Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

El Malpais: A Modern Folk Tale from the Left

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

Episode 3 of El Malpais is now posted. Read it and visit us on Facebook.

Guest Worker Update: May 3, 2009

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The campaign to adopt a US guest worker program that was temporarily defeated in 2007 has been relaunched.

Foundation work for the renewed campaign was started  by  former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Immigration, Refugees and Border  Security on April 30.

Greenspan reminded the committee members of the contributions that undocumented workers have historically made to the US economy and argued that reform to bring immigration laws “up to date” is urgently needed.

“Up to date”  in the present context means that the US should follow the lead of other developed counties around the world by adopting a guest worker program to legally exploit temporary labor from the poor countries in the global South.

What Greenspan is backing  is a national guest worker program to legalize and control the importation (and deportation) of workers to meet the needs of US capitalism.  He calls it a “flexible” workforce.

The  current strategy is to a refinement of what was done to offset the recession of 2001 through a de facto open border policy.

Greenspan did not mention the impact of a national pool of temporary labor on the working people of the US: that is of no consequence for him or the people for whom he speaks.

The fact that a new proposal for a guest worker program has not yet been placed on the table should fool no one–it is being prepared under the table and will appear suddenly when capital is prepared to play its hand.

History has taught us that blitz legislation is just as binding as laws produced through open negotiation.

I will post regular updates on this critical issue as the campaign develops.

There are no sharks in the water and free trade is good for you!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

AMITY ISLAND–June, 1975. Police Chief Martin Brody, who had just recovered the mangled body of the victim of a horrific shark attack, was called to an emergency meeting of the town council. There is was shark problem, Amity Mayor Larry Vaughn informed Brody, no need to be alarmist. The tourist season was about to open and business needed to proceed as usual. Brody reluctantly deferred to the businessmen who ran the town. The disastrous results are cinema history (JAWS).

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — March, 2009. Jeff Rains, a retired steelworker from the Granite City steel mill made a disturbing discovery. While waiting for a slow freight train to pass by, he noticed that the flatcars were loaded with stacks of steel pipe — all clearly stenciled, “MADE IN INDIA” (For photos and story see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/business/economy/16pipe.html?scp=1&sq=pipe%20from%20India&st=cse). This pipe was passing through his city where the local steel mill has been shut down since December — the first time in its 130 year history — and 2,000 workers (10 percent of the city’s work force) have been laid-off.

The final destination of the Indian tubing was the 1,600 mile Keystone Pipeline now being constructed to transport oil from the tar sand fields in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Oklahoma. A section of this pipeline will pass close to Granite City. Forty percent of the 560,000 tons of pipe purchased for the project was produced in India.

“I was very mad when I saw that they were imported; I wondered why this pipe had not been made in the United States,” the New York Times quoted Rains as saying.

After the train had passed, Rains headed to the local union hall to sound the alarm.

Rains’ alarm got lost in transmission. In defiance of logic and common sense, the United Steelworkers’ leaders continue to endorse the free trade policies that have stimulated the mass offshoring of US manufacturing jobs to the cheapest labor markets on earth. With convoluted reasoning union officials argue that the Indian and Chinese steel flooding the US market is not a result of free trade but “a violation of fair trade“! It is the generous subsidies of the Indian government, they contend, that allows for the dumping of steel in the US at below market value. Not a word was said about the US government underwriting the brutal exploitation of foreign labor abroad or ignoring the needs of displaced workers at home.

There are no sharks in the water, Mr. Rains, and free trade is good for you and your community!

US capitalism is utilizing all of the resources that it commands–the mass media, well-funded think tanks and lobbyists, extensive university connections, and class collaborators within the ranks of organized labor–to obscure the critical issue that is at the heart of the current national and global crisis–the fact that free trade labor is a zero-sum game for working people that they will continue to lose until they confront it openly (http://combatingglobalization.com/articles/free_trade_labor.html).

The sharks in the water in the present scenario are the free trade advocates who are working feverishly behind the scene for more free trade to solve the current crisis of capitalism. The last thing working people of the world need now is to continue swimming with the neoliberal sharks.

A Close Look at the Far End of a Global Supply Chain

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

We must develop global vision if we are to comprehend the phenomenon of globalization that is stressing and straining the people and resources of the world.

This means that we must learn to look at events happening on the other side of the world and understand how they impact our own lives and fortunes.

The National Labor Committee offers us multiple  opportunities to do exactly that.  Their latest  offering, High Tech Misery in China, is a 60-page report  that takes a uncompromising look at the Meitai factory in Southern China.  The text of the report is highlighted by worker interviews, photographs of primitive dorm and factory conditions, and revealing internal company documents. 

Meitai produces computer keyboards and other peripherals for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, and IBM by mercilessly exploiting the labor of 2,000 mostly young women workers.

High Tech Misery details the low wages, long hours, and poor working and living conditions that these women must endure.  The report also reveals that Meitai is not some isolated sweatshop but a typical company in China.

High Tech Misery offers a clear view of the other end of one of the supply chains that have been developed by transnational capitalism.  It is easy to see the implications of globalization in this report–offshoring jobs boosts the bottom line of corporations at the expense of workers at home and abroad.

High Tech Misery is hard to look at but it must be done–the worldview needed to combat globalization can only be developed through full exposure to its consequences.

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The NCL website offers numerous excellent reports and the opportunity to get involved and support their work.  Check it out.

Slash-and-Burn Capitalism

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

In Combating Globalization we define slash-and-burn capitalism as the practice of transnational corporations whereby they set up a factory in a cheap labor market, extract as much surplus value as possible from that operation, and then abandon the plant when it is no longer profitable.

We also point out that slash-and-burn capitalism leaves disrupted communities and environmental ruin in its wake.

This is happening all over Mexico today as a result of the global meltdown of transnational capitalism

The small town of Los Rodriguez in central Mexico offers a prime example of slash-and-burn. 

After the adoption of NAFTA, GM built a plant in Los Rodriguez to produce Chevy Suburbans, GMC Yukons, and Cadillac Escalades primarily for the US market.  More than 15,000 workers Mexican workers found employment in the assembly plant and the 70 satellite plants that supplied it.  

Now the jobs are gone and the workers are out on the dusty streets of Los Rodriquez with no prospects of local employment and opportunities for jobs in other parts of Mexico or across the international border in the US rapidly fading. 

This small Mexican town is actually in a worse situation that it was before  it became a boom town–the idle GM complex occupies the fields where Los Rodriguez’s farmers had traditionally grazed their livestock and planted their corn and bean crops.  Not even subsistence agriculture is possible now.

While GM might reopen the Los Rodriguez plant, there are indications that it is planning to invest the bail-out money that it hopes to receive in its Eastern European and Far East Asian operations where labor is even cheaper than it is in Mexico.

NAFTA was a classic neoliberal free trade policy that promised prosperity for workers on both side on the international border. 

As the full impact of NAFTA becomes clear so does the imperative to renegotiate the treaty with labor rights and environmental protection as central concerns.

The fight over NAFTA is a major skirmish in the battle against transnational capitalism that pits the workers of  different countries against each other.

The NAFTA Corridors — Comment

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico

Read the article