Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Express Scripts: "Shock Doctrine" in action

Back in October, National Jobs with Justice regional organizer Treston Davis-Faulkner highlighted the rise of shock doctrine union busting tactics--right wing use of economic crises as an excuse to push through radical free-market ideology that cuts jobs, undermines worker power, and undercuts our social safety nets.

Treston wrote about the struggles of ILA Local 1291 dockworkers fighting back against the highly profitable Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., which despite two years of record profits eliminated about two hundred union jobs in the Philadelphia area, replacing them with poorly paying jobs at a nearby Camden port "organized" by a company-controlled sham union. When the laid-off workers protested, Del Monte slammed them with an injunction that effectively gagged the local and its members. Luckily, family members, community supporters, and allies--including Philly JwJ--have stepped up and united in a campaign to fight to restore these workers' jobs.

Another big labor struggle in the area also fits snugly into the shock doctrine model. In the midst of a recession, SEIU Healthcare PA workers continue to fight scheduled facility closures in Bensalem. Is the elimination of these jobs a matter of company survival, somehow a regrettable but ultimately necessary business decision? Nope. Express Scripts hauled in an easy $1.7 billion in profits last year.

SEIU's blog has more on the Express Scripts fight:

According to a new research report, Express Scripts (ESI), the second-largest pharmacy benefit management firm in the country, is alienating clients by engaging in pricing schemes, handling personal data carelessly, expanding so fast the company may be overvalued, and is so loaded with debt its liquidity may be in danger. The report titled "Overdosing on Greed" was issued by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents ESI workers in Bensalem, PA, and is locked in a dispute with the company.

Express Scripts, racked up profits of $1.7 billion last year while processing 449 million prescriptions -- 12 percent of all prescriptions filled in the United States. Nevertheless, the company is demanding draconian concessions and threatening to close two of its facilities in suburban Philadelphia if the workers don't agree to the concessions by mid-December. The closures would put an estimated 1,000 workers out of jobs in this economically hard-hit community just in time for Christmas.

In the Philly area and across the country, companies are using the recession as an excuse to put more folks out of work. Thankfully, people are beginning to stand up and call these callow tactics what they really are--corporate greed. Those of us who care about workers, their power, and their rights need to be vigilant now more than ever, and it's exciting to see workers like the SEIU Healthcare PA folks and Local 1291 fiercely taking these battles head-on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Denver JwJ's rally in support of the ILA 1291 laid off Del Monte Fresh Produce workers

Check it out: more about the Denver action in solidarity with the ILA 1291 dockworkers and in support of the Del Monte Boycott.

Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez met the delegation outside in 28-degree weather and stated, “It’s a cold day and a cold night but this is an action of solidarity. We are here because what Del Monte is doing is undermining the fundamental pillars of the work force in America. They are taking us back to the 1920s.”

Councilman Lopez continued, “I personally will boycott Del Monte products until this issue is resolved and in a few moments we will be getting signatures from Denver City Council on a letter to the head of Del Monte.”

In other news, stay tuned for more information about this campaign. If Del Monte thinks ignoring these workers and their families will make this whole thing go away, they're dead wrong.

Last Monday was only the beginning.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buzz: Monday's Del Monte Boycott Day of Action

Philly JwJ ED Gwen Snyder, ILA's Dennis Olson on Union Edge Radio today, 1180 AM from 2-4 pm

Philadelphia JwJ Executive Director Gwen Snyder and ILA Local 1291's Dennis Olson will be on air today live on The Union Edge, a talk show for workers, today from 2 to 4 pm.

Catch it in Philly on WFYL 1180 AM, or stream it live at WFRN's website.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Workers and supporters block traffic in Center City Philadelphia in protest of Del Monte's efforts to undermine fair workplace standards

Nearly four hundred people, including dockworkers, their families, and Philadelphia Jobs with Justice activists joined together in Love Park today as a part of a National Day of Action to protest Del Monte Fresh Produce's elimination of family-sustaining union jobs at the Port of Philadelphia.

In other cities around the country, from Coral Gables, FL, to Galveston, TX to Denver, CO, hundreds of activists rallied in solidarity with the laid-off dockworkers of ILA Local 1291. Workers in Portugal and Spain also demonstrated in a show of support.

Prominent Philadelphia leaders including Councilpeople Jannie Blackwell and Bill Green, Johnny Dougherty (business manager of IBEW Local 98), President Pat Eiding of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and John Meyerson (political director, UFCW Local 1776) joined family members of laid off dockworkers at the Love Park rally, sounding a clear call for a boycott of Del Monte goods.

The rally culminated with the three year old daughter of a laid-off longshoreman joining the director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice onstage to tear the Del Monte logo off of a giant prop pineapple, ripping it to shreds.

The spirited crowd spontaneously took to the streets, occupying the entirety of John F. Kennedy Blvd., an arterial Center City thoroughfare, then took over a local Wawa supermarket (Wawa is a major purveyor of Del Monte fruit in the Delaware Valley area). Kicked out by management, the crowd of hundreds took to the streets once again. Motorists honked and clapped in support as the crowd marched around City Hall several times, completely halting the flow of traffic through the critical intersection during the noontime rush.

Once again, workers of Philadelphia have made it clear that we are a city of people that believe that all people deserve good jobs with fair wages and benefits. Workers in other parts of the country--and the world--have also shown their strong support for the longshoremen's cause.

I can say this with certainty: Del Monte is in for one hell of a fight.

Interested in finding out more about ILA Local 1291 and the Del Monte boycott? Visit the boycott website to find out more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fightback Rally to Re-instate ESI Workers tomorrow in Bensalem

Express Scripts Suspends 3 Workers for Trying to Save Their Jobs.
@ Express Scripts, 4850 Street Road, Bensalem, PA 19053.

On Wednesday instead of bargaining -- ESI suspended 3 bargaining committee members without pay for telling customers about their plight. These workers have 31 years of service amongst them and excellent records. This action is despicable, outrageous and violates our member’s rights to union activity.

Join them at a rally this Friday to demand that ESI immediately re-instate Ken Smith, a Data Entry Tech for 5 years; Debbie Dronsfield, a PCA for 16 years; and Jackie Dixon, a Data Entry Tech for 7 years and that they negotiate a fair and just contract now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, Nov 22 @ 11am: Rally at Love Park

Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. has cut at least 200 family-sustaining living wage stevedore jobs unionized under the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1291 at the Port of Philadelphia and is moving its business to a privately owned terminal that pays its workers barely minimum wage. These workers have served Del Monte loyally for twenty-two years; Del Monte gave them four days' notice before finalizing the details of their abandonment of these folks.

Meanwhile, Del Monte has posted record profits in each of the last two years.

Join us Monday, November 22nd, at 11 am in Love Park to protest Del Monte's callous behavior.

Want to know more? Check out the Call to Action put out by Friends And Family of Local 1291, then download pdf flyers about the rally and boycott.

Click on the above image for more information

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Boycott Del Monte - Support Longshore Workers

Click on the images to enlarge, 
and on the boycott logo for the Labor Notes story
 ...more to come soon!

Monday, October 11, 2010

COINTELPRO all over again? PA government intel agency monitors Philly JwJ, other progressive local state organizations

Of course, not that I'm shocked, but...

In the middle of one of the worst economic crises in American history, our government is wasting taxpayer money paying a private international firm, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR) to monitor the activities of groups like Philly Jobs with Justice and the Brandywine Peace Coalition. Our peaceful 9/15 jobs action (about which we not only made all details public, but notified the city Civil Affairs office!) endorsed by organizations like Philadelphia NAACP and Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women, earned us entire paragraphs in the bi-weekly, PA Homeland Security-funded ITRR bulletins. HuffPo has the details.

One particularly chilling quote they pull: ITRR brags to its contractor--our state government--about its work finding out details from "intercepted communications."

Just over a month ago, ProPublica broke the story that Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security contracted with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), a private Israeli-based company, to assess terrorist threats impacting law enforcement priorities in Pennsylvania.

For almost a year, ITTR provided bi-weekly intelligence briefings to Pennsylvania Homeland Security which focused in equal part on "jihadist" communications and trainings throughout the world, and also social justice organizing and protests across the country.
Pennsylvania Homeland Security, in turn, distributed this information to 800 federal, local and state law enforcement agencies, along with "relevant stakeholders" like local businesses. Information provided included the political views and movement building strategies of hundreds of law-abiding groups and individuals.

Click here to download a PDF copy of their analysis of our 9/15 Jobs rally--your tax dollars at work.

Want to voice your disapproval in a strongly worded letter?

Write the editor at....

The Daily News:

City Paper: [online form]

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Nation Rally, this Saturday: Sign up by 5 pm tomorrow, and get a free seat down from Center City!

Awesome update: Thanks to the good folks at 1199c and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, we are now offering seating from both Sam Fels High School up in North Philly, and from 1199c's headquarters in Center City at 1319 Locust Street. John Hundzynski of 1199c also mentioned that they'll have free boxed lunches on their bus. And some of those great looking t-shirts that they had at the city Labor Day parade.

If you want to join JwJ activists taking the 1199c bus from 1319 Locust, you MUST sign up BEFORE 5 PM tomorrow (Thursday), so that they'll have a headcount. Register using our form over at SurveyMonkey. The bus will be leaving at 6 a.m. sharp from 1319 Locust street; please be sure to be on time.

There is also still room available for JwJers on the PFT bus from Sam Fels High School, which you can register for here. My apologies for any confusion about the other two PFT bus locations--PFT is only able to offer free transportation for non-PFT members going from Sam Fels.

This is a rally you want to be at. We need full employment and fair jobs, and Washington needs to hear that from us. Between Glenn Beck's Tea Party rally last month and the noise the Stewart/Colbert folks are making with their parody events, the press is suddenly interested in talking about rallies. We have a crucial message, and we have a tremendous opportunity to deliver it not just to Washington, but to the entire country.

Saturday, 10/2. Get excited!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Phila. Federation of Teachers providing FREE bus seating to 'One Nation' Rally in Washington on Oct. 2

New information about the historic ONE NATION March, Oct. 2, Washington, DC. Reserve a seat on a free bus to Washington Today:

It's time to put America back to work and pull America together.

That's why the PFT is sponsoring free buses to Washington , D.C., on Saturday, October 2, where we will join tens of thousands of Americans for a massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

Reserve your seat below to ride with your friends, family and colleagues to the One Nation March. (It just takes a minute to register, and you can register yourself, as well as family members and friends at the same time.)

You will receive an Email Confirmation, which you must print out and present as your boarding pass.

For complete information, visit the PFT site here!

Friday, September 17, 2010

With Persistent Unemployment & Record Numbers in Poverty, Protesters Declare a Jobs Emergency

On September 15, Jobs with Justice coalitions and allies in more than 100 cities nationwide brought the voices of workers, community members, and the unemployed into the debate on how to move forward on a jobs plan that would put people back to work immediately.  With 15 million people out of work and one in seven  Americans living below the official poverty line, the time is now for Congress to take bold action to move the country towards full and fair employment and to ensure that Wall Street pays their fair share.

Jobs with Justice coalitions organized a wide range of events to send a message:  If Congress won't act to create jobs, then maybe they don't deserve to have jobs.  JwJ activists were in the streets to demand that Congress create and save jobs through legislation like the Local Jobs for America Act, extension of the TANF emergency fund, and action on President Obama's call to invest in the country's infrastructure as well as to extend unemployment insurance and pass legislation that ensures Wall Street paytheir fair share. 

Philadelphia Jobs with Justice held a rally for fair jobs, full employment, and funding for public services in front of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and in view of City Hall. A group of approximately 100 activists rallied to demand an end to local tax breaks for big business, protection of public services in the city, and adoption of national, pro-worker legislation, especially the Local Jobs for America Act.

Here are some photos of the Philly scene graciously provided by JwJ activist Jesse W. Brown. (Click on an image to enlarge.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Join Philly JwJ tomorrow, 9/15/10, at noon to rally for jobs!

Could you imagine a Philadelphia without libraries, firefighters, trash collection, or even basic after school activities for our children?

Could you imagine a city that serves only its billionaires, and taxes only its poor?

Could you imagine a city without livable jobs?

That's the Philadelphia that C.E.O.'s at big businesses like Comcast, Verizon, and Sunoco would love to make a reality.

Tomorrow, with our neighbors, our co-workers, we fight back.
Tomorrow, we take our fight for jobs and a fair economy to the streets.
Tomorrow, we tell big business: pay your fair share.

Join us in part of a nationwide Emergency Day of Action for jobs.

When:: 12 pm - 1 pm, Wednesday, 9/15/2010
Where: : Corner of Broad and Walnut Sts., Philadelphia
What:: SOS Jobs: A Rally for Jobs

Don't let City Council forget that this is a city of people, not corporations. Let's remind them what a fair city economy looks like: funding for city services, fair employment, and an end to tax breaks for millionaire and billionaire corporations.

Endorsed by AFSCME District 47, Philadelphia NAACP, Philadelphia One Nation Organizing Committee, Coalition for Labor Union Women, Media Mobilization Project, Philadelphia Unemployment Project, Coalition for Essential Services, Act Up Philadelphia, National Jobs with Justice, and Progressive Democrats for America.

Corporate America isn't going to know what hit 'em.

RSVP on Facebook now!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

If we could only share this video up to the 1:48 mark, we would.

We kind of have mixed feelings about "Bed Intruder Song," which has now broken the Billboard 100. But the Gregory Brothers, who masterminded that super-catchy work of questionable gender politics, have another piece we can definitely get behind: "Banker's Song." For your viewing pleasure:

Oh, hindsight.

Link: Banker's Song (we didn't see it coming) (Autotune The News)

Link: How Wall Street made the crisis worse (NPR and ProPublica)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We need you: help us help workers!

This fall is going to be an exciting one for Philly JwJ, with a full slate of direct action and organizing work that will build power for workers and their communities, and win battles for full employment, fair jobs, and funded public services. As we mobilize for our September 15th SOS Jobs Rally, we are asking anyone who is able to join as a sustaining member to help us win these fights. We need your help to step up and help us reach our goal of signing up 99 new sustainers this fall in protest of the 99 week gap on unemployment benefits. Sign up to sustain, and get into our October 16th Sustainer Soiree for free!

Here's what sustainers will help us accomplish this fall:

  • Kick off an exciting campaign to win rights for local workers and community members up in the area around Temple;

  • work alongside city residents and public service workers in a fierce direct action campaign to keep city workers fairly employed, and keep essential services like libraries, pools, after-school programming, and more free and open;

  • fight alongside workers and unions in solidarity during contract fights and other workplace disputes;

  • connect faith leaders and labor with our September Labor in the Pulpits program in coordination with Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Interfaith Workers' Justice, and dozens of congregations in and around the city;

  • build student leadership and training the next generation of organizers through our Student Labor Action Project;

  • push for local, state and national legislation to guarantee full employment, fair jobs, and funded public services in coordination with National Jobs with Justice; and

  • mobilize for direct actions on 9/15, 10/2, and more to force big business to pay its fair share.

We have an amazing movement full of excited volunteers, staff, interns, and allies, all ready to launch this full slate of programming. Help make our vision for Fall 2010 a reality by signing up as a monthly sustainer with Philadelphia Jobs with Justice.

Thank you for your support--you are what makes this movement happen.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fresh from the RSS farm: jobs news you might have missed

Okay, JwJ-ers. Here's some of the going-ons in and around the workplace that have caught our eye these past few days:

  • Immokalee Workers: McDonald's and Sudexo down, Wal-Mart and Publix to go. Coalition of Immokalee workers--the Floridian tomato pickers who visited Philly a few weeks ago with their chilling touring exhibit about contemporary slavery in the U.S.--recently had a victory in their struggle against mega-food company Sudexo. Next stop: big chain supermarkets like Walmart and Publix. (Via United Steel Workers' blog)

  • Everyone's getting psyched for the One Nation Working Together March on Oct. 2: CWA's Larry Cohen warns us not to miss the bus, and Mayor Nutter threw his weight behind it at a press conference yesterday (not to brag, but JwJ was definitely namedropped!). SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, NAACP, and a long and illustrious list of other allies are also on board.

  • UFCW continues its struggle up at Motts.

  • In the not-particularly-surprising department, a new report on the current economic situation finds that "New England states have too long viewed funding for public services and economic development as competing interests"--wrongly. In other words, we need to save our economy by targeting Wall Street, not by firing our librarians and social workers.

  • And finally, SEIU's fight for basic workers' rights at Express Scripts Inc. rages on. Says Express Scripts Inc. employee Ray Teachey:
    "We're not asking to be millionaires, we're just asking for fair wages, good healthcare and just a little bit of a better lifestyle," said Express Scripts Inc. employee Ray Teachey to the crowd assembled behind the Boilermakers Local 13 building.

Monday, August 30, 2010

9/15/2010 Day of Action

Demand fair jobs, full employment, and funding for public services.

September 15 is National JwJ's Jobs Emergency Day of Action.

Join Philadelphia Jobs with Justice as we demonstrate outside the Greater Phila. Chamber of Commerce. We need to tell big business that enough is enough: it's time for fair jobs, full employment, and funding for all of our essential city services.

When: 12:00 pm noon, Wednesday, September 15

Where: City Chamber of Commerce, 200 S Broad St. (NW Corner of Broad and Walnut, at the Bellevue)

Together, let's send a clear message to the millionaires and billionaires protected by the Chamber of Commerce: it's time to start hiring and end corporate tax breaks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Target Ain't People

I never thought I'd say this, but... this might rival the Bad Hotel video from San Francisco.

Sign the petition and tell Target now: "I won't shop at Target until it stops spending money on elections. Companies like Target should stay out of elections, period."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things we found out from Google Reader today.

Here at Philly Jobs with Justice, we're gearing up for a pretty packed September: Labor in the Pulpit events, Labor Day, the National JwJ 9/15 Day of Action, and our work with Philly CES launching the direct action component of our campaign to raise funding for city services by making big business pay.

That doesn't mean, of course, that we aren't keeping our ear to the ground when it comes to labor issues in the news. Here are some pieces from today that we thought were interesting:

Sorry to be such a downer. Here's a video of penguins chasing a butterfly at the Philadelphia Zoo to make you feel better.

AFSCME Local 752 represents zoo workers, so it's totally relevant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Freeloaders, Thugs, and Communists: Media Matters report on right wing media and union smearing.

If you haven't read it yet, you should: media monitoring group Media Matters just recently released a report on the systemic smearing of unions in right wing media.

Some choice material from the report:

  • Glenn Beck claims unions have "raped" police and firefighters. First of all, it would be remiss of me not to point out that this comment trivializes rape. Second, Beck's implication about unions and their relationship with public workers is is just wrong. Unions are the front line in the fight to preserve public funding for social services--and as we've seen in the fight against fire station brown outs this summer in Philadelphia, both the community and rank-and-file public workers support them.

  • Pretty much everybody on Fox seems to think unions are composed entirely of fat cats and thugs. Limbaugh's take on the Employee Free Choice Act, a piece of legislation that might have evened the playing field a bit for workers: "The Union Brass Knuckles Busting On Your Knees Act."

  • And my personal favorite, another Beck-ism: "even the Boy Scouts aren't safe from SEIU's thuggery."

Chances are that if you're reading this post, you've got at least a little bit of a workers' rights sensibility to you. If we want to win this fight, we need to be aware of the kind of virulent disinformation that the corporate-funded right wing media is spreading about the labor movement. Workers' rights are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back.

But first, we need to know what we're up against.

link: Media Matters report on union busting in the media.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Idealists for Hire: Canvassing works, but is its success at the cost of its workers?

Gwen Snyder, Philly Jobs with Justice Executive Director - and formerly involved with area canvassers, was interviewed for an in-depth article published this week as the cover story in the City Paper. Click here for the complete story!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Paul Krugman: "I’m starting to have a sick feeling about prospects for American workers."

The New York Times--centrist liberal, sure, but hardly a bastion of radical economic thought--has finally begun to recognize the dire position in which American workers are increasingly finding themselves trapped.

Last week in a column titled "A Sin and a Shame," Bob Herbert detailed the ways in which corporations have exploited the economic downturn, using the recession as an excuse to take advantage of workers even as worker productivity has increased dramatically. Writes Herbert,

The recession officially started in December 2007. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009, real aggregate output in the U.S., as measured by the gross domestic product, fell by about 2.5 percent. But employers cut their payrolls by 6 percent.

Today, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman sounded additional warning bells. It's a bad scene, he says--1 in 6 unemployed or underemployed, average length of unemployment 35 weeks and growing. We can, and we have to, do something now--but he fears that politicians are biding their time until it's too late, waiting until a moment where they can call unemployment structural and unavoidable.

Concludes Krugman, "I’d like to imagine that public outrage will prevent this outcome. But while Americans are indeed angry, their anger is unfocused."

If ever there was a time for action, it's now. It's time to stand up and remind our elected officials that they are ultimately accountable to us, and that we, their constituents, demand aggressive action on job creation. Congress returns from recess September 10th, and the Jobs with Justice network is gearing up for a September 15th National Day of Action to let Congress--and our local officials-- know that America demands the creation of good jobs now.

Join us as we remind Congress: their bosses live on Main Street, not K Street.