Yellow vests and general strikes

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“The enemies of the country, and of freedom of the people, have always denounced as bandits those who sacrifice themselves for the noble causes of the people.” ~ Emiliano Zapata

In November of 2018, the rallying cries of the proletariat emerged. Protesters demanded that those in power address the grievances of the working class, the working poor and the forgotten masses, who carry the burden of funding the ventures of capitalist corporatists and their special interests.

This is not American streets exploding into rage against the powers that be not seen since 1968. It is, instead, the “Yellow Vest” movement of France, and now Belgium as well. It has taken over the mantle of dissent, which used to exist on our shores.

Americans have bee lulled into a false sense of security that our government would always have our best interests at heart. In the meantime, that government has beaten down workers with Free Trade deals promoting outsourcing, union-busting laws, and civil and voting rights restrictions. All of this has suppressed wages and pitted classes, genders and races against each other.

After decades of stagnant wages, nearly 48% of working Americans are one to two paychecks away from poverty or homelessness, and close to 40% of homeless adults work, but do not make enough to pay the exorbitant rents to allow themselves or their families shelter.

That being the case, it’s a wonder that America is not the vanguard the Yellow Vest movement. 

Why would Americans not amass in the streets when they’re confronted by failing infrastructure, forced to pay trillions for never ending wars that feed young people to the meat grinder of the Military Industrial Complex; lack the security of a national healthcare and see their inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness stripped away by the powerful.

Americans must put aside irrelevant differences and march as one. Organized labor should be the vanguard of such a movement.  We know how to organize, how to bring people of different viewpoints to the table and work collectively to achieve a common goal.

Labor, throughout its history in America, has been able to galvanize the proletariat, take to the streets and aid in the airing of the public’s grievances.

This is organized labor’s time to propose a general strike.  This is our Yellow Vest moment, our 1968, our chance to show the world that we’ve not forgotten how to speak up for common decency, fair wages, an end to a failing educational system, and many other roadblocks to Americans experiencing the true freedoms they fought to secure hundreds of years ago.  It’s our chance to show the government, corporations and their controlled media that we can bring their system of desolation to a grinding halt.

It’s our chance to show we will sacrifice for the noble causes of the people. The time for a general strike, unparalleled in American history, is now.  

 

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Rich can be contacted on Twitter @stlwrkr4889.

 

You can contact Richard on Twitter @stlwrkr4889.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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