February 5th, 2014
We are pleased to shake of the dust from several months of pre-planning, to go into high gear as we organize and get ready for our Third Annual Workers Unite Film Festival. It is also great news to hear that the UAW is going back into auto plants in Tennessee, a VW plant, to hold a union vote. Many on the left have pointed out that this is not a big deal because VW, which is completely unionized in Germany, refused to stand in the way of the union drive. There is also a fear on the left that UAW President Bob King, already battered by past losses, might work with VW on "workers councils" in the plant, not traditional collective bargaining. While all these issues may have vailidity, make no mistake, a union vote that gives the UAW a foothold in the anti-union South: that's a huge win for the labor movement in its current state. This will then give impetus to further union drives in the region and generally put the fear that workers can fight back, into the anti-worker minds of conservative Southern polticians. That's a good thing.
This was despite repeated attempts by local businesses and politicians, who were pulling their hair out over a large employer that was not viciously anti-union or anti-worker. But as David Kiley pointed out in an article last year on this union drive, re-branding the UAW won't be easy, especially in the South, after decades of economic collapse, and decades of anti-union right to work legislation. There will be a vote from February 12-24th, which could really help turn around the downward slide of the UAW's drive to organize in the South. Let's hope it does.
While it is a sad commentary on where we have drifted down to in this country as far as labor organzing in heavy industry, it is still a sign of hope for a union movement that as VP Biden just said in a speech the other day, "is under a direct and concerted attack by the business community." Duh! While the union movement has known this for over 30 years at least, it is now only waking up to the need to find new effective survival strategies. This is also due to the recent successful attacks on public sector unions, a sector of the labor movement that organized labor once thought was untouchable.
But the Koch brothers and their billionaire allies have figured out that there are plenty of modern day scabs willing to take their millions in dirty support money, to carry out the most disgusting anti-worker, anti-union legislation imaginable. So the AFL-CIO had recognized the work of many new labor groups, such as the NY Taxi Workers Alliance, the first newly inducted union since the Farmworkers Union over 45 years ago! The AFL-CIO has also recognized the growing power and influence of workers centers and non-union worker alliances, such as OUR WALMART, the groups fighting for a livable minimum wage and food chain workers around the country, from farm fields to restaurant kitchens.
Of course the moderate success of these new non-union groups has brought the wrath and attention of anti-union forces down on these new groups. There is now a high level of chatter on the right and from conservative house members about expanding the Taft Hartley obstacles to organizing further out, over any group seen to be pushing a pro-worker agenda. So funny to see these "freedom from big government" types so eager to create more government regulation over their supposed enemies - workers and their families. Sad.
Please return to our home page over the next weeks as we add all the wonderful new plans for the festival this May 9th through the 19th. We have partnered with NYC's School of Visual Arts Social Documentary Film MFA Program, to honor and highlight the work of the next generation of socially conscious filmmakers. They have some impressive stories to tell about worker's lives.
We also ask that you tell any of your creative friends, or colleagues at work, on the job, we are looking for films of every length about the daily struggles and success of workers on their jobs. We are very open to amateur efforts for our Films From The Front Lines, evening, when we screen the work of professionals and amateur filmmakers, side by side, on the big screen at Cinema Village in NYC. There are prizes too for the best efforts.
Feel free to write us or call us at any time with suggestions, films, ideas, comments. We are always looking to improve our festival and our festival is here to serve the needs, hopes and desires of workers.
GOP in Tennessee: It's Not About Free Market Capitalism at All. It's about beating workers into submission.
This article is a great summation of exactly why any worker that votes for a Republican in this country must have not been paying attention to the facts.
Paul Waldman details clearly what has been obvious to so many of us on the pro-labor left for so long. The Republican hate of unions is not about "free market capitalism" or even "freedom for corporations to operate as they please." In Tennessee we have the spectacle of these supposedly "pro-business" "free market" types, including the Governor and the Senator, not to mention the full political establishment of Chattanooga, where the new VW plant resides, actually threatening a major global corporation for not standing in the way of union organizing. In the minds of these anti-worker politicians, corporations should have the freedom to do as they please, in order to make as much money as possible, then donate a chunk of that money to the GOP for each election cycle. What they may not do, or at least here in the Tennessee case, should not attempt, is a decision which has brought them enormous success and market domination all over the globe, that involves a close working relationship with unions and workers on worker/management councils within each plant.
The Governor ans Senator have each made threatening comments that "tax breaks" for the plant will be pulled if VW has the gall to allow a union to organize workers in the American South.
Read the full article. This is exactly why there is little room to negotiate with these anti-worker, anti-family types who often profess one thing, "freedom, freedom, freedom," yet really mean to return the workers in this country back to some 1800s vision of subservient workers who accept their fate as fodder for the corporate behemoths that will grind them up and crush them should they merely ask for a living wage and dignity on the job.
It is time for that type of hooliganism to stop. Write the Governor and Senator from Tennessee and tell them to re-read our federal laws on labor relations before shooting off their mouths at a huge international corporation that believes workers actually deserve a say on how they spend their jobsite hours everyday.