since 2004

Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Worker Safety and Worker Solidarity

In activism, class, labor, libraries, unions, youth on March 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Friday being the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 workers — mostly women, mostly immigrants — I am thinking about worker’s rights and worker’s power. It’s been hard not to think about this since Wisconsin public workers from all corners joined together in a noble fight against legislative bullying (and lying). Like all workers, library workers owe much to the U.S. labor movement, as well as those movements of excluded workers currently struggling for rights and recognition.

Teens make up one important class of those workers. In my day-to-day work I interact with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of young people. The more active among them — youth advisors and volunteers — are deeply concerned about reductions in library funding and the ways libraries can be undervalued by legislators, voters and school boards. Their concern extends to the library workers whom they have known since they were children attending storytimes, getting lost with a book in oversized beanbag chairs, and shaping their identities as great debaters, writers and community organizers — today’s library advocates and tomorrow’s library leaders.

We don’t talk much about labor history or working conditions. But we should. Some teens I work with are frustrated they can’t start earning needed income before age 16. This is a labor issue. It begs a history lesson. Some drop out of school to save up needed money to get their own place by the time foster care ends. Most will need to pay their own way through college. We talk about their options. We troubleshoot. No state i.d., constantly changing home addresses. But we should also talk about their rights, their responsibilities, and the responsibilities of their government and their employers. Some are locked out of work before they even get a chance to join the rank and file. Daily survival limits the time we have for deeper discussion.

My union, SEIU, made this great homage I plan to share with my young workers.Infographic about worker's protections

How unions succeeded in making your workplace safer.

Today I am thinking about worker protections, about my own workplaces, and how I can share this with young workers. Today I am grateful for the incredible history of the U.S. labor movement. I am hopeful that it can do better. I am committed to working on behalf of those workers still not fully represented or protected by U.S. labor. Those excluded workers are organized and they deserve our full support, as they always have.

Until all of us are included, none of us should settle.

Thanks to Union Librarian and Blatant Berry for laying paths forward in the library field. Thanks to Young Workers United for trailblazing for youth workers rights!


Broad Coalition Offers Recommendations for Obama Administration & Congress

In elections, governance, information policy, prisons, privacy, racial justice on December 9, 2008 at 7:30 am

libsecA coalition of human rights, media reform, civil liberties and progressive policy groups put forward an agenda for the new administration that’s worth reading. It includes recommendations and resources for policy change around detention and interrogation, immigration, surveillance, and privacy.

From the introduction on Secrecy, Surveillance, and Privacy:
In the last months of the Bush Administration the Department of Justice rewrote the Attorney General Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) for FBI investigations, removing important restrictions on the FBI’s investigative authorities and opening the door to racial profiling. The new Guidelines consolidated existing Guidelines governing FBI criminal investigations, national security investigations, and foreign intelligence collection operations, which the Bush Administration had already loosened considerably in 2002, 2003, and 2006, respectively. But the new Guidelines go much further by overturning longstanding limitations on FBI investigations of public demonstrations, and authorizing the FBI to conduct invasive “assessments” without having a factual predicate to justify an investigation of any kind.

Read the full document here.

Who Is Eric Holder?

In activism, elections, governance, information policy, library profession, social movements on December 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Eric Holder’s confirmation process for Attorney General should be rigorous. It’s on us to make it so. And by us I mean individual librarians, our associations, policy advocates, and U.S.-based social movements.

This week I spoke with Library Law‘s Mary Minow about the need for renewed advocacy around the USA PATRIOT Act (Section 215 governing FISA Warrants and Section 206 related to Roving Wiretaps both sunset in December 2009, while attempts are also being made to set a sunset on current NSL rules under Section 505). Mary contends, and I agree, “Our best use of focused efforts should be asking senators at Eric Holder’s confirmation hearings to ask the right questions about the expiration.”

I would add: these questions should not focus on patching over the act through more weak revisions. As John Nichols wrote in The Nation, we need “a very serious, very aggressive confirmation process that should not simply presume that Holder will ‘get it’ when questions about the Constitution arise.”

Before we get there, we should all know a bit more about Holder. He is, after all, one of the legal architects for the reauthorized PATRIOT Act (passed in 2006), and he’s had some pretty conflicting things to say surrounding human rights (re: Guantanamo detainees he said in 2002, “…they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.” But last June, he called Guantanamo an “international embarrassment”). That’s some progress.

The standard we hold Holder to should be one of international concern, of human rights and global justice — not mere constitutionality.

So here are some places to start getting to know Holder:

See also Democracy Now: