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major props to the World Socialist Web Site for all the great coverage of this disaster.

Louisiana residents and fishermen denounce oil spill response

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to fishermen in southern Louisiana who will be devastated by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which threatens to shut down fishing, shrimping, and oyster farming for years. BP has hired only a minority of fishermen in the cleanup effort, while the others struggle to pay their bills with the paltry $5,000 compensation payment.

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there has been an ongoing struggle by sanitation workers in Seattle related to contract negotiations.  the question in my head is what political and organizational linkages — in terms of real, material solidarity — could the ecology movement make here?

reposted from Socialist Worker

Taking on Waste Management in Seattle

Darrin Hoop reports on the Teamsters’ fight for a fair contract from Waste Management.
April 23, 2010

MEMBERS OF Teamsters Local 174 in the Seattle region are locked in a contract battle with Waste Management, the largest and richest sanitation and recycling company in the U.S.

After working without a contract since it expired on April 1, 450 sanitation workers began an unfair labor practices strike at 10:30 a.m. on April 21.  Mike Gonzalez, an official with Local 174, said in an interview with KOMO News:

We took our members out on an unfair labor practices strike to try and force the company back to the bargaining table…The charges we filed included bargaining in bad faith, coercing employees, threatening to retaliate against our workers, changing their working conditions. They are using all the illegal tactics that a company usually uses to force members to take a contract that they haven’t fully bargained with us.

But after only a day on the picket line, officials from Local 174 announced that the workers would be returning to their jobs–still without a contract–as of midnight on April 23.

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the revolts in the Chinese countryside during August and September have been something that i’ve wanted to get up on the blog for some time.  these revolts occurred in response to pollution, lead poisoning and other health hazards due to China’s expanding capitalist accumulation and the accompanying ecological devastation.

China’s importance in global capitalism has been evident for some time, but has become increasingly important for the ecology movement in light of both Obama’s tour through the Pacific some months ago, and the role Chinese rulers played at the Copenhagen summit… wearing two masks as both a developing nation and an economic power house.

this contributed to some vacillation by from below forces at the summit.  ultimately racist, imperial domination by the US should be opposed, but on the basis of solidarity with Third World working classes, not Third World capitalists.  tragically, this distinction was not vocalized by the grassroots opposition at Copenhagen.

both libcom.org and chinaworker.org have provided really good coverage of the revolts.  props to both of them.

on libcom:
Protest in China over Pollution
Update on Pollution Protests in China

from China Worker:
China Pollution Protesters Storm Lead Smelter
China: Pollution Protests Against “Death Factory” Suppressed

and finally, the guardian:
Further anti-pollution riots break out in China

strangely enough, there really wasn’t much coverage of these revolts by the green Left, or the broader climate and ecology movements for that matter.

(click for a larger view)

with the reality of the catastrophic effects of climate change and other forms of ecological devastation looming down on humanity, i’m struck by the apocalyptic but also messianic themes in this mural by Diego Rivera.  i think he captures well how the possibilities behind humanity’s future depend on mass self-activity by the working class and oppressed.

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one of the things i hope to do on this blog is to keep a running archive of past struggles, and the different Left groups that have taken up eco-struggles.  i think it’s important to note both how groups have fought back, and how different groups have understood those struggles.

i’ve been combing through some of the older issues of Midnight Notes trying to save some of their stuff even if i don’t get the time to read it right away.  one of the articles i did read was from the 1990 publication of their journal on a major strike at a paper mill company in Jay, Maine.  this article on the strike at International Paper (IP) is a must read for union militants and students of working class struggle.

that issue of the journal deals with what they call the ‘new enclosure movement’ by the ruling classes.  they’re referring to the way capitalism and the state has embarked on a process of cannibalizing its own infrastructure and attacking the gains and wages of working class peoples in order to stave off the crisis of falling profits; in a word, neoliberalism.  Midnight Notes is drawing references to the way the first capitalists dispossessed peasants and craftsmen of land rights and the means of production creating both capitalism and the working class — people who must sell their labor power to the bosses in exchange for a wage because they don’t possess the means (tools, land or otherwise) to create commodities or value.

the strike in Jay lasted for over a year and ended in defeat.  it was part of the general attack on unions and working class forms of social solidarity that has occurred under neoliberalism, one of the big ones being Reagan’s crushing of the airtraffic controllers strike, and the breaking of their union.  there are a few points about the strike that i think are important for thinking about ecological struggles.

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