Thursday, May 21, 2015

Farmworkers at Gerawan deserve a union

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters has a piece on Tues, May 19,  about the struggle of farmworkers at  Gerawan   to gain union recognition and a contract.  The parts of the story  used in Walters’ piece were highly selective. The piece was from the point of view of the corporate grower.   Here is a more complete side of the story by David Bacon,

 When Jose Dolores began picking grapes at Gerawan Farming in California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1990, the company was paying a little over the state minimum wage of $4.25 an hour. “We just weren’t making enough, and everything cost a lot. That’s why people wanted the union,” he recalls.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Baja berry strike apparently settled

By  Richard Marosi.
Baja California farmworker leaders and the Mexican government reached a tentative agreement Thursday that would boost wages and guarantee government-required benefits to thousands of laborers, in an apparent breakthrough aimed at ending the nearly two-month-long labor dispute.
In an unprecedented move, Mexico's federal government agreed to pay part of the workers' wages in order to meet their demands for a minimum daily wage of 200 pesos, or about $13.
"This is an agreement that will help us construct an orderly, peaceful, respectful and responsible way to provide a better quality of life for those workers who live in the valley of San Quintin," Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega de Lamadrid said after 18 hours of tense negotiations in Ensenada.
The deal won't be formalized until a signing ceremony June 4 and some key negotiations remain, mainly to determine the industry and government's share of the wage increase. Some observers remained skeptical, noting that the language of the agreement didn't guarantee that the workers' wage demands would be met.
Even so, farmworker leaders struck a positive note as they were greeted by thousands of cheering laborers upon their return from Ensenada to San Quintin on Thursday morning.
The announcement came after weeks of stalled talks and increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police.
In a key concession, the government agreed to ensure that every laborer in the region 200 miles south of San Diego would have access to social security benefits, which provide pensions and healthcare. Some of the region's largest agribusinesses for years have been denying the benefits, which are required by law.
A summary of the 13-point agreement distributed by the Baja California governor's office says that government and industry representatives will try to reach consensus on a minimum daily wage that comes "as close as possible" to workers' demands.

Negotiations between the government and industry representatives were continuing Thursday. "To our knowledge, all parties involved have not come to a mutual resolution," said Alfredo Arvizu, a spokesman for BerryMex, a major grower for Driscoll's, the world's largest berry distributor.
Erik Nicholson, national vice president of the United Farm Workers, which has sent representatives to Mexico to monitor the discussions, said he is unaware of the Mexican government ever agreeing to subsidize farmworker wages. "They have not achieved the 200-peso goal yet," Nicholson said.
The labor standoff, which began in mid-March with laborers blocking the region's main highway to export markets, had been growing increasingly tense in recent weeks. Dozens of protesters were injured Saturday by police firing rubber bullets in clashes that were broadcast across the country.

Richard Marosi. LA Times.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cornel West in Baltimore

Start at 16 minutes.

Someone took down the prior post of Michelle Obama.  I do not know who. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Socialism and Sanders - As American as Apple Pie

Socialism :Long deployed by the right as an epithet, this form of left-wing populism is as American as apple pie.
Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Americans are going to hear a lot about socialism, because the 73-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”
“Ever since I was a kid I never liked to see people without money or connections get put down or pushed around,” Sanders explained in making his announcement. “When I came to Congress I tried to be a voice for people who did not have a voice—the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. And that is what I will be doing as a candidate for president.”
We can expect the right-wing echo chamber—including Fox News hosts, Tea Party politicians, and Rush Limbaugh—to attack Sanders for espousing an ideology that they’ll likely describe as foreign, European, and un-American.
But Sanders’s views are in sync with a longstanding American socialist tradition. Throughout our history, some of the nation’s most influential activists and thinkers, such as Jane Addams, John Dewey, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, and Gloria Steinem, embraced socialism.   
Of course, America’s right-wingers say there’s already a socialist in the White House.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Release Melida and Estrella from ICE detention

We support the release of Melida and her 4-year-old daughter, Estrella, from family detention in Karnes City, TX. Melida has a 10-year-old U.S. citizen daughter, a sister with a green card, and other U.S. citizen family and friends all waiting for her in New York and willing to care for her while her case proceeds. She has already endured more than eight months of detention, suffering constantly while her daughter has been chronically ill and required hospitalization. She's terrified of returning to Guatemala, where the family of the gang member who was convicted of murdering her sister-in-law wants retribution. ICE has the authority to release her but, so far, has denied every request. If prosecutorial discretion means anything, it means that Melida and Estrella should be released.
Melida and her daughter Estrella—who celebrated her 4th birthday in detention—are asylum seekers from Guatemala who have now been incarcerated for more than eight months.

They are being held at the family detention facility in Karnes City, TX, where 78 mothers recently initiated a hunger strike to protest prolonged detention and deplorable conditions.1

Melida's sister-in-law was murdered by a gang member in 2012, and her family testified against the murderer. He was convicted, and his family seeks revenge.