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(en) Industrial Worker - Official Newspaper Of the Wrkers Of the World V.

Date Mon, 19 Jun 2006 09:04:13 +0300

March in the left by Dorice McDaniels
The patrons of this establishment aren't
picky about the grub. Just hand us a tray with
piping hot stew, a dab of garlic-laced salad
("with some tomato, please"), a slice of but-
tered bread (as long as the butter holds out),
a Dixie cupful of water. Lemonade if we're
lucky. Now for a sheltered spot on the street
where we can hunker down...
Welcome to the Los Angeles Catholic
Worker soup kitchen, jocularly dubbed the
Hippie Kitchen. "They don't waste our time
praying over us while we set about hungry."
At 10:30 sharp the door of the yellow
brick building opens. Depending on the sea-
son, it's prime time for 600 to 1,100 hungry
men and women when they amble through
the hall, tray in hand.
They all wear deep-settled poverty like
the sweaty and grimy coats clutching their
bodies. The dull and spiritless no employer
would hire. The flamboyant, sporting pink
and green ribbons in their hair. The sly, with
simple tricks. The blind and broken with
arms in slings. Alcoholics between sprees.
The shamed and defeated elderly hobbling
about on crutches or easing themselves along
in wheelchairs. The young and clear-eyed
temporarily down on their luck. Homeless
street denizens shoving bulging plastic bags
as they inch along on the chow lines. The
one-in-ten women with downcast or brazen
eyes. Children's faces tilted hopefully upward
toward the steaming stew.
Old Dan has lost his stocking cap. His
wild hair points east and north. Maisie's had
her baby. They now live on a park bench. El-
mer has lost a front tooth. Just how, he won't
say. Kate showers the room with cuss words.
This early in the month she hates everybody,
what with rent due and no money to pay.
Pablo's had an earache for three days. Tom
shuffles in, peevish and barefoot. His roomy
has made off with his shoes.
The day is off to its usual start. Watch
the answering smiles, the fleeting gleam of
intelligence that lights up these dull faces. For
one moment in their day they're persons seen
and heard from when they demand a second
piece of bread. But what aggrieved torment or
headlong impulse may slumber behind that
easy smile. A dispute arises over who first laid
his hand on the spork canister. A principle
is involved: a man's place in line, his priority
and rights. Fist strikes jaw. But experienced
Catholic Workers quickly shift the disputants
to opposite ends of the room.
Not all days are commonplace on Gladys
Street. Jesse sidles to the table where work-
ers are slicing lettuce. Swift and cunning, his
fingers snatch a knife. Before the day is over
workers are scrubbing blood from the wall.
Panic in the street! Voices clash with the
metallic clatter of a city dumpster. Gun-toting
police are ordering tattered bags and bedrolls
to be disposed of. It's all in a day's work for
trash disposal units. Grab the bundle. Heave it
into the dumpster's great maw. Press the lever.
Snap the huge jaws shut, grinding, crushing,
pulverizing a man's few belongings.
Tragedy strikes. Harry has died in a
squalid street brawl over an abused dog.
Catholic Workers are stunned. How can you
piece together these broken lives with stew
and friendly greetings?
But somehow the job of feeding the city's
destitute must go on. So just grab a big spoon
to stir the stew, and keep smiling. ...
Those readers who are staunch support-
ers of the Bush administration will be relieved
to note that the Los Angeles Catholic Worker
has been declared a terrorist organization.
-- Dorice McDaniels
Health care `reform'
only a boss could love
Massachusetts' new universal health care
plan has received a lot of praise for its "in-
novative" approach. But in fact, the plan does
little to address the reasons why millions of
workers lack access to health care. AFL-CIO
President John Sweeney is right when he
blasts the legislature for taking "a page out
of the Newt Gingrich playbook" by "forcing
uninsured workers to purchase health care
coverage or face higher taxes and fines."
Under the plan, which takes effect in July
2007, everyone who files a state income tax
return will have to indicate if they have health
insurance. (Those too poor to file taxes will
presumably escape the law's purview.) Insur-
ers will also be required to provide the state
with lists of their enrollees.
The uninsured will face penalties begin-
ning with losing the ability to claim a personal
exemption on their tax return ($189 a year for
an individual, $378 for a couple). The second
year they will be assessed half the annual cost
of one of a low-cost health plan -- a fine that
would easily top $1,000.
Workers who can not afford insurance
could appeal; the state's lowest-income work-
ers (for individuals, $9,800 a year) would
get free bare bones coverage, and subsidized
plans would be available for many others.
Even with those subsidies, many workers will
be unable to afford the thousands of dollars a
year to purchase insurance and will be at the
mercy of state bureaucrats who will review
their ability to pay. Workers who win those
appeals would not receive coverage.
Massachusetts' Governor vetoed a provi-
sion fining employers who do not offer health
insurance $295 per employee, saying the fee
would make the state less competitive. Gov.
Romney also vetoed a plan to provide dental
benefits to those covered under the state's
Medicaid program.
The state has compared the individual
mandate approach to mandatory auto insur-
ance laws, which however only cover those
who drive cars.
It seems unlikely that the (now aban-
doned) threat of a $295 fine would cause
any employer to offer health insurance. Nor
will many workers who have held off buying
insurance because they needed the money
for Massachusetts' sky high rents or food for
their children suddenly reorder their priori-
ties. Instead, the law seems likely to increase
taxes on the state's poorest workers while
leaving hundreds of thousands without access
to health care.

Labor fakers' luxuries
U.S. Labor Department disclosure forms
show some union officials show as little re-
gard for their members' dues as corporate fat
cats do for the social wealth in their hands.
The AFL-CIO spent nearly $250,000 for
its 50-member executive council meeting in
2004 at Chicago's Drake Hotel. (This year
they met at San Diego's posh Hotel del Coro-
nado, behind Carpenters' picket lines.)
Indiana-based Boilermakers Lodge 374
spent more than $10,000 at Wal-Mart in the
most recent year reported, while Iron Work-
ers Local 40 in New York City gave its retiring
president a $52,000 Cadillac. One local spent
$10,000 on a "golf outing," another invested
$670,000 in a bingo parlor.
The reports have been seized upon
by the misnamed Center for Union Facts,
established earlier this year to mount a well-
financed assault against the labor movement.
And one would of course find much worse
extravagances if the bosses were required to
report their expenditures in the same level of
detail imposed upon unions.
Nonetheless, union leaders who insist
on leading the lifestyles of their corporate
counterparts are not only stealing from the
rank-and-file workers who are entitled to
have their dues money spent only on legiti-
mate and necessary union business, and at
the same time handing the bosses a club with
which to attack us.
Dubai workers take revolt to the beaches
Immigrant construction workers in
Dubai are holding illegal union meetings to
organize protests against low wages, unsafe
conditions, poor housing, and pay checks that
are sometimes months late in arriving.
Dubai is the largest construction site in
the Middle East, home to luxurious hotels
and three of the largest shopping malls on
the planet. The building frenzy is supported
by an increasingly disgruntled immigrant
labor force.
A recent report by Human Rights Watch
found that bleak living conditions, long
working hours and unacceptably low pay had
led to rising suicide rates among immigrant
workers in the emirates. In 2005, 80 Indian
residents took their lives, and an estimated

Spain: Thousands march
against labor reforms
As millions fight new employment laws
in France, 5,000 workers marched in Madrid
April 1 against proposed labour reforms. The
Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union, the CNT,
organized the demonstration, which drew
workers from all over the country.
The proposed employment law allows
for the reduction in redundancy payments,
makes mass sackings easier and increases
the power of temp agencies ­ who are cur-
rently trying to enter sectors such as public
administration and construction. They were
opposed most of all because every new reform
880 foreign workers died in accidents on UAE
construction sites.
In recent months, the UAE's vast popu-
lation of immigrant workers have staged
sporadic strikes. Thousands of unpaid con-
struction workers rioted at the construction
site for the Burj Dubai Tower, which by 2008
will become the world's tallest building.
In a sympathy strike a day later, thou-
sands of labourers working at Dubai Interna-
tional Airport laid down their tools.
The authorities insist that workers'
complaints are overblown. And so workers
are planning to take their protests to the
malls and beaches, confronting Dubai's tour-
ists with the invisible workers who fuel the
emirate's boom.
means more advantages to employers to the
detriment of workers' rights.
On May Day the CNT will again be in
the streets, this time with demonstrations
all over the country, to denounce once more
every legal manoeuvre to undermine workers'
rights solely in order to increase profits.
Korean strikes fight labor `reform'
The Korean Confederation of Trade
Unions launched a five-day rotating general
strike April 10 in an effort to block passage
of legislation on temporary workers. The
country's largest umbrella labor group, rep-
resenting more than 800,000 workers, staged
massive rallies across the country to launch
a series of short strikes.
"We have decided to stage the full-fledged
strike this week to pressure the Assembly not
to pass the bill on temporary workers, which
would only increase the number of temporary

Strikes sweep Iran
Despite a ban on strikes, the number of
workers protesting poor conditions is increas-
ing across Iran.
Angered by unpaid salaries and low wag-
es, workers in the northern Iranian provincial
capital Rasht blocked streets and protested
in front of government offices in late March,
brandishing banners that read: "We are hun-
gry!" It wasn't the first time that thousands
of employees at the country's largest state-
owned textile factory had laid down their
tools. But this time they were joined by dam
workers in the province of Elam and workers
at a pharmaceutical factory in Tehran.
Recently, workers have also gone on
strike against harsh work conditions and
impending layoffs in mines and petrochemi-
cal plants across the country, with hundreds
of coal miners from the northern province of
Gilan protesting the fact that they have not
been paid for 13 months.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahma-
dinejad promised an improvement in living
standards and income when he took office in
August 2005, but more than half the Iranian
population continues to live under the pov-
erty line, according to official estimates.
The current strike wave was initiated by
Tehran bus drivers in January, immediately
provoking a harsh response from the gov-
ernment. Several hundred bus drivers were
arrested within a few hours of the beginning
of the strike, and more than 150 union activ-
ists have been fired. Most prisoners have been
released, but union leader Mansoor Ossanlou
has been detained since 22 December without
any charges or access to a lawyer.
Bus workers held another day of action
12 April in front of the offices of the state-
owned Vahed bus company to press for the
release of Ossanlou and reinstatement of up
to 1,000 laid-off workers.
workers and worsen their working condi-
tions," said Cho Joon-ho, KCTU head.
The labor federation has been demanding
the government scrap the temporary workers'
bill and draw up a new one that guarantees
workers complete job security, regardless of
their period of employment.
Current law requires companies to hire
non-regular workers on regular terms after
two years of continuous employment. Em-
ployers can dismiss workers if their employ-
ment periods are less than two years.

Hundreds arrested in Nepal's
general strike for democracy
Hundreds of unionists have been arrested
in Nepal, and many more injured, as troops
sought to break a nationwide general strike
demanding the restoration of democracy. On
April 15, the tenth day of the strike called by
the country's three main union federations
and all major political parties, GEFONT
executive committee member Danish Kumar
Rai and 30 other unionists were arrested and
placed under 90-day detention orders.
Factories and enterprises across Nepal
had been closed since the general strike began
April 6. Many government workers joined the
strike despite a royal decree imposing the es-
sential services act on all public employees.
Brutal attacks against unions began when
strike plans were announced April 4. In addi-
tion to mass arrests, police have opened fire
on strikers causing many casualties.
GEFONT Secretary General Binod Shres-
tha issued a statement strongly condemning
police brutality and insisting that the union
would continue the general strike until the
royal regime was brought down.
Austrian union bank scandal
Austrian Labor Federation head Fritz
Verzetnitsch has resigned from his position
and from parliament following exposure of
his role in covering up 1.2 billion in losses
at the union-owned Bank Fuer Arbeit und
Wirtschaft AG. The union federation now
says it will sell the bank.

Austrian authorities have approved an ar-
rest warrant for Phillip Bennett, head of bank-
rupt New York commodities brokerage Refco
Inc., who borrowed hundreds of millions of
dollars to cover speculative losses. Other
losses came through currency speculation.
Verzetnitsch allowed the bank to draw on the
union's strike fund to cover its losses.

Support Mercadona workers
in struggle for union rights
The IWW's International Solidarity Com-
mission issued the following resolutions in
solidarity with Spanish CNT-AIT members and
members of the French CNT fighting global
The IWW stands in solidarity with the
workers at Mercadona who are demanding
that three militants fired from their jobs be
rehired. The workers at Mercadona demand
that their rights to affiliate with the union of
their choice be respected, and we join them
in this demand. The IWW is committed to a
grass-roots resistance to corporate autocracy,
and we will work with others to build a move-
ment that can defeat the corporations and
construct a new world based on cooperation
instead of cutthroat competition.

Solidarity with CNT-F strikers
at Besins Laboratories.
The IWW stands in solidarity with the
workers of the Besins Laboratories (who
have been on strike for two months, ed.). We
demand that Besins drop its plans to cut its
French workforce in half and to shift these
jobs to Belgium.
We live in an era when multinational
corporations continually shift work to other
countries looking for tax loopholes, cheap
labor and lax environmental controls. The
IWW is committed to a grass-roots resistance
to these corporate maneuvers...
The ISC has also written the governments
of Iran and Nepal protesting brutal assaults
on workers exercising their right to strike, and
is meeting with Mexican unionists to discuss
prospects for joint activities.
Colombia: DAS intelligence
agency tied to death squads
Human Rights Watch has blasted Co-
lombian President Álvaro Uribe for attacking
the news media for reporting allegations of
criminal activity in a Colombian intelligence
agency. "Uribe's aggressive response raises
suspicion about whether he actually wants
the truth known," said José Miguel Vivanco,
Americas director at Human Rights Watch.
Colombian media have extensively
reported allegations of paramilitary infiltra-
tion of the Departamento Administrativo de
Seguridad, targeted killings of labor union
leaders and academics, and fraud in the 2002
presidential elections. The charges were made
by a former senior official at the DAS, Rafael
García, who is under investigation for alleg-
edly laundering money and other crimes.
According to García's statements to
prosecutors and journalists, for three years
the DAS worked in close contact with several
paramilitary groups, particularly the "North-
ern Block" led by paramilitary commander
"Jorge 40." He claims that these links were
established by Jorge Noguera, then director
of the DAS and currently the Colombian
Consul in Milan.
García says that the DAS provided the
paramilitaries with lists of labor union leaders
and academics, many of whom were subse-
quently threatened or killed. García also said
that the DAS collaborated with paramilitaries
in a plot to assassinate several Venezuelan
leaders, including President Hugo Chavez
and a prosecutor, Danilo Anderson. More
than 100 alleged paramilitaries were arrested
near the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, and a
few months later, Anderson was killed.
Noguera has denied the allegations, but
has admitted to having met with paramili-
tary commander Jorge 40 "for institutional
reasons." Uribe, too, has admitted that he
twice met paramilitary commander Salvatore
Mancuso, who has been convicted of human
rights abuses and is wanted for extradition to
the United States for drug-trafficking.
Noguera resigned as head of the DAS as an
investigation into corruption was launched,
and was appointed consul to Italy.

IT unionists in cyber protest
An IT labor union affiliated to the Korean
Confederation of Trade Unions said its mem-
bers joined efforts to paralyze the home pages
of the U.S. Department of Defense, the White
House and President George Bush by sending
a flood of e-mails at 6 p.m. on April 12.
The union said it took the action to pro-
test negotiations for a free trade agreement
between Korea and the U.S., adding, "In this
cyber battle, a minimum of 10,000 individu-
als will participate." The e-mail sent to Bush
blasts the U.S.'s "lopsided" demands, and says
that despite government policy "the majority
of Koreans are resisting the Americanization
of Korea in the name of globalization."

Bolivia: army attacks strikers
Bolivian military and police forces have
dislodged strikers who were occupying the
country's four main airports, aiming to break
an airline workers' strike. Workers from the
country's main airline, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano
(LAB), are demanding its re-nationalisation
and the removal of the company's president.
Recently elected "socialist" president
Evo Morales has rejected the demands, and
instead of negotiating is turning to the army
to break the strike even as he claims to sym-
pathize with the workers.

Pickets won't face cannon
New police water cannons won't be
aimed at striking workers, thanks to a Unions
NSW - Police Association agreement. The
New South Wales Police Association Execu-
tive has endorsed the use of the water cannon
for incidents of public disorder but not in
cases that involve union protests.
The Australian province is spending
$700,000 to buy a water cannon, to be used
by the public order and riot squad.

Swedish unionists want
political independence
A new survey finds that most LO mem-
bers oppose the union's financial support to
the ruling Social Democrats. The LO gave
the party 20 million kronor last year, and
also spends union funds on advertising sup-
porting the party. The survey conducted by
Sveriges Television found that only 24 percent
of workers were in favor of the subsidy.

French general strike...
continued from page 1
law by a handful of parliamentarians, who, as
is well known, have no intention of stopping
the process of precarization, obsessed by their
desire to reinforce capitalist exploitation. And
this contempt is evident in the only concrete
answer they have given young people: hun-
dreds of arrests, hundreds of cases of police
custody, prison sentences and police violence.
We denounce all of it. ...
"Let the prime minister and all gov-
ernments know that the legitimacy of the
workers is not just rhetoric! That the means
of production are in our hands. That trains,
schools, food, buildings, books, and every-
thing that makes these ministers' days, is not
the result of a mouse click but the fruit of the
labour of millions of workers. It seems that
the prime minister, from the dizzy heights of
his ivory tower, has forgotten this.
"It is up to us to remind him ­ by bringing
the country to a halt!
"No one else does our work for us, so let
no one else make our decisions for us!"
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