What could be more ironic and
cruel than witnessing the increasingly racist and nationalist mistreatment and
expulsion of Haitians following the devastation wrought by hurricane Dorian in
the Bahamas? How does a former victim of British colonialism become a fount of
racist nationalism itself? How do the citizens of the only land to have
overthrown slavery in modern history deserve this treatment? Because,
unfortunately, racism and nationalism are the strategies with which governments
around the globe retain power.
Today a group of about 35 UAW members and other unionists took a bus from New York City to join the picket line at the GM parts distribution center in Langhorne, Pa. We spent several hours with the six or so strikers, who were occupying a space filled with chairs, tents, food and a firepit donated by many supporters who have come from local schools and other shops. They were in high spirits and very glad to see us, and we learned a lot about their situation. We also learned that 3000 Mack truck workers struck last night at midnight in nearby Allentown – strke fever may be spreading.
The UAW-GM strike is now over 3 weeks old. The UAW has not given out much information regarding the sticking points in the negotiations. Below is the publicly available information on these negotiations.
Health Insurance Payments by Workers Increase GM wanted the health insurance payments by the workers to increase from 3 percent to 15 percent. According to the Detroit Free Press, this demand has been rescinded.
bankruptcy of General Motors (GM) in 2009, the United Auto Workers (UAW)
misleaders allowed GM to reduce wages, health benefits and job security. GM
retirees have had to endure pension cuts and healthcare reductions. The
reduction in wages was mostly accomplished through a tiered pay system.
On September 14, members of Close
the Camps (closethecamps.us) in New York City occupied the showy Microsoft
store on 5th Ave. to protest Microsoft’s $19.4 million contract with
Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Some protestors entered the store,
dropped banners and fake bloodstained money and occupied the main floor.
Another three rows of demonstrators blocked the front door with signs and
banners, while chanting against collusion with ICE, border walls, racism and
fascism. Although the police arrived quickly, Microsoft told them to back off,
and the action continued unabated for two hours. Meanwhile, other demonstrators
took up residence across the street after marching across midtown. Eventually,
the occupiers moved to block traffic on Manhattan’s central 5th Ave.
and were arrested, 76 in all. The ensuing publicity forced Microsoft, whose
store was closed for the entire day, to issue a statement. They tried to appear
innocent by denying involvement in locking up children and claiming to be
multiracial and multinational, but they were forced to admit that “our current
cloud engagement with ICE is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and
document management workloads.”
Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl
by Karyn Pomerantz, August 2019
Dying of Whiteness examines how racism hurts white working class people. Metzl counters the common ideology of white privilege, which posits that white people benefit from racism in terms of social status, safety, education, and housing. While racism devastates non-white communities, it also hurts ordinary white people. Metzl’s analysis doesn’t explicitly frame these inequities as different levels of exploitation caused by capitalism, but he demonstrates how racism enriches the rich, prompts people to support policies against their best interests, and divides people to keep the working class weak (see other blog pieces on white privilege).
Red, as in blood. The summer of 1919 earned this label not only because the murderous nature of American white racism was on full display, but mass armed resistance by its black targets became the frequent reaction. In many instances, law enforcement, federal troops and the judicial system aided or abetted racist violence. Often they raised the specter of the red, as in communist, menace to justify themselves. Occasionally whites and blacks reacted together against racist attacks. When, more often, they did not the struggle was weakened, a struggle for safety and jobs that could benefit all.