Solidarity with Injured GM Workers Launching Hunger Strike February 11th

Demonstrate Solidarity with Injured GM Workers in Colombia
4:30-6 PM TUES FEB. 11
GM Headquarters, Renaissance Center, Detroit MI (map)
Facebook event

GM-COLOMBIA 8 RESUME HUNGER STRIKE FEB. 11

The GM-Colombia 8 autoworkers announced on February 1st that they are resuming their water-only hunger strike, with their lips sewn shut, on Tues., Feb. 11th. That’s the date in 1937 when militant UAW workers in Flint ended a historic 44-day sit-down strike, after GM agreed to recognize the UAW as the workers’ exclusive bargaining agent.

Their first fast in August 2012 ended after 22 days when GM agreed to a mediation with the workers’ association, ASOTRECOL – which ended without a settlement. Citing the workers’ rejection of their paltry ‘final offer,’ GM has since refused the workers’ demand to go back to the table.

Out of the 68 members who formed ASOTRECOL in 2011, eight are holding steadfast and remain in the fight today. Employed an average of 8 years, they suffered debilitating injuries working 12-14 hours/day on an antiquated assembly line. 4-6 years ago GM devised illegal ways to get rid of them. With no union to turn to, and stonewalled by the Colombian legal system, the workers in August 2011 set up a tent encampment in front of the US Embassy in Bogota – where they’ve been ever since – (as of Feb. 1st) 914 days.

GM: FLINT 1937 = COLOMBIA TODAY

The working conditions in their factory were eerily similar to those in Flint in the 1930s. These include: hazardous and unhealthy work conditions, job insecurity, extreme speedup, firings, anti-union policies including espionage and intimidation, and displacement of workers at an extremely early age – all with the backdrop of no government oversight and weak or no unions. This is what gave rise to the struggle by the GM workers 80 years ago in Flint – and today in Colombia.

After these conditions were exposed by ASOTRECOL, GM made safety improvements, corrected some management practices and changed management personnel at the Colmotores plant. GM must now end its war of attrition against the GM-Colombia 8, and make them whole!

For more background on the injured GM workers in Colombia, see the ASOTRECOL website.GMColombia

Audio From Trans-Pacific Partnership Forum

Couldn’t make it to WCAT’s 9/26/13 “Topple the TPP: A Forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership”? Listen to the audio below:

Speakers:
0:00 – 14:21 – Ian Robinson (Washtenaw Community Action Team) on the history of free-trade agreements and their impacts. Overhead slides. (Word document)
15:53 – 27:35 – Natalie Yoon (United Students for Fair Trade) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Slides.
27:35 – 32:20 Mary Gallagher (United Students for Fair Trade – University of Michigan chapter) on the environmental impacts of the Transpacific Partnership. Slides (PDF).
32:20 – 39:22 Vas Jacobs (Good Jobs Now) on the impact of free-trade agreements on labor, both in the U.S. and internationally.
39:20 – John Bohn (United Students for Fair Trade – University of Michigan chapter) on what we can do about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast-track. More on the artist and activist coalition against the TPP.

To contact the U-M chapter of United Students for Fair Trade, send a message to umichusft at gmail.com.

For more on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, see Public Citizen’s TPP page.

What’s Wrong with Austerity in the Context of the Ongoing Economic Crisis?

Many Americans believe that our annual budget deficits, and/or our accumulated national debt, are out of control, and that — painful though it will be — we must make substantial cuts to one or both right now. Perhaps you know people who think this way, or have yourself wondered whether there is not some truth to these beliefs.

This short (about 20 minutes) video will give you a well-reasoned, evidence-based way to think through these issues. University of Michigan Emeritus Professor of Economics Tom Weisskopf discusses the economics and politics of the “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling” debates in ways we can all understand.

With this week’s government shutdown and potentially another upcoming debt ceiling face-off, this is essential viewing:

Video produced by University of Michigan LSA-ISS Media Center Productions. Copyright University of Michigan, 2013.

Topple the TPP: A Forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Join the Washtenaw Community Action Team and United Students for Fair Trade for:

Topple the TPP: A Forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Time: 7-9 PM, Thursday 9/26/13
Place: Room 1405, East Quadrangle, 701 E. University Avenue, Ann Arbor MI

Join us for a panel and discussion with speakers from United Students for Fair Trade, Washtenaw Community Action Team, Good Jobs Now, and more.
TPPNixon

Map of nearby parking lots (pdf).

Public Citizen describes the Trans-Pacific Partnership as:

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘free trade’ agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:

  • offshore millions of American jobs,
  • free the banksters from oversight,
  • ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy,
  • decrease access to medicine,
  • flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products,
  • and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.

Closed-door talks are on-going between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam; with other countries, including China, potentially joining later. 600 corporate advisors have access to the text, while the public, Members of Congress, journalists, and civil society are excluded.”

Parking

Day of Action To End Gap Deathtraps – Southeast Michigan

Join the Washtenaw Community Action Team and other Detroit-area labor and consumer activists for a rally outside The Gap in Farmington Hills, Michigan, as part of the International Day of Action to End Deathtraps. The rally will be from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, outside The Gap at 30825 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Join the Facebook eventThis Must Never Happen Again [image of Rana Plaza building collapse, May 13, 2013, in Dhaka, Bangladesh]. Gap and Walmart could stop factory fires and collapses. June 29 International Day to End Deathtraps.  Visit http://endgapdeathtraps.com to take action..

On Saturday, June 29th, students, consumers, workers, and community members will come together in cities across the world to demand that Gap and Walmart put an end to deathtrap factories in their supply chains.

Real action from Gap and Walmart on fire and building safety is long overdue. In April, over 1,100 garment workers perished in the the Rana Plaza collapse, marking the deadliest industrial disaster in a manufacturing facility in recorded history. Since 2005, more than 1,800 garment workers have died in preventable factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh alone.

In response to these catastrophes, activists across the world joined with unions to demand that apparel companies sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This unprecedented, legally-binding agreement will require independent inspections by trained fire safety experts, mandatory repairs and renovations financed by the brands, and a central role for workers and their unions. 43 brands and retailers, including H&M, PVH, and Abercrombie & Fitch, have signed-on to the program.

But instead of ensuring the safety of its workers, Gap and Walmart have been playing public relations games to undermine the accord. Gap has claimed that a binding agreement poses too much financial risk to the company within a ‘litigious’ US legal system – a claim that US legal scholars have since debunked. And now, after weeks of pressure by people across the globe to sign Bangladesh Safety Accord, Gap put out a press release about its big new plan: partnering with Walmart on a fake ‘safety plan’ that is not accountable to anyone.

There’s too much at stake for Gap and Walmart to continue their business-as-usual approach to fire and building safety. That’s why labor rights advocates have declared an International Day of Action to End Deathtraps on Saturday, June 29th. We will take action at Gap and Walmart stores by picketing and flyering: Gap and Walmart care more about profits than the lives of their workers.

The following organizations have signed the call for an International Day of Action to End Deathtraps:
AFL-CIO
Amalgamated Transit Union
American Federation of Teachers
Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity
Bangladesh Garment & Industrial Workers Federation
Clean Clothes Campaign
IndustriALL
International Labor Rights Forum
Jobs With Justice
Labor Behind the Label (UK)
Maquila Solidarity Network (Canada)
People & Planet (UK)
National Garment Workers Federation (Bangladesh)
Service Employees International Union
United Auto Workers
United Food and Commercial Workers
United Steelworkers
United Students Against Sweatshops
Workers United (SEIU)

For more information, see http://gapdeathtraps.com/ .

Fighting Back Against Austerity in the Public Schools

Join the Washtenaw Community Action Team for a community forum on “Fighting Back Against Austerity in the Public Schools”. At the forum, you’ll hear from local teachers on WCAT_Education_05162013myths about public education, and from a representative of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan on the effect of recent state laws on public education. Join us to discuss ways that teachers, parents, and students can fight back against the privatization of public education in Michigan. Light refreshments will be provided. “Fighting Back Against Austerity” will be held at 7 PM, Thursday May 16th, at the LEO/GEO Office, Suite 3F, 330 E. Liberty Street, Ann Arbor.

Tom Weisskopf on Budget Crises and Debt Myths

U-M Professor (Emeritus) of Economics Tom Weisskopf provided an outline of his talk at the 3/28/13 WCAT Forum “Fighting Back Against Austerity in Michigan, Part 2: Protecting Community Services”. Professor Weisskopf gives an excellent overview of the recent manufactured budget crises, and helps to demolish some of the debt myths that austerity hawks use in their attacks on public services and the common good.


>>Read the talk here
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