Bob's Links and Rants

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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Central Front in the Battle for Labor Rights
Is in your neighborhood. Everything that workers have won over 100+ years of organizing--decent working conditions, overtime pay, weekends, vacations, health care, decent wages--is currently being attacked by the corporations and their bought-and-paid-for politicians in the White House, the Congress, and in state and local governments. Here in Ann Arbor, workers are striking against the original Borders store for unfair labor practices. In California, grocery-store workers are striking against Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Albertsons Inc. and Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Pavilions. Unless you are a Republican politician and/or you get most of your income from investments, their battle is your battle.

If you're happy with a world where you and your children and grandchildren face a job market where they either take a crummy, low-pay, no-benefit job or they join the army to get wounded or killed in the next Bush war, then just go on with business at usual. But if you think something better is possible, it is crucial that the anti-labor tide in this country be turned back. We need to put serious financial pressure on corporations to deal fairly with their workers.

As a first step, boycott all of these stores that are being picketed: Borders, Krogers, Albertsons, Vons, Ralph's, Safeway, Pavilion. The grocery stores are colluding with each other to put down the strike; we need to collude to support it. To take it a step further, you can support the strikers financially. You can support the Borders' strike fund here--there's a donation button on the left. To support the grocery workers in California, make a donation here. A third step would be to actually get out and join the picket line. Help beef up the line, provide some moral support, bring 'em some donuts. If you can't stay, at least drive by and honk your horn in support.

Why not plan on cutting back on Christmas shopping this year, and instead use your money to help win these crucial fights for labor rights? If the corporate Republicans have their way, the top 2% will be living in luxury in gated subdivisions, while 50% of us work for $3 an hour, 70 hours a week, and the rest just starve. That's where we're headed if we don't stop it now.

If you haven't read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed yet, now would be a good time. Read it if you have any illusions about people being able to get by on minimum wage in this country.