Archive for March 2015

American Federation of Teachers In The Brazos Valley

March 22, 2015

I am a school district employee and have been a member of the American Federation of Teachers – Texas Affiliate for about one-and-a-half years. The Texas Affiliate of the AFT is a union-related organization of and for school district employees.

I joined the AFT because I believe in unions and the right of workers to organize collectively, the benefits that unions have brought and do bring to workers and others, and the power of unions to bring positive change to their profession and the communities in which union members live and work.

Over the course of my membership I have thought that I would like to make contact with other school district personnel in my area who are members of AFT-Texas Affiliate. So, the other day I made some phone calls and was able to speak with the Texas Affiliate AFT local organizer for my area. (I would note that the two districts in my immediate area are not union districts.)

I told the organizer that I want to be more than a dues paying member who is eligible for legal representation in the event I have need of it and one whose family will benefit from the life insurance that comes with membership when I die. I shared that I want to be a grassroots member who is connected with other AFT members in my immediate area – whether they are teachers, substitute teachers (like me), custodial or cafeteria staff, or bus drivers – who are investing their lives, careers, and time in the education and development of our nation’s future communnity and nation’s leaders.

It is my desire to meet with AFT-Texas Affiliate members so that we can share our concerns for the education of the children and youth in our schools and the systems in which we teach and work, to talk about the education-related decisions about curriculum and history book content that are currently being made in Austin and to discuss our rights and benefits on the job as workers.

The organizer was very attentive and understanding. She said she was going to speak to the office manager at the regional office in Houston and ask her to pull the names and contact information of the AFT-Texas Affiliate members in my area and  send them to me.

Well, the other day I received an email from the AFT office manager in Houston. Attached was a list of 32 AFT-Texas Affiliate members who teach in the two districts in my immediate area. I actually know some of the people who are on the list.

It is my intention to contact each person on the list, explain the reason for my contact, and ask if they would like to get together as fellow AFT members. Once this has been done and people express an interest in getting together and begin doing so, the organizer said that she would be happy to come to our area and meet with us to give us encouragement and talk about education issues in our district and state. I would like to think that out of all of this we might be able to formally organize an AFT local in this area and enlist other school district employees to join us.

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Cartooning Capitalism: Wealth Created By the Working Class

March 20, 2015

This political cartoon was drawn by Sewell Weidman. It was published in the Appeal to Reason newspaper on September 2, 1905.

-Labor Cartoon-  Sewell Weidman, Appeal to Reason, December 2, 1905

The socio-economic situation for the working class has not changed much over the 110 years since this cartoon was published.

 

Cartooning Capitalism: All Workers Organized

March 10, 2015

This piece of art was drawn by Art Young (1866-1943). Young was a Socialist artist whose labor and political cartoons were published in newspapers and magazines such as The Masses (1911 – 1917), Liberator (1918-1919), and Good Morning (1919-1922).

In this piece, we see “The Boss” who is delighted when he sees an unorganized work-force where “every man is for himself”; an unorganized work-force poses no threat to him. Then, we see “The Boss” who trembles in fear when he sees workers organized in solidarity for their labor and economic rights.

-Art Young-  Organize the Unorganized

Today, we are seeing state legislative attacks on workers, unions and organizing efforts across our country. States such as Arizona and Wisconsin are passing Right-to-Work laws that oppress workers, lower wages, and boost the profits of the already well-to-do.

It will do workers well to recognize their need to organize in solidarity for their labor and economic rights, much as the workers in the cartoon above have done.

Unfortunately, I have no information on the date of this cartoon or the name of the magazine or newspaper in which it was published.

 

Cartooning Capitalism

March 8, 2015

I have been reading the articles and speeches of Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) – American labor leader, co-founding member of the Socialist Party of the United States, and five-time presidential candidate – for some time.

Reading Debs’ speeches and articles have taught me much about the start and development of America’s labor and Socialist movements of the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th Centuries. They have introduced me to men and women and labor and Socialist events that I had never heard about or known of. And, they have introduced me to the labor and political art of the early 20th Century. -Ryan Walker-  Red Portfolio

The art of people such as Art Young, Ryan Walker, Fred Warren, and Sewell Weidman addressed events, people, and policies that concerned the working men and women of America. They dealt with capitalism, Socialism, plutocrats, Wall Street profits and working man labors. The labor and political art of this era was published in Socialist newspapers and magazines such as the Appeal to Reason, The Masses, and The Rip-Saw.

Like Eugene V. Debs’ articles and speeches, I have found the labor and Socialist art of the early 20th Century to not just be interesting, but relevant and applicable to much of what is happening in today’s labor, economic, and political world.

I have found a very informative paper that addresses the art that I am referring to. It is entitled “Cartooning capitalism: Radical cartooning and the making of American popular radicalism in the early twentieth century” by Michael Cohen.

In the article, Cohen writes that

” … radical cartooning stripped the movements and their enemies to their core ideologies, depicting and epic struggle between ‘plutocrat and democracy’, human solidarity versus unrestrained greed. Radical cartoon humor thus offered instruction, persuasion, and entertainment, providing an excellent medium for what contemporary Cultural Studies describe as ‘cultural resistance’, or what social movement theorists have termed ‘framing social protest’: the creation of cultural practices, ideological models, and aesthetic strategies designed to empower popular intellectuals and ordinary people to understand the social world with the specific intention of transforming it.”

As time passes, I plan to post different pieces of labor and Socialist art on this page. Please return to “scottspeak” to view these pieces of art from an era gone-by.

Please also visit the “Eugene V. Debs” Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DebsEugeneV for quotes from Debs’ articles and speeches as well as information about his labor and political life and times.