On May Day, Gig Workers Are Organizing an Intersectional Movement

Economy & Labor On May Day, Gig Workers Are Organizing an Intersectional Movement Prisons & Policing My Child Is Incarcerated. One Second in This Unjust System Is Too Much. Prisons & Policing Drug Raids Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor. Advocates Say: Enough. Politics & Elections No, Joe Manchin, Eliminating the Filibuster Won’t Lead to “Serious Problems” Politics & Elections Biden’s Speech Pointed to a Possible End to Reagan’s Rancid Legacy Prisons & Policing New Report Looks at Strategies to Cut Incarceration of Illinois Women by Half In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, while the rest of the world celebrates it on May 1st. May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, actually has its origins in the U.S. It is a workers’ holiday celebrating international solidarity, a day of demonstrations and organizing, a day for workers to rise up — but for over a century, this holiday has not been observed in the U.S. However, this lack of formal recognition, intended deliberately by politicians to weaken the labor movement, hasn’t stopped American workers from celebrating on May 1st. Today, thousands of workers are rising up across the country to celebrate, demonstrate and demand change. One particular group of workers — gig workers, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — have organized a day of demonstrations and caravans led by rideshare drivers currently or previously working for companies like Uber and Lyft. Oakland is just one of several cities across the country where gig workers are planning a caravan of drivers today. Today’s action is being co-organized by a coalition of over 25 groups, including Rideshare Drivers United, Gig Workers Rising, Workers World and the People’s Strike. “In the last year with this pandemic and all of the things that have come with it, there are people from many different groups that are very angry about the state of our society,” Erica Mighetto, a former Lyft driver and organizer at Rideshare Drivers United, told Truthout. “So, I’m really excited for the action in Oakland, it’s really an uprising that’s happening and it’s really going to be a wonderful show of that solidarity.” Throughout the day there will be pit stops at locations such as Whole Foods and City Hall where Amazon workers and gig-workers will address the crowd, trucks with flatbed trailers will carry floats, and organizers will hand out fliers and petitions. “People are losing their housing, people like ourselves are losing their vehicles, some of us are even living in our vehicles,” Mighetto said. “We have a lot of legislation that’s working against people like me and people struggling for survival — so that’s why this event is so important to us, because there are hundreds, if not thousands of people just in the Bay Area that are in similar situations.” In November of last year, Californians passed Proposition 22, a ballot initiative designed to strip so-called gig workers of many rights traditionally afforded to workers, such as a guaranteed a minimum wage, access to unemployment insurance or overtime pay, and paid sick leave or family leave. The impacts of Prop 22 were only exacerbated as the pandemic hit and countless drivers lost their income because of social distancing mandates. “As it relates to economic exploitation and unsafe working conditions, I know what it’s like to work long hours with no guaranteed wage and no work and no restroom facilities, no overtime,” Cherri Murphy, a former Lyft driver and organizer at Gig Workers Rising, told Truthout. “I know what it’s like to be in the middle of a pandemic and have your corporation refuse to pay unemployment wages and have to wait for three months to get protection.” Although the challenges faced by gig workers are a significant focus of the caravan, the coalition has made sure to broaden its focus to address a wide variety of interlinked struggles faced by marginalized communities across the country. “We’re calling out police violence as well,” Murphy said. “Police violence and economic violence are all connected — they’re all part of the same systems that impact mostly people of color. COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter really pulled the curtain back and showed America’s rooted disease for which there still is no vaccine for.” In addition to elevating the voices of low wage workers and speaking out against police violence, today’s action puts a spotlight on housing issues in the Bay Area — a region which is home to one of the most inaccessible housing markets in the country. “People can’t afford to pay their rent and they need to be provided sustainable housing,” Mighetto, who was herself evicted from her apartment in Sacramento in September of 2019, told Truthout. “We really want to show that these are important issues and it’s not out of laziness that this is our situation — it’s out of social injustice and legislative shortcomings.” Not only is the coalition in solidarity with low wage workers, folks struggling with housing, and communities facing violence from the police, but they’ve also chosen to include a focus on things such as climate change, education and immigration. “We understand that oppression is intersectional,” Murphy said. “The majority of the workers that Uber, Lyft, and Doordash employ happen to be immigrants and people of color. And so we know that economic justice is racial justice.” With surprisingly progressive policy proposals like the PRO Act winning the support of the Biden administration, we may be witnessing the beginning of a shift in how gig workers are treated in the United States. Demonstrations and caravans such as those taking place today are an essential component in bringing about the sweeping structural reforms needed to address the many challenges of our time. The powerbrokers who defanged Labor Day in the United States knew that very well, but fortunately, as we see the beginnings of a broad and intersectional labor movement emerge in the U.S., it seems that their time may be coming to an end. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Manchin Comes Out Against Yet Another Proposal From the Democrats: DC Statehood

Economy & Labor On May Day, Gig Workers Are Organizing an Intersectional Movement Prisons & Policing My Child Is Incarcerated. One Second in This Unjust System Is Too Much. Prisons & Policing Drug Raids Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor. Advocates Say: Enough. Politics & Elections No, Joe Manchin, Eliminating the Filibuster Won’t Lead to “Serious Problems” Politics & Elections Biden’s Speech Pointed to a Possible End to Reagan’s Rancid Legacy Prisons & Policing New Report Looks at Strategies to Cut Incarceration of Illinois Women by Half U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia bolstered his impedimentary pedigree on Friday by becoming the first Democratic senator to publicly oppose legislation that would make Washington, D.C. the nation’s 51st state. D.C. statehood would not only end “taxation without representation” for the capital’s approximately 700,000 residents, it would also boost Manchin’s own party’s political fortunes as the city’s residents overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Following last week’s passage of the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act (H.R. 51) by the House of Representatives, voting rights advocates demanded the Senate follow suit. However, despite having 51 votes in the upper chamber, the faltering foursome of Democratic caucus members — Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Independent Angus King of Maine, and Manchin — who oppose or have yet to signal their support for statehood-by-legislation pose a potentially mortal threat to D.C.’s hopes. From opposing the $15 federal minimum wage, higher corporate taxes, and the pro-democracy reforms of the For the People Act, to preserving the filibuster and the fossil fuel industry, Manchin has earned a reputation among progressives as an obstructionist to rival the most intransigent Republican. Y’know there are constitutional scholars who argue West Virginia was improperly admitted, if Manchin wants to go to war over thishttps://t.co/BKQmteVvdt — dylan matthews (@dylanmatt) April 30, 2021 During a Friday morning press call, Manchin told reporters in his home state that he believes making the nation’s capital a state would require a constitutional amendment. Discussing H.R. 51, Manchin invoked former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in saying that the measure “complicates D.C.’s pathway to statehood.” The senator said: Congress had three options to choose from back in 1961. They could either have D.C. statehood, they could have retrocession to Maryland… or they could have granted electoral votes to D.C…. Congress selected, at that time, option three… Kennedy said in 1963 that Congress and the states embodied this choice in the form of a constitutional amendment. Hence, it is arguable that the choice can now be reconsidered only by means of another constitutional amendment. He said that we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and it seems to me that’s who should be answering this question. Let the American people decide. The people, according to a March poll by Data for Progress and Democracy for All 2021, support D.C. statehood. Over half (54%) of all survey respondents said they favored statehood, including 74% of Democrats, 51% of Independents, and 34% of Republicans. That is the highest level of support for the policy recorded to date. Over the course of US history, we've added 37 states. Not a single one required a constitutional amendment. And yet: DC requires a constitutional amendment to become a state? https://t.co/9rzUrtX2um — Lee Drutman (@leedrutman) April 30, 2021 “The people who elected President [Joe] Biden and Democrats in Congress recognize that making D.C. a state is critical to the fight for racial justice and civil rights in this country,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement after the poll’s publication. Last week, the White House formally endorsed D.C. statehood, with its Office of Management and Budget declaring the move “will make our union stronger and more just.” In a Friday Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece, civil rights icon, two-time Democratic presidential candidate, and longtime D.C. statehood supporter Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. argued that racism and Republican fear of losing power are behind opposition to making the district a state, and that doing so is a matter of fundamental fairness. “The case for D.C. statehood is clear,” he wrote. “The nation was founded in protest against taxation without representation. D.C. residents are denied voting representation in the House and Senate.” “The nation is shamed by military service without representation,” Jackson added. “D.C. residents have fought in wars going back to the Revolutionary War and yet have no representatives to vote in favor or against those wars. America, which claims to lead democracies across the world, denies the foundation of democracy to more than 700,000 citizens in the nation’s capital.” This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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Hawaii Poised to Become First State to Declare Climate Emergency

Politics & Elections Biden’s Speech Pointed to a Possible End to Reagan’s Rancid Legacy Prisons & Policing New Report Looks at Strategies to Cut Incarceration of Illinois Women by Half Politics & Elections GOP Rebuttal to Biden’s Speech Flopped Because Progressive Policies Are Popular Environment & Health Hawaii Poised to Become First State to Declare Climate Emergency Environment & Health Progressives Introduce Huge Climate Bill That Rivals Biden Infrastructure Plan Racial Justice Commission Finds Anti-Black Police Violence Constitutes Crimes Against Humanity The Hawaii state legislature is set to make history later on Thursday by becoming the first state in the country to pass a resolution declaring a climate emergency. Hawaii lawmakers will declare in a nonbinding resolution that the current global climate crisis is a threat to both humankind and the environment. The text of the resolution calls for a collaborative effort to address the effects of the crisis and come up with ways to halt the increase of global temperatures. “We must take strong action to address climate change related challenges, such as sea level rise, coastal erosion, and the protection of our critical infrastructure,” the resolution’s primary sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Mike Gabbard, said in a statement. Although it does not have any forceful language requiring immediate action on the climate crisis, the resolution calls for state lawmakers to seek ways to prohibit “any further public or private investment or subsidies in projects that will make the climate emergency worse, such as coal, oil, gas, and tree-burning projects.” It also asks for lawmakers to pass bills that facilitate investments in low- and zero-emission projects, including reforestation efforts throughout the state. While more must be done, climate activists in the state have praised the move. “It’s a recognition of symbolic importance…. It provides for collaboration statewide for a transition to a cleaner environment,” said Ted Bohlen of Climate Protectors Hawaii in a committee hearing earlier this month. “And these are important, even though it’s just a resolution.” The climate crisis has already had a tremendous impact on Hawaii, particularly for its Indigenous peoples. Droughts have become more commonplace on the islands, according to the Climate Reality Project, which have detrimentally affected freshwater streams and rivers, reducing access to water for Hawaii’s Indigenous peoples and the broader ecosystems in general. “The limited amount of freshwater has a disproportionate impact on Hawaii’s Native peoples as the increased droughts threaten the growth of important traditional food sources, like taro and breadfruit,” the organization’s website explained. Rising sea levels are also a concern for the state. One study in 2012 found that 70 percent of beaches on the islands of Kauai, Oahu and Maui were already experiencing long-term coastal erosion. The rise in sea levels are speeding up, too. Since 1950, the sea level around Hilo Bay in Hawaii has gone up by 10 inches, and over the past 10 years, sea levels in that area have increased by one inch every four years. While Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to declare a climate emergency, several other governments have made similar pronouncements. In 34 countries across the globe, 1,933 jurisdictions have also declared such emergencies. At the federal level, a bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and co-sponsored by more than 40 other lawmakers, would obligate President Joe Biden to announce a climate emergency — but since February there has not been any action on the proposal. Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Big Corporations Strike Racial Justice Pose While Continuing to Fund Police

Politics & Elections Trump-Disrupted Census Hurts Marginalized Communities and Hands New Power to GOP Environment & Health No, Biden’s Not Banning Burgers — But Meat Is a Real Climate Problem Environment & Health The More Biden Expands ACA, the Harder It Will Be for the Right to Cut It Politics & Elections Over 80 House Democrats Urge Biden to Lower Medicare Eligibility Age Economy & Labor Biden to Sign Executive Order Raising Federal Workers’ Wages to $15 an Hour War & Peace Biden Is Reviewing US Policy in North Korea. The Brutal Sanctions Must End. As protests for racial justice erupted around the globe last summer following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, many activists called upon corporate America to step up and fight for racial equality in the workplace and beyond, bringing to light a long history of discrimination toward workers of color. The push prompted a series of sweeping apologies and broad action plans, shifting the goalposts for what would be expected of corporations in their relatively new status as “corporate citizens.” Nearly a year later, many major corporations have assumed a similar posture following Chauvin’s conviction on murder charges, reminding the American public of their purported commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Amid mounting evidence that many police departments routinely display both implicit bias and outright racism, reports show that corporate America continues to pour millions of dollars into the police. One way corporations funnel money into law enforcement is through police foundations. As nonprofits, police foundations allow police departments to raise unregulated slush funds from undisclosed sources, generally meaning corporations or private foundations associated with wealthy families or individuals. Police have historically used this money to expense weaponry and special equipment that is not covered by their municipal budgets. “Police foundations are really good at hiding what they’re actually spending their money on,” Arisha Hatch, vice president of Color of Change, told Salon. “These foundations exist completely off the books.” According to Nonprofit Quarterly, there are about 251 police foundations across the U.S. A report last year by the government watchdog LittleSis found that a whole host of well-known corporations have been intimately involved with police foundations throughout the nation. One notable example is AT&T. Last year, Sludge found that AT&T was “an active donor” to the Seattle Police Foundation, which according to IRS filings amassed more than $1.5 million in contributions and grants in 2019 alone. Gothamist reported in 2019 that AT&T made an appearance as a “deep-pocketed donor” at the New York City Police Foundation, which collected $9.2 million in contributions and grants over the fiscal year ending in June 2019. Because these foundations are not subject to typical IRS disclosure laws, neither of them reported how that money were spent. AT&T is also a “Platinum Partner” of the National Sheriffs’ Association, a pro-police lobbying group that fights to preserve the 1033 Military Surplus Program, a government-run initiative that distributes surplus military-grade weaponry and supplies to police departments throughout the nation. In order to become a Platinum Partner, a corporation must donate at least $15,000. Asked about the company’s relationship with law enforcement, an AT&T spokesperson told Salon that the company supports “many civil rights organizations” and is “working with them to redefine the relationship between law enforcement and those they serve to advance equitable justice for all Americans.” Kevin Walby, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Winnipeg, told Salon that any company that makes strong rhetorical commitments to racial equality should not donate to police foundations at all, saying that in doing so, “they are actually backstopping very racist policing practices.” Target is another corporate giant with deep ties to the police. On Tuesday, Target CEO Brian Cornell postponed a speaking event in anticipation of Chauvin’s verdict, later telling his employees in an internal memo: “The murder of George Floyd last Memorial Day felt like a turning point for our country. The solidarity and stand against racism since then have been unlike anything I’ve experienced. Like outraged people everywhere, I had an overwhelming hope that today’s verdict would provide real accountability. Anything short of that would have shaken my faith that our country had truly turned a corner.” One might assume such concern for racial justice would translate to the company’s spending habits. However, according to government watchdog LittleSis and Sludge, the Minnesota-based retail giant has donated to at least nine police foundations since 2015, including those in Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. Back in 2014, Target quietly donated $200,000 to the Los Angeles Police Foundation so that its affiliate department could gain early access to surveillance software engineered by Palantir, a company accused of whitewashing systemic racism with its supposed data-driven solutions to policing. Target has also supplied thousands of dollars in grant money to various law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The company reported that by 2011, it had given “Public Safety Grants” to over 4,000 law enforcement agencies. In that same year alone, Target said it had distributed more than $3 million in grants to “law enforcement and emergency management organizations.” A Target spokesperson declined to provide more recent figures on grant money. The company also declined to clarify whether its relationships with police foundations remain active, instead providing the following statement: “We also believe that team members and guests should feel safe in their engagements with law enforcement. We support holistic changes in policing that advance more equitable, community-centric policing that is grounded in innovative law enforcement reform best practices.” Numerous tech giants, including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, also support the police in ways outlined above. Amazon, for example, which claimed to “stand with [its] Black employees, customers, and partners” following Chauvin’s verdict, has supported the police in a variety of different ways. In 2019, the tech giant reportedly donated up to $9,999 to the Seattle Police Foundation. A company representative told Salon that the company has not donated to the Seattle Police Foundation within the last two years. Salon was unable to confirm this, since the foundation reportedly scrubbed all information pertaining to its corporate sponsors shortly after LittleSis released its report. Additionally, Amazon board member Indra Nooyi serves as a trustee on the board of the New York City Police Foundation, according to digitally archived information on the foundation’s website from last year. Meanwhile, AmazonSmile, the company’s charity initiative — which allows Amazon to donate 0.5% of proceeds from a sale to the buyer’s chosen charity — has helped pass along donations from customers to numerous police foundations, including those in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Cleveland. (This relationship has been publicly advertised via Twitter.) A company representative said that Amazon defers to guidance from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center on what organizations meet AmazonSmile’s eligibility requirements. These requirements state that eligible organizations cannot “engage in, support, encourage, or promote … intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race.” Just this year, however, the SPLC published a feature calling racial bias in policing a “national security threat.” Neither the Seattle Police Foundation nor New York City Police Foundation responded to Salon’s request for comment. Coffeehouse giant Starbucks has visibly attempted to go above and beyond in demonstrating its commitment to racial justice. Last year, at the height of the racial unrest following George Floyd’s death, the coffee chain said it would distribute 250,000 shirts bearing the “Black Lives Matter” slogan to employees, flouting its existing ban on any apparel that “advocate for a political, religious or personal issue,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Just this year, Starbucks invested $100 million in “small business growth and community development projects in BIPOC neighborhoods.” Following the Chauvin verdict, Starbucks the company released a statement from CEO Kevin Johnson, which read in part: Today’s jury verdict in the murder trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin will not soothe the intense grief, fatigue and frustration so many of our Black and African American partners are feeling. Let me say clearly to you: We see you. We hear you. And you are not alone. Your Starbucks family hurts with you … We will be here for our partners in the Twin Cities and for each and every BIPOC Starbucks partner as we try to understand the systemic wrongs that lead to inequality. One might argue these “systemic wrongs” have been exhibited by the Seattle Police Department. In a 2019 “Use of Force” report released by the Seattle Police, the department revealed that it used force against Black residents at a disproportionately higher rate than white residents. According to the report, more than 31 percent of cases of police force used against males involved Black males, even though they make up around 7 percent of the city’s population. A subsequent “Disparity Review” that year found that residents of color were frisked at higher rates than white residents, even though white people were statistically more likely to be carrying a weapon, and that Seattle officers drew their guns in encounters with residents of color at a higher rate than with white residents. In that same year, Starbucks donated two grants totaling $15,000 to promote “implicit bias training” within the Seattle police and help the department host its “2019 banquet gala,” a spokesperson told Salon. The company also “contributed $25,000 to the New York City Police Foundation to help provide protective equipment such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, and coordinated the delivery of meals to precincts.” The representative did not say whether there were any accountability mechanisms in place to ensure the money was used appropriately, but did note that the company does “not currently have any funding with the Seattle Police Foundation.” When corporations like Target and Starbucks give money to police foundations, it not only presents an ideological contradiction; it also presents a conflict of interest within the department itself, noted Walby, of the University of Winnipeg. “We only hear about donations” to police “when corporations want to celebrate them,” he said. “They want that halo effect. However, there are lots of instances in which the transfers and purchases aren’t made public. It’s an even bigger problem if they’re spending it on money that pertains to the corporation.” In 2014, for instance, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Los Angeles Police Foundation received $84,000 in donations from stun-gun maker TASER International (now known as Axon) prior to TASER’s contract with the LAPD. In another case, Motorola, a donor to the New York Police Foundation, was later awarded several NYPD contracts, as reported by Politico in 2017. “There’s a real potential for private influence in public policing through police foundations,” Walby said. “It’s appropriate to call this money dark money. Because we can’t really see this money going in. We can’t really see this money going out.” As the negative impact of police violence and criminalization becomes increasingly apparent in communities of color, Walby and Hatch argued, continuing to donate to police undermines corporations’ claims to awakened social consciousness. “Police departments across this country have plenty of money,” Hatch said. “They are well-resourced in a way that undermines other programs that could lead to safer and healthier communities.” “Any money for police reform just enhances the power base of police as an institution,” Walby said. “The institution can’t change conduct that is institutionalized. The funds should be given directly to community and social development groups, groups that actually have a chance of creating something like equality in our world.” This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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