Marches, Bosses, Workers, Foreclosures and Swine Flu

mayday2009.jpg may day 2009 picture by adam_freedom Once again San Jose led the Bay Area with the largest protest in Northern California for May 1, 2009.  While poor weather and swine flu scares turned many would-be marches away, many saw this years May Day immigrant rights march as the most spirited and significant since the massive march of 2006 when nearly 100,000 swelled the streets.

The day had a marked difference from previous the marches coming after 2006, as this year many of the more institutional organizations took a major step back in their involvement.  Reflecting on this is New American Media and Silicon Valley De-Bug commentator Raj Jayadev who wrote “The irony was that in an effort to reclaim that spirit of spontaneity that defined the 2006 march, every effort made by the large institutional organizations seemed more contrived and predictable [in the 2007 and 2008 marches].” He also gives his thoughts on the sense of fighting to win that was present with participants. (link)

To get a feel for the march, or maybe just to relive the the moment if you were there, check De-Bug’s video interviews of participants and photospread of the march here. One thing to note that I’ve heard from a couple of places is that in the media coverage of the march and the comments and signs of participants, there is a much higher emphisis on May Day, International Worker’s Day and worker issues than there an been in the past. Though of course the emphasis on immigrant rights has not been lost at all. A positive development without a doubt.

LoadLimit.jpg load limit picture by adam_freedom

Check out Pierce Artwork for an amazing and original collection of worker and labor related comics (featured above). A member of the IWW, Pierce offers a fresh, radical and often times subtly hilarous approach to themes relating to working class power. Comics are in English and Spanish as well as other languages.

vivalahuelga.jpg ufw strike picture by adam_freedom Speaking of labor, my recently posted  “Outline of US Labor History with a Focus on the Role of the Left” has been updated and expanded. The piece attempts to periodize the labor movement by decade, important organizations and broad trends. A particular focus is given on the role of the left and left organizations.

RepoTour.jpg Repo tour picture by adam_freedom Who pays the piper in the Obama administration? Well, rarely does the mainstream press lay it out so clearly:

“The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday defeated a plan to spare hundreds of thousands of homeowners from foreclosure through bankruptcy, a proposal that President Barack Obama embraced but did little to push through. … Obama had said [the proposal] was important to saving the economy and promised to push [it] through Congress. But facing stiff opposition from banks, Obama did little to pressure lawmakers who worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates.” (Mercury News, May 1, 2009 link).

Meanwhile real estate agents have a “Repo Tour Home” service- a bus that drives potential clients around town to view recently reposessed homes- such as the one pictured above in Stockton, CA.

puerco.gif puerco picture by adam_freedom If you’ve had enough of the swine flu hysteria that has been gripping the media you’ll be glad to know that they seem to be shifting over to a fire burning the mansions of rich people in Santa Barbara and Obama and Biden’s lunch outings. But if you’re still hoping to laugh it off, you should try these videos: The new Swinewow super absorbent towel on Jimmy Kimmel Live and “La cancion del gripe marrano,” a song and dance video by a group of Mexico City musicians. English subtitles included.

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Stockton Truckers Call Out the Industry with 400 on Strike

Stockton Truckers Call Out the Industry with 400 on Strike

From May 2008 Industrial Worker, newspaper of the IWW

By: J. Pierce with Adam W.

Independent truckers in California’s San Joaquin Valley shut down their rigs on Friday, May 2nd declaring an open-ended strike. At $4.80 a gallon, sky-rocketing diesel prices top the list of grievances. As their main demand, drivers insist on doubling the rates paid for hauling a container. The second biggest demand is a fuel surcharge of upwards of 55%. The brokers currently pay surcharges varying from 30-40%. If drivers can keep the trucking bosses from stealing it, the increased surcharge would help place the burden back on those who can afford it.

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Fanon the flames of class struggle

I’m flattered. A colomnist from the Stockton Record posted a brief and slightly satirical blurb in his blog about my below post discussing Stockton and the Central Valley. Get a chuckle out of it here. I have to tip my hat to the title choice as well… Another random tid bit is if you scroll down his blog there is a link to historic photos of Sikhs in the Stockton area.

The Port of Stockton right and Rough and Read Island to the left.

The Central Valley California: “The Beautiful and the Damned”

This is a excerpt from my manuscript on 2004/2005 Intermodal trucker organizing in the Stockton area. It is still rough. Below are the sections on the Central Valley. I’m really interested in the question of how might we charactorize a place like the Central Valley. The stats on poverty in the area- making it one of the most impoverished region in the US- are shocking. You can read an earlier draft of the introduction in one of the older posts below.

2. Gritty Realities: Intermodal Truckers in the Central Valley

 

“We’re getting paid the same as 10 years ago, but everything else keeps going up. Insurance goes up. Everything goes up. And now gas. We make no money”

 -Jatinder Singh, Oakland port trucker

 

 

            What struck me hardest in organizing with the truckers in Stockton was the convinced resolution of the truckers of the need to fight their companies. Even the reluctant or scared drivers would not deny the reality of the conditions they faced. It didn’t seem anything like what might be called the trade union consciousness that urban workers I had previously organized with might develop. Perhaps owning, or at least mortgaging, their own trucks gave them a greater attachment to the industry as would any skilled worker who owned the tools that their employer depended upon. I would describe it as more of a gritty class consciousness than anything else, a consciousness that understood the daily necessity of the trucking companies to squeeze the truckers for profit and to maintain their competitiveness in relation to the logistics brokers.

 

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