tagged w/ Direct Action
On Thursday, August 4th at Holiday Inn Midtown (6000 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin TX) a dozen construction workers will lead a protest to reclaim over $10,000 in wages from a recent remodel at the hotel.
"It's just not right that we worked hard and didn't get paid" said Quirino Juarez, a construction worker who performed framing and drywall work at the Holiday Inn Midtown. Juarez along with 11 other workers worked under Mely's Construction, a San Antonio-based sub-contractor, in January and February of 2011. Over thirty workers are owed wages for work on the hotel, although only 12 have come forward so far.
WDP has attempted to negotiate a fair settlement with the general contractor and Holiday Inn management. However, all parties have avoided responsibility, promising to pay numerous times but never following through. "The job is done, the rooms look really great. They raised their rates and are benefitting from the remodel but we've received nothing", said Heladio Liborio who is owed two weeks of wages for drywall work at the Holiday Inn project. "It's been hard to pay my rent, bills and take care of my family."
According to Bloomberg News, InterContinental Hotel Group, owner of the Holiday Inn franchise, saw a 38% increase in profits in 2010 due mostly to remodels like that done by these workers1. The worldwide makeover has given the company a fresh new image and a higher level of revenue. Meanwhile the workers who helped remodel Holiday Inn Midtown in Austin have yet to receive payment for their work.
"Holiday Inn has an opportunity to be a leader in corporate responsibility by ensuring that those that work so hard to make it one of the nations most profitable hotel chains are compensated for their work" stated Patricia Zavala, Workplace Justice Coordinator at WDP.
A ZGraphix Video Production.
Video produced for Austin Indymedia by Jeff Zavala
Photography by Jason Cato
Learn more about Workers Defense Project/Proyecto Defensa Laboral: http://workersdefense.orgOn Thursday, August 4th at Holiday Inn Midtown (6000 Middle Fiskville Rd, Austin TX) a... more
From my new Caffrey For Congress web site's blog.
http://www.caffreyforcongress.org/caffrey-pledges-civil-disobedience-in-congress-for-pot-legalization/From my new Caffrey For Congress web site's blog.... more
Panel discussion on direct action and the labor movement
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Congress comes back into session next week, but environmentalists and climate change activists have given up on the legislature. Instead, activists are planning to spur popular concern about these issues, until calls for change are so loud that Congress must listen.
Today, climate change reformer Bill McKibben will ask President Obama to reinstall a solar panel that first graced the White House roof during the Carter presidency. In the months to come, advocates hope to lead more radical direct actions that force more Americans to confront the issues at hand—and hopefully pressure change from the bottom up.
For the past two years, Congress has flirted with action on climate change, only to shy away time and time again. Environmental groups have spent record sums on courting lawmakers to no avail. McKibben and other environmental advocates are now convinced that they must bypass elected representatives and instead work to convince constituents that the country must do something to address global warming.
McKibben, the environmental author who now leads an international climate campaign called 350.0rg, along with Phil Radford and Becky Tarbotton, both heads of environmental groups, wrote to potential allies against the energy industry in Yes! Magazine.
“We’re not going to beat them by asking nicely,” the three wrote. “We’re going to have to build a movement, a movement much bigger than anything we’ve built before, a movement that can push back against the financial power of Big Oil and Big Coal. That movement is our only real hope, and we need your help to plot its future.”
These three leaders see a greater role for direct action in pushing America to scale down its energy use, move towards renewable energy, and abandon its dirty energy habits. As civil rights and suffrage advocates suggest, to move the populace, ”to effectively communicate both to the general public and to our leaders the urgency of the crisis,” climate activists must “put our bodies on the line.”
Those for who have suggestions on how to move forward can contact these leaders at email@example.com. They hope to draw on submitted ideas for actions in the spring.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds
Those less inclined to take to the streets still have options for supporting clean energy. The Nation’s Peter Rothberg suggests supporting the idea of Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVB), as conceived by the group Green America. This idea requires Congress to pass legislation, but “it seems like a no-brainer,” Rothberg writes.
“According to Green America, CEVBs would benefit the economy, the environment, and investors, by uniting individuals, communities, and companies to help finance the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency upgrades,” he says. Other benefits: it’s a safe and potentially flexible investment, and the bonds could help create 1.7 million jobs.
Easy to ignore climate change
At this point, the push for direct action almost seems like a more sensible investment of political energy, at least. Climate change has dropped in importance for most Americans, so it’s easy for Congress to ignore the problem. As Kevin Drum explains for Mother Jones, “The high-water mark for public opinion on climate change was in 2005 or so, and we’ve been losing ground ever since. Until we get it back, Congress is going to continue to do nothing.”
It appears that, without broad popular pressure for some sort of action, Congress feels comfortable leaving aside even policy proposals that the majority of Americans support. One of the sticking points of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) energy bill has been a renewable energy standard (RES), a requirement that the country will increase the percentage of its power generated from clean energy sources within a certain time frame.
The idea is popular, as David Roberts writes at Grist, citing a Pew/National Journal poll showing that 78 percent of all respondents and 70% of Republicans favored an RES.
“Not many policies get this kind of bipartisan support these days,” Roberts writes. “People are fond of saying energy should be a bipartisan issue and surely reasonable people can agree, etc. Well, here it is, happening.”
What’s more, an RES would go a long way towards spurring private sector investment in clean energy. Lew Hay, the CEO of NextEra, a major clean energy company, has said that an RES would spur his company to invest billions of additional dollars in wind and solar development.
East vs. Midwest
Passing an RES would also mean pushing the renewable energy industry to hash out a viable infrastructure for a clean energy future.
“As the nation looks to move to a renewable energy standard, a lot of that really comes down to how to meet the energy needs of the East coast,” Jamie Karnik, the communications manager at a wind advocacy group, told The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia. “Certainly people who are building wind in the Midwest, have their eye on the eastern market.”
The problem is, Restuccia reports, that entrepreneurs on the East Coast want a chance to develop off-shore wind farms. Ultimately, the country will need new electric lines to transport energy created from clean sources, but right now, competition among clean energy manufacturers could delay the construction of those lines.
Maybe climate change activists can come up with some ideas to push the clean energy industry along faster, too.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger Congress comes back into session next... more
Four protesters brought downtown Phoenix to a standstill on July 29th after scaling a construction crane to unfurl a large banning showing their displeasure with Arizona's tough immigration law.Four protesters brought downtown Phoenix to a standstill on July 29th after scaling a... more
Huge anthropological street photography tome on modern, urban living and human weirdness by the London based photohumourist, Paul Treacy at;
http://www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/1473696Huge anthropological street photography tome on modern, urban living and human... more
From the NY Times Magazine (June 21, 2010)
In the international waters south of Malta, the Greenpeace vessels Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise deployed eight inflatable Zodiacs and skiffs into the azure surface of the Mediterranean. Protesters aboard donned helmets and took up DayGlo flags and plywood shields. With the organization’s observation helicopter hovering above, the pilots of the tiny boats hit their throttles, hurtling the fleet forward to stop what they viewed as an egregious environmental crime. It was a high-octane updating of a familiar tableau, one that anyone who has followed Greenpeace’s Save the Whales adventures of the last 35 years would have recognized. But in the waters off Malta there was not a whale to be seen.
What was in the water that day was a congregation of Atlantic bluefin tuna, a fish that when prepared as sushi is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. It’s also a fish that regularly journeys between America and Europe and whose two populations, or “stocks,” have both been catastrophically overexploited. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of only two known Atlantic bluefin spawning grounds, has only intensified the crisis. By some estimates, there may be only 9,000 of the most ecologically vital megabreeders left in the fish’s North American stock, enough for the entire population of New York to have a final bite (or two) of high-grade otoro sushi. The Mediterranean stock of bluefin, historically a larger population than the North American one, has declined drastically as well. Indeed, most Mediterranean bluefin fishing consists of netting or “seining” young wild fish for “outgrowing” on tuna “ranches.” Which was why the Greenpeace craft had just deployed off Malta: a French fishing boat was about to legally catch an entire school of tuna, many of them undoubtedly juveniles.
Oliver Knowles, a 34-year-old Briton who was coordinating the intervention, had told me a few days earlier via telephone what the strategy was going to be. “These fishing operations consist of a huge purse-seining vessel and a small skiff that’s quite fast,” Knowles said. A “purse seine” is a type of net used by industrial fishing fleets, called this because of the way it draws closed around a school of fish in the manner of an old-fashioned purse cinching up around a pile of coins. “The skiff takes one end of the net around the tuna and sort of closes the circle on them,” Knowles explained. “That’s the key intervention point. That’s where we have the strong moral mandate.”
But as the Zodiacs approached the French tuna-fishing boat Jean-Marie Christian VI, confusion engulfed the scene. As anticipated, the French seiner launched its skiffs and started to draw a net closed around the tuna school. Upon seeing the Greenpeace Zodiacs zooming in, the captain of the Jean-Marie Christian VI issued a call. “Mayday!” he shouted over the radio. “Pirate attack!” Other tuna boats responded to the alert and arrived to help. The Greenpeace activists identified themselves over the VHF, announcing they were staging a “peaceful action.”
Aboard one Zodiac, Frank Hewetson, a 20-year Greenpeace veteran who in his salad days as a protester scaled the first BP deepwater oil rigs off Scotland, tried to direct his pilot toward the net so that he could throw a daisy chain of sandbags over its floating edge and allow the bluefin to escape. But before Hewetson could deploy his gear, a French fishing skiff rammed his Zodiac. A moment later Hewetson was dragged by the leg toward the bow. “At first I thought I’d been lassoed,” Hewetson later told me from his hospital bed in London. “But then I looked down. ” A fisherman trying to puncture the Zodiac had swung a three-pronged grappling hook attached to a rope into the boat and snagged Hewetson clean through his leg between the bone and the calf muscle. (Using the old language of whale protests, Greenpeace would later report to Agence France-Presse that Hewetson had been “harpooned.”)
“Ma jambe! Ma jambe!” Hewetson cried out in French, trying to signal to the fisherman to slack off on the rope. The fisherman, according to Hewetson, first loosened it and then reconsidered and pulled it tight again. Eventually Hewetson was able to get enough give in the rope to yank the hook free. Elsewhere, fishermen armed with gaffs and sticks sank another Zodiac and, according to Greenpeace’s Knowles, fired a flare at the observation helicopter. At a certain point, the protesters made the decision to break off the engagement. “We have currently pulled back from the seining fleet,” Knowles e-mailed me shortly afterward, “to regroup and develop next steps.” Bertrand Wendling, the executive director of the tuna-fishing cooperative of which the Jean-Marie Christian VI was a part, called the Greenpeace protest “without doubt an act of provocation” in which “valuable work tools” were damaged.
(This story is much, much longer and continues at the link!)From the NY Times Magazine (June 21, 2010)... more
Austin Activists Protest Material Support of Genocide in Palestine: Ahava cosmetics produced In illegal Israeli settlements.
More than 30 people carried picket signs in front of the Gateway Shopping Center in Austin on Saturday, April 24, urging shoppers to boycott ULTA Beauty for refusing to take Ahava Dead Sea cosmetics off their shelves.
The Austin protests, which began the previous week at the Sunset Valley ULTA store, are part of an international campaign to call attention to resources taken from illegal Israeli settlements. The UN has declared the Israeli settlements in Palestine to be a violation of international law and Ahava violates the fourth Geneva Convention by exploiting Palestine’s natural resources.
Bernice Hecker, a member of the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, said:
"We’ve joined this international campaign to call attention to the illegal Israeli settlements and the theft of Palestinian resources. By telling shoppers to boycott ULTA, we are calling attention both to the occupation and to the fact that Ahava is marked as “made in Israel” when it is really made in occupied Palestine."
The boycott efforts have been organized by the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, CodePink, and the UT Palestinian Solidarity Committee. Members of the groups have approached the managers of four ULTA stores and asked them to remove Ahava products but they refused.
On April 17 the groups held an in-store action at Sunset Valley ULTA followed by a picket on the sidewalk of the shopping center. On April 24 there was a brief in-store action at the Gateway Ulta with a picket line on the sidewalk. These actions were in response to ULTA's refusal to remove these illegal products from their stores.
More on the boycott campaign can be found at http://www.StolenBeauty.org
This is a http://ZGraphix.org production.Austin Activists Protest Material Support of Genocide in Palestine: Ahava cosmetics... more
On Saturday, thousands of people converged at the White House for the March 20th March on Washington—the largest anti-war demonstration since the announcement of the escalation of the Afghanistan war.
Following the rally, a militant march led by veterans, active-duty service members and military families made its way through the streets of D.C. carrying coffins draped in Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani, Somali, Yemeni, Haitian and U.S. flags, among those of other countries, as a symbol of the human cost of war and occupation. Coffins were dropped off along the way at Halliburton, the Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and other institutions connected to the war profiteering, propaganda, and human suffering. The final coffin drop-off was at the White House—the decision-making center of U.S. imperialism.The A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition Organized this event; Visit the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition Website for More Information: http://AnswerCoalition.orgOn Saturday, thousands of people converged at the White House for the March 20th March... more
18 January 2010: Black-clad anti-militarist protestors marched yet again on the EDO/MBM weapon component factory in Brighton. The police presence was heavy and clashes soon erupted around the factory and on the streets of the seaside town.18 January 2010: Black-clad anti-militarist protestors marched yet again on the... more
Workers Defense Project and community supporters gathered at the Central Texas Division of Centex Homes in North Austin to demand payment for unpaid wages. A group of four workers report they are owed $2,700 for carpentry work they performed on three homes.
In May of 2009, Marcos Cuevas, Franklin Barahona, Salvador Gamiño, and Santos Arriaza worked for a subcontractor of Centex to perform carpentry work on Centex homes. The subcontractor never paid the four workers nearly $3,000 in wages.
Workers Defense Project has tried to negotiate directly with Centex and their subcontractors for payment, but the homebuilder has refused to pay. Dallas-based Centex merged with Pulte Homes in August 2009 to create the largest homebuilder in the country. Their combined stock is valued at $3.1 billion. Pulte has taken $450 million dollars from taxpayer-funded bailouts.
Workers, advocates and community supporters sent a delegation to the Centex corporate office demanding to pay these workers their hard-earned wages. Homebuilders need to take responsibility for labor practices on their work sites, Stated Selena Fernandez of Workers Defense Project.
The Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) held a community forum bringing together homeowners of Pulte and Centex and the workers who built the homes to discuss how these large homebuilders arent holding up their end of the bargain.
Take Action! Call Centex/Pulte and ask them to make sure these workers are paid for their hard work! (512) 532-3300
Visit: http://www.workersdefense.orgWorkers Defense Project and community supporters gathered at the Central Texas... more
Resist 2010: 8 Reasons to Oppose the 2010 Winter Olympics, is a short, fast-paced documentary focusing on the negative impacts of the 2010 Games to be held in Vancouver, Canada, and the ongoing resistance by Indigenous & other social movements.Resist 2010: 8 Reasons to Oppose the 2010 Winter Olympics, is a short, fast-paced... more
Dear the Honorable Joesph Lieberman
You have very clearly expressed your concren for the cost that have to the government, but as things currently stand, the cost to the people is unbearable.Medical bills are now the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country, in time when unemployment and underemployment are already sky high, and people are in daily struggle to keep their jobs and homes, we already need to worry going bankrupt, we should not have to worry our health and the health of our families, about having to wonder about the cost of keeping a loved one alive.
I don't care about thecost. I will pay any day to save the life of a fellow American, rather as i currently do to send people off to die. We need to take this step as a nation knowing that we have taken a step towards acknowledging that health care is a human right. I have heard complaints from my friends and family around the state, they will be very disapointed by your actions to block this,i will not vote for you in 2012, and will instruct all my friends and family to vote against you as well, We are Indepedants and will vote for any candidate who will gives what we want.We did not vote for Lamont in 2006, we voted
for you. You have already lost the democrats, and you are taking great strides to use your Independent base as well.
Respectfully, Keith A.Sutherland
This is the letter that i sent Joesph Lieberman.... i will undoubtedly receive an automated email back...but you increase the chances of it even being read at all comment with the subject as "other"
You not need be as brief or as polite as i was...
Listen to Micheal Moore write your politicians..and call them every day (202)224
http://lieberman.senate.gov/contact/Dear the Honorable Joesph Lieberman You have very clearly expressed your... more
We limit the combined total dollar amount of item-labeled produce that any single grower can sell under our two item labels to less than $1 Million US dollars annually. This is our small effort to even the playing field between larger and smaller farms. Research shows that larger farms, particularly those with annual revenues in excess of $1 Million per year have a significant competitive advantage as compared to small family farms. Top 10 Produce LLC will invite socially conscious consumers to play a role by alerting the consumer that our brand provides a strategic advantage in favor of smaller farms, and by reminding buyers that we only license independent growers. 100% of our items have a transparency enabling barcode.
This item level barcode will be scanned by mobile phones to tell the consumer about the farmer, whether the produce is locally grown (including a map showing the location of the farm as compared to their current location based on their cell phone's GPS ), and anything else the consumer is interested to know about that produce item. Consumer reviews of fresh produce will be available to shoppers and chefs alike.
Suggestions are encouraged and welcome, so please share thoughts, concerns, criticisms and questions. We are listening carefully.We limit the combined total dollar amount of item-labeled produce that any single... more
Concerned to avert global disaster, the pressure group Climate Campers meet in the park to discuss radical solutions which include holding your breath to offset your carbon footprint. Will this prove to be too little too late, or does every little help?Concerned to avert global disaster, the pressure group Climate Campers meet in the... more
Workers Defense Project and community supporters gathered outside Cobra Studios in Austin to protest COBALT COMPANIES for the $20,000.00 in unpaid wages owed to eleven workers who worked on their work site at Cobra Studios Apartments.
In the context of economic downturn, where low-wage workers bear the burden of hard times, Workers Defense Project is calling upon Cobalt Companies to take responsibility for the labor abuses on their work site.
In October and November of 2008, Antonio Melo, Antonio Olvera, Fausto Elias, and 8 other workers worked for a subcontractor of Cobalt Companies to perform masonry work on Cobra Studios Apartments in East Austin. The subcontractor never paid the eleven workers for their work and they are still owed nearly $20,000 in back wages.
The Workers Defense Project has tried to resolve the issue directly with Cobalt Companies and their subcontractors. Cobalt Companies negotiated with PDL and agreed to a payment plan where they would pay $15,000 of wages owed now and $5,000 later. The agreement was drafted, the terms were all agreed upon, and then Cobalt Companies backed out.
Workers, advocates and community supporters urged Cobalt Companies to ensure that Austin development occurs in a way that benefits everyone in the community, including the workers who are building our city.
Cobalt Companies is a local residential and commercial building company that has 30 years of experience working on construction projects in Austin. They specialize in high-end homes, town-homes, and commercial properties that range from half-million to multi-million dollar projects, such as the Cobra Studios.
After much effort and long hours on the part of the Workers Defense Project, ultimately Cobalt Co. lived up to their legal responsibility and made sure the workers were paid their due in a check for $18,000!
This is a Z Graphix Production, Directed by Jason Cato and
Produced by Jeffry Zavala.
Photography by Jason Cato
Cinematography by Keegan Godsey and Jeffry Zavala
To learn more go to:
http://buildaustin.orgWorkers Defense Project and community supporters gathered outside Cobra Studios in... more
Gov. Rick Perry and employees within the state insurance building did not meet the typical sound of 5 p.m. traffic Wednesday.
Instead, some encountered signs adorned with criticism of Perrys policies, drums keeping protestors in rhythm and the voices of construction workers along with members of Austins Workers Defense Project and Californias Laborers International Union of North America chanting, Workers rights are under attack! What do we do? Stand up, fight back!
Project Director Cristina Tzintzún said the defense group organized the event in response to a television interview Perry had at a Construction Expo in late June, in which he stated that [Texas] has enough oversight to keep our citizens safe.
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the governors office, said the issues scope is wider than Texas alone.
This issue falls under federal jurisdiction and Governor Perry expects the federal government will fulfill its role to keep Texas construction workers safe without burdening Texas employers with duplicative regulations, Frazier said.
According to a recent report by the project titled Building Austin, Building Injustice, 142 construction workers died in Texas in 2007, which is more than any other state in the country. The report also states that 50 percent of workers do not receive overtime pay and that 41 percent go without a rest break.
Tzintzún said that only 77 Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators cover the 10 million workers in Texas. The project states that the International Labor Organization recommended 1,023 investigators be responsible for Texas workers.
Elizabeth Todd, OSHA acting regional director, said the administration will be increasing the number of inspectors in Texas.
We want to raise awareness and reduce the number of construction-related fatalities in the state because we do have a high number of construction-related fatalities, Todd said. If there are unsafe working conditions, we are going to try and go out there and find out.
Tzintzún said the problem lies in construction oversight.
We believe there is a larger problem in Texas of contractors not being held accountable for safe working conditions on the job site, Tzintzún said. Its important that [the Legislature] steps up to the plate by ensuring people dont die needlessly on the job.
The protest also focused on the West Campus construction accident in June at the 21 Rio apartment complex where three construction workers fell to their deaths as a result of a scaffold failure.
Austin Police Department Lt. Mark Spangler said APD obtained a search warrant to investigate the incident.
The areas we are looking at are, Did this accident have a genesis? Spangler said. What caused that equipment to fail? Was it mechanical? Was it human error? Was it an oversight? Thats the full spectrum of what we are looking at.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation and APD will conduct interviews as well as an examination of all equipment used in the scaffolding. The warrant stated negligent homicide as a possibility.
Randy Harris, a member of a laborers union from Illinois, said he was protesting to make the construction worker case a national issue.
Nobody deserves to be hurt or killed at work, Harris said. We want people to be able to go to work, feed their families and go home.
This is a Z Graphix Production, Produced by Jeffry Zavala and Directed by Jason Cato.
Communications by Selena Fernandez
Cinematography by Jeffry Zavala
Photography by Charlie Lockwood & Jeffry Zavala
To learn more go to,
http://buildaustin.orgGov. Rick Perry and employees within the state insurance building did not meet the... more
MoveOn.org is hosting a photo petition where they want you to use their materials.
MoveOn.org is supposedly keeping the DNC honest. (HAHAHA!) Let's keep MoveOn.org honest.
Ever the wimps, and always taking their marching orders from the DNC, their photo petition is in support of the public option, which leaves insurance companies in charge, mandates that we all buy insurance plans from the private sector even if we can't afford one, and still has us paying premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.
Let's use their photo petition for SINGLE PAYER.
Here's the photo that I submit: image
So here's the plan: Make a photo supporting Single Payer, submit it to their photo petition, [see link] and then contact all the people on your lists, and ask them to do the same.
PS: You can totally use MoveOn.org's sign that they have available for you to print out. Just be sure to mention single payer.MoveOn.org is hosting a photo petition where they want you to use their materials.... more