The Hellhole – Week of 4/22

13.7 minute read

SEIU Nurses Rally for Breaks, Safe Scheduling; Sen. Walsh Needs a Rest Period After Self-Own Nurses work demanding jobs. So it’s only natural that they demand safe scheduling, fair breaks, … Read more

SEIU Nurses Rally for Breaks, Safe Scheduling; Sen. Walsh Needs a Rest Period After Self-Own

Nurses work demanding jobs. So it’s only natural that they demand safe scheduling, fair breaks, and adequate rest. But there’s always some blowhard who disagrees right?

State Senator Walsh (R – Walla Walla) derided nurses as people who play cards, sit around, and talk trash all day. Nurses were quick to point out the truth.

Nurses don’t have a lot of free time. Due to understaffing, and the commodified healthcare system’s non-stop profitseeking, nurses often struggle to grab simple bathroom breaks during shifts while hospital administrators (like ours here in Seattle) sit back and earn six- and seven-figure compensation packages.

Nurses plight is par for the course in healthcare, and other industries in recent years, as workplace safety and quality of life concerns have taken a back seat to the bottom line. There’s only so much blood that greedy insurers and “non-profit” hospital executives can wring out of nurses and patients. Listen to the nurses themselves here:

HISTORIC VICTORY! Because of our massive member activism, we won patient safety legislation which ensures break and…

Posted by SEIU Healthcare 1199NW on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Labor and Immigration are Inextricable – And Not Just on May Day

May Day traces its origins to the movement for an 8-hour workday in the U.S. Those who have been around Seattle for a while know that we can count on El Comité to lead their annual May Day March for the Rights of Immigrants and Workers, as they have done since 1999. Like many cities in the U.S., Seattle uses May Day as a time to highlight the inextricable tie between labor and immigration in the U.S.

According to No Wall They Can Build, “it’s as plain as day that the American economy is dependent in no small part on the exploitation of undocumented labor.” Though the exponential degree of exploitation for undocumented workers is undeniable, all immigrant workers in the U.S. have fewer protections than citizens. So-called “high skilled” immigrant workers (not gonna unpack that right now), such as those on H1-B visas for tech jobs, risk not only losing their job if they organize against a bad boss—they risk deportation. Others in the U.S. on Temporary Worker Visas toil for low wages (often year-round) and in poor conditions because they do not have the legal protections given to citizen workers.

The experiences of the most exploited of all immigrants in the U.S., the undocumented, reveal the true purpose of the U.S.-Mexico border — to drive down wages for all workers. Again from No Wall They Can Build:

[I]t seems clear that if undocumented workers were not subjected to such extraordinary risks and pressures they would act like anybody else and obtain the highest price for their labor that the market would bear. […] But border and immigration enforcement drives down wages across the board—that’s the point of it.

Perhaps unknowingly, liberals and conservatives alike are often just as candid about the need to exploit immigrant workers. The National Museum of American History (a branch of the Smithsonian) includes “holding down wages” and “compliant workers” as a few of the benefits of an immigrant workforce. According to the National Immigration Forum, a review of workers’ legal status “illustrates the fact that undocumented workers are a crucial component of many occupations.” Most blatantly, the George W. Bush Institute (worst timeline) declares that because “capital needs labor to produce output,” the U.S. must increase – not decrease – its level of immigration.

If this is really the world we find ourselves in, it is imperative on all leftists in the U.S. to organize labor and immigration together.

And not just on May Day.

We can’t let one day stand in for our organizing efforts for the rest of the year when workers’ liberation depends on robust immigrant rights. Yes, come out on May Day and shout “Protect All Workers!” but also volunteer at know-your-rights workshops for I-9 audits, join a rapid response team to prepare for the blowback after Keep Washington Working passes, and learn the skills needed to organize a mixed-status workplace.

Let’s make the capitalists afraid again. Let’s take control of our workplaces. Let’s stop pretending we can do that without proclaiming that the U.S. economy is built on exploited immigrant workers. Labor and immigration in the U.S. are inseparable — and not just on May Day.

If you’d like to march on May Day with comrades from the SDSA Immigrant Justice Working Group, or to find out how you can get more involved in labor/immigration organizing, email [email protected].

Emancipation and liberation for every. damn. one.

Reactionaries lost it when Bernie Sanders proclaimed that felons should be able to vote from prison. After all, a good portion of the world, including Vermont, does this already.

While extreme examples like the Boston Bomber are brought up to evoke a kneejerk reaction, it’s important to remember that not everyone behind bars is Hannibal Lecter. Conservative politicians cater to a largely White upper middle class: a voting block that is vastly outnumbered by the working class of all races. The only realistic electoral path for right-wingers is to put as many roadblocks in the path of working poor and non-White voters as possible: whether it’s holding elections on weekdays, purging voter rolls from the wrong neighborhoods in the name of combating “fraud”, or the mass incarceration of non-violent drug users. Prison labor is also cheap (and can be used to undercut union leverage), which gives lawmakers an incentive to criminalize broad portions of the population and a deterrent to rehabilitating offenders.

There’s some bad dudes in prison, but there’s some really bad dudes who aren’t. From the war room to the boardroom, from drone strikes in the Middle East to oil pipelines in our backyards, the 1% kills scores of people directly & indirectly. If the dictators in your office and the disaster capitalists abroad have the vote, everyone should.

Crime rates are down, paranoia is up?

First off, a thread on how the Seattle Times manipulated crime data to their pro-cop editorial line:

What’s striking is that the tactics used in neighborhoods where cops are getting “tough-on-crime” aren’t deployed as heavily in Ballard or Fremont. But for some reason the times is demanding an end to “lax enforcement” in minority-majority parts of the city and assuming that the only answer is More Policing™. Not restorative justice. They are not ameliorating the perennial city-wide housing crisis that aggravates tension, poverty, and dispossession.

But the owners of the Times and the bourgeois editorial boards only push their version of the truth: That the city is for made for the comfort of the few residents like them. The Times is seedy. It’s part of a long tradition, and that’s, sadly, typical.

Amazon Is Still One of the Worst Places to Work

Amazon made the top of the Coalition of Occupational Safety and Health’s “Dirty Dozen” list for the second year in a row because people keep dying while working for the company. To quote the report, Amazon made the list because of:

Six worker deaths in seven months; 13 deaths since 2013. Reports of a high incidence of suicide attempts; workers urinating in bottles and workers left without resources or income after on-the-job injuries.  

Other notable entrants include Facebook, for subjecting low-wage workers to an unending stream of hate speech, pornography, and images of suicides, murders and beheadings while moderating content, and McDonald’s for failing to take action against rampant sexual harassment in their restaurants.

Overall, worker safety in America is a joke. 5,147 people died from workplace trauma in 2017. 95,000 workers die annually in the U.S. from cancers, respiratory and circulatory diseases and other illnesses associated with long-term exposure in the workplace. And OSHA is so underfunded that it would take 158 years for regulators to inspect all workplaces under its jurisdiction.

The bosses’ system is killing us. Time to fight back.

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]