Tag Archives: Poor Peoples Movements

When do we SNAP?: Against Cuts, Low Wages, and Food Stamp Discipline by Florence Johnston Collective

The Florence Johnston Collective is a new group of both U&S and non U&S members in New York City struggling around “reproductive” work; or work that’s primary function is not to make things to be sold, but to take care of the lives of both workers and non-workers in society.  This includes nurses, CNAs, home health aids, teachers, social service workers, nannies, and more, plus custodians, kitchen workers, and other staff who work in healthcare and social services facilities. We are specifically interested in organizing both recipients and providers of care, as these two groups often appear to be in an antagonist relationship with one another, when really both are being destroyed by the same cuts, policies, and bosses.  U&S is happy to re-post the first in a series of longer written articles posted on FJC’s blog, and intended for mass distribution and agitation.  Please see http://florencejohnstoncollective.wordpress.com to find out more.

Introduction

As political campaigns to raise the minimum wage grab headlines, there is a decrease in the federal minimum wage on the horizon that nobody is talking about. The coming reduction in the wage for working class people in the United States, employed and unemployed, will come from a two pronged reduction in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, better known as food stamps. These cuts will affect the 50 million people struggling to feed themselves and their families in the current economic depression. And these nationwide cuts, effecting every recipient, just may provide workers with the broad basis for action against the system that keeps them broke, overworked, and dependent on their boss and the state just to survive.

The state calls food stamps “benefits” and “entitlements”, and tells people they are a privilege, not a right. Some politicians talk about food stamps like they are state sponsored charity. But SNAP benefits are a part of the wage for the lowest strata of the working class. They are the piece of the paycheck necessary to buy food, a piece that the capitalists refuses to pay.

SNAP cuts must be recognized as wage cuts, and fought against by the cooperation of all working class people, no matter whether they receive benefits, and especially by the working class people who work in food stamp and other benefit centers. We need to help build this movement by facilitating these connections, and agitating beyond the reformist lines.

Accordingly we can’t simply defend the program or demand more benefits. The SNAP program itself must be understood as a tool used to discipline the working class. No matter how high they are, these benefits hold a small amount of working class peoples’ wages over their heads to make them dependent, subject them to humiliating privacy violations like drug tests and endless bureaucratic hurdles, and provide a cheap compensation for the loss of real jobs, the ever-diminishing standard of living, and the mass incarceration of tens of millions of Americans. This is why we don’t simply need more food stamps, but the end of the system that makes food stamps necessary to survive

 

snap-monthly-cuts

Continue reading When do we SNAP?: Against Cuts, Low Wages, and Food Stamp Discipline by Florence Johnston Collective

Fighting Unemployment, Not Each Other

-Mamos

I am posting an excellent essay by Michael Hureaux Perez from Black Agenda Report.  I can really relate to this piece because he lives right down the street from where I lived for two years, in West Seattle where I still work and organize. Hureaux Perez and I are both teachers. I work at an alternative program for youth who dropped out of high school or skipped and need to catch up on their credits.   I bet we’ve had some of the same students.  In his piece he tells the story of Marleney,  a young woman who could very well end up in my class because of all the issues she is facing.   She’s behind in credits, her husband is undocumented and can’t find work, and she is also unemployed.

Marleny’s situation is not unusual.  The other day in class I showed my students the 2000 census maps for West Seattle.   Most of them come from White Center (Marleny and Hureaux Perez’s hood), Delridge, and High Point neighborhoods.  When you look at the maps of Black, Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander unemployment rates, these neighborhoods are like dark dots in a sea of white.  35th Avenue runs through West Seattle dividing the employed, white, college educated middle class from the unemployed and working class people of color.  It’s like Seattle’s 8 Mile. When my students saw these maps they were beefing.  And these were made before the economic crisis; it’s only getting worse now.  I asked my students what should be done about this.  A few said we should go rob the people living on the other side of 35th.  Others said we should riot.

One of my former students decided to channel this anger into productive action.  He and I did a study group over the summer and we just recruited our friends to start a new group called Employment Justice Action.   We are demanding jobs, especially for unemployed youth of color who are hardest hit by the economic crisis.  We’re starting by demanding that the local Walgreens hire more people from the neighborhood.  They take money from the neighborhood; if folks can’t work there, why should we shop there?
Continue reading Fighting Unemployment, Not Each Other

Abahlali baseMjondolo attacked by ANC militia

Members of Abahlali baseMjondolo have been murdered by militia commanded by local ANC party bosses. Abahlali is the shack-dwellers movement in South Africa, struggling for housing, land and basic services. They have faced increased police repression and it seems clear these attacks, which targeted well-known leaders of Abahlali, were tolerated by the police.

Follow Abahlali’s website for updates.

Watch Mazwi Nzimande, president of the Shack Dwellers Movement’s youth league, interviewed on Democracy Now.

Statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo president S’bu Zikode:

The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) from South Africa has released a statement putting the attacks in context.

They write:

“The political rivalry in KwaZulu Natal has exploited ethnic sentiment and tensions that emerged during the Jacob Zuma election campaign, and we believe that the African National Congress (ANC) in and around Kennedy Road, and probably elsewhere, is using ethnicity to mobilise local residents against popular social movements such as Abahlali baseMjondolo. It seems clear to us that the popularly elected committee in the Kennedy Road settlement, and the social work they have been doing is perceived by local political leaders from the ANC to be a threat to political and property interests, and they are thus bent on destroying AbM.”