Fast Food Workers Strike
New York—In April, fast-food workers walked off their jobs at more than 60 NYC restaurants. “We deserve better,” said Glenda Soto, a McDonald’s worker. “I work very hard. I’m a single mom, I have 3 kids, and on $7.25 an hour I can’t support them, and I can’t give them the education I want them to have. That hurts all of us.”
There are 50,000 fast food workers in NYC. Their jobs are the fastest growing in the U.S., but they’re also the lowest paid, earning between $10,000 and $18,000/year—less than half what it costs to support a family in New York City. Fast food workers at McDonalds, Burger King, Papa John’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s, and Domino’s have been coming together to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without interference.
Michigan—As many as 400 workers at more than 60 fast food restaurants in the Detroit metro area walked off the job. Also, more than 100 workers in St. Louis walked off the job at roughly 30 different restaurants. These rolling walkouts followed similar actions in New York, central Pennsylvania, and Chicago.As in other fast food strikes, Detroit workers are demanding the right to form a union and that their base pay be raised to $15 an hour. But this strike is the first such action to occur within a right-to-work state.
Chicago Schools Protest
More than 100 demonstrators taking part in mass civil disobedience were arrested in Chicago on March 28 as several thousand people marched against the largest proposed round of school closings in recent memory. Many carried placards proclaiming “Strong Schools, Strong Neighborhoods” and “Protect Our Children” while chanting “Whose Schools, Our Schools” and calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.
The city announced plans to close 54 schools affecting more than 30,000 students, primarily in low-income black and Latino areas.
Hunger Strike at Guantánamo
The hunger strike that has spread since early February among the 166 detainees still at Guantánamo Bay is again exposing the lawlessness of the system that marooned them there. The government claims that around 40 detainees are taking part. Prisoners on the hunger strike say that they would rather die than remain in the purgatory of indefinite detention.
Over 7,000 Demand Return of Stolen Benefits
On April 1, they boarded buses and cars before dawn, some the night before, to travel from the coalfields of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia. Over 7,000 packed into the Charleston Civic Center to voice their support for the 23,000 miners and their families who face the loss of their lifetime health benefits in a bankruptcy scam.
The miners’ fight is winning political support. The West Virginia state Senate and House of Delegates have passed resolutions calling on Patriot Coal to meet its commitment to provide pension and health benefits to miners. Elected leaders are feeling some heat, judging by the number of the powerful who appeared to express their support.
Thousands March for “Free Education” in Chile
April 13, the Chilean student movement roared back to life, with organizers and media outlets reporting that hundreds of thousands of people joined students in the nation’s streets calling for a free and quality education for all. Peaceful marches took place in nearly a dozen cities across the country. In the capital city of Santiago, a huge demonstration—estimated at over 150,000—held a jovial and energetic march through the city which culminated at the city’s landmark Estación Mapocho. As the larger group dispersed, some protesters were met with tear gas and water cannons as police forces clashed with smaller splinter groups from the larger crowd.
Students at the march carried flags and banners with slogans like “The Struggle Continues” and “Free Education for All” while dancing and chanting along the streets. “We are marching because we want free and quality education,” said Valentina Ibañez, a first-year student at Universidad Alberto Hurtado. “Education should be equal for everyone, it should be free.”
“Another Government Is Possible”
Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, the 2012 Green Party presidential and vice-presidential nominees, unveiled the Green Shadow Cabinet on April 22 at www.GreenShadowCabinet.US. The Cabinet will operate in the tradition of shadow cabinets in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, responding to actions of the government in office, and demonstrating that another government is possible. The Green Shadow Cabinet includes over 80 prominent scientists, community, and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and more, and will provide an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington DC.
May Day Rallies and Strikes Around the Globe
Millions took to the streets to take part in May 1 demonstrations around the globe. From union rallies to protests and clashes with police, the International Labor Day events drew attention to the issues of austerity, unemployment and workers’ rights.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans were joined by around 2,000 labor union activists from over 73 countries as they marched with banners bearing the images of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro in Havana on the International Day of Labor—May Day. Using the slogan “United for Prosperous and Sustainable Socialism,” the marchers also carried portraits of recently deceased Venezuelan President and Cuban ally Hugo Chavez.
At least five people were arrested at a demonstration in New York City as police hounded approximately 150 May Day protesters en route to Union Square Park. As a procession of demonstrators marched toward the rallying point, a faction ran into the street waving red and black flags, denouncing capitalism. Thousands of people marched down Broadway.
Thousands of protesters marched in London. The protest was dominated by communist supporters, mainly of Turkish origin.
In Seattle, WA, thousands of marchers fought with the police who released flash grenades at the protestors who threw rocks and bottles at the police.
German police deployed water cannons against thousands of protesters in Hamburg as May Day riots rocked the northern German port city. Protesters hurled bottles, stones, and firecrackers at police in the demonstration, held to give solidarity to southern European states hit by the global economic downturn.
In Berlin the police had to remove several activists who chained themselves to a concrete weight to block the way of a 250-strong march of the far-right extremist NPD party supporters. Some 2,000 leftists were also reportedly pushed back by the police to avoid clashes.
A protester was arrested in the Danish city of Aarhus after attempting to shoot at the Prime Minister with a water pistol. Those demonstrating against cuts met the PM’s speech with booing and pictures of unhappy faces.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Madrid, carrying placards with slogans against austerity. The unemployment level in Spain has hit a record-breaking 27 percent and the country’s economy has been shrinking for the last seven quarters.
Water cannons and teargas were used by riot police in Istanbul to disperse the May Day marchers trying to reach the main city square. At least 12 people were injured in clashes.
Fifty-five thousand Indonesians, wearing costumes symbolizing ants to show the exploitation of workers, protested against labor outsourcing and low wages in Jakarta.
Ferry and train services in Greece were stopped due to the general strike for May Day. Hundreds of Greeks gathered for rallies, protest- ing harsh austerity measures and the highest unemployment rate in the European Union.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in North Korea to celebrate May Day.
In Bangladesh, tens of thousands took to the streets to demand the execution of textile bosses over the collapse of a factory complex, with the final death toll threatening to topple 500.
Cambodian workers took to the streets of the capital, Phnom Penh, to call for a pay raise.
In Minneapolis, MN, Bread and Puppet theater led a colorful May Day Parade.
Amazon Warehouse Workers Sue Over Checkpoints
Whenever he clocked out after his 12-hour shift at an Amazon warehouse, Jesse Busk had to pass through the warehouse security checkpoint. The purpose of the checkpoint was to prevent workers like Busk from pilfering electronics or other pricey goods from the Amazon stock.
Busk, along with Laurie Castro, is a lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that reflects much of the labor discontent in warehouse business.
Many warehouse workers are temps, toiling for low pay and no benefits. Lawsuits, as well as union organizing, have become common in the industry, with workers claiming they’re cheated out of pay.
Busk said that he earned $12.35 an hour working nights, $11.60 days, without health care or paid leave.“It was probably one of the hardest jobs that I’ve ever had,” Busk said. “The mindset was just be grateful you have a job.”
Anti-drone demonstrations where held in April in numerous states and countries, including Illinois, California, Washington, and the UK. “The drones are being used in violation of international law. They are carrying out a mass campaign of terror in Pakistan where, according to a study done by Stanford, there’s 2,500 to 3,500 deaths,” anti-war activist Joe Iosbaker said.