Demands meeting, 1/15/12
informal conversation begins around 7:15 about immigration status. Should we include immigration status in JFA? How to link together activists, actions, and demands.
-brief discussion about the linkage between building trades unions and immigrant rights, which have changed in recent years.
-discussion about May 1 2006- mass strike actions in favor of immigrant rights. Question of mobilization around immigrant rights and “documented” workers’ rights.
-linkages between unionized workers, immigrant workers, and students.
- what is the relations between 99%’s interests/politics and goals surrounding undocumented immigrants rights.
-how do immigrant rights and “border” polices relate, particularly in the context of high unemployment and the simultaneous need for immigrant labor in certain sector (agriculture, shipping and receiving).
-Lee mentions how undocumented immigrants might have distortionary efforts on local labor markets.
-Greg discusses how this may be true but the 1% has still stacked the deck to get a greater share, which hurts the population’s ability to maintain a living standard.
-lee discussed the benefits of a legitimate immigration system vs. Having domestic labor markets work. Not wanting to use immigrant labor to cut costs on food.
-Itzak discussed the role of the service economy and certain sectors that are less exposed to the global labor market.
-Lee mentions Wal-Mart- one reason they are so successful is their program of no unions. They will shut down stores if there is a union to send a message. The reason why he is against this- if you want to have capitalism- the only way to give workers a chance is through collective bargaining.
-Craig- there is a statistic that 1/3 of Wal-Mart employees are on public benefits. I will go you once further- any company which does not pay its employees enough to feed themselves- any job that hires adults to work full time that can’t feed themselves should not be in business.
-Greg: The importance of a higher minimum wage.
-Susan: will we start a demands meeting?
Lee: there a lot of issues to discuss- where are we going?
Craig: I suggest that we end by 8:30.
Greg: should we continue to exist. What are the directions, what do we mean to the movement?
Itzak: I’ve been thinking about this group- we originally thought we’d make demands for OWS and reach subgroup would work in subgroup. But many subgroups replicate existing OWS groups, and often lacked sufficient momentum to get it to the GA. Ex: JFA- some believed strongly in it, but it did not get adopted, and they did not say how do we adjust and revise it to bring it to OWS for GA acceptance. The corporate personhood subgroup- we were formed and suddenly I discovered the real work happens in an other group- and then another group has been really working on it. What do we need Demands subgroup.
Greg: How did that work?
Lee: It wasn’t very transparent. Politics and electoral reform. The corporate personhood was a subgroup. That subgroup rarely showed up at meeting. Patrick didn’t know what we going on. They had been working on it for 2 months. It got accelerated when the NYC council came up. They put it up on the NYCGA board. They discussed it at a P&E reform meeting with low turnout and it went to the GA. They didn’t have much support from the parent group. But this had 90% support in the movement. It went through real quick. That was a less contentious issue. It could skate through under the radar and all of the sudden get approved.
Itzak: They barely put it through the parent group. The parent group met yesterday and the subgroup as well. They are planning actions for next week (Saturday, city council). The main point is- what the hell do they need the demand group? They do not. They got their demands through. Any one else who has as demand or quasi-demand through the demand group.
Another subgroup wants to impeach Obama. We don’t need them. They don’t have a group of their own. Our subgroups are inactive. And other working groups don’t find it necessary or desirable to come to us with demands.
Greg: when we first got our very demand passed, JFA, internally, there were many other demands. There were in October. We actually picked a topic that was so focused on state action because there was no other way to do massive public works- that’s the reality. That’s how you address unemployment. That went totally against the grain of the NYC anarchist influence occupies. They all just came here. This is the place to be. The very first thing we did out of the box- we were have been better off if we had more demands. We got fixated on getting it passed, but we weren’t able to think about implementation and moving the demands forward. The actual needs of the 99% is mass unemployment. Unfortunately,l the other dimension, things like housing lend themselves to direct action, the jobs think the only way to get jobs is to force the government. If we had picked mortgagee or housing issues we could have worked with direct action- we could get real short term results and build up and get confidence, and you have a broader platform. We did everything in the wrong order. We want demands to be tied to a group that is willing to go out and do stuff. We were a talk show. When there was talk with labor outreach- the city unions did do a mass demonstration on jobs. I think the call for the general strike from LA- we could have a lot of actions, student things, that could raise the profiles for the things they’re laying out there. A jobs program, immigration, so forth. My inclination right now. This group might think about bringing people into May Day actions.
Itzak: that’s not what demands group does, and in trying to have a solutions cluster, we met here earlier- it won’t be successful in pulling together other groups. It’s supposed to pull working groups together.
Susan: i have discussed with folks who blocked demands and they said that they didn’t dislike demands, they just didn’t want to have a debate about demands, but think people should organize around demands.
Itzak: we are a pro-demands caucus. There is nothing to characterize us. We have nothing in the pipeline.
Lee; people here thought it was an easy group- people though we could discuss certain topics. People thought it would be easy but it’s not an easy group to do. It’s not just about coming in and having a popular opinion. I felt that my concerns were dismissed. If you’re going to propose something, there should be a whole policy of support. Otherwise we should sit here.
Itzak: that’s not an answer. Why does what economists say and foundational-supported NGOs say matter?
Greg: I’m inclined to take a poll as to see what we’ve been up.
Group consenses to hold meeting at local bar next week to discuss “What’s Next” for Demands
Meeting ends 8:15 PM