Tag Archives: Alabama

A brief history of Georgia’s runoff voting – and how this year’s contest between two Black men is a sign of progress

Former President Barack Obama raises hands with Stacey Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock at a Oct. 28, 2022, campaign event in Georgia.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

 

Joshua Holzer, Westminster College

In the U.S., all elections are administered by the states. But not all states use the same rules.

Georgia uses a version of runoff voting, which entails two rounds of voting. Typically, if a candidate wins more than 50% of the votes in the first round, that candidate is declared the winner. If not, the two candidates with the most first-round votes face off in a second round of voting.

There’s historically been concern that such a runoff system disadvantages Black candidates. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General John R. Dunne once argued that Georgia’s runoff voting system has had “a demonstrably chilling effect on the ability of Blacks to become candidates for public office.” Continue reading

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Marches on US Main Streets Center Poor Voters’ Demands Ahead of Midterms

“The priorities of poor and low-income people are on the ballot this election—from healthcare to living wages to social programs that lift the load of poverty and much more,” said Poor People’s Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 10-15-2022 by Common Dreams

The Poor People’s Campaign organized get-out-the-vote marches across the United States, including in Westminster, Maryland, on October 15, 2022. (Photo: Maryland Poor People’s Campaign/Twitter)

Less than a month before Election Day, low-income people and allies came together across the United States on Saturday as part of a get-out-the-vote push by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

The campaign aims to reach at least five million people by the midterm elections next month, spreading the word that “if we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we sure do need to vote now!” However, the effort also has a message for politicians. Continue reading

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Inescapable ‘Abortion Deserts’ Coming as Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas Trigger Bans Set to Take Effect

“Tomorrow, millions more people will lose abortion access across the nation,” warned the leader of one reproductive rights group.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 8-24-2022 by Common Dreams

Around 3000 people met outside the Minnesota state capitol building to protest against laws banning abortion on May 21, 2019. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

A leading reproductive rights organization on Wednesday reiterated the need for action to protect abortion access at the federal level in anticipation of three more “trigger laws” set to take effect in Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June, anti-choice state lawmakers have moved to further restrict reproductive freedom—ramping up the GOP’s already “unprecedented” attacks on the right to choose. Continue reading

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‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Linked to 11% Spike in US Gun Homicides: Study

Researchers say the state-level laws “should be reconsidered to prevent unnecessary violent deaths.”

By Kenny Stancil, Published 2-21-2022 by Common Dreams

About 1000 people filled the Minnesota capitol rotunda in 2018 to demand stricter gun control laws. They protested against “stand your ground” and “permit-less carry” laws and demanded stricter laws on guns such as a ban on assault rifles. Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/CC

So-called “stand your ground” laws are associated with hundreds of additional homicides each year in the United States, according to new research conducted by public health scholars, who say that these laws “should be reconsidered to prevent unnecessary violent deaths.”

Published Monday in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed medical journal, the study compares homicide trends in roughly two dozen states that enacted stand-your-ground (SYG) laws between 2000 and 2016 with patterns from 18 states that didn’t have such laws during the study period. Continue reading

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Just 6% of US House Seats Expected to Be Competitive Thanks to Rigged Maps

Gerrymandered congressional districts come alongside a wave of GOP voter suppression laws.

By Kenny Stancil. Published 2-17-2022 by Common Dreams

A ‘Vote Here’ sign outside an election polling place at Woodbury City Hall in Woodbury, Minnesota during the 2020 general election. Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/CC

In a major blow to the democratic principle that lawmakers are accountable to voters who can remove them from office, the vast majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are becoming non-competitive—a trend that critics say threatens to exacerbate GOP extremism as incumbents in solidly red districts shift further right to fend off more reactionary primary challengers.

Several months into the decennial redistricting process, 335 congressional districts have been redrawn as of Thursday. Just 27 of them are considered competitive—meaning neither Democrats nor Republicans have an advantage of more than five points—according to FiveThirtyEight. Continue reading

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How the Vietnam War pushed MLK to embrace global justice, not only civil rights at home

President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders in his White House office in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 1964.
AP Photo

Anthony Siracusa, University of Colorado Boulder

On July 2, 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. stood behind President Lyndon Baines Johnson as the Texan signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although not the first civil rights bill passed by Congress, it was the most comprehensive.

King called the law’s passage “a great moment … something like the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.” Johnson recognized King’s contributions to the law by gifting him a pen used to sign the historic legislation. Continue reading

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‘This Is a Big Deal’: Amazon Settlement With NLRB Could Ease Worker Unionization Efforts

“This settlement agreement provides a crucial commitment from Amazon to millions of its workers across the United States that it will not interfere with their right to act collectively to improve their workplace by forming a union or taking other collective action.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-23-2021 by Common Dreams

A demonstration supporting Amazon workers in Philadelphia on Marh 20, 2021. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

As Amazon faces growing criticism over working conditions and its response to employee organizing, the online retail giant this week finalized a settlement with a federal labor agency that’s expected to make it easier for workers in the United States to unionize.

“This is a big deal,” Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 tweeted Thursday.

The union shared The New York Times‘ reporting on Amazon’s agreement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is the result of six cases of workers saying the company limited their organizing abilities. Continue reading

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‘We Are Fighting Back’: Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

“We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-25-2021 by Common Dreams

Workers at the FRA3 Amazon datacenter in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Amazon Workers International/Twitter

On Black Friday, more than 70 labor unions and progressive advocacy groups shut down workplaces and hit the streets in cities around the globe to demand—on Amazon’s most profitable day of the year—that the sprawling tech and logistics corporation pay a living wage to its employees and a fair share of taxes to compensate the societies in which it operates.

“From oil refineries, to factories, to warehouses, to data centers, to corporate offices in countries across the world, workers and activists are rising up in strikes, protests, and actions to Make Amazon Pay,” reads the campaign’s website. While the international coalition held its first Black Friday day of action 12 months ago, opposition to Amazon’s abuses has only grown since then, and work stoppages and rallies targeting the e-commerce giant were expected in at least 20 countries on every inhabited continent this year.

According to the Make Amazon Pay coalition, planned actions include:

  • In Kathmandu, Nepal, organizers from the UNICOME Nepal and UNI Nepal Liaison Council will protest in defense of Amazon suppliers and their rights to decent conditions;
  • In Berlin, Germany, warehouse workers will march on the site of Amazon’s HQ to launch the Amazon Workers Against Surveillance;
  • In Toronto, Canada, postal workers and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center will march on the Brampton Amazon facility to demand better wages;
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, activists will take action at the Axion oil refinery against Amazon’s services to fossil fuel corporations like BP; and
  • In Warsaw, Poland, a broad coalition of unions and environmentalists will take to the streets to protest Amazon’s worker repression and arbitrary firings at its warehouses.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said Friday that people worldwide are demonstrating “to end corporate impunity, to end the scandal of [Amazon’s] monopoly power.”

“They pay little or no tax, yet their obscene wealth is actually untrammeled,” Burrow continued. She emphasized the need to “stan[d] with Amazon workers every day” and thanked unions for their solidarity.

Amazon is headquartered in the United States, but its reach is global—with a massive workforce of roughly 1.3 million people, excluding countless others employed by the company’s subcontractors, and a carbon footprint larger than two-thirds of the world’s countries. Resistance to one of the most powerful corporate empires in history—founded by Jeff Bezos, currently the second-richest person on the planet—is also transnational.

“Amazon is everywhere, involved in almost every step of the global economy, but we are too,” explains the coalition, which includes Progressive International, UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, and dozens of other trade unions and civil society organizations working to stamp out inequality, tax evasion, and climate injustice.

“At every link in this chain of abuse, we are fighting back,” the coalition says. “We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

Campaigners from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Bangladesh, Germany, Cambodia, and Poland described how “Amazon just doesn’t give a shit”—exploiting workers and consumers, despoiling the environment, dodging taxes, and using its ill-gotten gains to wield enormous, anti-democratic influence over lawmakers.

The Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, “has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” the Make Amazon Pay coalition notes on its website.

Last year, for instance, Amazon became a trillion-dollar corporation. According to a video on the coalition’s website, “Amazon’s wealth has increased so much during the pandemic that its owners could pay all 1.3 million of its employees a $690,000 Covid bonus and still be as rich as they were in 2020.”

Bezos—who paid a 1.1% true tax rate between 2006 and 2018, according to a June report from ProPublica—also became the first individual to amass a personal fortune of more than $200 billion. He surpassed that figure in August 2020, just a few months after he eliminated the short-lived hazard pay of Amazon employees, who have continued toiling at great risk to their own health.

In addition, Amazon’s union-busting tactics were on full display earlier this year in Bessemer, Alabama during a drive organized by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Union organizers at the Bessemer warehouse came up short in the April election, but an official at the National Labor Relations Board has recommended invalidating those results and mandating a new vote after RWDSU filed nearly two dozen complaints alleging that Amazon illegally threatened employees with loss of pay and benefits, installed and surveilled an unlawful ballot collection box, and expelled pro-union workers from so-called “captive audience” meetings during which management argued against unionization.

In addition to ruthlessly squashing unionization efforts, Amazon denies governments revenue “through its world-beating efforts at tax dodging,” says the Make Amazon Pay Coalition.

“Like all major corporations, Amazon’s success would be impossible without the public institutions that citizens built together over generations,” the coalition stresses. “But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow,” the e-commerce giant “paid just 1.2% tax in the U.S.” in 2019, “up from 0% the two previous years.”

As far as pollution goes, the coalition points out, “Amazon’s growing delivery and cloud computer businesses are accelerating global climate breakdown.”

Bezos, meanwhile, said in July—immediately following his first suborbital flight, which he admitted was paid for by Amazon workers—that he thinks it would be a good idea to relocate industrial production to outer space, threatening, however unrealistically, to push capitalism’s detrimental impacts beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

A study published earlier this month found that “the emissions from a single billionaire spaceflight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people” in the world.

Highlighting Amazon’s environmental destruction here on planet Earth, Extinction Rebellion blocked a total of 15 fulfillment centers throughout Europe on Black Friday, in solidarity with striking workers.

In its list of demands, the Make Amazon Pay coalition says that it is fighting for better pay for Amazon’s workers—”in line with the increasing wealth of the corporation, including hazard pay and premium pay for peak times”—as well as improved working conditions and benefits, such as paid sick leave “so that no worker has to choose between their health or their job.”

The coalition also seeks to protect Amazon workers’ rights to organize as well as unions’ rights to promote the interests of employees—without fear of surveillance and retaliation, throughout the company’s global supply chains.

In addition, the campaign is pushing for Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and to eliminate “tax abuse through profit shifting, loopholes, and the use of tax havens,” among other demands to safeguard consumers’ data.

“Amazon is not alone in these bad practices,” the coalition acknowledges, “but it sits at the heart of a failed system that drives the inequality, climate breakdown, and democratic decay that scar our age.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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‘Striketober’ in Full Swing as Nearly 100,000 Workers Authorize Work Stoppages

“You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions,” said former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Puplished 10-13-2021

Members and supporters of SEIU Local 49 picketed Aug. 21 at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro. Two days later Local 49 wrapped up strike balloting: The result was a 98% vote to authorize a strike. (Photo courtesy SEIU Local 49)

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich observed Wednesday that with employees in industries across the spectrum set to strike in the coming days following corporate leaders’ failure to meet their demands for fair pay and working conditions, the U.S. is closer than it has been in decades to experiencing a general strike.

“You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions,” wrote Reich in The Guardian. “No one calls it a general strike. But in its own disorganized way it’s related to the organized strikes breaking out across the land—Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California, healthcare workers in Buffalo.” Continue reading

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As heat waves intensify, tens of thousands of US classrooms will be too hot for students to learn in

Climate change means more schools will need to install or upgrade cooling systems.
Bill Uhrich/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

Rising temperatures due to climate change are causing more than just uncomfortably hot days across the United States. These high temperatures are placing serious stress on critical infrastructure such as water supplies, airports, roads and bridges.

One category of critical infrastructure being severely affected is the nation’s K-12 schools.

Ideally, the nation’s more than 90,000 public K-12 schools, which serve over 50 million students, should protect children from the sometimes dangerous elements of the outdoors such as severe storms or extreme temperatures. Continue reading

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