Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on February 26, 2021 expressed his serious concerns over the legality and consequences of U.S. airstrikes ordered by President Joe Biden against Iran-backed militants in eastern Syria. (Photo: Susan Walsh—Pool/Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday added his voice to a growing chorus of concern and condemnation after President Joe Biden ordered an attack Thursday on Iran-backed militants in eastern Syria without seeking congressional approval.
“For far too long administrations of both parties have interpreted their authorities in an extremely expansive way to continue military interventions across the Middle East region and elsewhere.” —Sen. Bernie Sanders
In a statement, Sanders (I-Vt.) said he was “very concerned” that the U.S. attack—which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights killed 22 Iraqi Hezbollah and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces fighters—”puts our country on the path of continuing the Forever War instead of ending it.”
“This is the same path we’ve been on for almost two decades,” said Sanders. “For far too long administrations of both parties have interpreted their authorities in an extremely expansive way to continue military interventions across the Middle East region and elsewhere. This must end.”
Sanders noted that “in 2019 Congress passed the first War Powers Resolution in history to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen,” and that lawmakers passed another resolution last year to prevent former President Donald Trump “from starting a war with Iran.”
“These were important and historic steps by Congress to reassert constitutional authority over the use of force, and we must continue to built on these efforts,” Sanders said. “Our Constitution is clear that it is Congress, not the president, who has the authority to declare war.”
Earlier, other lawmakers said Biden should have sought congressional authorization for the strikes, which some legal experts say violated international law. While calling attacks by Iran-backed militants on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops “unacceptable,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) stressed that “retaliatory strikes, not necessary to prevent an imminent threat, must fall within the definition of an existing congressional authorization of military force.”
“Congress should hold this administration to the same standard it did prior administrations, and require clear legal justifications for military action, especially inside theaters like Syria, where Congress has not explicitly authorized any American military action,” said Murphy.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted Friday that Democrats “ran on ending wars, not on escalating conflicts in the Middle East.” It was the Democratic administration of then-President Barack Obama that first intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2014.
While U.S. airstrikes have decreased dramatically since Biden took office, Thursday’s attack—which followed a joint U.S.-Iraqi assassination of an Islamic State leader on January 27—was the second reported bombing of his tenure.
On Thursday, Common Dreamsreported on a new study and interactive map from the Brown University Costs of War Project and USA Today detailing the U.S. military’s so-called “counterterrorism” operations in 85 nations, part of the open-ended post-9/11 “War on Terror” that has seen over half a dozen countries attacked or invaded, hundreds of overseas American military bases built, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars spent—with no end in sight.Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.
Wounded Knee Occupation (1973): The Wounded Knee Occupation began on this day in 1973 when approximately 200 Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement (AIM) members seized the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Cry Your Tears – By John Trudell Now you want usTo cry your tears for youAfter we’ve already bled for youAlready been dead to you Now you want usTo cry your tears for youChapters of a democracy storyDescendants of genocideTwelve score and more years agoWe went from being the majorityTo being the smallest minority Now you want usTo cry your tears for youWe saw that emptyingEarly morning skylineBack through that horizonDuck Valley 1979, Wounded KneeSand Creek, that Trail of TearsExactly how did our landBecome your country Now you want usTo cry your tears for youWhile we’re still crying tears of our ownWith your past as your futureThat industrial ruling classUsing religion as a weaponDistilling love into hatePointing fingers and name calling evilSacrificing lives and bloodMaking the innocent the new virginsOffering to the gods of profit Now you want usTo cry your tears for youIn the homeland securityPretending corporate corruptionIsn’t economic terrorismMoney talks while the government listensCompiling files on ones who think differentConditioning an acceptance of debtAnd not to expect the truthSo get used to hearing the lie Now you want usTo cry your tears for youMisusing the beautyTurning freedom into a killing machineMass murdering the environmentWeaponizing the psychology of fearAnd pushing material addiction withA substitution of rules faking the lawThe bill of rights becomes collateral damageMaking the constitution another broken treaty Now you want usTo cry your tears for youWay this story is unfoldingWe may end up crying togetherAs in crying at the same timeBut we’re short on tears to cry for youWith all these tears to cry of our own Now you want usTo cry your tears for you–
The city of Berkeley was the first in the nation to enact exclusionary zoning laws responsible for racial segregation in housing. Earlier this week, Berkeley City Council took a stride toward ending this legacy by voting to do away with single-family zoning.
The resolution, which was unanimously approved during the council’s Tuesday meeting, is a statement of intent signaling the start of the longer process to eliminate single-family zoning throughout the city by 2022. When enacted, the resolution will allow affordable multi-family housing, such as apartments and duplexes, to be built in areas that were previously zoned exclusively for single-family houses.
“We really pride ourselves on having this radical progressive legacy that really began in the ’60s,” said Councilmember Terry Taplin. “Our expanded history has a really dark and ugly story behind it. We’re known for being the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, but we are also the birthplace of racial zoning.”
Berkeley’s exclusionary zoning was first enacted in the Elmwood neighborhood in 1916, where regulation prevented anything other than single-family homes from being built, according to the item.
The same laws were later used to prevent Black, Indigenous and people of color from moving into east Berkeley, and to restrict “Chinese laundromats and African American dance halls,” in some neighborhoods, the item states.
“We cannot ignore that, from the onset, zoning’s sole purpose was to segregate by race, to the detriment of people of color,” said Councilmember Ben Bartlett during the meeting. “Even after the racist part was outlawed, it kept working because racism is inherent in the design.”
Today, Berkeley neighborhoods remain significantly segregated across racial lines as a result of the lack of affordable multi-family housing in much of east and North Berkeley, the resolution states.
A recent study from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute ranked Berkeley eighth-highest in neighborhood segregation among more than 100 Bay Area municipalities. According to study co-author and assistant director of the institute Stephen Menendian, restrictive zoning laws have an “unequivocal” effect on racially segregating housing.
“Single-family homes are not affordable housing, and when they’re sold they don’t necessarily become affordable housing,” Taplin said. “In order for us to achieve our climate goals, our equity goals and our housing goals, we have to be able to build apartments and other kinds of housing.”
The City Council’s vote made Berkeley the second city in California to commit to ending exclusionary zoning practices after Sacramento approved a similar resolution earlier this year.
While the resolution does not immediately alter any zoning laws in the city, it marked the beginning of a process that will include further council discussion and a robust public engagement process, according to Councilmember Sophie Hahn.
“This is a major tangible victory and a symbolic step in that (Berkeley) is beginning to reckon with its past in a serious way,” Menendian said. “As more cities begin to take these reforms, it will build political pressure at the regional and state level to begin doing this in a systematic way.”
Topic: International Webinar on the Occasion of the International Day of Action Against US/NATO Military Bases
The International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases, held on November 16-18, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland, declared February 23rd, the anniversary day of the U.S. illegal occupation of Guantanamo, as the International Day of Action against US/NATO Military Bases.
Moderated by Bahman Azad
Speakers: – On Cuba: Ambassador Zelmys Domínguez Cortina on behalf of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (MOVPAZ)
— On Europe and EU: Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Executive Secretary, World Peace Council (WPC)
— On Latin America & Caribbean: Carolus Wimmer, President, Committee for International Solidarity and Struggle for Peace (COSI-Venezuela)
— On the Middle East: Dr. Akel Taqz, President, Palestinian Peace and Solidarity Committee / WPC Regional Coordinator for the Middle East
— On Africa: Margaret Kimberley, Member of Coordinating Committee, Black Alliance for Peace / Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report
— On Asia/Pacific: Bimal Rathnayake, President, Peace and Solidarity Organization of Sri Lanka (PASOS) / Member of Sri Lanka Parliament
— On U.S. Foreign Policy: Roger Harris, Member of the Executive Committee, U.S. Peace Council / Member of the Board, Task Force on the Americas
Followed by Q&A Period
Hosts: World Peace Council, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases
2. Sunday, 10:30am – 12:30pm, Peace and Solidarity Movements, 2008 – 2021 and Beyond
Meeting ID: 259 108 2607 Passcode: 6MwQP7 One tap mobile +16699006833,,2591082607#,,,,*396538# US (San Jose) +13462487799,,2591082607#,,,,*396538# US (Houston)
Dial by your location +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) Meeting ID: 259 108 2607 Passcode: 396538
Speaker: Phyllis Bennis (See Indybay for info)
The anti-war movements in the US and across the globe were at their peaks through the first years of the post-9/11 wars. They were broad, diverse, international, and powerful. They did not succeed in preventing the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq, but they set the stage for future movements and future victories, including stopping US bombing campaigns in Syria and escalation in Iran, parts of the Arab Spring uprisings, and more. By the time the Obama administration came into office in 2008, the movement in the US was already facing new challenges. And over the next several years its power, size, breadth, and influence had all diminished. Many blamed it on “oh the peace movement was just too enthralled with Obama” and they stopped working. But that claim, while holding a grain of truth among a few sectors of the movement, does not explain the changes. Phyllis will discuss that history, and look forward to today’s legacy and new anti-war organizations, and the rise of anti-war/anti-militarism components in a broad range of intersectional organizations.
Harriet A. Washington, author of Medical Apartheid, is again exposing a large-scale violation of patient, civil, and human rights.
Carte Blanche is the alarming tale of how the right of Americans to say “no” to risky medical research is being violated. Patients’ right to give or withhold consent is supposed to be protected by law, but for decades medical research has been conducted on trauma victims―who are disproportionately people of color―without their consent or even their knowledge.
4. Monday, 4:00pm – 5:30pm, Stand with the People of Haiti – Emergency Demo (Updated)
In – person
SF Public Library (in front) 100 Larkin St. SF
Practice Social Distancing
demonstration in solidarity with Haiti at 4pm in front of the San Francisco Main Library. This will be a socially-distanced, mask-wearing demonstration/march with signs, banners and solidarity messages to mark the 17th anniversary of the US-backed coupd’etat that overthrew Haiti’s democracy in 2004.
Demand an End to US / UN Support of Moise Dictatorship!
Stop the Deportatios!
● End all support for the dictatorship of Jovenel Moise
● End all recognition of the government of Jovenel Moise as of February 7th, 2021 as required by Haiti’s constitution
● Stop all funding of the criminal Haitian police and security forces
If you are unable to join us in person, consider these options:
Make a sign, grab some friends, jump in your car, and meet the car caravan at 3:45pm on Grove Street between Van Ness and Polk Streets. Or drive by the protest anytime after 4:45pm at the Simon Bolivar statue on Hyde Street at UN Plaza. We will give you a shout out as you go by and include you and your sign in the photos we message to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Email a photo of you/your friends doing a banner drop “US Stop Supporting Dictator Jovenel Moise in Haiti” or “US Stop Funding Police Terror in Haiti” to email@example.com
Organize your friends to contact Congressional Reps and US government officials with the demands of the action alert – details here.
Haiti Action Committee strongly condemns the continued US and UN support for Haitian dictator Jovenel Moise as he flaunts the Haitian constitution and clings to power. Moise has been ruling by decree for months, and is now pushing to enact illegitimate constitutional reforms that would give him even more power. Having come to power through a US-UN supported fraudulent election, denounced widely in Haiti as an “electoral coup,” the Moise regime is now poised to stage another series of phony elections to maintain its stranglehold over the country. We stand in solidarity with the resistance and resolve of Haitians in and outside of Haiti to get rid of this criminal regime.
You will be able to zoom call by phone or computer.
Long time chair and co-founder of Single Payer Now, Don Bechler, died this past October, 2020. There will be an online memorial on what would have been Don’s 74th birthday we will celebrate his amazing life and share our sadness that he is gone.
Info from friends of Don Bechler
Friday, March 5
6. Friday, 1:00pm – 2:00pm. Shut Down the Police Officers Association
SF Police Officers Association (Outside) 800 Bryant St. (corner of 6th Street) SF
Wear masks; social distancing
RESIST with Mothers on the March, Black and Brown for Justice, Peace and Equality, Family’s who loved ones have been killed by SFPD, and Community
– Demand the San Francisco Police Officers Association be Shut Down!
– The SF Police Officers Association Be Declared a Non Grata Organization
– Demand the Police Officers Bill of Rights be Abolished.
– Jail Killer Cops – we want killer cops to be charged with murder.
– Abolish the Police
Thursday, March 11
7. Thursday 3:00pm – 4:00pm, Rally-Speak Out on Tenth Anniversary of Fukushima NUKE Meltdown
San Francisco Japanese Consulate 275 Battery St. (nr. California St.) SF
Masks & Physical distancing
No More Fukushimas, No Olympic In Japan In the Middle Of Pandemic
March 11, 2021 is the tenth anniversary of the earthquake and meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima. The nightmare for the people and refugees of Fukushima and Japan continues. They are struggling to survive.
Despite promises that the melted nuclear rods would be removed they have not been and the recent earthquake has added greater dangers. Two reactors at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have begun leaking cooling water following last weekend’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake, indicating that the existing damage to TEPCO’s Unit 1 and 3 reactors has worsened
The government is also planning to dump over a million tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean despite the opposition of the Fisherman’s co-operative and the people of Japan and Korea.
At the same time the Japanese government under former Japanese prime minister Abe and now Suga continue their denialism mode. They say that they have overcome the nuke plant meltdowns and still want to have the Olympics in Japan this summer
They also have shown their sexist attacks on women when the former head of the Olympics Yoshiro who was also a former prime minister said women speak too much. He was forced to resign but their reactionary sexism, denialism and racism continues.
Nuclear clean-up workers including workers from overseas and other workers continue to get contaminated with no proper health and safety education and tens of thousands of bags of radioactive waste continue to remain scattered throughout the prefecture with no place to go.
It’s time to remember the families and children who are still suffering from this man-made disaster and let them know that people in the United States and around the world stand with them.
MOTHERS FOR PEACE INVITES YOU TO A WEBINAR FEATURING BIOLOGIST MARY OLSON
On the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, Mothers for Peace is hosting an online event, featuring a presentation by biologist Mary Olson. Learn about her work showing greater harm to the female body from radiation than the male body, the basis of data for regulators. This must change!
The event will begin with a current update on Fukushima by Yuji and Beverly Findlay Kaneko, co-producers of Voices from Japan, a special segment of Libbe HaLevy’s Nuclear Hotseat podcast.
Jacob from San Francisco asks: What is the filibuster? Where did it come from? And how do we get rid of it?
Dear Jacob: Good questions. The filibuster is a form of political obstruction with a sordid past. Essentially, a filibuster is a procedure by which the U.S. Senate minority blocks the Senate majority from voting on a bill and thereby prevents its passage. The Senate filibuster was created accidentally in 1806 when a Senate rule allowing the majority to initiate a vote on a bill was deemed to be redundant and written out of the rules. In the absence of a mechanism for ending debate and initiating a vote, use of the filibuster became possible.
As a result, in 1917 the Senate adopted a cloture rule to bring debates to a quick end. If a two-thirds Senate majority voted to end the filibuster, then the debate was closed. However, it remained exceedingly difficult to end a filibuster even with cloture— super majority support was required before a vote on any bill. Rarely able to invoke cloture, the Senate eventually reduced the cloture threshold from two-thirds votes to three-fifths, which is where it stands today. To this day, the filibuster still permits a minority of senators to keep debate open in the Senate and indefinitely delay a vote; it effectively allows any legislation to be “killed” by a minority of senators who simply refuse to bring the bill to a vote, even though most bills require only a simple majority to pass.
The filibuster has been used with increasing frequency by the Senate minority to prevent passage of anything but non-controversial legislation and has been used to further institutionalized racism.
Southern segregationist Senators infamously used the filibuster to prevent passage of landmark civil rights legislation including hundreds of bills to combat lynching, the 1957 Civil Rights Bill, and the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, which was eventually passed regardless of the filibuster. Historically, the filibuster has been used as a tool to advance a minority agenda and proliferate systemic racism in the United States.
The filibuster continues to aid in the suppression of civil rights progress to this day. In fact, the very make-up of the Senate chamber, two-senators-per-state, favors less populated states which are disproportionately white states; these less populous states have a disparate amount of power in the Senate. This disproportionate representation, combined with the requirement for a 60-vote threshold to bring a bill to vote, has stalled racial justice in the United States.
Moreover, the filibuster is not required by the Constitution, nor is it even contemplated within the Constitution. To the contrary, the filibuster undermines the system of legislature envisioned by the framers by replacing legislative decision-making based upon the will of a simple majority with the requirement to obtain a super majority in the Senate to pass legislation. Only specific acts were meant to be governed by a super majority, i.e., impeachment conviction, overriding presidential veto, ratifying treaties, etc.
In the Federalist Papers, framers James Madison and Alexander Hamilton both expressly point out that to require anything more than a simple majority to pass legislation would be to place undue power and influence with the minority. Madison states, “[i]t would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.” Disproportionate power and influence from the minority, as embodied by the filibuster, was a major problem with the Articles of Confederation.
There are some ways to bypass the filibuster. Provisions of law that set time limits for debate are not subject to the 60-vote requirement to initiate a vote and are therefore unaffected by the filibuster. Such provisions include trade authority, congressional review of presidential acts in cases of national emergency, and when invoking war powers.
Another way around filibuster is a process called budget reconciliation. The annual budget process circumvents the 60-vote requirement with a simple majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The budget resolution is then followed by a Senate reconciliation bill, which brings the budget into line with any funding amounts in annual appropriations bills by simple majority.
The filibuster may be limited or eliminated altogether by a simple majority vote to change the Senate rules. Ironically, the decision to change the Senate rules is itself subject to filibuster. The rules of the Senate do provide for a “nuclear option” which allows any senator to challenge a rule’s constitutionality or simply assert that the rule should not be followed. The presiding Senate officer will typically uphold the Senate rules — a ruling which may be immediately appealed and put to vote without debate requiring only a simple majority. The nuclear option has been used to eliminate the filibuster for presidential appointments.
The Senate filibuster has and continues to stymy lawmakers, preventing meaningful policy change in the United States. It is time for the legislature to be liberated from the will of the minority and eliminate the filibuster.
Christopher B. Dolan is the owner of the Dolan Law Firm, PC. Kimberly E. Levy is a senior associate attorney in our San Francisco office. Email questions and topics for future articles to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We serve clients across the San Francisco Bay Area and California from our offices in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. Our work is no recovery, or also referred to as contingency-based. That means we collect no fee unless we obtain money for your damages and injuries.
The Movement and the “Madman” will tell how in the fall of 1969 two of the largest antiwar demonstrations in American history thwarted President Nixon’s top secret plans for a major escalation of the Vietnam war. Unknown at the time, these demonstrations helped save possibly tens of thousands of lives.
Focusing on the grassroots October 15th “Moratorium” — a one-day national strike against the war by two million Americans — and on the dramatic November 15th “March Against Death”, followed by the enormous “Mobilization” antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., the film reveals how these protests undermined what Nixon called his “Madman” strategy to cripple North Vietnam, including the possible use of nuclear weapons. The film will present this dramatic confrontation through archival footage and original interviews with leading protest organizers, local activists, historians, and former Nixon administration officials.
Coming during the 50th anniversary decade of the Vietnam war, The Movement and the “Madman” will be the first feature documentary to highlight the power and impact of the antiwar movement, with lessons for today.
Executive Producer: Robert Levering Producer: Steve Ladd Director: Steve Talbot
Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.
This book is about how the money system will have to change—and is already changing—to embody this transition. A broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy, and practice, Sacred Economics explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local currencies, resource-based economics, gift economies, and the restoration of the commons. Author Charles Eisenstein also considers the personal dimensions of this transition, speaking to those concerned with “right livelihood” and how to live according to their ideals in a world seemingly ruled by money. Tapping into a rich lineage of conventional and unconventional economic thought, Sacred Economics presents a vision that is original yet commonsense, radical yet gentle, and increasingly relevant as the crises of our civilization deepen.
About the Imprint: EVOLVER EDITIONS promotes a new counterculture that recognizes humanity’s visionary potential and takes tangible, pragmatic steps to realize it. EVOLVER EDITIONS explores the dynamics of personal, collective, and global change from a wide range of perspectives. EVOLVER EDITIONS is an imprint of North Atlantic Books and is produced in collaboration with Evolver, LLC.
On the Clock is Motherboard’s reporting on the organized labor movement, gig work, automation, and the future of work.SEE MORE →
BESSEMER, ALA.—Unionizing Amazon workers in Alabama received a mailer from the company with instructions imploring them to “Vote NO” on the historic union election and to then “mail the … envelope right away to make your vote count!” A USPS mailbox intended for mailing union ballots was recently installed just feet from where Amazon workers exit and enter the warehouse, a move that workers say makes them feel surveilled in the election, which is supposed to be anonymous.
In recent days, Amazon has also sent text messages imploring workers to use that on-site mailbox to cast their ballots, despite the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejecting Amazon’s request for in-person voting in February.
“Voting has begun! The US Postal Service has installed a secure mailbox just outside the BHM1 main entrance, making mailing your ballot easy, safe, and convenient. Vote now! BE DONE BY 3/1!” a text message recently sent to warehouse workers seen by Motherboard reads.
The text message asks workers to vote by March 1, even though workers have until March 29 to vote to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
“Management is telling us to vote at that mailbox,” Jennifer Bates, an Amazon warehouse worker at the Bessemer facility, told Motherboard. “I feel like they’re doing it so they can monitor us and gauge how many people are using the mailbox. I talked to workers and they say this box is making them feel rushed to make a decision.”
“I want to know: if this mailbox isn’t about the union election, then why wasn’t it there before?” Derrick Medlock, another Amazon employee at the facility in Bessemer said.
Employers seeking to defeat union drives typically favor in-person voting because companies must stop holding education meetings once an election begins but unions can keep engaging with workers until voting finishes. Amazon’s mail-in election will last seven weeks.
The glossy mailer, on the other hand, is titled “Look Out for Your Ballot,” which offers step-by-step instructions for voting in the union election and urges workers to vote “no.” “Mark Your Ballot. Protect what you have. Vote No,” one of the instructions reads in bold.
IMAGE: BEN BISHOP
IMAGE: BEN BISHOP
IMAGE: BEN BISHOP
The mailer also lists a set of misleading reasons for voting “no,” including ” “a union cannot guarantee greater job security or better wages or benefits” and “you pay for the union with dues they collect from your paycheck each month.” While unions cannot guarantee specific working conditions, unionized workers in the United States earn an average of 11 percent more than their non-union peers in the same industry. Because Alabama is a right-to-work state, unions cannot legally deduct dues from any worker without their consent.
This week, Motherboard has been reporting from Bessemer and nearby Birmingham, where workers and organizers are trying to become the first Amazon facility in the United States to unionize, which could have a ripple effect across the country. In addition to the mailers, text messages, an anti-union website, and the installation of the USPS mailbox, Amazon has also pushed anti-union ads on Twitch, the video game streaming giant that it owns.ADVERTISEMENT
Amazon has also posted anti-union literature posted in bathroom stalls, passed out t-shirts, and requested the city of Bessemer change the traffic lights outside the warehouse, making it more difficult for union organizers to talk to workers during shift changes.
Heather Knox, an Amazon spokesperson told Motherboard that the mailbox outside the warehouse was installed by the U.S. Postal Service, not by the company.
“The USPS recently installed a mailbox onsite at BHM1 for the convenience of our employees,” Knox told Motherboard. “As we have said all along, every employee should have the opportunity to vote in this important decision.
“This mailbox is enclosed in a tent making it convenient, safe, and private for our employees to vote on their way to and from work if they choose to, or use it for any of their other mailing needs,” she continued. “Only USPS can collect the outgoing mail from this box or put incoming mail into it.”
John Logan, a professor at San Francisco State University who researches the union avoidance industry, told Motherboard that while installing mailboxes at worksites isn’t a traditional union busting strategy, Amazon has taken a number of unprecedented steps to thwart the union drive, including requesting the city shorten traffic lights.
“I would consider these mailboxes to be an anti-union tactic,” Logan said. “Mail-in voting was relatively new and rare in the history of NLRB union elections until COVID-19 hit, and we haven’t seen a huge range of tactics used to discourage mail-in voting, but Amazon is notorious for doing things that we haven’t seen before to bust unions. This is one of them.”
Logan says while it’s illegal to surveil how workers are voting during a union election, “knowing workers who are definite ‘no’ votes and ‘yes’ votes and targeting people who they think are definitely no and encouraging them to vote is what union avoidance consultants do.” Amazon is paying union avoidance consultants $3,200 a day to thwart the unionization effort, according to the Intercept.
In the lead-up to the election, Amazon hired one of the country’s top anti-union legal firms, Morgan Lewis, to argue to the National Labor Review Board (NLRB), the federal agency which monitors union elections, to allow 5,800 workers to vote in-person rather than by mail. Typically, the NLRB favors in-person elections, but 90 percent of union elections during the pandemic have been vote-by-mail to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In early February, the NLRB rejected Amazon’s request for an in-person vote.
Employers seeking to defeat union drives typically try to push for in-person voting to increase their chances of winning. According to a blog post on a top anti-union law firm’s website, mail-in voting can therefore lessen “the impact and momentum of the employer’s voter education campaign.” In the case of the Bessemer union drive, the NLRB forbade Amazon from holding anti-union education meetings after February 8 when voting began.
Do you have a tip to share with us about Amazon’s anti-union tactics? Please get in touch with the author Lauren at email@example.com or privately on Signal 201-897-2109.
Holding in-person elections can also be favorable to employers because workers tend to fear retaliation or surveillance if they’re voting under the watch of their employer.
“The mailbox could be grounds for an unfair labor practice charge,” Logan, the San Francisco State University professor, said, referring to an action the union can take against Amazon if they believe the company has violated the National Labor Relations Act. “But it’s unclear how the labor board would interpret it because there’s no precedent for this.”
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My apologies for getting this out so late. Our film(s) this month will be a series of short of 5 short videos that cover various aspects of the Palestinian situation, which is our subject for the month. The films vary in length from 8 to 12 mins (less than an hour in total). Here’s the writeup and the official flyer is attached: Here’s the Zoom link information: Sensible Cinema Zoom meeting at 6:30pm on Friday, June 18, 2021. The virtual door opens at 6:00pm if you care to drop in early. Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89812236935?pwd=dnpDbWpkeUg3cndudXE2TDhPV1JZUT09 Meeting ID: 898 1223 6935 Passcode: 254041… Continue reading →
ISF State and Local Working Group meeting: Friday, June 18, 7:30–8:30 PM. Register here to help us plan to propose legislation to our state legislators and support progressive initiatives on the state and local level.
The Institute for the Critical Study of Society at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE (NOTE: These are all tentative and may be changed. Please check back the week before, or sign up for our weekly reminders/updates at firstname.lastname@example.org) Sun, Dec 27, 2020: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm CONFIRMED: The Three Concepts of Freedom Synopsis: In this session we will compare and contrast the Liberal, Democratic, and the communist concepts of freedom. We will discuss that the Liberal freedom consists of the legal guarantees against outside intrusions. Democratic freedom emphasizes the right to participate in the… Continue reading →
Phone Bank to Arizona to Kill the Filibuster, with Indivisible East Bay: Sunday, June 20, 1-3 PM. Call Arizona voters of color and patch them through to Senator Sinema to encourage her to reform the filibuster in order to pass the For the People Act (HR1/S1). This will be a recurring virtual phone bank hosted each Sunday between 1 PM – 3 PM PT. Sign up here.
Neighborhood Outreach to Renters in the Fillmore Interested in tenant organizing? Join Neighbors United for our weekly phonebank, Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. We’ll be calling tenants in the Fillmore to let them know about their rights, and how to access rent relief. On June 30th at 6:00 p.m. in Jefferson Square Park, we’ll be hosting a tenant’s rights bootcamp. Want to become more involved on a regular basis? Join our weekly meeting on Sundays at 12:00 p.m.
Tom Ammiano in conversation with Tim Redmond Tuesday, June 22nd, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Virtual event hosted on Zoom; register at this link: https://bit.ly/TomAmmiano06-22-21 Tom Ammiano discusses his recently published autobiography, Kiss My Gay Ass: My Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road Through Activism, Stand-up, and Politics. The book follows Tom from his arrival in San Francisco on a Greyhound bus, through the flopsweat trials of professional comedy and deep into the halls of power at City Hall and the State Capitol. Tom Ammiano’s story could only happen in one place: San Francisco.