By Doug Porter
I expect there will plenty of news shortly on the ongoing mediation taking place between Mayor Bob Filner and his various adversaries. Rather than write something that will be out of date soon after it’s published, I’m publishing a short roundup of other important news today. I’ll publish additional stories when there is something new to report.
Organizations from around the country are making final preparations for an August 24th rally in Washington DC marking the 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom. The 1963 march was an event that immortalized the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his “I Have a Dream’ speech to the quarter million people assembled on the national mall. This was the day the civil rights movement drove home just how serious African Americans and like-minded people were about securing a just society.
As was the case five decades ago, organized labor is playing a significant role. Talking Union detailed labor’s participation recently, noting the significant role of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI):
The APRI, named for one of the original organizers of the 1963 march and the long-time president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (later merged with another union and now part of IAM), is hosting a week-long schedule of events built around the anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first union for black workers chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and Randolph is remembered as the first black labor leader to become a member of the AFL executive board. There he was a tireless champion of the rights of African-American workers within organized labor and of civil rights within the larger society. He is credited with ensuring that 1963 march stressed “jobs” just as strongly as “freedom.”
The national leadership for the march is headed up by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, which has joined forces with other civil rights groups, religious organizations, women’s groups, and others.
For those of you looking to re-live the moment with the original speech by Dr. King, a cautionary tale appears in The Atlantic.
As Washington gears up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech later this month, one thing might be missing from the celebrations: the speech itself.
A full, unedited video clip of the speech is tougher to find than you might think, because of copyright disputes that date back almost as far as the speech itself.
“We were shocked to find that it was very difficult to find a full copy of Dr. King’s speech on YouTube,” said Evan Greer, a campaign manager at Fight for the Future, an Internet free-speech advocacy group. In January, the group posted the full-length speech on Vimeo in an act of “civil disobedience” coinciding with Martin Luther King Day. The video was promptly removed for violating Vimeo’s terms of service, Greer said, but a version on YouTube has managed to avoid detection and remains up on the site, having accumulated more than 80,000 views.
Fast Food Walkouts Expected to Spread
Despite the popular notion that says fast food restaurant employees are mostly teenagers looking for pocket money, the reality is vastly different. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), 80% of all minimum wage earners in the US are over 20 years old; half work full time.
The actual value of dollars earned by minimum wage earners has is approximately 55% of what it was in 1968, while productivity among the same class of workers has increased by 112%, according to EPI.
The fast food industry has become ground zero for where the stresses that such divergences produce are galvanizing protest. Thousands of workers in dozens of cities around the country are expected to stage walkouts and protests August 29th.
The common ground for these mobilizations, some of which are union sponsored, is a demand for a $15 an hour wage and the right to unionize. Word is spreading through organizing workshops and social media.
From the Washington Post:
Since some 200 workers walked off their jobs at fast-food restaurants in New York City in November, the strikes have moved across the country, drawing attention to a fast-growing segment of the workforce that until recently had shown no inclination to organize for purposes of collective bargaining.
The planned August walkout — timed for the immediate aftermath of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the lead-up to Labor Day — is expected to touch 35 or more cities and involve thousands of workers, organizers said. The walkouts have not led to widespread changes, though some workers say they have gotten small pay increases and better hours in the wake of previous strikes.
“The top executives in these companies make huge salaries, and the corporations make record profits every year,” said Terrance Wise, 34, a father of three who earns $9.30 an hour at Burger King in Kansas City, Mo., where he has worked for eight years. He has a second job at Pizza Hut that pays him $7.47 an hour. “How about them cutting a little off the top? CEOs are taking home millions, and many workers are struggling.”
Bad News for the Nativists
The American Action Network, a conservative think tank, has released a study finding that the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill could add an average of 14,000 jobs in each Congressional district over 10 years, resulting in approximately 6 million new jobs.
From Think Progress:
A district-by-district web tool estimates that each district will see at least 7,000 jobs and finds that Senate bill could create tens of thousands of jobs in the districts of its most prominent opponents. For instance:
– Rep. Steve King (R-IA): 13,298 jobs
– Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): 15,144 jobs
– Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX): 15,587 jobs
The report builds on previous estimates, which have similarly found that legalization and eventual citizenship could create millions of jobs and significantly boost the GDP, as immigrants — who have a higher rates of labor force participation and greater rates of small business ownership than the native population — start earning higher wages, spend their increased earnings on consumer goods, and create more demand and growth throughout the rest of the economy. Immigrants generally don’t compete for the same jobs as U.S.-born Americans, the research shows, and tend to “increase their productivity.”
More Bad News for ObamaScare Advocates
The push to drive a stake through the heart of the Affordable Care Act has taken on a desperate tone in recent weeks, as conservatives are facing up to the reality that Obamacare might just happen.
Town Hall scare-a-thons, public burnings of “ObamaCare Cards” and a barrage of misleading advertising are all aimed at building support for a last ditch Congressional effort to de-fund the bill.
Their fall back position is to hope that too few Americans will sign up for coverage, undermining the financial basis for the program.
And it ain’t working. From USA Today:
WASHINGTON — Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage show that at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance, a USA TODAY survey shows. That would far outstrip the federal government’s estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states under the 2010 health care law.
On This Day 1882 – Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” debuted in Moscow. 1968 – The Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations began invading Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring” liberalization. 1969 – Frank Zappa disbanded the Mothers of Invention right after an eight-day tour in Canada. Zappa said that he was “tired of playing for people who clap for all the wrong reasons.”
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