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No more kisses for Hershey

This really is disgusting. Hershey is now retaliating, kicked the students out of their housing. The POWER Act would protect workers like these students from employer retaliation when trying to organize for dignity and respect on the job:

Hershey, PA—After six weeks of mounting national pressure on Hershey’s for exploiting J-1 student workers and depriving local workers of living wage jobs, former student workers at the Hershey’s packing plant organized a 1,000-strong march in Hershey for justice and jobs on Friday, Sep. 23.

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The students—who paid $3,000-6,000 each to come to the U.S. for a cultural exchange and instead became captive labors at Hershey’s packing plant—organized and became members of the National Guestworker Alliance. With support from Central PA residents and organized labor, the students held a walk-out and strike from the Hershey’s plant on Aug. 17.

Four federal agencies launched investigations into the exploitation of J-1 student workers at the Hershey’s plant, and nearly 70,000 Americans signed a petition in support of the students’ demands: 1) return the $3,000-6,000 students paid for false promises of a cultural exchange, and 2) turn the 400 jobs they filled in the Hershey’s packing plant into living wage jobs for local workers.

Hershey’s maintains a wall of silence, hoping that when the students returned to their home countries at the end of the summer, the pressure would end. Instead, the students organized hundreds of local workers and labor leaders into a growing fight for living wage jobs—including Friday’s 1,000-strong march.

As the march neared, Hershey’s launched a PR campaign to attempt to discredit the students, and hired Blank Rome Government Relations to lobby Congress on “government affairs issues related to labor practices.”

The Hershey’s story goes to the heart of the current debate over the sources of America’s jobs crisis. Decades of downsizing, outsourcing, and subcontracting by corporations like Hershey’s has robbed local workers of living wage jobs, while locking immigrant workers—and even cultural exchange students on J-1 visas—into situations of captive labor.

Bloomberg’s New York

Watch as the young girls who are standing there are pepper-sprayed in the face for no reason other than speaking out against what’s happening to another protester. Listen to them scream. God bless America!

“In 2008 the New York Police Department, as part of a court settlement, has agreed to formalize several changes it has made in its crowd control procedures at political demonstrations. The department said it would ensure that protesters will not be trapped inside pens surrounded by police barricades, that people will be given “avenues of escape” when police approach on horseback and that the public is informed about access routes when sidewalks or roads are closed.”
— NY Times City Room Blog, April 15, 2008.

Speak low

Tony Bennett and Norah Jones:

Whatever happened to the American left?

Michael Kazin in the New York Times:

The Tea Party is thus just the latest version of a movement that has been evolving for over half a century, longer than any comparable effort on the liberal or radical left. Conservatives have rarely celebrated a landslide win on the scale of Proposition 13, but their argument about the evils of big government has, by and large, carried the day. President Obama’s inability to solve the nation’s economic woes has only reinforced the right’s ideological advantage.

If activists on the left want to alter this reality, they will have to figure out how to redefine the old ideal of economic justice for the age of the Internet and relentless geographic mobility. During the last election, many hoped that the organizing around Barack Obama’s presidential campaign would do just that. Yet, since taking office, Mr. Obama has only rarely made an effort to move the public conversation in that direction.

Instead, the left must realize that when progressives achieved success in the past, whether at organizing unions or fighting for equal rights, they seldom bet their future on politicians. They fashioned their own institutions — unions, women’s groups, community and immigrant centers and a witty, anti-authoritarian press — in which they spoke up for themselves and for the interests of wage-earning Americans.

Today, such institutions are either absent or reeling. With unions embattled and on the decline, working people of all races lack a sturdy vehicle to articulate and fight for the vision of a more egalitarian society. Liberal universities, Web sites and non-governmental organizations cater mostly to a professional middle class and are more skillful at promoting social causes like legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the environment than demanding millions of new jobs that pay a living wage.

A reconnection with ordinary Americans is vital not just to defeating conservatives in 2012 and in elections to come. Without it, the left will remain unable to state clearly and passionately what a better country would look like and what it will take to get there. To paraphrase the labor martyr Joe Hill, the left should stop mourning its recent past and start organizing to change the future.

Taste and Compare

The NY Times, this morning, says the Occupy Wall Street protestors don’t know what they’re doing, or why:

“This,” presumably was the opportunity to air societal grievances as carnival. Occupy Wall Street, a diffuse and leaderless convocation of activists against greed, corporate influence, gross social inequality and other nasty byproducts of wayward capitalism not easily extinguishable by street theater, had hoped to see many thousands join its protest and encampment, which began Sept. 17. According to the group, 2,000 marched on the first day; news outlets estimated that the number was closer to several hundred.
That cause, though, in specific terms, was virtually impossible to decipher. The group was clamoring for nothing in particular to happen right away — not the implementation of the Buffett rule or the increased regulation of the financial industry. Some didn’t think government action was the answer because the rich, they believed, would just find new ways to subvert the system.

if you’re surprised that the write sounds like a sheltered, and quite comfortable, idiot, don’t be: it’s Ginia Bellafante, whose “writing has been criticized for its superficial treatment of gender issues”. Here, she proves she’s just a superficial when it comes to economic justice as well.

It’s interesting to me that someone approaching 50, someone who’s worked her whole life as a journalist, just doesn’t get it. But taste and compare: here in Philly, young people barely half Ginia’s age know EXACTLY what’s going on:

With a degree in economics, Yevgeniy Levich, 23, may understand better than most why so many people his age are out of work.

He blames the lack of jobs on a myriad of reasons: the lack of regulation in banking that led to this economic crisis; a failed theory that lowering taxes leads to investment; a proposal for infrastructure jobs that doesn’t do much for someone who doesn’t work with his hands – that’s all the macro stuff.

Microeconomics is this: Levich, a Central High School graduate with degrees in economics and journalism from New York University, is still living with his parents in Northeast Philadelphia and hoping that he’ll land a job as a nightclub office assistant.

His interview was Friday.

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released figures showing that one in three young people, ages 20 to 29, were unemployed in 2010. In Philadelphia, the situation is worse, with barely more than one in two on a payroll.

“The jobs aren’t there,” Levich said. “Everyone wants experience that we don’t have, because no one is offering us the jobs to get the experience.”

So, who’d like to call up the Times on behalf of Mr. Levich, and suggest that they dump a hack like Bellafante, and hire this promising young man who seems to actually understand how the system has broken down/

Haven’t we met

Kenny Rankin:

The Guilt Project

What Jurassicpork said.

‘A dire fiscal failure’

Scott Walker is a disaster for Wisconsin. Such a shock!

UPDATE: I’ll put the link back up when they fix it.

Record low

Obama’s poll numbers. And it’s all the fault of white liberal bloggers!

Body and soul

Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse:

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