Category: Uncategorized

The New Wave of Organizing on Social Media

Since Trump’s election, a number of ‘new’ network and campaigns have sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. The smallest of these groups has attracted thousands of volunteers in a short period of time. New Labor Forum compiled this list as a resource for those seeking to understand the landscape of this new wave of ‘from below’ activism.

The largest and most prominent of these is of course the recent Women’s March on Washington, which took place this past Saturday. They intend on continuing the mission of the march with actions promoted to their supporters.

It’s true that the ‘newness’ of each group is up for debate; an effort led by Michael Moore might be new, but his personal brand is not. The resource guide based group ‘Indivisible’ is new, but the founding members are congressional staffers who are known quantities to many political insiders. What is new, is that social media and the rapidly accelerating news cycle have made it possible for newly crafted brands to appear out of nowhere and engaged millions in intense, sustained activism in a matter of weeks, leaving established organizations to look for ways to connect in order to remain relevant.

 

One Hundred Days of Resistance

Michael Moore

He is calling for actions during the first 100 days and releasing his new film TrumpLand.

Links: http://www.100daysofresistance.org

 

Beau Willimon and Action Group Network

They are creating a national network of Action Groups to foster a ‘culture of change’. Groups are organized by location and issue. (Willimon is a screenwriter for House of Cards.)

Links: http://actiongroups.net/

 

Women’s March 10 Actions 100 Days

A continuation of the project started by the Women’s March on Washington. They will post actions to their website over Trump’s first 100 days in office.

Links: https://www.womensmarch.com/100/

https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchonwash/?fref=ts

 

Indivisible

‘A practical guide for resisting the Trump Agenda’ written by Congressional staffers. They seem very open to comments and ideas for improving the guide, which is published online.

Links: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/web @IndivisibleTeam

 

Democratic Coalition Against Trump

Also known as DCAT, they formed initially to prevent Trump from getting elected. Their new mission is holding the Trump and his administration accountable along with any elected officials who support him.

Links: https://www.democraticcoalition.org/about https://www.facebook.com/TheDemocraticCoalition/

 

The Sister District Project

They are working to ensure the voting protections of all American citizens by using the resources of progressive districts.

Links: https://www.sisterdistrict.com

https://www.facebook.com/sisterdistrict/?fref=ts

 

Trump Resistance Movement

A facebook page dedicated to the peaceful resistance against the intolerance coming from the Trump Administration

Links: https://www.facebook.com/TrumpResistanceMovement

 

Knock Every Door

launching nationwide, volunteer-led canvasses to organize our communities against Trump, starting right after the inauguration on January 20

Links: https://www.facebook.com/knockeverydoor/

KnockEveryDoor.org

 

Rise When We Fall

A citizen watchdog organization enabling Americans to take action against the Trump Administration and Congress, as well as local and state governments.

Links: https://risewhenwefall.org/

 

2 Hours a Week

A community fostering a new level of civic engagement following the 2016 election by offering you 2 hours a week of tangible action.

Links: 2hoursaweek.org

 

SwingLeft

Swing Districts are places where the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure we take back the House in 2018.

Links: Swingleft.org

 

Organizer’s Roundtable

Organizer’s Roundtable is a people-powered movement that formed in the wake of the 2016 US elections as a response to threats to our communities, our rights, and our freedoms.

Links: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1698641347093361/

 

 

 

LittleSis – the Database of Hidden Relationships Among the Powerful

LittleSis is the snarky alternative to Big Brother – a way for the little people to watch the powerful. A project of Public Accountability Project, a public watchdog group, LittleSis is a tool for conducting research on corporate power and the wealthy, to track corruption and conflicts of interest.

As the names of cabinet appointments have been made public, LittleSis has been posting reports about the relationships between nominees and corporate entities, to help the public better understand who and what they represent.

TRUMP TREASURY PICK CULTIVATED CLOSE TIES TO POLICE WHILE RUNNING “FORECLOSURE MACHINE”
SCOTT PRUITT: TRUMP’S NOMINEE TO LEAD THE E.P.A.

 

 

New Titles From NLF Authors

The City Is the Factory examines the “relocation of the space of protest from the factory to the city . . . see[ing] in it a shift that is both historically distinct and politically significant. Across these city-oriented struggles, [the book’s essay’s] focus on the increasing prominence of what Henri Lefebvre called “right to the city” demands and...

Read more

From the Editorial Team

We write this on the day following Donald Trump’s electoral triumph.  That stunning victory raises more questions than it answers.  To what degree is the election outcome attributable to an anxious and enraged white working class that feels by turns neglected, misunderstood and insulted by mainstream and progressive organizations and pundits? And how should labor and progressive activists understand and respond to the racism the campaign exposed? What did the 2016 election tell us about the wisdom and viability of the Obama coalition, which depends on demographic changes presumed to be advantageous, rather than on birthing a multi-racial working-class?  Did the AFL-CIO impact the election, particularly in the rust belt?  We’ll take up these and related concerns in subsequent issues of New Labor Forum.

One thing seems clear, however. Addressing any of these concerns will take place outside the corridors of power. The Sanders campaign was an important overture in that direction. Our “On the Contrary” features a debate about whether the Sanders primary campaign was a lost opportunity for the labor movement. This debate is joined by Larry Cohen, ex-president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and Randi Weingarten with Leo Casey of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)  Our lead article by Phil Thompson examines the prospects for building on an already active “urban populism” which has established a foothold in a healthy number of American cities.  Thompson raises the challenges implicit in maintaining and strengthening Obama-type coalitions, comprised of working-class blacks and Latinos and largely white millennials that constitute core metropolitan constituencies.  Urban displacement is one issue that must be addressed if this new social chemistry is to work.  Karen Chapple writes about how cities might develop in the interests of all instead of at the expense of their working classes.

Those working classes would probably be making a mistake to rely on anyone but themselves in the months and years ahead.  One encouraging sign of that resourcefulness was the Verizon strike of last summer.  Dan DiMaggio provides an anatomy of that victory, explores the multiple forces at play from the political as well as from the industrial arena, and poses the dilemma unions like the CWA face in dealing with frontier changes in technology and industrial organization.  Farm work, not known for recent technological innovation, presents another challenge altogether, given the fact that it remains beyond the reach of most labor laws and protections.  Julie C. Keller, Margaret Gray, and Jill Lindsay Harrison describe the efforts of immigrant dairy workers laboring at some of the dirtiest, most hazardous jobs to win some protection and justice from their employers.  Mariya Strauss devotes her “Roots of Rebellion” column to another sub-sector of the food production sector, examining organizing efforts by seafood workers in New Orleans.

Widening the orbit of working-class influence is, in part, a function of political imagination.  Once the labor movement embraced the cause of trust-busting which excited the passions of millions not necessarily part of the labor movement.  Those days are long gone, but Carl T. Bogus argues they should not be.  He lays out the reasons why anti-trust prosecutions have declined, how working people nonetheless pay a heavy price when mergers and acquisitions are allowed to proceed without government opposition, and why the labor movement should take up that forgotten cause.  Another way to broaden the reach of the progressive movement would be to champion the cause of wounded and traumatized veterans who are, by and large, drawn from the country’s working classes.  Ann Jones illuminates how major business interests, including the Koch brothers, are whittling away at government health care for veterans in an effort to buoy up their bottom lines. In “Organized Money” Max Fraser devotes his column to exposing another covert way major financial players are trying to gut or do an end-run around the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

One way not to win friends and influence people is on display within the labor movement.  On the critical issue of environmental regulation and transformation–a cause that mobilizes many millions far removed from the ranks of organized labor–the movement is deeply divided, one faction siding with those most guilty of despoiling the earth. Sean Sweeney analyzes this split in his “Earth to Labor” column.  A more welcome if small sign of the opposite appears in Sarah Jaffe’s “Under the Radar” reporting on a less well-known protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The “black box” of the workplace is a phrase bearing many meanings.  It connotes tyranny, for example, as it does in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  Paul Christensen sheds some desperately needed light into that hidden world.  His essay is a primer for all those who wonder what’s happening to the Russian working class and its sporadic efforts to break out of that black box.  Here at home the phrase also signals the closed off word of the prison industrial complex.  There prisoners first of all, but then too those charged with their day to day imprisonment, face a vexing dilemma.  Prisoners confront horrific conditions and often horrific treatment by prison guards.  Guards deal with danger and an overhang of job insecurity as talk of prison closures grows.  Austin McCoy wrestles with these conflicts and how they might be resolved.

Our Books and the Arts section begins with a review by Zora Ahmed of a closely related subject, namely the endemic racism of the criminal justice system in Cook County, Chicago: Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court.  Echoing the theme of financial trickery in “Beg, Borrow, or Steal”,” Andrew Elrod reviews two books about the entanglement of people by merchants of debt, Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit, and Fixing Global Finance, and How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy .Thinking about the future life of progressivism in the Clinton years and beyond is a book of essays called The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century, reviewed here by Kate Aronoff.  Whatever else that future will entail it must rest on grassroots organizing, so we have included a review by Steve Early of two books that bear on that experience: The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and The Rise of a New Justice Movement, and America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century.  And echoing the urban theme of this issue’s cover, we feature Li-Young Lee’s poem, The City in which I Love You, both a paean to and lament about “storied, buttressed, scavenged, policed city I call home, in which I am a guest.”

How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence

Article originally published at nonsite.org.

Some readers will know that I’ve contended that, despite its proponents’ assertions, antiracism is not a different sort of egalitarian alternative to a class politics but is a class politics itself: the politics of a strain of the professional-managerial class whose worldview and material interests are rooted within a political economy of race and ascriptive identity-group relations. Moreover, although it often comes with a garnish of disparaging but empty references to neoliberalism as a generic sign of bad things, antiracist politics is in fact the left wing of neoliberalism in that its sole metric of social justice is opposition to disparity in the distribution of goods and bads in the society, an ideal that naturalizes the outcomes of capitalist market forces so long as they are equitable along racial (and other identitarian) lines. As I and my colleague Walter Benn Michaels have insisted repeatedly over the last decade, the burden of that ideal of social justice is that the society would be fair if 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources so long as the dominant 1% were 13% black, 17% Latino, 50% female, 4% or whatever LGBTQ, etc. That is the neoliberal gospel of economic justice, articulated more than a half-century ago by Chicago neoclassical economist Gary Becker, as nondiscriminatory markets that reward individual “human capital” without regard to race or other invidious distinctions.

We intend to make a longer and more elaborate statement of this argument and its implications, which antiracist ideologues have consistently either ignored or attempted to dismiss through mischaracterization of the argument or ad hominem attack.1 For now, however, I want simply to draw attention to how insistence on reducing discussion of killings of civilians by police to a matter of racism clouds understanding of and possibilities for effective response to the deep sources of the phenomenon.

Available data (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/?tid=a_inl) indicate, to the surprise of no one who isn’t in willful denial, that in this country black people make up a percentage of those killed by police that is nearly double their share of the general American population. Latinos are killed by police, apparently, at a rate roughly equivalent to their incidence in the general population. Whites are killed by police at a rate between just under three-fourths (through the first half of 2016) and just under four-fifths (2015) of their share of the general population. That picture is a bit ambiguous because seven percent of those killed in 2015 and fourteen percent of those killed through June of 2016 were classified racially as either other or unknown. Nevertheless, the evidence of gross racial disparity is clear: among victims of homicide by police blacks are represented at twice their rate of the population; whites are killed at somewhat less than theirs. This disparity is the founding rationale for the branding exercise2 called #Black Lives Matter and endless contentions that imminent danger of death at the hands of arbitrary white authority has been a fundamental, definitive condition of blacks’ status in the United States since slavery or, for those who, like the Nation’s Kai Wright, prefer their derivative patter laced with the seeming heft of obscure dates, since 1793. In Wright’s assessment “From passage of the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act forward, public-safety officers have been empowered to harass black bodies [sic] in the defense of private capital and the pursuit of public revenue.”3

This line of argument and complaint, as well as the demand for ritual declarations that “black lives matter,” rest on insistence that “racism”—structural, systemic, institutional, post-racial or however modified—must be understood as the cause and name of the injustice manifest in that disparity, which is thus by implication the singular or paramount injustice of the pattern of police killings.

But, when we step away from focus on racial disproportions, the glaring fact is that whites are roughly half or nearly half of all those killed annually by police. And the demand that we focus on the racial disparity is simultaneously a demand that we disattend from other possibly causal disparities. Zaid Jilani found, for example, that ninety-five percent of police killings occurred in neighborhoods with median family income of less than $100,00 and that the median family income in neighborhoods where police killed was $52,907.4 And, according to the Washington Post data, the states with the highest rates of police homicide per million of population are among the whitest in the country: New Mexico averages 6.71 police killings per million; Alaska 5.3 per million; South Dakota 4.69; Arizona and Wyoming 4.2, and Colorado 3.36. It could be possible that the high rates of police killings in those states are concentrated among their very small black populations—New Mexico 2.5%; Alaska 3.9%; South Dakota 1.9%; Arizona 4.6%, Wyoming 1.7%, and Colorado 4.5%. However, with the exception of Colorado—where blacks were 17% of the 29 people killed by police—that does not seem to be the case. Granted, in several of those states the total numbers of people killed by police were very small, in the low single digits. Still, no black people were among those killed by police in South Dakota, Wyoming, or Alaska. In New Mexico, there were no blacks among the 20 people killed by police in 2015, and in Arizona blacks made up just over 2% of the 42 victims of police killing.

What is clear in those states, however, is that the great disproportion of those killed by police have been Latinos, Native Americans, and poor whites. So someone should tell Kai Wright et al to find another iconic date to pontificate about; that 1793 yarn has nothing to do with anything except feeding the narrative of endless collective racial suffering and triumphalist individual overcoming—“resilience”—popular among the black professional-managerial strata and their white friends (or are they just allies?) these days. What the pattern in those states with high rates of police killings suggests is what might have been the focal point of critical discussion of police violence all along, that it is the product of an approach to policing that emerges from an imperative to contain and suppress the pockets of economically marginal and sub-employed working class populations produced by revanchist capitalism. There is no need here to go into the evolution of this dangerous regime of policing—from bogus “broken windows” and “zero tolerance” theories of the sort that academics always seem to have at the ready to rationalize intensified application of bourgeois class power, to anti-terrorism hysteria and finally assertion of a common sense understanding that any cop has unassailable authority to override constitutional protections and to turn an expired inspection sticker or a refusal to respond to an arbitrary order or warrantless search into a capital offense. And the shrill insistence that we begin and end with the claim that blacks are victimized worst of all and give ritual obeisance to the liturgy of empty slogans is—for all the militant posturing by McKesson, Garza, Tometi, Cullors et al.—in substance a demand that we not pay attention to the deeper roots of the pattern of police violence in enforcement of the neoliberal regime of sharply regressive upward redistribution and its social entailments. It is also a demand that, in insisting that for all intents and purposes police violence must be seen as mainly, if not exclusively, a black thing, we cut ourselves off from the only basis for forging a political alliance that could effectively challenge it. All that could be possible as political intervention, therefore, is tinkering around with administration of neoliberal stress policing in the interest of pursuing racial parity in victimization and providing consultancies for experts in how much black lives matter.5

Another revealing datum regarding the imagery of an unbroken history of racist denigration of black “bodies” stretching back at least to 1619 as explanation of the current racial disparity in police killings is that, as Mike Males has shown, police killings of black men under 25 years of age declined 79% between 1968 and 2011, and 61% for men over 25 during that same period.6 Nor is that quite surprising. The victories won by the civil rights movement were real, as were the entailments of the Voting Rights Act. Things were generally worse with respect to everyday police terror in inner-city black neighborhoods than they are now. One of the few of the Black Panthers’ slogans that wasn’t simply empty hyperbole was their characterization of the role of police as an “occupying army” in black communities. (When I first saw The Battle of Algiers in the late 1960s, I felt an instant shock of recognition, a sense that I’d lived some of the film.) Racial transition in local government and deepening incorporation of minority political interests into local governing coalitions had a moderating effect on police brutality in black communities.7

My point is not in any way to make light of the gravity of the injustice or to diminish outrage about police violence. (I realize, however, that some will impute that intention to me; for them and all who would take the charge seriously, see note 1 below.) However, noting a decline—or substantial change in either direction for that matter—in the rate of police killings does underscore the inadequacy of reified, transhistorical abstractions like “racism” or “white supremacy” for making sense of the nature and sources of police abuse of black Americans. Racism and white supremacy don’t really explain how anything happens. They’re at best shorthand characterizations of more complex, or at least discrete, actions taken by people in social contexts; at worst, and, alas, more often in our political moment, they’re invoked as alternatives to explanation. In that sense they function, like the Nation of Islam’s Yacub story, as a devil theory: racism and white supremacy are represented as capable of making things happen in the world independently, i.e. magically. This is the fantasy expressed in formulations like racism is America’s “national disease” or “Original Sin”—which, incidentally, are elements of the liberal race relations ideology that took shape in postwar American political discourse precisely as articulations of a notion of racial equality that was separated from political economy and anchored in psychology and individualist notions of prejudice and intolerance.8

Nevertheless, putting to the side for a moment those ways in which causal invocations of racism and white supremacy are wrongheaded and inadequate and accepting for the sake of argument that the reified forces can do things in the world, if their manifest power can vary so significantly with social, political, and historical context, wouldn’t the objective of combating the injustice be better served by giving priority to examining the shifting and evolving contexts under which racism and white supremacy are more or less powerful or that condition the forms in which they appear rather than to demonstrating that those forces that purportedly cause inequality must be called racism or white supremacy in particular? One problem with the latter objective is that it is ultimately unrealizable. There is no definitive standard of what qualifies as racism; like terrorism or any other such abstraction, it is in the eye of the beholder. In fact, an illustration of the great cultural victory of the postwar civil rights struffle is that “racism” is negatively sanctioned in American society. No one with any hope of claim to political respectability—not even Maine governor Paul LePage, who leaves one struggling to imagine what he assumes would thus qualify as racist, (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/us/profane-phone-message-has-gov-paul-lepage-of-maine-in-hot-water-again.html?_r=0)—embraces it. In addition, advocates of antiracist politics argue that debate over the name that should be attached to the injustice is important because acknowledging the existence of racism/white supremacy as a causal agent is a necessary first step to overcoming its power. But that claim rests on shaky political ground. It is at bottom a call for expiation and moral rehabilitation as political action. In that sense Black Lives Matter is like its rhetorical grandparent, Black Power; it is a slogan that has condensed significant affective resonance but is without programmatic or strategic content. Also like Black Power, in response to criticisms of its lack of concrete content, BLM activists generated a 10 Point Plan—http://www.puckermob.com/lifestyle/black-lives-matter-just-delivered-their-10-point-manifesto-and-this-is-what-they-want, in part clearly to address criticisms that they had no affirmative agenda beyond demands that the slogan be validated and the names of selected victims of police killing be invoked. This was followed more recently by an expanded document featuring roughly sixty items called “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom, and Justice”—https://policy.m4bl.org.

Some, perhaps many, of the items propounded in the initial 10 Point Plan are fine as a statement of reforms that could make things better in the area of criminal justice policy and practice. Many, if not most, of those assembled under the rubric “Vision for Black Lives” are empty sloganeering and politically wrongheaded and/or unattainable and counterproductive. However, the problem is not a shortage of potentially effective reforms that could be implemented. The problem is much more a political and strategic one. And the focus on racial disparity both obscures the nature and extent of the political and strategic challenges we face and in two ways undercuts our ability to mount a potentially effective challenge: 1) As my colleague, Marie Gottschalk, has demonstrated in her most important book, Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics(Princeton and London: Princeton University Press, 2016),9 the carceral apparatus in its many manifestations, including stress policing as well as the many discrete nodes that constitute the regime of mass incarceration, has emerged from and is reproduced by quite diverse, bipartisan, and evolving complexes of interests, some of which form only in response to the arrangements generated and institutionalized by other interests. Constituencies for different elements of the carceral state do not necessarily overlap, and their interests in maintaining it, or their favored components of it, can be material, ideological, political, or alternating or simultaneous combinations of the three. Challenging that immensely fortified and self-reproducing institutional and industrial structure will require a deep political strategy, one that must eventually rise to a challenge of the foundational premises of the regime of market-driven public policy and increasing direction of the state’s functions at every level toward supporting accelerating regressive transfer and managing its social consequences through policing. 2) It should be clear by now that the focus on racial disparity accepts the premise of neoliberal social justice that the problem of inequality is not its magnitude or intensity in general but whether or not it is distributed in a racially equitable way. To the extent that that is the animating principle of a left politics, it is a politics that lies entirely within neoliberalism’s logic.

 

 

1. I’m not much given to autobiographical writing, least of all as a mechanism for establishing interpretive authority, even though I recognize that that pre-Enlightenment ploy has become coin of the realm for the “public intellectual” and blogosphere bloviator stratum. I’ve noted over decades that element’s cheap way to evade engaging with my arguments: resort to accusations, usually laced with personal innuendo, that I underestimate the depths of racism or deny its existence; particularly ironic is that often enough that dismissive accusation comes from earnest white antiracists. An especially brazen and preposterous instance was when the late Manning Marable—“Race, Class and the Katrina Crisis,” Working USA 9 (June 2006)—and white antiracist historian David Roediger—“The Retreat from Class,” Monthly Review 58 (July/August 2006)—insinuated that I did not understand the power of white racism in New Orleans—a city they visited as disaster tourists with a simplistic potted narrative and where I largely grew up in the Jim Crow era and the most intense period of the postwar civil rights insurgency, and where most of my family lives and had lived before, during and after Katrina. I’m still not going to natter on about my racial bona fides; I’ll leave that domain to the likes of Mychal Denzel Smith and Ta-Nehisi Coates, for whom every sideways glance from a random white person while waiting on line for a latté becomes an occasion for navel-gazing lament and another paycheck. (A historian friend has indicated his resolve, when white colleagues enthuse to him about Coates’s wisdom and truth-telling, to ask which white college dropouts they consult to get their deep truths about white people.) I just wanted to anticipate the reaction and make clear that I recognize it for the cheesy move that it is.
3. Kai Wright, “Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead,” The Nation, July 7, 2016.
4. Zaid Jilani, “95% of Police Killings in 2015 Occurred in Neighborhoods with Incomes Under $100,000.” AlterNet.org available at http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/95-police-killings-2015-occurred-neighborhoods-incomes-under-100000?sc=fb.
5. See, e.g., Dave Huber, “Black Lives Matter’s Deray McKesson Now a U. Chicago Institute of Politics Fellow,” The College Fix, August 20, 2016 available athttp://www.thecollegefix.com/post/28558/ and Brook Kelly-Green and Luna Yasui, “Why Black Lives Matter to Philanthropy,” Ford Foundation Equals Change blog, July 19, 2016 available athttps://www.fordfoundation.org/ideas/equals-change-blog/posts/why-black-lives-matter-to-philanthropy/.
6. Mike Males, “Who Are Police Killing?” Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, August 2014, available at http://www.cjcj.org/news/8113.
7. I discuss the impact of the emergence of black urban governance in the 1970s in this regard in Adolph Reed, Jr., Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 97ff.
8. See Risa Goluboff, The Lost Promise of Civil Rights (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2010); Leah N. Gordon, From Power to Prejudice: The Rise of Racial Individualism in Midcentury America (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2015), and John P. Jackson, Jr., Social Scientists for Social Justice (New York: NYU Press, 2005).
9. Also see her 2015 Jacobin interview, “It’s Not Just the Drug War,” at https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/mass-incarceration-war-on-drugs/.

Unions Weigh in on the Dakota Access Pipeline

Here’s a roundup of recent union statements regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

 

Pro-DAPL Statements

The AFL-CIO proclaims “Dakota Access Pipeline Provides High-Quality Jobs” and offers its full support of pipeline construction as it is “ part of a comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, makes the United States more competitive and addresses the threat of climate change. Pipelines are less costly, more reliable and less energy intensive than other forms of transporting fuels, and pipeline construction and maintenance provides quality jobs to tens of thousands of skilled workers.”

AFL-CIO acknowledged the concern of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the following terms. Exerpt:

“We believe that community involvement in decisions about constructing and locating pipelines is important and necessary, particularly in sensitive situations like those involving places of significance to Native Americans. However, once these processes have been completed, it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay. The Dakota Access Pipeline is providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs.”

Read the full AFL-CIO statement here.

 

LIUNA also released a statement of support for the pipeline construction project and included some angry words at other unions who have chosen to release statements of solidarity with the protestors.

Delegates unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attacks on the livelihoods of LIUNA members working on the Dakota Access Pipeline by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), National Nurses United (NNU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), and American Postal Workers Union (APWU) who have come out publicly against the pipeline. The resolution stated in this exerpt,

“These four unions have no equity in this pipeline, it will not put a single one of their members to work yet they choose to take food off of our members’ tables. A central tenet of the labor movement has always been that when it comes to a project in which you have no equity at stake, you either support it or remain silent. We look forward to reciprocating the “solidarity” shown to LIUNA members by these unions.”

Read the full LIUNA statement here.


 

No DAPL Statements

The Service Employees International Union issued the following statement in support of the Standing Rock Sioux’s efforts to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from disturbing their sacred lands and burial grounds and to avoid the threat of contaminating the Missouri River which provides the Tribes’ drinking water. Exerpt:

“Historical disregard for low income communities and communities of color, including those where many SEIU members live and work, has subjected them to toxic air pollution and contaminated waterways for decades. In these communities, asthma and other respiratory ailments caused by toxic air and poisonous toxins such as lead in the water supply, affect our children’s health and ability to thrive. As the nation’s largest healthcare union, we stand with the growing movement of environmental organizations, businesses, students, parents and others demanding cleaner air and water and to address the growing threat of climate change for the health and safety of our families and communities. As a union of service employees deeply committed to making sure all work is valued and respected, we know that workers employed by the fossil fuel industry are caught in the middle. SEIU members recognize the importance of these jobs for these workers and their families and we demand that our government protect all workers whose lives and livelihoods are impacted by a shift away from fossil fuels. Our government must make the needed investments into building a new clean economy, including a just transition of workers from the fossil fuel workforce, by investing in clean energy and rebuilding and repairing much of our nations aging infrastructure, including existing pipelines which are in great need of repair.  We will fight for an economy and democracy in which working families can live and work in a clean environment with good jobs for all.”

Read the full SEIU statement here.

National Nurses United has released a statement in support of the federal government’s construction halt and called for a permanent end to the project. Exerpt:

“We commend the leaders and members of the Standing Rock Sioux, the many First Nation allies who have joined them, and the environmentalists and other supporters who have participated in the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. The decision of the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior is a direct result of the efforts of the pipeline opponents who have taken this courageous stand on behalf of all of us,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN.

Read the full NNU statement here.

 

And the CWA Committee on Human Rights also released a statement of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Exerpt:

“CWA, through our Committee on Human Rights, stands with working people and against corporate greed, whether we’re fighting for clean water in Flint, Mich., against bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would hurt U.S. jobs and communities, or the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to safeguard their community.
The labor movement is rooted in the simple and powerful idea of solidarity with all struggles for dignity, justice and respect. CWA will continue to fight against the interests of the 1% and corporate greed and firmly stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the environmental and cultural degradation of their community.”

Read the full CWA statement here.

 

It also should be noted that the AFL-CIO constituency group, the Labor Coalition for Community Action, has released a statement in support of #NoDAPL. Exerpt:

“We remain committed to fighting the corporate interests that back this project and name this pipeline “a pipeline of corporate greed.” We challenge the labor movement to strategize on how to better engage and include Native people and other marginalized populations into the labor movement as a whole. Lastly, we applaud the many labor unions working to create a new economy with good green jobs and more sustainable employment opportunities for all. We also encourage key stakeholders — labor unions including the building trades, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others who would be impacted — to come together to discuss a collective resolution.”

The Labor Coalition for Community Action includes the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and Pride at Work. You can read the full LCCA statement here.