Traven's blog

Verizon Strike: Decisive Battle for Entire Working Class

Equal Time radio podcast:45,000 Verizon workers have been forced out on strike by a corporation intent on outsourcing their jobs, cutting their health care and pension benefits, and working conditions despite earning record profits.

Verizon striker Pam Galpern and strike supporter Peter Spitzform explain what's at stake and why the strike can become the starting point not only for a general mobilization against runaway corporate power’s attacks on jobs, wages, health care, social programs and democratic rights – but also for building the movement for all our social and economic rights.

Listen at: http://equaltimeradio.com/?q=node/372 or Download audio file Length: 22:22 minutes (20.47 MB)

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Mass Strikes Against Austerity Brewing in France?

While workplace resistance to the tsunami of attacks on our living standards, pensions, healthcare, social security, and our social wage in general is near an all time low as measured by recent U.S. strike activity, our French brothers and sisters are demonstrating a different way.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of a center-right party, campaigned promising to put more money in people's pockets, to cut taxes, and make France more competitive. Eighteen months ago Sarkozy seemed unstoppable. Now his government is trying to force workers to contribute more to their pension and retire later. The attack on pensions has stripped away what little remains of the populist posturing that helped Sarkozy and his party win in 2007. As the Economist reported, "The champion of the worker is now wielding the ax, cutting jobs in teaching, hospitals and the police force."

Despite strikes and protests, and a vow of further action by labor unions, the French National Assembly voted in mid September to pass President Sarkozy's pension cuts. The French labor movement responded with a general strike on September 23rd, followed by a wave of demonstrations on October 2nd. On both days, perhaps 3 million workers and their supporters (in relative terms that would be 15 million in the U.S.) took part, with more than 200 local demonstrations on the 2nd.

Vermont is going to lead the way in Healthcare

Vermonters from all across the state converged on the statehouse on May 1st in a demonstration to show that Vermont can be the first state in the nation to recognize healthcare as a human right, providing it as a public good by implementing a single-payer, universal healthcare system.

Over a thousand people marched from the Montpelier City Hall down to the capital building accompanied by drums, dancers, puppets, baloons and signs supporting universal healthcare while chanting "hey, hey what do we say? Vermont is ready to lead the way!" The marchers then joined another two hundred participants already at the Statehouse lawn and swarmed up the capitol steps for a festive rally that featured skits by regional organizing committees of the "Healthcare Is A Human Right" campaign, musical performances by Vermont artists, and speeches by campaign leaders from all parts of the state.

A group from southern Vermont performed a skit based on "The Wizard of Oz" that hit opponents of a single-payer health care system for using scare tactics. "Liars and tyrants and scares, oh my," they chanted. The wicked witch represented a "greedy insurance company" and she melted after "single-payer water" was thrown on her.

Vermont Passes Single Payer

The Vermont Workers Center/ Jobs with Justice (VWC ) grew out of a grassroots livable wage campaign in central Vermont. Since 1998, when the VWC was started, we’ve organized support for union contract and right-to-organize campaigns at over one hundred workplaces across the state.

Two years ago, based on the growing need for systemic healthcare reform reflected in calls to our workers’ rights hotline, discussions with our members and affiliates, and in increasingly difficult collective bargaining over the rising the costs of health insurance, we decided to prioritize organizing a multi-year Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign. We have had considerable success in organizing a strong grassroots social movement that has engaged thousands of Vermonters. We have built a statewide network of organizing committees in every county, and have a real chance to pass ground-breaking legislation. We are building for a huge rally on Saturday, May 1st at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

With the national healthcare reform movement derailed for the time being, it is clear that a real solution to our healthcare crisis must come from the states, and we believe that Vermont can be the first state to enact a single-payer system that guarantees the human right to healthcare. We say this recognizing that, even in Vermont with a viable third party (the Progressive Party), we lack a proper political vehicle for radical reform.

Vermont rallies for single payer

On May Day, Vermont’s state capitol rocked to chants of “Hey, hey! Ho, ho!