Political Roundup: Jane Doe Act / John Dankosky / Cornell Lewis / Global Fast Food Strike

Jane Doe Update: Cornell Lewis and I are collaborating on the Jane Doe Act, which is legislation that would prohibit the Department of Children and Families from sending one of their clients to a correctional institution. The statute which allows DCF to incarcerate their clients has only been used twice, counting Jane Doe. If DCF has a client whom they feel they can’t handle, that youth should be sent to a treatment facility, where their behavior issues can be addressed clinically. We’re also discussing an outreach campaign to raise awareness about Jane Doe and the criminalization of Black and Latino youths. Stay tuned for updates. Certain members of the Justice for Jane Coalition think that they own this issue. A disgruntled member of this group was collaborating with Cornell and myself. This individual and another J4J member actually had a problem with me distributing a Free Jane Doe petition on social media and via email. They wanted the petition to appear exclusively on a J4J website, instead of being seen by as many people as possible. Why don’t they just apply for a Jane Doe trademark? Check out our Facebook message exchange on the Community Party’s No Sellout blog. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/free-jane-doe-inc/
 
 
WNPR Where We Live host John Dankosky has clearly demonstrated that he is a part of the Access of Evil, a term coined by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman to describe so-called journalists who trade truth for access to those who are in positions of power.  http://www.thenation.com/article/access-evil  A few weeks ago I presented Dankosky with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report on the extrajudicial killing of Blacks by the police. http://www.operationghettostorm.org/   Dankosky had been patting himself on the back on his Twitter page for his willingness to have “hard conversations about race.” I also told Dankosky about how the so-called Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project was protecting the police in this state by working to kill CP’s Trayvon Martin Act enforcement language. Apparently Dankosky’s willingness for “hard conversations” ends when confronted with information about the police killing Black people every 28 hours in this country. I never heard from Dankosky after he ever so sweetly promised to read the MXGM report and discuss its contents with me, along with my fact based criticism of CRP3.
 
Smiling, polite, condescending liberals like Dankosky earn their pay by feeding misinformation to the people. They serve the ruling class by giving the illusion of  journalism, while they push the agenda of their masters. Dankosky will host vacuous discussions on racial profiling with members of CRP3 and law enforcement shills, allowing racists to call in and defend biased policing without challenging them at all.  http://wnpr.org/post/racial-profiling-connecticut  Dankosky would never do a show on the MXGM Operation Ghetto Storm report, because he knows that would piss off the police. He won’t talk about CRP3 killing CP’s Trayvon Act traffic stop receipt language, because he knows that the advisory board is made up of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s flunkies. Dankosky wants to continue having Malloy as a guest on his show. If you want real news and information about social justice issues, you should stop listening to Where We Live.
 
Last week the AFSCME Local 318 Safe Workplace Committee hosted a social event for members. Cornell was the guest speaker. Topics included revamping the grievance process (pushing for the addition of workplace bullying language and an independent arbitrator to rule on grievances) during negotiations on a new contract next year, and the Safe Work Environment Act. The SEIU contract in California now includes abusive workplace conduct as an issue covered by grievances. http://bullyinworkplace.com/2013/09/14/seiu-uses-workplace-violence-policy-to-stop-bullying/  Here is a report on the AFSCME event by Cornell’s DCF Plantation blog.   http://dcfplantation.blogspot.com/
 
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                                                          WORKERS ARE ORGANIZING AND READY FOR ACTION
 
 
 
He who allows oppression shares the crime — Erasmus Darwin

At various state agencies all over Connecticut workers are experiencing oppression at the hands of management. For a long time the workers stood by silently and suffered untold agonies from management in the form of terminations, extra scrutiny, etc. Finally workers are standing up and organizing to fight the workplace bullying tactics of management. At Connecticut Juvenile Training School– Youth Services Officers now attend American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees Union meetings  and voice concerns. Well, it looks as if the masses of workers in other locations feel a need to organize also.

AFSCME workers of Local 318 held a diverse meeting of various workers to discuss issues. Activist Cornell Lewis addressed this group [ in a small crowded room ] concerning workplace bullying that is often disguised in the form of policy and procedure. Lewis was introduced and gave a summary about his fight against management in Department of Children and Families plus Connecticut Juvenile Training School. “It is necessary [ said Lewis ] to understand how management in various agencies use policy and procedure to implement workplace bullying. If we organize against what is going on at least the people beating us over the head ( so to speak ) will know they are in a fight. Historically no social protest begins or ends without some sort of casualty, in the form of job loss or worse. In order to make systemic change a war has to be waged in conventional and non conventional ways.” People sat and listened attentively as Lewis spoke, their eyes showed signs of fear and hope. A silence fell over the group and then a woman spoke about being afraid of retaliation from management for being involved in any sort of praxis. Again Lewis gave the masses hope by saying it is okay to be afraid but that fear is something management uses against workers, keeping them immobilized and inactive. “ To fight back takes a certain courage that not everyone possesses, but if you cannot fight directly, then help behind the scenes by providing support in some form.” David Samuels, founder of the Community Party, also spoke about the work needed to pass his workplace bullying bill (Safe Work Environment Act). This legislation gives oppressed workers a weapon in which to fight management.

After a lively question and answer session the meeting ended and a glimmer of hope could be seen in faces of people leaving the room.

WORKERS ARE ORGANIZING AND READY FOR ACTION
 
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Speaking of workers organizing and ready for action, last week fast food workers, including employees in Hartford, staged a global strike in their quest for higher wages and job security. Workers in the United States are demanding a $15.00 per hour minimum wage and the right to unionize. Labor movement website In These Times http://inthesetimes.com/  reported on the strike.
                                                                           
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Biggest Fast-Food Worker Strike Yet Covers Six Continents

BY Amien Essif
 
 
 
 
It’s 6 a.m. in Chicago, and the bitingly cold, drizzly weather seems oblivious to the fact that it’s May 15th. And yet, a crowd of more than 100 people wearing red ponchos has formed outside of a McDonald’s restaurant downtown, where they’re dancing to mariachi music. 

“Fifteen and a union!” cries someone over a bullhorn.
 
Today, these protesters have joined fast-food employees in an estimated 150 American cities who walked off the job, according to organizers from the two-year-old Fight for 15 campaign. They’re demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. And such momentum isn’t limited to the United States. Workers have staged strikes or other actions to demonstrate global solidarity in cities on six continents.
In Chicago, workers striking at McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s traveled downtown to the Rock N Roll McDonald’s—a colossal restaurant-museum that was once one of the busiest McDonald’s restaurants in the country—accompanied by many fellow fast-food workers who were not on strike, but were still demonstrating for the same demands. 
 
“I’m out here because we’re sick and tired of the poverty wages that they’re giving us,” says Adriana Alvarez, who works at a McDonald’s on the South Side of Chicago. “We’ve got people who’ve worked there 10, 15 years and they’re still getting $8.50 an hour. It’s unfair.”
Alvarez heard about the Fight for 15 campaign this year after an organizer spoke with her in the parking lot of her workplace. “Ever since then … I got really involved,” she says, noting that this is her first time on strike. 
 
The campaign to win $15 an hour for fast-food workers has no official history. The first major demonstration, though, took place in November 2012, when workers in New York City walked off the job on a one-day, non-union strike—the now-signature move of the Fight for 15 campaign, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union. The New York Times called it “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of America’s fast-food industry.”
 
On August 29, 2013, the first nationally coordinated strikes took place in 60 cities; a few months later in December, fast-food employees walked off the job in 100 cities. As for today’s events, though no official count has been made, organizers say they planned walkouts in 150 American cities along with solidarity actions in more than 30 other countries—making it the largest event to date of the fast-food worker campaign.
As the movement has gained more media attention, debate around raising the minimum wage has surfaced on a policy level, too. The Vermont legislature voted this week to hike the state minimum wage up to $10.50 an hour, so far the highest in the country. In Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray is backing a $15 municipal minimum wage, more than $5 more than the current minimum. And President Obama himself recently went so far as to push—but fail to pass—an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
Activists credit the national Fight for 15 campaign for many of these initiatives, citing the fact, for example, that Obama announced his minimum wage agenda on the eve of the December strikes. They also point out that Murray came out with his plan for Seattle’s increase “quite late in the game.”

According to Jess Spear of Seattle’s 15 Now campaign, “There was a number of factors that led to [Murray’s plan], one of which, of course, is the brave fast-food workers who went out on strike in May 2013 here in Seattle, and then they did that again in August.” Spear notes that both actions took place “during an election year for the City Council seats in Seattle as well as the mayoral election.”

Seattle fast-food workers went out on strike again today, in conjunction with workers in New York, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston and Phoenix, among other cities. 
 
Meanwhile, the global strikes and actions, which included protests in Switzerland, the Philippines, Japan and New Zealand, were coordinated earlier this month at an international conference in New York City called by the federation of unions known as IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations). 
One of the conference’s attendees, Joe Carolan, who helped organize demonstrations in Auckland, New Zealand, said in a statement, “New Zealand is one of very few countries that have union agreements covering fast food workers. Many of the conditions workers in other countries are struggling to win—we have already achieved here. We are taking action today to support Fast Food workers in the [United States] and other countries who are fighting for these same conditions.”
 
In response to the protests, McDonald’s spokesperson Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem contends that the hamburger chain offers “competitive pay based on the local marketplace and job level”. She continues, “McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our respective employees with opportunities to succeed, and we have a long, proven history of providing advancement opportunities for those who want [them].” She also notes that “approximately 80 percent of our global restaurants are independently owned and operated by small business owners, who are independent employers that comply with local and federal laws.”
Although one of the demands of today’s international action is for the right to form a union without retaliation from the company, Barker Sa Shekhem maintains that McDonald’s workers already have that: “We respect the right of employees to choose whether or not they want to unionize.” Organizers with the Chicago Fight for 15 say that this is not the reality, at least when it comes to many franchises around the country.
Barker Sa Shekhem adds that “to right-size the headlines, the events taking place [today] are not strikes. Outside groups have traveled to McDonald’s and other outlets to stage rallies.”
 
While it is true, however, that in Chicago workers who walked off their job this morning were joined by community supporters at a central McDonald’s, several workers confirmed that they were scheduled to work at either McDonald’s or Burger King today but had not gone to work in order to strike. 
One of these strikers, Regis Harris, was a no-show at his Burger King job at 78th Street and Columbus Drive, where he hasn’t had a raise in a year. Harris “decided to come on out” because “you can’t live off [minimum wage]. You can’t even pay the heat in the wintertime in the house … for $8.50 an hour.” 
 
He says this uncertainty requires him to keep up several jobs at a time: lawn care, snow removal, painting, dry-walling and electrical work, to name just a few. He believes $15 an hour would help him feel more secure and independent.  
 “I could pay my bills. I could make my own bills,” he jokes. “It would help everybody out.”
 
 
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If you or someone you know has experienced retaliation from a fast food employer in Connecticut for participating in the strike, we want to know about it. See below for contact info.
 
 
Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Check out CP’s No Sellout blog for the archive of our Hartford News columns. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com                        
 
 
 
Resources
 
WWOR-TV investigative report on racial profiling by the Nassau County police:
 
 
Know Your Rights: How to Handle Police Encounters:
 
 
Community Party Hartford News report on structural racism at Connecticut Valley Hospital. Includes data and internal CVH management emails obtained through Freedom of Information requests:
 
 
Cornell Lewis Legal Defense Fund:
 
 
$15 and a Union Twitter page:
 
 
 
David Samuels
Founder
Community Party
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
                          
 
 
 
 

                                   
 
 
 
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