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we move to canadalaura khttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05524593142290489958noreply@blogger.comBlogger6484125
Updated: 51 min 25 sec ago

today! fight for fifteen on 4-15

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 04:30
Today, working people across North America - and the world - will rally, demonstrate, and go on strike for two demands: fifteen and fairness.

In the US, fast-food workers are joined by childcare workers, contract (adjunct) teachers, and other low-wage earners, as this movement continues to grow. They will demonstrate in more than 50 cities. They are demanding 15 and a union: a $15/hour minimum wage and the right to organize without fear of reprisal.

In Ontario, workers will demonstrate outside the Ministry of Labour in Toronto, demanding Fifteen and Fairness: a $15/hour minimum wage, decent hours for decent jobs, paid sick days, and labour laws that protect every worker.

There have been significant victories. Seattle and San Francisco raised the minimum wage in those cities to $15/hour; Oakland raised it to $12.25. Poverty-pay giants like Walmart and McDonald's have been forced to concede major pay raises, with more to follow.

Massive movements in New York, Chicago, and L.A. are getting huge media attention. Organized fast-food workers have succeed in bringing labour issues to the forefront, in a way we have not seen in decades. Public pressure is building.

In Ontario, labour activism set the standard a decade ago when they won a $10/hour minimum wage. Last year organized workers won a minimum wage indexed to inflation, an important victory. I have no doubt that the fight for 15 and Fairness will have similar results.

Learn how you can fight for better working conditions and support others who do: here and here. On Twitter: #15andFairness and #FightFor15.

50,000 mexican farmworkers are on strike, and almost no one in north america knows about it

Sun, 04/12/2015 - 13:30
Did you know that 50,000 Mexican farmworkers are on strike?

If your answer is no, you have plenty of company. The Los Angeles Times is the only English-language mainstream media venue to regularly cover the strike. Canadian media, predictably, only wants to know how it will affect food prices.

These farmworkers harvest the fruits and vegetables that fill our supermarkets and our tables. They are paid $8 per day - that's right, not per hour, per day. They are gouged at company stores were they must purchase necessities, and see their pay routinely withheld without explanation. They are denied breaks and access to clean drinking water. They are not paid for overtime. Company housing is filthy and vermin-infested. Female workers are subjected to sexual harassment on a regular basis.

What decade, what century is this? The working class fights this battle again and again.

From Sonali Kolhatkar, writing in Truthdig:
Years ago the sparsely populated San Quintín area was converted into an industrial agricultural center by growers who imported indigenous workers from southern states such as Oaxaca. Bacon compared the dozen or so ranches in the area to the maquiladoras, or factories, that sprang up along the Mexican side of the U.S. border. He described the conditions of the labor camps where workers live as “really awful and terrible.”

Starting in the 1970s many of Baja California’s workers began to cross the U.S. border through California into the Central Valley, and even to states like Washington. “These are all connected communities,” maintained Bacon, which is why the San Quintín strike is big news among farmworker communities in the U.S. such as Washington’s Skagit County.

Sadly, it is not very big news elsewhere in the U.S. When the strike began last week, the Los Angeles Times was the only English-language media outlet in the country to initially cover it. (Since then, a week later, The Associated Press and others have begun to report on the strike.)The farmworkers work for hugely profitable agribusinesses, including Driscoll's, the most popular berry supplier in North America, and a company that enjoys a labour-friendly image.

I didn't find much about how we can support striking farmworkers. The United Farm Workers - the legendary union begun by the late great Cesar Chavez - has a petition: sign here.

[PS: If you are interested in Cesar Chavez, it appears you should skip the movie. See this one instead.]

what i learned at the cupe library conference

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 17:00
What did I learn at the CUPE Ontario Library Conference?

Technically, nothing. If learning means encountering something new, then no, this was not a learning experience.

But learning must also mean living with knowledge, absorbing it, seeing your theoretical knowledge translated into action. Understanding new configurations of that knowledge. Digesting it, assimilating it into our sense of ourselves.

In that sense, I'm learning this union stuff every day.

So here's what I "learned". (I learned that people are still overusing air quotes!)

All libraries everywhere have the same problems. Staffing levels are too low. Full-time jobs are disappearing. Positions are being deskilled. Work is increasingly precarious. It has been this way at libraries for a long time, but is now at a point where library systems are being destroyed. The ones that float do so at the peril of dedicated workers who are carrying burdens far too large.

Here's what else I "learned".

All unions everywhere face the same challenges. It's difficult to engage membership. There is anti-union sentiment even among union members. The same few activists do all the work. Members blame the union for conditions that rightly belong to the employer.

It's not a pretty picture.

And yet... I have so much hope. I have so much joy, and pride, and optimism.

I learned how some motivated organizers are successfully activating their memberships.

I learned how organizers harness anger and fear into positive action.

I learned about successful campaigns in Peterborough, Oshawa, Toronto, Brantford, and other Ontario communities.

I learned how union workplaces protect communities from the worst of the austerity agenda.

I learned how library unions struggle within larger locals of municipal employees who may not understand or value the contributions of library workers.

I learned how some library workers' unions don't include librarians. How full-time staff doesn't always support and value part-time staff. How library workers forge links with firefighters, transit workers, teachers, and custodians. How union-endorsed municipal councillors are fighting for good jobs in their communities.

I learned how some locals gave in to concessions and how membership - and their unions - suffered. How some locals fought off concessions and waged successful strikes.

Maybe I knew most of this already. But meeting other library unionists who are living it was exciting and inspiring. Meeting - brainstorming, sharing ideas, laughing, complaining, eating and drinking, communing - was brilliant.

And hey, guess what? I was elected to the library committee of CUPE Ontario, an interim member until elections next year. I am very proud to be recognized as someone worthy of this position.

to ottawa for the 2015 cupe library conference

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 06:30
At this very moment I am on the train from Toronto to Ottawa, en route to the CUPE Library Workers Conference. This will be my first time attending this annual event. I don't know what to expect, but I'm super excited!

Last week I was off work for a few days for my annual Spring New York City fix, and this week for the CUPE Conference. Somehow I am managing to stay on top of things at the library. Being compulsively organized has its advantages.

I'm blogging courtesy of my old netbook, the first time I've turned it on in many months. Allan and I worked on it to see if we could resurrect it from the near-dead - deleting bloatware, cleaning out spyware, uninstalling every unnecessary application. I enjoy my tablet, and I've made my peace with touch-screen technology, but there's still no substitute for a real keyboard, especially for a speedy touch-typist like me.

So now I have a desktop, a netbook, a tablet, and - yes, it's true - a BlackBerry phone. It seems like having a tablet precludes the need for a good touch-screen smartphone, but... not sure where that will go. The only thing I really need from a phone is texting and the occasional voice call.

I hope to blog about the CUPE Library Conference, and this reminds me that I never managed to do my dispatches from OLA 2015, which I attended in January. I'll add it to The List.

Farmland is rolling by, complete with cows, sheep, and silos. A quiet train, a comfy seat, internet access, and pleasant scenery. There is nothing like train travel.