Racial Justice – It’s a Labor Issue!

Tuesday, November 24, 6:30pm
Despite the raging nationwide movement for racial reckoning, too many workers of color still confront bigotry and discrimination on the job. Often our unions fail to defend those on the front lines. How can we turn it around? Amalgamated Transit Union members Cheryl Jones and Adam Arriaga lead a discussion about revitalizing our unions and the OWLS battle to root out racism at King County.
Join the OWLS meeting by going to bit.ly/Register4OWLSMeetingJuan graphic

 

Elections 2020: The Battle at the Ballot Box and Beyond

In the run up to the election the Trump Administration, white supremacists, and ultra-rightists have mounted an unprecedented attack on democratic and civil rights, including the right to protest. To stop the assault, the labor movement has called for mass action, including a general strike. (see MLK Labor resolution below)

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) is part of the mobilizing effort. Please join other labor and community activists at the protests! Bring picket signs and wear your union colors. Look for the big yellow OWLS banner at the gatherings below.

Actions to Stop Trump from Stealing the Election

Sunday, November 1 – 3pm – Action Assembly
Cal Anderson Park, Pine Street and 11th Ave. Co-sponsored by several organizations including OWLS

Wednesday, November 4 – 5pm – March and Rally 
Multiple sponsors. Gather at Westlake Park, 4th Avenue and Pine St.

Also mark your calendar for upcoming meetings:

OWLS Solidarity Check In
Elections 2020-The Battle at the Ballot Box & Beyond
Friday, November 13 – 6:30pm
Eyewitness accounts from the election protest. Join the discussion, where to next for the labor and social justice movements. This ain’t over!
Register for the meeting at http://bit.ly/Register4OWLSCheck-In

See the resolution passed by MLK Labor calling labor and community to action to defend democratic rights http://mlklabor.org/resolutions/resolution-on-protecting-democracy/

Labor Unites to Defend Democratic Rights

OWLS Meeting
Tuesday, Oct. 27 – 6:30pmWith Election Day less than two weeks away, unionists are mobilizing to protect the basic freedoms of all workers, including the right to vote and protest without intimidation. At this meeting OWLS reports on efforts to build a United Front with Left and labor forces across the U.S. to fight Trump Administration attacks on democratic rights.OWLS also celebrates the Martin Luther King County Labor Council passage of a resolution – with 97% approval – to “take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary up to and including a general strike” to stop Trump and his ultra-right allies from stealing the election or trampling civil rights and liberties. OWLS members wrote resolutions, made calls, and otherwise urged action and leadership from county and state labor councils. Join OWLS in discussing developments and next steps as the fight to defend democracy and the right to organize heats up! The full text of the resolution is below.
Meeting via Zoom:
To participate by computer or smartphone register                                             at: bit.ly/Register4OWLSMeeting
To participate by phone dial (253) 215-8782
enter meeting ID 851 2769 9070

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Below is the resolution passed by Martin Luther King Jr Labor on Wednesday, 10-21-2020. Thanks to all the union members and council delegates who worked to get this passed!

LABOR MUST DEFEND DEMOCRACY RESOLUTION
Whereas, MLK Labor and our affiliates are committed to the defense of democratic rights and the institutions of democracy;
Whereas, President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have refused to state publicly that they will respect the outcomes of the election and have repeatedly promoted conspiracy theories meant to undermine democracy;
Whereas, President Trump has refused, on multiple occasions, to denounce the activities of white supremacist and fascist militias and organizations that have stated desires to overthrow American democracy and instead has conveyed support for their actions;
Whereas, the Trump administration and Republican allies have a concerted campaign to obstruct, sabotage, and reject a fair and complete count of presidential ballots by creating barriers to voting targeted at people of color, immigrants, women and young people. These tactics include intimidation of BIPOC voters at polling places and requirements to have two people sign a ballot that hurt women voters, as well as dismantling key infrastructure such as the U.S. Postal Service;
Whereas, the Constitution requires voting results and Electoral College tallies to be completed and submitted to Congress by the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, and the new 2021 Congress to validate the results, and voters should be determining the results, not courts;
Whereas, Trump has denied science, resulting in more than 200,000 Americans dying from COVID and millions more facing deep economic pain due to ongoing impact from the virus, and can do irreparable harm during a lame duck session;
Whereas, the extreme risk currently posed to the historic institutions of democracy in our nation may require more widespread and vigorous resistance than at any time in recent history;
Whereas, the Labor Movement and trade unions have played a proud and vital role in protecting democracy and opposing authoritarianism in many nations throughout the world;
Whereas, united working people refusing to work across the nation have a greater power than any political machinations of aspiring despots. The most powerful tool of the Labor Movement in our history has been the power of the General Strike;
Therefore be it resolved that MLK Labor will work with allies in the anti-racist, environmental justice, feminist, and poor peoples movements as well as the LGBTQ+, religious minorities, and immigrant communities to make contingency plans, in response to undemocratic actions by President Trump and his allies;
Be it further resolved that MLK Labor will take actions to prepare for widespread non-violent action including protests and work-stoppages by coordinating peacekeeper and other necessary trainings;
Be it further resolved that MLK Labor will encourage people to sign the Coup Preparation pledge;
Be it further resolved that MLK Labor will call on City and County governments to pledge to protect the protesters defending democracy and commit to not using police action or curfews to curtail these activities and to use all available resources to stand up against against any effort by the Trump administration to steal the election;
Be it further resolved that MLK Labor will call upon the Washington State Labor Council and the AFL-CIO to coordinate development of shared messaging by organized labor and community allies designed to get out the vote and counter misinformation to be implemented immediately and to support affiliate and
community allies efforts to fulfill this resolution;
Be it finally resolved that MLK Labor, in collaboration with other labor and progressive forces, will take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary up to and including a general strike to protect our democracy, the Constitution, the law and our nation’s democratic traditions.

Racism is a Public Health Crisis at King County!

Juan graphicPICKET & SPEAK-OUT!

EXECUTIVE CONSTANTINE DO YOUR JOB! RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AT KING COUNTY!

Since July, Dow Constantine has refused to acknowledge or meet to discuss demands that address the epidemic of racism at King County’s worksites. Since he has refused to meet, OWLS is bringing the meeting to him.

Tuesday, October 6, 4pm
Offices of King County Executive Dow Constantine
Chinook Building, 5th Ave & Jefferson St., Seattle

We Demand:

  • Immediate action to stop racist threats and harassment at King County worksites
  • Restitution for all who have filed complaints on racism without satisfactory resolution; establish an independent office of equal rights for complaints
  • Affirmative Action in hiring, training, promotion. End nepotism!
  • Healthy worksites and PPE for frontline workers
  • Stop lay-offs and service cuts by taxing King County’s super wealth
  • Stop union-busting, honor workers’ rights

Sponsor: Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity

To endorse or for info: email OrganizedWorkersls@gmail.com Or call 206-819-2279.

OWLS Meeting on Friday, October 9 will discuss this campaign and next steps. To attend, register at bit.ly/Register4OWLSCheck-In.

 

Rooting Out Racism in King County

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IMG_0902September OWLS Meetings will highlight ongoing work to confront racism, bigotry, and austerity cuts in King County.

Friday, Sept. 11 – 6:30pm — owls solidarity check-in
Protesting Racism & Austerity On the Job!
A shop floor activist tells how he organized a mini picket at work to protest racism and layoffs – and scored a victory for free speech. Other reports include plans for meeting with the County Exec to wipe out bigotry on the job, and news of recent strikes!
To participate by computer or smartphone register at: bit.ly/Register4OWLSCheck-In. By phone call 253-215-8782; Meeting ID: 821 2302 5613

Tuesday, Sept. 22 – 6:30pm — owls monthly meeting
Where’s the Social Justice and Equity at King County?
OWLS reports on plans to meet with the County Executive as part of an ongoing campaign to demand accountability from management in living up to its promise of a workplace free from discrimination, bigotry, and racial harassment. Join the discussion and help prepare for plans to keep the heat on elected officials until justice is won.
To participate by computer or smartphone register at: bit.ly/Register4OWLSMeeting. By phone call 253-215-8782; Meeting ID: 851 2769 9070

All OWLS Meetings are being held via zoom in compliance with guidelines for the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

Labor’s continuing struggle for Safety and Racial Justice on the Job

OWLS Membership Meeting
Tuesday, August 25, 6:30pm (note earlier meeting time)

Hear about the over 600 strikes that have taken place across the US since the COVID pandemic. Plus join discussion on plans for the next step in the ongoing campaign to root out racism and bigotry on the job at King County.
To participate by computer or smartphone register at: bit.ly/Register4OWLSMeeting. You will receive an almost immediate email in reply with the meeting link.
By phone call 253-215-8782.
The Meeting ID : 851 2769 9070

Solidarity Check In -Friday, August 14, 6:30pm

Solidarity Check In –  Friday August 14 –  7pm
The Zoom Room opens 6:30pm social “hour”
Discuss the ongoing campaign to root out racism and bigotry on the job at King County and beyond! Help plan actions to follow up the July 20 picket at the offices of County Executive Dow Constantine. Protest demands for equity have not been answered.
Plus, “news from the shop floor labor” where anyone can share briefs of their organizing campaigns and struggles from the job.

By computer or smartphone register here: bit.ly/OWLS-August-Zoom. You will receive an almost immediate email in reply with the meeting link.
By phone call 253-215-8782.
Meeting ID is 870 8015 5053.

“Strike for Black Lives” Action Wins Victory for Seattle Transit Workers

By Steve Beck and Linda Averill

J20 whole foodsRallying in sync with the July 20 “Strike for Blacks Lives,” over 250 union and community activists picketed King County Executive Dow Constantine’s offices in the heart of downtown Seattle. They called for immediate action in response to racist incidents at Metro transit bases and other county worksites, and the rollback of layoffs and wage freezes that hit hardest a workforce that is overwhelmingly people of color, immigrants, and women.

The action, called by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), chalked up a victory the very next day. The County Council voted 8-1 to fund promised raises recently negotiated by Amalgamated Transit Union 587. Constantine had announced plans to renege on the agreement and asked the Council to vote down the raises.

OWLS mobilized broad support on this national day of action to ramp up the heat and demand that government officials “Root Out Racism at King County and Beyond!” Numerous local unions endorsed. Black Lives Matter activists joined unionists and youth organizations in powerful, multiracial labor and community solidarity. Washington Youth for Climate Justice, which had marched earlier in the day, joined the OWLS picket, swelling the rally into the street. Loud chants of “Black workers lives matter,” and “Union-busting, that’s disgusting,” sprang upwards to Constantine’s office.

Public workers unite with the communities they serve

The July 20 picket was part of an escalating campaign by OWLS to force Constantine, who oversees the transit authority, to address ongoing racist incidents, and to expose his anti-union plans to  freeze wages, cut bus service, and lay off more than 400 part-time bus drivers, a majority of them people of color. Such budget cuts diminish social services, the very lifeline for poor people.

Previous OWLS actions included an April news conference where transit workers launched a petition drive demanding Covid-19 protections on the job, followed by a May “Salute to Frontline Workers: Emergency Motorcade for Workers’ Rights.” In June, OWLS protested at a Metro public transit base to condemn a KKK-style death threat there, part of a pattern of racist harassment and bigotry aimed especially at Black workers.

The July 20 rally was endorsed by Amalgamated Transit Union 587, representing Metro employees.  Members spoke out against the King County’s layoff plan, its refusal to finalize their contract, toothless “diversity” committees dominated by management, and its inadequate personal protection steps against the COVID-19 pandemic, which had claimed the lives of two Metro drivers.

Concrete demands for change

Cheryl Jones, a Metro bus driver and one of the July 20 organizers, addressed the call to Stop racist threats and harassment at County worksites.”  She pressed Constantine, “Dow, your role in this toxic culture needs to be examined. Everyone responsible needs to be held accountable, including you! The healing cannot begin until this happens.” Gil Veyna, a member of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3197, brought greetings from his union president Beverly Anderson, who sent an endorsement from their Local to “wholeheartedly back the demands” of the rally.

Other labor endorsers included Communication Workers 7800 and President Loretta Gutierrez of Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 304, Paula Lukaszek and Salvador Castillo, President and Vice President of WFSE 1488, and Kevin Allen of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

Eveline Graff-Mueller, a part-time bus driver at risk of losing her job, spoke to the call to “Stop budget cuts, lay-offs and austerity at city, county, and state levels.” She warned that layoffs at the public transit agency will be “impacting a lot of single women and minority’s worst.”

Workers from Whole Foods carried a banner to support racial justice. They took the mic to tell of harassment and retaliation by management of the Amazon-owned grocery giant for speaking up and wearing face masks in support of Black Lives Matter. Employer retaliation, including firings, is common across workplaces and motivated OWLS’ demand of “Restitution for all who have filed complaints on racism without satisfactory resolution.”

Other demands included: “Affirmative action in hiring, training, promotion, and an end to nepotism” and “Healthy worksites and protective equipment for frontline workers.” Several speakers addressed the call to “Stop union-busting and honor workers’ rights.”

Anna Hackman, member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, who works at Seattle Central College, opposed “attacks on our lives and livelihoods.”  Christina Lopez, representing the Comrades of Color Caucus of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, lambasted the Democrat-controlled city and county administrations, saying “Budget cuts? Layoff? That’s your solution?”  Lopez, a member of Teamsters 763 and a city worker, met with cheers from the crowd when she said the “solutions go beyond the county – these are systemic problems of capitalism.”

Several people spoke at the open mic, addressing the need for urgent action, and keeping the movement going. Trae Holiday of King County Equity Now emphasized the need for solidarity.  “That’s what the ‘New Normal’ is all about, you guys!”

The upbeat rally ended with photo shot of all the picketers gathered under the day’s banners. Their message to Constantine: “Root out Racism at King County and Beyond!”

 

Steve Beck is a retired union representative for American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 375 and Linda Averill is a King County/Metro transit worker. Both are members of Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity. They can be reached at OrganizedWorkersLS@gmail.com or 206-819-2279.

 

Tackling Racism and Austerity in King County!

At the Tuesday, July 28 meeting OWLS discusses its ongoing campaign to root out racism in King County and beyond! This meeting includes an evaluation of the July 20 picket in front of KC Executive Dow Constantine’s office — including the immediate victory of a vote by the County Council to approve needed wage raises for public transit workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587.

Also featured are Northwest labor battles where anyone can share their struggles from the job. The meeting will be held on zoom and starts at 7pm. Drop in early at 6:30pm if you want to catch up with folks before the start.

To register for the meeting click this link: bit.ly/OWLS-July-Zoom. To phone in call 253-215-8782. Meeting password is 879 7455 2620.

J20 protest flyer

Strike for Black Lives National Day of Action: Rally to Root Out Racism at King County

On Monday, July 20, as part of the national day of action, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) is sponsoring a Picket and Rally to Root Out Racism at King County & Beyond.  Transit workers, and supporters from other unions and the community will gather at The Offices of King County Executive Dow Constantine, located at The Chinook Building, 5th Ave & Jefferson St, Seattle from 4pm-6pm. 

 This protest is part of an ongoing effort to bring attention to the culture of racism and discrimination that is so deeply entrenched in King County workplaces. Organizers are also calling for an end to budget cuts, layoffs and austerity measures that disproportionally impact Black and other workers of color.

Last month at Metro’s South Base Complex, a Black figurine was placed on a flagpole, near what resembled a noose.  On June 25th OWLS held a protest in response to this incident, the latest in a pattern of racial harassment and discrimination spanning many years. King County Metro has not responded to the demands presented at that rally nor taken any concrete actions.  Empty promises to “do better” and talk of “renewed commitment” ensure that the toxic climate currently endured by workers of color will remain unchanged.

Speakers from Metro’s Vehicle Maintenance, Operations and Transit Facilities divisions will discuss the need for accountability and immediate action from Executive Dow Constantine to combat the racism that exists within King County workplaces. Part-time drivers will address the layoff notices that were issued by Metro last week, and representatives from other public sector unions will speak about the double impact of racism and austerity measures in their worksites. A growing list of endorsers includes Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587.

Organizers demand the following:

  • Immediate action to stop racist threats and harassment at King County worksites
  • Restitution for all who have filed complaints on racism without satisfactory resolution
  • Affirmative action in hiring, training, promotion. End nepotism!
  • Healthy worksites and PPE for frontline workers
  • Stop budget cuts, lay-offs and austerity at city, county and state levels
  • Stop union-busting! Honor workers’ rights

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