Friday, May 6, 2011

Free to Roam the Globe

     FreeToRoamTheGlobe by Guy Mingo

           The rally cry that occurs every May 1 could not have come at a better time. Every May Day, or International Workers' Day, unions and workers' rights activists across the globe pay homage to past struggles for humane working conditions. The looming fight to defend those hard-earned rights will require a global strategy that unites forces for a protracted campaign.
          The remaining union membership in the U.S. is under attack by every level of government. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder's proposed budget policies and financial takeovers directly target what's left of public worker's right to bargain collectively. Increasingly, the presumption is that health benefits, pensions and outdated union contracts are where the inefficiencies exist. The only solution to mounting deficits is labor concessions, according to lawmakers. No big business concessions, no corporate concessions and no big bank concessions need be mentioned.
          That, for a long time, has been the position held by lawmakers for various reasons rooted in our political infrastructure. But since the last gubernatorial elections, corporate finance is pushing the envelope well beyond rhetoric that plays to conservative tendencies.
          Legislation is being prepared, proposed and passed, which will permanently alter the relationship between labor and capital. You can guess which one is receiving the short end of the stick. More than ever, labor movements must respond on a global level. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the masses have coalesced and resisted to an unprecedented degree. It remains to be seen if a similar effort can be executed here in the U.S. Certainly, the stakes are just as high.
          During recent budget hearings, Detroit City Council members were, understandably, fixated on a potential consent agreement between Mayor Bing and Governor Snyder and the very real possibility that an emergency financial manager could be assigned to Detroit. There was little talk of resistance as various cautions were issued on the repercussions of a state takeover. I found my self daydreaming about a united Council taking a public, defiant stand against the state.
          Charles Pugh would hold a press conference and, with eight Council members behind him, would issue this brief statement.
          "As the legislative branch of this sovereign municipal government, we were elected to uphold the constitution and protect the best interests of the residents of Detroit. The state and federal governments have let the banks and corporations decimate our housing and our tax base. Our citizens have been evicted by the tens of thousands while Homeland Security and military budgets grow exponentially.We will not be held hostage for another day. We're declaring our own moratorium on all foreclosures and all debts to major banks. Keep your revenue sharing monies-- we'll find our own way to a new economy that doesn't rely on the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few."
          Audio from the track above was taken from video of a press conference given at Union Square in New York City April 29 to rally support for the upcoming May Day march. The New York May 1 Coalition has organized extensively to include immigrant workers into the workers' rights movement there. The voices you hear are Chris Silvera , of NY Teamsters Local 808, and Larry Holmes of the Bail Out The People Movement.