The Hellhole – Week of 3/18

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Sound Transit CEO to privatize routes, bring in scabs Privatization leads to worse service and outcomes. This week Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff suggested privatizing a bus route and replacing … Read more

Audio Recording of Seattle Hellhole – Week of 3/18/2019

Sound Transit CEO to privatize routes, bring in scabs

Privatization leads to worse service and outcomes. This week Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff suggested privatizing a bus route and replacing union jobs with low-bid scabs. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander though, as Rogoff haggled an 11 percent pay increase for himself in November (he made a measly $328,545 previously). But raises are expensive and now he’s asking workers to pay for it. The whole rationale is that privatization through market magic will lead to cost-savings and improved customer satisfaction. We know that cost-cutting is often at odds with both quality outcomes and safety, like giving airline operators tablets to train for just an hour. These decisions can kill the people, i.e. “customers.”

Public transit works best when it’s free at the point of service, reliable, and at scales to reduce congestion. These services must serve the people’s interest. The strategic goal of transit is to make it easier to travel to and from work, home, and life. Cost-cutting measures that enable profit without the goal of increased ridership (i.e., cutting safety, back-to-back shifts, “market-regulated” voluntary safety standards) should give any commuter pause. Our economy should serve human needs. Seattle could have amazing transit. We want shorter commutes, less pollution, and more time with their friends, hobbies, and families. Adding another lane can’t fix this. At best, we’re running out of space. Dedicated bus-only lanes, more rail and RapidRide options, taxes on empty investor housing units, and more are needed.

AND we could eliminate the much of the need for transit by building social housing in the urban core and around transit hubs. That’s a fight being contested right now with upzones. It’s another case of a needed good that must serve public interest first. Luxury apartments aren’t housing us. “A-pod-ments” are expensive dorms. We must not privatize more of Sound Transit, risking the very workers doing their best to improve our collective quality of life.

Rogoff ought to log off and see the forest for the trees.

Farmworker Tribunal kicks off action in Olympia and beyond

La Gente deserve better. This past year has seen action to end sexual harassment and unsafe labor conditions at Darigold farms, workplace organizing at farms in Whatcom and Skagit counties, and even legislative demands like SB 5438 to more thoroughly protect guest workers from exploitation. The sixth annual Farmworkers Tribunal demanded better conditions among the campesinxs. This event brings together migrant workers, native rights activists, immigration and workplace organizers, and other democratic, populist organizations to fight for a better future. It started with a vigil for Honesto Silva Ibarra, who died after long hours without proper water, rest, and food at Sarbanand Farms:

Vigil for Honesto Silva Ibarra at the opening for the 6th annual Farmworker Tribunal.

Posted by Community to Community Development on Monday, March 18, 2019

Coinciding with this week’s tribunal was a protest outside Starbuck’s shareholder meeting where workers and accomplices highlighted the abuses at the Darigold capitalist cartel, which is lead by Stan Ryan (Paul Ryan’s brother). Seattle DSA members joined organizers in demanding an end to wage theft and sexual harassment:

Seattle DSA stands with UFW farmworkers working at Darigold farms fighting against sexual harassment and wage theft in…

Posted by Seattle Democratic Socialists of America on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Speaking of which:

Supreme Court votes for infinite detention and family separation of migrant workers

The far-right bloc of the Supreme Court voted for infinite jail time and continued separation of the families of migrant workers. This sets up further detention camps, harassment of people of color, and enables bosses to exploit migrant workers (from farm to tech). Taking another page from the “War on Terror” playbook, US officials used black sites for detaining immigrant children. It’s disturbing but also not surprising, given that the U.S. has a 50+ year history of putting immigrant workers in concentration camps.

The highest, most undemocratic court in the land has most often fought for the rights of a few, the privileged. If possession comprises most of the law, why is anyone surprised that the dispossessed were left behind? These courts serve the powerful and propertied; not people. The groundwork for this failure arose from indefinite detention in Guantánamo Bay, a practice neither conservatives like Bush nor liberals like Obama managed to end.

All workers deserve dignity: whether harvesting food, preparing a meal, or enjoying it with their loved ones. People of conscience must stand up. People who recognize their right to migrate for work, love, or need must stand up. All the black and white and dispossessed workers must rise up.  Let’s end deportation, guarantee safe working conditions, and provide for everyone in the community with the abundance that is artificially scarce so that a rich few can have it all. Let’s stand up against the oppression of the capitalist class and the toolbox that is their courts, their government, and their illegitimacy to power.

Bill Gates’ Money Requests Expropriation

Bill Gates retired from day-to-day work Microsoft over ten years ago. He stopped serving on the board five years ago. By the magic of capitalism, he’s amassed another $100 billion in net worth while running a charity that doesn’t pay him as he tries to give all his money away.

It’s the way it works.

The additional unearned wealth and political clout are a side effect of his capital accumulation. The average American’s individual income is around $44,000 per year full time. It would take 2,500,000 years for a worker to achieve Bill Gates wealth (roughly 46,296 lifetimes).

For a company that’s only been around since 1975, they’ve managed a to exploit a great many workers as we’ve documented, but you can’t become a giant of capitalism without exploiting the working class. That’s what capitalism does.

This year, like every year, we must abolish the billionaire and millionaire class. These riches could be used to end exploitation at home and abroad.

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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