The April meeting of North Texas Jobs with Justice showcased some of the most exciting developments in worker justice. Bob Cash spoke for Fair Trade, Chris Rosell and others spoke for organizing, and Akwete Tyehimba gave us a terrific labor history lesson.
Bob Cash represents the Texas Fair Trade Coalition. He brought news that a historic new "trade agreement" will be negotiated in Dallas May 8-18th. The "Trans-Pacific Partnership" may end up being far bigger and far worse than NAFTA or any so-called "free trade agreements" so far. 11 unionists, 2 environmentalists, and over 600 corporate representatives will sit in on the Dallas negotiations.
These "corporate tools" liberalize major restrictions on corporations so that they can mistreat their employees and the environment almost at will. Even though many people are hoping that the Obama Administration will not negotiate treaties as bad as the previous ones, it is "the same old people and the same old agenda." If the treaty is enacted, it would be a "docking agreement" that is open to allowing even more countries negotiate their entry.
It is important to note that these international treaties override the laws of the signing countries, including the United States. In other words, a minimum wage law or an environmental restriction in the United States might be overriden by a foreign corporation with backing from the "free trade" administration. This is already in effect with previous treaties.
Bob Cash and a giant coalition of unions ,environmentalists and other progressive organizations, want to see major protests in Dallas while negotiations are underway. "The Battle in Seattle" of 1999 needs to be even bigger and stronger in Dallas! Cash says that our overall goal is to "put some sunshine" on these secret negotiations so that the American people can have our input.
Kevin Blair (pictured at right during the JwJ meeting) asks for community support for his efforts to help employees of the world's biggest private employer defend themselves. Walmart has made headlines for the ways that it mistreats its "associates." At one time, the response of the union movement was confused. On the one hand, they asked employees to organize but, on the other hand, some unions asked the public to stop buying at Walmart. The new strategy is much more likely to succeed. The workers at Walmart must organize to defend themselves, and it is up to us to help them!
Teamster organizer Chris Rosell is in North Texas to help us kick off an organizing campaign that relies on community support. They need church leaders, civil rights activists, and community people to show their support for organizing workers. Not all union leaders have reached the same conclusion, but several have, and they often start with groups like Jobs with Justice.
We assured Rosell that organizations like Occupy Dallas and MoveOn (both of whom were represented at the meeting) understand the importance of such support and are eager to supply it. People can start by contacting us.
Akwete Tyehimba of the Pan African Connection and I have prepared a 15-minute dramatization of the history of Mayday and the fight for the 8-hour day. The April JwJ meeting ran too long to run through the whole thing, but we did the last two minutes to great applause from the meeting. Any organization that would like to see our presentation is invited to contact us.
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