There’s a reason we’re the Hellhole. This week we have stories of finance gleefully helping fascism, teachers on strike, robot Amazon warehouse accounts proclaiming the praises of dear “heavenly father” Jeff Bezos, and an interview around immigration with a US citizen facing ICE scrutiny for merely existing while Latinx and renewing a passport. Enter the Hellhole …
Teachers Strike Back
Seattle DSA recently hosted West Virginian Educator and Labor Organizer, Nicole McCormick, as well as local teachers, allied staff, and their communities who are fed up with Washington’s status quo. Good. What is the status quo? Underfunded classrooms, teachers barely making by, increased healthcare costs, and diminished bargaining efficacy with the legislature.
Some funding to ameliorate the legislature’s absolute contempt for education after the 2011 McCleary decision finally arrived. For local management, it’s unclear what’s to be done. The stakes are clearer for teachers. They’ve pressured and organized from the rank and file to authorize the strikes. As in plural. During the past few weeks, Highline, Tukwila, Seattle, Kent, Puyallup, Lake Tapps, and more authorized strikes. Kent and Highline achieved deals this week. Tacoma voted to delay a strike vote for now.
What’s at stake for teachers and students?
There’s bound to be differences between the bargaining table and the rank-and-file, some common demands have emerged:
- Adequate funding of classroom materials
- Increase pay
- Improve health benefits, decrease costs
- Decrease class size
- Reduce testing workload on students
For many working-class families, school means a guaranteed meal, a safe environment, and child education while parents work. Just as teachers have had our backs and our children’s back, we ought to have theirs. Solidarity: it’s not charity. It’s not sympathy. It’s the understanding that now, more than ever, workers take care of each other. This is our community, our economy, our society. We make this.
How can I help in a district where strikes occur?
Get out there and ask the teachers on the picket lines and at the street corners! You have only preconceptions to lose and strength in numbers to gain.
In West Virginia, striking teachers, allied parents, and union workers arranged to feed kids as well as each other, arrange childcare, and ensure management knew they could hold the line. For now, as strikes emerge, ask teachers directly as well as contact your district’s Education Association (or similar bargaining unit) to see how you can help.
Capitalism discovers that it’s compatible with fascism when it comes to immigration.
ICE is a critical failure that must be abolished. Not reformed. Not authoritarian-with-woke-hiring-practices. Abolished. That said, exploitation continues. It did not emerge until just 15 years ago. The latest brutalities? We had to make a list. It’s big and small, local and international:
- Forced expulsion and stripping citizenship from ethnic minorities trying to travel outside the U.S. — and, closer to Seattle,
- Detaining visiting artists who merely wanted to brainstorm work for Dungeons & Dragons in Renton.
- This is on top of prison slavery at the Northwest Detention Center. These enslaved persons are even marketed as a “best-kept secret” to pad a company’s bottom line.
- Also, US finance sector, namely Bank of America, stealing accounts from people they (and our capitalist-run government) deem as non-citizens.
Whether in the workplace or through their politicians, capitalists and their reactionary lackeys both adhere to the idea that: one must submit and demonstrate their worth. Today, capitalists are no longer content dehumanizing workers. Jeff Bezos’s company doesn’t just underpay workers, it also exhibits a perverse fascination in how long and often workers pee, works employees to death, and orders technology developed to help round up immigrants for the detention centers.
The hounds of fascism, as Fintan O’Toole warned, have been blooded to the taste. The canary, in the coal mine of analogy, has died. The capitalists aren’t even bothering to hold up the contradictions of labor’s freedom under capital.
An Interview on Race, Immigration, and Getting a Passport in the U.S.
We sat down with a local worker for an interview on the subject of immigration. As Jasmine*, a retail worker in Snohomish County, attests:
Jasmine: I need to renew my passport this year. Ten years ago I had to prove I was a citizen. I was never given a reason why I had to provide more documentation but if I wanted a passport I had to give them old report cards, proof of baptism, school photos, awards, anythings and everything to prove that I had lived in the United States my entire life. The required documents of a birth certificate and a social security card weren’t enough.
And now [Latinx residents] are being denied passports or required to provide extra proof they are citizens. Just like I was asked 10 years ago. This has been going on longer than Trump.
My sister, Teagan*, experiences more racism from people on the street based on appearance but less administratively due to the ambiguity of the ethnic origins of her name. When she fills out paperwork, her name doesn’t immediately identify her as Hispanic.
Interviewer: Jesus. That’s rough — and a poignant distinction: the rules are wicked but also capricious. “Race is a social construct…”
Jasmine: Yes! It’s amazing how many people ask me, when I’m with my toddler, if I’m the nanny because of her light hair and blue eyes. Heaven forbid she’s not a carbon copy of me.
Workers, like Jasmine*, deserve better: freedom of movement across all borders: for work, to escape oppression, or to simply to enjoy a cold one on holiday. Bread and roses, folks. Workers deserve their needs (their daily bread) as well as a dignified life (that rose). We can structure jobs around human needs and ensure people can contribute without having to pay for their own tools (which can be a high barrier of entry for immigrants).
That’s why we must do so much more than merely oppose Trump. We must also oppose the years under the Obama and Bush regimes that waged obscene violence on immigrant workers. Everyone deserves the freedom of movement. You and your every neighbor, whether you move to live, to love, to work, or to enjoy this “pale, blue dot” we call earth.
*indicates names and biographical details modified to protect family members.
Bezos Bots and Paid Reviews Boast: “Why, yes, fellow humans, I love my Amazon Warehouse Ambassador job™!”
In a new low, Amazon is either developing a public relations twitter-bot army or paying employees to suck up to the bosses. It’s bizarre. Twitter users noticed the bots &/or paid employees responding to even the slightest criticism of the company.
What the crap? This comes as Jeff Bezos is engaged in a spat with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who cites settlements over employee deaths as well as real-live warehouse employees in criticizing the company. Jeff has asserted that he’s a totally normal dude not exploiting people’s needs for shelter and food in order to work them dry and using misleading stats. Sen. Sanders introduced a bill placing a tax on businesses whose workers must rely on federal assistance (ask pay ‘em at least the minimum, you cue-ball looking CEO).