From Scotland To Philadelphia – We Fight Against Austerity

On September 18th 1.6 million Scottish workers bravely voted for independence despite an array of threats against them should they vote ‘YES’.

Despite the failure of this referendum to secure Scottish independence, the working class of Scotland has sent a powerful message to the parties of austerity in London.

As Socialists, we see the fight of the working class against the austerity drive of the 1% in an international context, and we pay close attention to working class struggles wherever they happen and try to draw lessons from them for our own local work.

Here in Philadelphia, we also face a central government that seeks to force austerity on an unwilling populace. Harrisburg tells Philadelphia that we cannot set our own minimum wage, that we cannot control our own schools, and that we must face the pro-prison, pro-fracking, pro-education cuts, pro-big business government that Philadelphia did not vote for. Harrisburg knows this. This is why Governor Corbett hides from Philadelphia workers when he comes to town.

In the next general election, it is expected that Scottish workers will vote against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that currently govern the United Kingdom, just as Philadelphia workers will in this years election vote against Governor Corbett and the Republicans.

Just as the Labour party and the Scottish National Party will not end austerity in Scotland, neither will Tom Wolf and the Democrats in Pennsylvania. Tom Wolf plays the role of the “compassionate capitalist,” pledging to support Pennsylvania workers and stressing his business experience. He claims to support a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10, a meager increase that fails to provide workers with a living wage. He will not end fracking but instead seeks to tax and regulate it and claims the money will go to education.

At the end of the day, all the Democrats promise is to better manage capitalism, an economic system that is increasingly proving to be incapable of providing for the basic needs of  humanity. The working class, whether in Scotland or Philadelphia, cannot rely on the ‘solutions’ of the capitalists, the 1%, whose only priority is preserving their profits and privilege at the expense of the planet. We need socialist solutions that can direct the huge economic, industrial, technological and creative resources of humanity to provide a decent life for the global working class of which we in Philly are a small part.

To do this we need to build our power, independent working class power, in Scotland, Philadelphia, and all across the world.

Bring it on Home…

Why I’m Going To The Peoples Climate March

The Story Of Dottie Bow

Jon R

Capitalism is slowly killing us.  The economic policies of the 1% place profit above all else.  From energy exploitation, to pesticides poisoning our food supply, the pursuit of profit endangers all species on this planet.  Everyone reading these words either has first hand knowledge, or knows someone who has been negatively impacted by the rapacious nature of our current system.  Millions of stories told and to be told, however it is one story that answers the question, “why go to the Climate March?”  The story of Dottie Bow.

I met Dottie Bow in the fall of 2004, when we worked together at Wawa.  In 2005 we both began our social activism around an apartment complex named Brookview in Claymont, Delaware.  Brookview was a 50 acre post WWII complex that housed mostly working class people, immigrants from South America, and a good deal of elderly on fixed incomes.  It was here that Dottie and I began to see firsthand the exploitation endured by the workers.  Mold, substandard maintenance, and an utter disregard, by both the landlord and the state, for the voice of those forced, by circumstance to live there.  We began to see the decaying impact Capitalism and Capitalists had on both the working class and the environment around them.  Nothing however galvanized us against this impact more than Dottie’s diagnosis of a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM4).  GBM is the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

Claymont, De sits at the bottom of what I like to call the “neurotoxin superhighway” that runs between Eddystone, Pa. and Claymont, along the western shores of the Delaware River.  Defunct factories, active chemical plants, such as Honeywell, oil refineries,and lastly, the newly defunct Evraz Steel, bully the landscape.  The people in this area are mostly working class poor, as those with the means live far away from here.

It is Evraz Steel that figures most prominently in this story. For decades it had been spewing the byproducts of steel production and recycling, magnesium and manganese into the surrounding air by the ton, day in and day out.  Residents had been complaining about the manganese dust and air pollution since forever. But our most Capitalist and crooked state of Delaware has turned a deaf ear, despite empirical evidence that proximity to heavy industry causes health problems.  These problems include cancers, neurological disorders, and other maladies.  To date, only a legally weak air monitoring program, now as defunct as the plant, has ever been enacted by state officials.  We elect these same officials to protect us, but they vacillate as strong environmental programs deplete the coffers and the almighty vote of the 1%.

Dottie lost her fight to brain cancer in April of 2013.  At the time of her death, she lost all of her hair, most of her cognitive function, and about 100 lbs of body weight.  She was a shadow of that bright “talk to a lamppost” spirit that I married. She is still sorely missed.

Nine months of soul wrenching depression, coupled with years of other mental health issues, left me with a need for change, a need for vengeance against the Capitalist plans and policies that led to Dottie’s demise.  We could never prove it was the plant that caused the illness, although a California lawyer began snooping around and  disappeared after residents refused to pay them 60% of the judgement, no suit was ever filed.  I know in my heart that Evraz and our entire Capitalist environmental nightmare were to blame.

I’m going to the March on September 21, 2014 to join others who have lost loved ones to this system. I’m going, to share Dottie’s story with thousands from all over the country, as I’m certain I’m not alone. I’m going to the Climate March to say that we know our system is complicit, through purely for profit policies that are killing our planet, our loved ones, and humanity as a whole.  Won’t you join us?

Why Are You Going?

15 Now Philly Statement on 9/4 Fast Food Worker Strikes

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15 Now members in Philly are proud to stand in solidarity with Fight for 15 fast food workers who are bravely going on strike today for $15 and a union. These workers are on the frontlines of the most important worker movement in recent memory. But higher wages for fast food workers are only the beginning. 15 Now Philly members are organizing ALL workers in Philadelphia to demand at least a $15 an hour wage floor. McDonalds isnt the only bad employer in Philly. Look at Comcast, Aramark, the University of Pennsylvania, Stephen Starr restaurants, Rite Aid. These bosses CAN pay $15 an hour, and Philadelphians deserve $15 an hour. Over 30% of us live in poverty, and continuing to allow this is an unecessary stain on our city.

People have told us that raising the minimum wage in Philadelphia is impossible, because of the preemption from Harrisburg.  But we want to be absolutely clear that the 1% has written these laws to keep our city in poverty. The truth is: The only thing that’s impossible is winning any victory for workers by following the wealthy’s rules.

Did auto workers in the 1930s follow the law when they waged nationwide sit-down strikes that brought millions of workers into unions over a series of months? NO. Those strikes were not legally protected like today’s, but they were just and necessary. Workers had no neat legal process to form a union by petitioning the NLRB. So they struck at their workplace and they forced the bosses to the table by interrupting production and hitting the 1% right in their bottom line.

It’s clear today that fast food workers and healthcare workers are willing to do what it takes to win $15 an hour here. But are are our elected officials willing to do what it takes to fight for 15?  We in 15 Now are tired of playing nice, of living in poverty while our elected officials throw up their hands and say there is nothing they can do. We don’t accept that logic. When wealthy corporations tell City Council to break the rules for them, our elected officials say yes every time. Now Philadelphia’s workers are asking that City Council afford us the same luxury as CEOs.

We call on city council and Mayor Nutter to take immediate action to raise the minimum wage in Philly to $15 an hour NOW.

 

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