JWJET member Fran Ansley publishes Op-Ed on Asbestos Bill

Fran Ansley: Bills would allow asbestos industry to escape justice
"If you have enjoyed a good life while working with asbestos products why not die from it?" wrote an executive with the Bendix Corporation (now part of Honeywell) in a 1966 internal memo.

Switching from asbestos-containing brake pads to those made without asbestos would have cost Ford Motor Company $1.25 a car to protect its workers, but this cost was deemed too "severe" by a 1971 company memo opposing a state ban.

Quotes like these from industry's shameful asbestos history serve as stark reminders of how easy it is for companies to put profits ahead of people. Corporations that manufactured and used asbestos knew for decades it was highly toxic and could result in death for those exposed, but hid that information both from workers and from the public.

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Interfaith Workers Justice Member Rev. Ralph Hutchison rallies Fight for $15 Supporters at City County Building 11/10

The right to fair compensation for our labor—a living wage—is a fundamental right of all workers. It is, to use a word laden with the power of our historic identity, an inalienable right—one which can not be denied.

Nevertheless, we live in an economic system that prizes above all else, the most consumption for the least price. We make many of our economic decisions based on where we can get the most while paying the least—often with little thought to what that means in the larger sphere of economic and social justice. For many of us, too often, it seems to be a simple economic decision—we don’t even recognize the rest of it.

That is why this rally, and the great organizing that has been going on in the Fight for Fifteen movement, and the simple demand for a fair, living wage as compensation for a day’s work, is important. We are calling on people to think more fully about the decisions they make. 

When you roll through the drive-in and choose from the dollar menu, you need to remember there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you aren’t paying the full price for your meal, someone else is. That person is behind the counter, clearing the tables, working the register, sweating over the grill, mopping up the spill, refilling the napkin dispenser, with a manager always pushing for more production…

As it is with everything economic in this country—the accumulation of wealth comes at a price. No one gets rich by magic—they get rich on the backs of people who work and are paid less than the value of their work. The difference between what workers earn and what they are paid goes up the food chain, literally. The word for that is exploitation, and the time for it to end is now.

It’s not enough to say workers should receive a fair wage. It’s not enough to say management should make concessions, and it’s not enough to say owners should share profits.

Consumers have skin in this game, and with it comes responsibility. We need to make decisions that demonstrate our commitment to justice. Standing in solidarity with workers and supporting their demands is a good thing—it’s the first step, though, not the last. It’s not only service workers who should write letters to the editor calling for a living wage or addressing outsourcing proposals—those who are on the consumer end should be writing, declaring that the time has come for all of us to pay the true cost of the things we enjoy so that everyone can share the wealth.

It doesn’t require socialism—capitalism can deliver if it tempers its single-minded focus on accumulation with an ethical dimension that recognizes that fairness and justice have an economic value in addition to their social and moral value. The economic system works best when everyone has a chance to participate.

So I am proud to stand with fast food workers who are fighting for fifteen and all who labor today. I regret that you have to spend your free time—or take time off—to organize and advocate and demonstrate for something that is your inalienable right. But because you are, the day will come when all of our society will recognize the fundamental human dignity inherent in all work, the day will come when every worker receives a fair and living wage for the work he or she does, the day will come when we all are able and willing to pay our for the things we buy, use, and eat.

Thank you for your courage and commitment.

Join the Resistance to Teach for America

Joan Grim, on the faculty at the UTK School of Education, shared information about Teach for America with Jwjet at our recent Annual Meeting. TFA is part of the ongoing efforts to privatize our public education system. Along with Charter Schools, voucher schemes, and large amounts of corporate money, TFA is a tactic to make a profit from public resources at the expense of workers and the public. Clicking here will download a file with more information. Join in! #ResistTFA  @SUPEnational


Resist T-Mobile's Anti-Union Tactics

You've seen those one-click and you're done online petitions. And you wonder what , if anything , you've accomplished by signing. Well, here's a Pen and Paper/ Flesh and Blood petition which makes up for the work of signing on with a real world benefit for thousands of T-Mobile workers seeking Union protections.

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JwJ Action in Middle TN: Support the Ironworkers Rod-busters!

The building construction boom in Nashville is evident. Yet many workers lending their hard labor in hot and humid climes are being left behind.
One such group is rod-busters, ironworkers who tote, set and tie rebar prior to a footing, column or floor being poured with concrete. Three subcontractors doing nearly all this work in Nashville hail from Manchester TN, and the vast majority of workers they employ drive back and forth from Manchester each day. They are forced to work long and dangerous hours, they receive no benefits, and their hourly pay is the absolute lowest among ironworkers doing this type of work anywhere in the country.
Two weeks ago, a group of these workers went on strike protesting their miserly pay and their putrid work conditions. Their goal simply is to raise the standards in this construction sub-segment.
More information on this strike can be found here:

Hyundai: Protect the Workers in your Supply Chain

This week JwJet will be supporting the Lear Corporation workers in Selma, Alabama in their struggle for safe working conditions as they make parts for Hyundai Motors. Please add your signature to the national petition supporting these workers.

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May Day Event- Put the People First Block Party

Put the People First May Day Block Party


May 1 at 6:00pm

Caswell Park

620 Winona St., Knoxville, TN 37917

 This event is a potluck, so bring a dish.

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Workers Memorial Day Event Saturday April 25

What:    Annual Observance of Workers Memorial Day
Where:  IBEW training center, 6107 Central Avenue Pike, Knoxville 37912  (directions below)
When:   Saturday, April 25 from 1 pm to 2:30 (there will be light refreshments at 12:30)


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Municipal Bargaining Safe for Now

Good News from Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council: Bills to Prohibit Local Governments from Signing Memorandums of Understanding with Employee Organizations Dead for This Session

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Legislative Update - March 23

Our legislature is out-of-control with its attacks on workers' rights and our economy. Check out what's happening this week in Nashville with workers' comp, bargaining, wages, and more.

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