labor / racism

Video: fighting racism and exclusion in the building trades


Video below on the exclusion of African-American, Latino and women workers from Temple University construction projects. Workers have been organizing regular pickets, currently every Monday at 4 pm,  of the project at N. Broad and Cecil B. Moore.

The introduction below is posted with the following video:

“This protest is about exclusion of African-American Men, Latinos and Women in the Construction of the New Temple Residence Complex at Broad and Cecil B. Moore Streets.  This video is about two sides, the first side speaks to exclusion and racism, the other about inclusion and justice.  These protesters are seeking their slice of the economic pie, so that their families too can share in the American Dream of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.”

(some comments  below the video.)

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All workers should support the struggle of Black and Latino/a workers and women for inclusion on construction work sites.   Fighting for union jobs for all is not an attack on the unions but rather a fight to make the unions be what they are supposed to be — workers organizations and not private clubs for the few.

The Building Trades have a long history of racism and exclusion; acting as white job trusts and excluding workers from oppressed nationalities. The unions argue that progress has been made — but truthfully, it’s not enough.  There are still tens of thousands of construction workers locked out of the trades and working in low paying (and also unsafe) non-union conditions.   Once inside the trades, Women and Black and Latino workers face strong institutional obstacles- racist/sexist foremen and employers who reinforce the old system of last hired, first fired. Apprentices are left untrained and unprepared by negligent bosses.  For example, many apprentices face conditions in their first years of being given routine unskilled tasks  like stuffing insulation and cleaning up job sites.  This is done by contractors to save money and after the first two years apprentices often face a situation where they are making more money, but can’t perform essential tasks.

All of this has to be seen in the larger context of the economic crisis.  High unemployment persists despite recovery claims by the capitalists and their political hand-puppets. Unemployment for Black and Latino workers in consistently higher- often double- that of white workers.

“According to the BLS, “the number of unemployed persons, at 14 million, remained essentially unchanged in August” with the unemployment rate remaining at 9.1 percent. Of course, the unemployment rate is higher amongst oppressed nationalities; at 16.7 percent for African-Americans and 11.3 for Latinos.  Add to this 14 million the 8.8 million working part-time jobs because they cannot get a full-time job and an additional 2.6 million workers that the BLS refers to as “marginally attached to the workforce” and you get a clearer picture of the jobs crisis.  More than 25 million workers in the US are either unemployed or underemployed. This crisis is compounded in cities like Philadelphia, a city with a 40 percent African-American population, that has lost much of its former industrial and manufacturing base. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the current crisis has created a “lost generation” of workers; Black men in their 30s, 40s and 50s who “will not be able find any kind of work.” ”   Obama rediscovers the jobs crisis

Socialists fight for jobs for all, but we also realize that the struggle can’t be reduced to “class” alone. In the US racism and white supremacy exist as the main obstacle to the working class unity necessary for revolution. This means we must wage an unrelenting and uncompromising struggle against racism and national oppression.  This is why we defend affirmative action.

“Affirmative action is a much needed attempt to remedy the continuing scourge of racism in this country.  We defend affirmative action policies, and believe that for affirmative action to have any teeth, there needs to be quotas.  The struggle against racism and sexism is in the class interests of all workers, regardless of race or gender.”   defending affirmative action  Socialist Action

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