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United by Hard Times: Workers Organize Across Race Lines

A tough economy makes cross-race organizing more important than ever.

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Carlos Jimenez, Yes! Magazine

Carlos Jimenez marches with Jobs with Justice at the 2007 US Social Forum. Photo by Carlos Fernandez

I’m feeling relieved. For a while it seemed like the historic election of our first African American president would give legitimacy to the idea that we live in a “post-racial” America. The idea that race is no longer a part of people’s daily experience is not merely false. It’s potentially dangerous when a majority of people are struggling to understand what’s happening to them economically.

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What people are experiencing is exactly what’s supposed to happen to them under capitalism and its current variant, neoliberalism. That economic system is grounded on the idea that society must have winners and losers. It has convinced people that those categories are based on race: that people of color are, in the natural course of things, losers; and that white people, regardless of class, are supposed to win.

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Section(s): 

The Horror Show

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  • Policy makers seem intent on allowing the employment crisis to fester. As bad as the July employment numbers were, a deeper look into them shows a seriously scary situation.
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  • Long-Term Economic Pain
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  • Jobless? Your leaders are at ease with that
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Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s (Aug 1-7) jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed.

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The employment data for July, released by the government on Friday (Aug 6), showed that private employers added just 71,000 jobs during the month and that the unemployment rate remained flat at 9.5 percent. But as bad as those numbers were, if you look beyond them you’ll see a horror show.

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Long-Term Economic Pain, Bob Herbert, New York Times | NY

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  • Simply stated, more and more families are facing utter economic devastation: completely out of money, with their jobs, savings and retirement funds gone, and nowhere to turn for the next dollar.
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  • Reich and Krugman Agree: The Government Needs to Forget About the Deficit and Fix Unemployment
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  • Krugman: US "Depressed Economy" Could Last 5 Years
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Jobless? Your leaders are at ease with that, Paul Krugman, New York Times | NY

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  • None of them want to fix it -- so high unemployment might become a habit.
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  • Punishing the Jobless
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Strikers at Mott’s pick up nationwide support

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  • Union leaders say that Mott's is doing what more and more corporations tend to do when joblessness, particularly regional unemployment rates, are high: cutting wages and benefits.
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  • Tell Mott's: get the scabs out of your applesauce!
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John Wojcik, People's World

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Marsha Aronson

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Attired as a rotten apple, Curtis James Neff participates in July 1 demonstration in downtown Minneapolis. Jennifer Christensen/Workday Minnesota

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Support from around the country is coming in to 300 striking workers at the Mott's apple products plant in Williamson, N.Y.

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Faced with huge cuts in pay and benefits the members of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union/United Food and Commercial Workers at the plant went out on strike May 23.

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Mott's parent company, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, demanded the givebacks, the union notes, despite earning $550 million in profits last year.

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The company is demanding a $1.50 per hour wage cut, a freeze on pension benefits for current workers with no pensions for new employees, hikes in health insurance premium co-pays and cuts in company contributions to 401(k) retirement plans.

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Dr. Pepper Snapple Group CEO Larry Young doubled his own salary last year to $6.5 million.

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Tell Mott's: get the scabs out of your applesauce! Manny Herrmann, American Rights at Work
Submitted  by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Ken Mitchell

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  • Something's Rotten at Mott's
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  • Tell the CEO of Mott's: Your workers are what makes your company successful. And you can't get away with screwing them over. Not on our watch!
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  • Strikers at Mott’s pick up nationwide support
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Paul claims mine safety regulations are unnecessary because ‘no one will apply’ for jobs at dangerous mines.

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Pat Garofalo, Think Progress

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

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In April (2010), two miners were killed at the Dotiki Mine in Western Kentucky after the mine’s roof collapsed. The non-union mine had been cited for 840 safety violations by federal inspectors since 2009, and the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment during the same period. But when asked about the incident, Kentucky’s Republican Senate candidate, Rand Paul, said “maybe sometimes accidents happen.” And as it turns out, Paul doesn’t believe that the federal government has any responsibility at all to set safety standards to protect mine workers:

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“The bottom line is: I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules,” Paul said at a recent campaign stop in response to questions about April’s deadly mining explosion in West Virginia…“You live here, and you have to work in the mines. You’d try to make good rules to protect your people here. If you don’t, I’m thinking that no one will apply for those jobs.”

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Rand Paul puts foot in mouth again with MLK comparison, Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Grio

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  • I don't think that Rand Paul is necessarily a racist. But he needs to stop trying to distort history. He would also do well to educate himself on exactly what legacy he truly represents. Comparing himself to Dr. King is not only offensive, it is highly unethical.
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  • Rand Paul Op-Ed Defends Civil Rights Stance, Compares Himself To Martin Luther King Jr.
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