The Hellhole – Week of 1/14

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Caption: This week: Issaquah paraeducators strike, the Shutdown is a reactionary goal, wage theft is the worst, and we need progressive taxation

Issaquah Paraeducators Vote on First-Ever Strike

The Office Professionals of Issaquah and Paraeducators of SEIU Local 925 voted to strike, with over 90% of their members in support. In a region that has taken for granted its drivers, cooks, janitors, nurses, secretaries and more, this is especially dank.  Educators may also vote to strike in Kennewick. Workers have more power by sticking together. All we’ve got to do is put our hands in our pockets and stop working.

The results are in… The Office Professionals of Issaquah and Paraeducators of SEIU Local 925 overwhelmingly voted yes to authorize a strike! The vote count was 97.8% yes for PSE and 94% yes for SEIU 925. This has not happened in our union in 20 years! This is historical for PSE. Let’s stand behind our brothers and sisters in Issaquah and show them our support. We’re stronger when we stand together! 💙💜#UnionStrong

Posted by Public School Employees of Washington on Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Wall As Both Racist Goal and Tool

Grover Norquist once described his ghoulish philosophy to NPR:  “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” But right-wingers’ goal isn’t anarchy. It’s to limit the scope of government to only the functions that protect property and safeguard generational wealth and power. They want feudalism for billionaires. They want a world where worth is solely determined by net worth.

The wall is more than a racist pipedream, it’s a conservative “win win.” By advancing two huge and evil goals simultaneously they can’t lose. If Democrats cave, they get the wall. If Democrats don’t cave then they get the bonus of orchestrating a shutdown that starves public workers into quitting and cuts off services for poor folks.

The parts of the state necessary for maintaining power for the 1% are already back open. The government is making sure that oil and gas companies are getting the permits they need. The military was almost immune from the cut (aside from the Coast Guard). Steve Mnuchin forced the IRS back to work so mortgage bankers could keep making money. Meanwhile, food stamps and food safety programs remain shutdown. HUD may renege on over 1k housing contracts leaving millions evicted or otherwise reliant on a landlord’s whims. Folks buying groceries down in SeaTac had their SNAP cards declined, and 800,000+ workers missed their first paycheck (so far).

The shutdown is not a new tactic, but its use will continue as long as the sociopathic culture of austerity and militarism persist as Republican dogma and Democratic “pragmatism.” The only way out of our political malaise is through transformation.

Wage Theft

Wage theft is when your boss doesn’t pay you what they owe you, or they manipulate the system so that it seems like they owe you less. Don’t get robbed on the job!

Wage theft occurs when:

  • Employers refuse to pay for work performed
  • Employers violate minimum wage, prevailing wage, and overtime protections
  • Employers make unlawful paycheck deductions
  • Employers make employees work off the clock
  • Employers mis-classify employees as independent contractors

We’re not allowed to steal money from work, so don’t let your boss steal from you! If your boss is ripping you off file a complaint with the Office of Labor Standards for city-specific violations or with the state office of Labor and Industries.

The best protection is with a union! Want to find out more? Check out a meeting of the Workplace Organizing Committee.  

We need a Public Bank for People, Not Profit

Wall Street banks broke $100 billion in profit for 2018. That’s money that mostly only enriches fat cats and deep-pocketed shareholders.

Banking is a grift if your working class. The lower the income and the more unstable your financial history the more you end up paying the bank in interest for any loans. Working class folks are far more likely to pay overdraft and late fees or pay fees just to have an account. But banking is essential when most employers don’t pay cash and cashing a check without a bank account exposes you to exploitative fees. The financial system is set up to enrich banks, and that doesn’t even count the times they falsify mortgages and steal houses.

Banks also get rich off of our tax dollars, our infrastructure projects, and our city. We can’t wait for Washington D.C. to fix what’s broken here and now. We need a public bank.

We need progressive taxation, not private charity whims

Microsoft announced that it will pledge $500 million towards the housing crisis. At first glance, one could get hopeful that they’re *shook* and giving up the bag. Maybe they’re just feeling guilty, but read the fine print and it seems they’d rather pay for a single act of generosity than risk paying taxes in Washington.

There is a potential initiative to “balance” the tax code by making lazy billionaires pay their fair share in the state. After the Trump and Bush Tax Cuts, one of which was made permanent by a Democrat with a Democratic majority, they can certainly afford to give a little more to support their community. Progressive taxation that acknowledges the rich got rich on the backs of the poor is not a hard concept to understand. Take Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s breakdown for fail son extraordinaire Scott Walker:

Those capitalists have meat on the bones, folks. Let’s eat! Let’s eat till everyone is so full that they’re unbuckling their belt for breathing room!


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #wg_comms_design on Slack or email [email protected]

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