Author Archives: oneofthelibrarians

About oneofthelibrarians

Respectable unemployed librarian by day, dirty street librarian by night & other days.

Labor Notes: Which Side Are You On?

Good morning!  To update my last post, the Chicago Teachers Union — some 26,000 teachers and support staff — has gone out on strike today.  They are striking for themselves — for previously promised raises and decent health coverage, against being overworked by longer hours and larger class sizes — and also for their students — for “elective” courses such as art and gym and music, and for educational support such as librarians and social workers.  You’d bet that mayor Rahm Emanuel’s children and the children of the Chicago School Board members attend schools that have all that and more.  All of Chicago’s public school students certainly deserve the same.   (Rahm, by the way, should be ashamed of himself.  His mother, a union organizer, is probably rolling in her grave.)

If you are in Chicago, join a picket!  Some handy person has mapped them all out, but I hear you can’t swing a cat in Chicago this morning without hitting some striking teachers.  If you don’t have the time, but maybe have some financial resources, donate to the strike fund.  Or stop by a picket with coffee and snacks.  I’m sure the teachers will appreciate it.  Also, as my fellow people’s librarian from Chicago, Rachel Allshiny, herself an unemployed teacher, notes on Twitter (follow her: @allshiny), “My parents raised me to never cross a picket line. But for some of these kids it’s the only way they’ll get breakfast.”  And lunch, for that matter.  Emptier schools will make for a more effective strike, so if you have folks in your neighborhood who need childcare, or kids who take free or reduced price meals at school, step up and help out.  If supporters could take in children for weeks and months during the Lawrence textile mill strike a hundred years ago, you can surely make a couple sandwiches.

Here in NYC, we’ll be gathering at Union Square at 5pm this evening for a show of solidarity.  (And inspiration?  A girl can dream.)

Along with the start of the school year, it’s also the start of football season.  I love football!  If you google hard enough, you might be able to find pictures of yours truly at age 12 in pads and jersey and with a ponytail hanging out the back of a helmet. (As a side note, I especially love the Green Bay Packers, which is the only community-owned pro sports team in the US.   And the only one to release all its financial information every year.  And it’s against NFL rules for other teams to organize like this.)  But if you’ve been watching pre-season games or this weekend’s season openers, you may have noticed that the calls were less than stellar.  The NFL’s regular referees are locked out, a tactic I’ve previously written about that is being used by owners against workers with more and more frequency.  In their place, the league has hired scabs up from Div II & III college ball, high schools, and sundry other leagues.  (It just kills me that Shannon Eastin, the first woman to ref in the NFL, is a scab.)

There’s a lot to be said about this — how meeting all the refs’ demands would cost the league very little money, how the replacements’ collective lack of experience may endanger the players of a sport that has been paying increasing attention to long-term dangers of concussions and other impact injuries.  Other people have spilled a lot of ink over all that.  I’ll just say that I won’t be watching any games, and neither should you, until the refs’ demands are met and the lockout is over.  If any NFL players happen to be reading, especially any Packers, or from teams in other old union towns — I’m looking at you, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers — I suggest you get on the right side of history and start vociferously supporting your referees.

Here in New York we had an important victory just last week.  On the Upper East Side, Hot and Crusty fired and locked out a couple dozen workers after they unionized and won improvements in wages and working conditions.  Rather than not being a jerk, the owner closed up shop.  Workers and allies occupied the place until the cops showed up and arrested a few people.  Then they started picketing, running a cafe on the sidewalk, and holding a tough line against half-assed offers.  As of now, workers’ demands have all been met, and Hot and Crusty is scheduled to reopen; let’s all keep an eye on this — the picket will continue until the owner follows through.

Last, but not least, some of New York City’s car wash employees are getting organized.  Like the Hot and Crusty employees, many car wash workers are immigrants, often undocumented, which makes it easier for owners to exploit them, through fear of la migra.  Let’s be ready to step up and lend some solidarity as these workers, too, start demanding their rights and dignity.

ETA: In international news, more and more miners, now more than 40,000, are striking in South Africa.

ETA: As of Wednesday, 9/12, teachers in Lake Forest, Ill., a suburb to the north of Chicago, and not part of the Chicago school system, have also gone out on strike.  It sounds like they’re having a rough time of it, so any support from folks out that way would be appreciated, I’m sure.  Lake Forest has a very different demographic profile from Chicago, being very white and very wealthy.  With a median household income about three times that of the national average, residents should probably STFU about teachers wanting to be well-compensated for the valuable work they do.

 

ETA: It’s still Wednesday, and I’ve got more labor news!  Workers at a warehouse in Mira Loma, California, that subcontracts with Walmart — and we all know how shitty Walmart’s labor record is — have walked off, after Walmart wouldn’t even come to the table to discuss wages, working conditions, and retaliation for previous organization attempts.  In coming days they will be walking the 50 miles to Los Angeles to take up the issue with Walmart’s executives.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

You’ve heard me say it before…

…but, I love a good strike.

 

 

ETA: Strike starts Sept. 10 unless a contract is negotiated in the meantime.  Go read some more of the CTU blog, as well; it’s got lots of good stuff, such as advice that Teach for America teachers can strike along with their comrades.

 

 

And as the new school year approaches, it looks like Chicago’s public school teachers and other educational professionals (like school librarians, ahem) might be going out. Tomorrow they will file their 10-day strike notice. That doesn’t mean that they’ll definitely strike, but it does mean the option is definitely on the table.  90% voted to authorize a strike earlier this summer. 

Wages, hours, and conditions of course.  In this case a main issue is that the same number of teachers were being asked to cover an extended school day and larger class sizes.   They seem to have made headway on that, but contract details have not been all straightened out yet.  Also up for discussion are student services and what some might call elective or non-essential courses and activities — music, art, recess & P.E., libraries, etc. — aspects of education that are seen as essential to wealthy and high-performing schools, but somehow are always negotiable in poor schools.  This, my friends, is one of the many way in which the playing field is not level, in which equal opportunity is not available, and in which inequality is perpetuated.

So, let’s see some support for our sisters and brothers in Chicago, trying to maintain fair working conditions in their public school system, so that they can best serve their hundreds of thousands of students.

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Filed under Education, Jaime, Solidarity

Lawsuit Update

Whoops!

So, we here at the Library have been sitting on this for a while, but the cat’s out of the bag now, thanks to the Village Voice.  In short, the city and Brookfield (owners of Zuccotti/Liberty) are pointing fingers and loudly yelling, “nuhuh!”

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Brookfield, Jaime, Lawsuit, LOL, Public/Private Parks

CFP

A friend of the library sends along the following call for papers:

ANARCHISM: THEORY, PRACTICE, ROOTS, CURRENT TRENDS

Science & Society is planning a special issue on the broad theme of anarchism, as appearing in both past and present-day political movements. While contributors will of course shape the content and perspectives of the issue as it develops, we especially encourage contributions within the following subject areas:

1. The nature of anarchist theory and practice, from the standpoint of historical materialism. Anarchism as a laboratory for the study of the material roots of ideology. Does the existing body of anarchist writing contribute to Marxist understandings of the state? Of the nature of ruling-class hegemony? Of the balance between spontaneity and organization in the struggles of working and oppressed classes and strata? Of transformations in capitalism related to globalization, neoliberalism, financialization, cognitive commodities, creative labor, etc.?
2. The classical roots of anarchist thought in the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, and others, especially in relation to the position of Marx and Engels in the International Working Men’s Association and the individual-country working-class movements of the 19th century.
3. The specific features of present-day anarchist thought. Survey of books, journals, websites, blogs. The role of new information technologies in contemporary social and political debate.
4. Anarchism in today’s new social movements: the anti- and counter-globalization protests; the uprising against the WTO, Seattle, 1999; the World Social Forum and its regional and national counterparts; and the present-day Occupy movement, in the United States and internationally. What is the nature of anarchism’s influence, and how has it evolved? How is anarchism conceptualized in today’s Occupy movement, and how do these conceptions differ from classical anarchism?
5. Anarchism and “black shirt” practices on the left, old and new, from the 19th century to the Spanish Civil War, to the 1960s peace movements and up to the present. How central is anarchist theory to these practices? Can it be separated from them?
6. The relation between anarchism and libertarianism. Does anarchist thought transcend the distinction between political right and left? Does anarchism have a distinctive post-capitalist vision?

While we expect contributors to innovate and shape their papers according to specific interests and views, we encourage them to contact the Guest Editors (email parameters provided below), so that completeness of coverage can be achieved, and duplication avoided, to the greatest extent possible.

We are looking for articles in the 7,000-8,000 word range. Projected publication is Spring 2014, so we would like to have manuscripts in hand by January 2013. Discussion about the project overall, and suggestions concerning content, should begin immediately.

The Guest Editors are: Russell Dale (russelleliotdale@gmail.com); Justin Holt (jh129@nyu.edu); and John P. Pittman (jpittman@faculty.jjay.cuny.edu).

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Filed under Announcements, Education, Jaime

Education for Liberation, or, We’ve Moved!

Your dear People’s Library, aside from summering as Governor’s Island, has also moved (for the time being, at least) to the Paul Robeson Freedom School.

We’ve been slowly trundling books and other materials across the bridge to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and three of us moved the very last bit this past weekend. Now it’s all in and we’re working on organization. Your librarians are all super stoked to have the collection be accessible and usable once again.

Drop in this Wednesday, July 25, for the Freedom School’s community night, from 5 to 9 pm. See what’s cooking with the school and maybe borrow a book or three. Know some young people who aren’t doing much this summer? The school still has room for students.

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Filed under Announcements, Education, Friends of the Library, Jaime

Free Mark Adams! Free all political prisoners!

The #D17 trial finished yesterday afternoon. Everyone found guilty. Seven, including Jack and Bishop Packard sentenced to four days community service (which I find a little silly, what do you think Jack and the bishop are up to most days, lol).

Our dear friend of the library Mark Adams was sentenced to 45 days. I think we can all agree when I say, Judge Sciarrino is a fucking tool. Especially because the DA recommended 30 days.

Anyway, a visiting schedule is being set up, we’re all going to write Mark a lot of letters, the Library will be sending him some reading material, and we look forward to seeing our dear comrade and his beard back in the street no later than early August.

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Filed under #D17, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Solidarity

Forgive Us Our Trespasses, or, Hunger Strikes: Historically, Globally, Here & Now

British and American suffragettes did it in the early 20th century, with Marion Wallace Dunlop leading off in Britain 1909 and Alice Paul a few years later in the U.S.  Many were force-fed while in prison.  They considered force-feeding to be torture, and some died of it.

Gandhi and others did it as part of the Indian movement for independence from Britain.

Irish republicans did it, too, throughout the 20th century.  Like the suffragettes, they were subject to force-feeding, and some died of it, while others died of starvation.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners had been at it for weeks this spring, in response to being indefinitely detained without charges or trial under the Israeli government’s policy of “administrative detention” (to which NYC’s own stop & frisk policies targeting young men of color could be considered a little brother), as well as the conditions under which they are held.  The first two strikers, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, stopped eating on February 27, with at least 1500 more later joining.  Just last Monday, as the longest strikers were close to death, Israel conceded to some of the strikers’ demands, and almost all the strikers have lifted their strikes.

This Tuesday prisoners at the Red Onion State Prison in Virginia refused their first meal.  They are striking in response to inhumane conditions and treatment inside the prison.  “Phil Wilayto, of the Richmond Defenders, said “The most important thing about the prisoners’ demands is that Red Onion need only follow their own regulations with regard to meals, medical care, sanitation, grievance procedures, and humane treatment of prisoners. In order to press these demands the prisoners have to take the extreme step of risking their health and even lives.””  There have been several hunger strikes in the U.S. in recent years, such as those by prisoners in Georgia, Ohio, and California.

And last night I saw that my buddy Jack has begun a medication and hunger strike here in New York.

Trinity Church, located on Broadway at Wall St. in Manhattan, dates from the late 17th century — it received a charter from the King of England in 1697.  The current building was consecrated in 1846.  It is an Episcopal church.  It owns a shit-ton of very valuable land in Manhattan, and since its inception has been frequented by wealthy and influential locals.  Like all religious institutions in the U.S., it is tax-exempt, in exchange for being supposedly non-political and due to the separation of church and state, which usually seems to all boil down to nothing more than not explicitly endorsing political candidates.  (If we’re demanding a restructuring of tax law in the U.S., changing that exempt status is one of my demands, let me tell you.)  As is also common among religious institutions, especially large, wealthy ones, they give a lot of lip service to serving humanity, but when presented with the nitty-gritty of it tend to balk.

Back in December, OWS attempted to occupy Duarte Square, a vacant, gravel covered lot on Canal Street that is owned by Trinity Church.  It was well-publicized beforehand, as were attempts to negotiate with Trinity for use of the space without interference by the NYPD.  It didn’t work, on both counts.  Several hundred people showed up, but so did the cops.  After folks went over the fence, about 50 were arrested and charged with trespassing.  The most iconic images from that day are of George Packard, a retired Episcopal bishop (yes, same branch of Protestant Christianity as Trinity), in his scarlet robes climbing over the fence and subsequently being arrested.  (He was also arrested on May 1 at 55 Water Street at the end of our May Day activities.)  It is now nearly six months later, and those folks are going to trial on June 11.

In response to the complete shit-fuckery of a church charging members of an economic justice (among other things) movement with trespassing on an empty lot, Jack is going on a medication and hunger strike.  Jack is 57.  We’ve done a bunch of jail support work together.  He helps keep some of the other middle-aged white men in line.  Pertinent to his strike, he is HIV+.  He won’t be taking medication or eating until Trinity drops all charges.  (He is an occupier, though, so cigarettes and coffee are still in!)  Today is day 5 of his medication strike and day 2 of his hunger strike.  I’m sure Trinity has heard by now, but you might want to contact them in support of Jack and in support of our comrades who will shortly be in court.

Video statement from Jack that I can’t get off of Facebook [halp?]

 

 

ETA: 5/30/12.  Via Facebook, Jack asks, “[P]lease send Rector Cooper, jcopper@trinitywallstreet.org, an email in support of my medication/hunger strike. Today is the 11th day I have been without my lifesaving medications and the 7th day without food and necessary nutrition. I am deadly serious about this strike…”

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Filed under #D17, Direct Action, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Solidarity, Video