, union membership has steadily declined.

A productive workers’ organization is a must for a good quality working-life. Before unions there were 6-day workweeks, 16-hour days, and unspeakably dangerous conditions. There was no OSHA, no breaks, and you could be fired swiftly and without recourse. And during our darkest days you could be badly beaten, or killed by a group of Pinkerton detectives for even being perceived as organizing. There were even war-like firefights between workers and local deputies hired by boss-capitalists at times like the one during The Battle for Blair Mountain.

This led me to another interesting piece of information I found from February 20, 2014 at the Pew Research Center:

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2013, about half (51%) of Americans said they had favorable opinions of labor unions, versus 42% who said they had unfavorable opinions about them. That was the highest favorability rating since 2007, though still below the 63% who said they were favorably disposed toward unions in 2001. In a separate 2012 survey, 64% of Americans agreed that unions were necessary to protect working people (though 57% also agreed that unions had “too much power”).

So what this tells me is that there is a real, perceived value in union organizing today. But how do we get back there to 1954 when 28% of all workers in the country belonged to unions at it’s peak? I am afraid that I do not have the answer at this moment, nor probably for many afterward. But unionizing is the biggest threat to capitalism as it runs more and more rampant across the globe and almost completely unbridled here in the United States.

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