Tuesday, December 30, 2008

US Military Planning for Civil Unrest

A newly released paper by the US Army War College warns that US troops may be needed to fight its own citizens who protest against economic conditions. The paper, written by Lt. Colonel Nathan Freir, is titled "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development."1

If employed, this would not be the first time US forces faced combat against its own civilians. Although National Guard troops and police have frequently been called up to fight the public, regular army troops have also been used. The Bonus Army of 1932, for example, was a protest of 15,000 to 20,000 veterans and their families lasting several months, until US troops were brought in to apply the threat of deadly force against these people at the nation's capitol.2,3

1. http://www.truthout.org/123008B
2. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm203.html
3. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/snprelief4.htm

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The End of Retirement

Frontline (December 9, 2008) presented a stirring account of how corporations have shifted the retirement financing burden to workers over the last four decades. After 1974, many companies began shifting from traditional company pensions to 401K's. According to Frontline, this cost shifting has amounted to a 40% increase in retirement burden to workers. Today, many older workers are unable to retire due to this shifting of responsibility away from corporations.1

This account details only one part of a systemic and decades long anti-worker movement, and only one policy in a set of actions, laws and regulations to degrade retirement, stagnate wages, increase medical and educational costs, impoverish the working poor, and indoctrinate and dumb down the citizenry. See my "War on the Working-Class Timeline" in the right column.

On December 11, the Senate passed the "Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008." A key part of the bill allows corporations to stop funding workers pensions. The anti-worker U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers pushed for its approval. The Senate measure was passed with a voice vote. Voice votes are anti-democratic strategies used in the Senate to deny responsibility.2

1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/retirement/
2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8158190

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Laid Off Workers Occupy Chicago Factory

Two hundred and fifty United Electrical Union workers have occupied a Chicago vinyl window factory since Friday. Today hundreds of supporters protested outside the plant in solidarity. The actions took place after the manufacturer failed to give its employees the 60 days' notice required by law before closing down.1,2

Workers are only asking for vacation and severance pay due them. According to the CEO of Republic Windows and Doors, its creditor Bank of America refused to allow Republic from paying its employees. It is notable that B of A recently received a $25 Billion bailout from the US Treasury (aka the People).

From AP's Rupa Shenoy:2

"Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame," said Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743. "If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country."

Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, "You got bailed out, we got sold out."

Larry Spivack, regional director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, said the peaceful action will add to Chicago's rich history in the labor movement, which includes the deadly 1886 Haymarket affair, when Chicago laborers and anarchists gathering in a square on the city's West Side drew national attention when an unidentified person threw a bomb at police.

"The history of workers is built on issues like this here today," Spivack said.

1. http://twincities.indymedia.org/2008/dec/chicago-factory-occupied
2. http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/84884/index.php
3. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ildwrFjwHYjvJPX2edZgBnNb8EEQD94TID980