Let freedom ring

This Independence Day, let’s reflect on what liberation means for workers.

Featured on Workday, Tamar Sarai Davis’s (@bytamarsarai) piece on the proposed “Abolition Amendment” and #EndtheException, a campaign to pass federal legislation to end prison slavery. From the piece:

Jorge Renaud, the national criminal justice director for LatinoJustice PRLDF, was incarcerated in Texas for 27 years. For 13 years, he experienced not just the painful labor of fieldwork—chopping trees and picking cotton, sorghum, and corn—but also retaliation when refusing to work. 
“[It was] two years into my last sentence—I had a 60-year sentence,” Renaud said, “I thought I was going to die in prison and I drew a line. I said, ‘There are some things I’m not going to do for you all. I don’t care what you do to me.’ So I’m working out in the fields and I threw my aggy [grubbing hoe] up in the air and I was lucky they didn’t shoot me. They said, ‘You’re not going to work?’ and I said, ‘I’m not going out in the fields for y’all,’ and they put me in solitary for a couple of years.”

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Check out more Workday content on prison labor here.

Read: An opinion in Minnesota Reformer by Eric Willis, a leader with CTUL’s Freedom Fighters, a committee of Black workers. Willis links wage theft, policing, and corporate interests together in a call to build solidarity between working communities.

Refinery strike comes to an end

Workers with Teamsters Local 120 at the St. Paul Park oil refinery reached a strike settlement agreement with Marathon on Thursday, ending a little over five-month-long dispute. Beginning in January, workers were locked out during a strike in their fight for safety, a fight that will continue through the grievance process.

Check your check: the minimum wage was raised in Minneapolis

Workers at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with SEIU Local 26, Machinists Union, and UNITE HERE Local 17 held a press conference on Thursday emphasizing the importance of the wage increase.

Minnesota legislature passes budget including financial support for essential workers

“Countless working Minnesotans across multiple sectors and in every corner of our state put themselves in harm’s way for more than a year, many going without pay when forced to quarantine at home,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy in a press release. “These workers, many of whom continue to face racial and economic disparities on top of pandemic stress, need to be made whole for the extraordinary work they do and the sacrifices they made.”

The budget bill also includes a 17 percent increase to the Attorney General’s’ Office budget, which includes additional funding for the Office’s wage theft and antitrust units.

“This budget is a win for Minnesota families and consumers,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison in a press release. “It will help ensure Minnesotans take home every dollar they earn and help them be free from abusive antitrust practices that make it harder for all of us to afford our lives.”

July 1st was #NationalPostalWorkerDay! ✉️

An excerpt from Let America Be American Again by poet Langston Hughes:

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Dreaming mightily. We are each other’s harvest.