Filed under: CEO's, Global Economy & Politics, Society & Economy, Unions, Workplace
“Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up: don’t give up the fight!”—-Bob Marley
The legendary reggae artist Bob Marley gave us some good advice. There are times when people do have to stand up for their rights. But there are also other times when it pays to sit down for your rights. In 1937, during one of the worst years of the Great Depression, sitting down for one’s rights was on the agenda for people across the nation.
One of those places was a Detroit Woolworth’s on a typical 1937 Saturday morning shopping day. Woolworth’s went out of business in the USA in 1996. But in 1937, it had an empire of over 2000 stores in the USA and Canada plus more in Cuba, the UK and Germany. At precisely 11 am that February 27th, a union organizer named Fred Loew blew a loud whistle and began yelling “STRIKE! STRIKE!” Shouts and cheers could be heard as department by department the 150 “sales girls” stopped working and stood proudly with their arms folded. The sit-down strike against the USA’s most unpopular chain store had begun.
Occupy Wall Street and the Civilizing of the USA: A Talk Given to the Third Unitarian Church Sunday Forum Nov 13, 2011
Filed under: Global Economy & Politics, U.S. Politics, Unions, Workplace
Portions of this were derived from a blog posting on the Daily Kos
“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”–Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor- 1915
Samuel Gompers wrote those words 1915, because he knew the labor movement was a civilizing force in the USA. The Occupy Movement is also at its heart a labor movement, different than the one Samuel Gompers knew, but with a similar civilizing function. It’s working class people demanding to be treated with dignity and respect.
Occupy Chicago 10-7
The greed and brutality of our present economic system has become intolerable to many Americans as it undermines living standards and our democracy itself. The lives of our young people have become filled with uncertainty and dread. Young people feel left out of our political system and yearn for a voice. Read more
Filed under: Discrimination, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics, Unions
“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,” Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor- 1915
I would love to live in a civilized country in a civilized world. Really. But truth be told, we’re not there yet. Not even close. Some of us may live in places that have the trappings of civilization: modern plumbing, government, electricity, heating and cooling, houses, rapid transit, taxes, libraries, schools and the like. But don’t be fooled. Civilization is more than some of us flushing a toilet or visiting an art gallery.
Folks, it’s time to raise the bar on what the word civilized really means.
When I walk along State Street in the Chicago Loop, I see the gravely wounded from America’s class war lining the sidewalks. They beg for chump change, styrofoam cups in hand, hoping to find a place to lay their heads at night without getting them bashed in by some knucklehead. Civilized society would never tolerate this kind of neglect.
If I cross the bridge over the Chicago River on Michigan Ave and walk north by the glittering consumer palaces of the Miracle Mile, I can see the gorgeous outfits that just scream power and money. Much of the labor that goes into them comes from 3rd World sweatshops where working conditions would gag a maggot. These objects of sartorial splendor may scream money and power, but they can’t even whisper the word civilization. Sweatshops would not exist in a civilized world. Period. Read more
You see him on signs in our national forests and natural areas. He’s a cartoonish bare-chested bear with a wide-brimmed ranger hat and overalls, usually holding a spade. He’s Smokey Bear, one of the USA’s most widely recognized icons. Smokey is often seen in the company of forest creatures and small children. He’s the bear who says that only you can prevent forest fires and more recently, wildfires in general.
His friendly or sometimes stern patriarchal visage is designed to inculcate certain attitudes in children. Adults don’t need talking animals to instruct them about fire safety in the woods. But what was Smokey teaching us during those early years. Who wrote his lines? And why didn’t he explain how fire is essential to healthy forest and grassland eco-systems? Read more