THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Thursday, February 2, 2012

PHX Anarchists call on AZ Police to strike!


A fantastic idea from my comrades in the Phoenix Anarchist community for dealing with the heavy anti-union legislation coming around in AZ this session: the cops should declare their solidarity with the rest of us and strike instead of bash our heads in. Seriously.


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Attention Arizona Public Employees: Cops, Teachers and Paper Pushers Under Attack by the Anti-Union Bill 1485

February 2, 2012
By
Some Real Talk from Anarchists on How To Win This Fight

Seemingly out of nowhere a new front opens up in the battle to institute austerity from the bottom up in the United States and that front is Arizona. That’s not so surprising as the Republicans stated themselves from the get go that Arizona just makes sense due to the overwhelming anti-union legislature. Lets accept the new reality, Senate Bill 1485 will pass if nothing is done.

As if quoting from the classic novel “1984”, Republican Lori Klein characterized the bill as a “way of giving them more freedom so there can be flexibility.”

But make no mistake, this is a direct attack on workers in Arizona and if nothing is done to stop it, it will be modeled across the United States as the crisis we all face gets worse. In order for this kind of legislation to pass in Wisconsin, an exception had to be made for police and firefighters. Currently there is no such exception in the Arizona bill. We must oppose this exclusion.

Cops: Accepting this compromise will only amount to trading a short term defeat for one down the road.

Make no mistake, they will come for your pensions and wages eventually, and who will stand with you when they do? This is a battle and you don’t give your enemy everything for a temporary reprieve.

The winning solution demands creative strategy, and before we can get creative we need first to find out who is not offering any creativity. That answer in short would be the AFL-CIO, union leaders and Democrats.

The political and union bureaucratic class offer two pathetic options:
  • Lay down and take it while threatening to vote lawmakers out of office later;
  • Have a large protest at the state capitol
Interestingly, these arguments are coming from people who have consistently failed over and over to get elected. In fact, many of the more “progressive” lawmakers in our legislature have decided the only way to get voted in is to be just as conservative as the Republicans. The union bureaucracy is completely tied into this political class and will go down with the ship just as they have for decades.

When will Democrats and union leaders realize the more speakers you have at a rally does not equal the amount of political change you will achieve?

The answer is never, so now it is time to directly confront the situation at hand. With solidarity comes strength and the realization that this battle is not over until we win. The Democrats and the union bosses can follow if they would like, but without the workers directly effected taking the lead, they will not get this chance.

The business owners and anti-union Republicans are the proponents of the Arizona union bill. For all intents and purposes these groups are the same and should be treated as such. The power in the union is the strike and that is the weapon of choice. Back in the day the threat of a strike was enough to send the bosses running, unfortunately that history is mostly lost and the unions leaders are too afraid to use it because it jeopardizes their privileged position as labor brokers and second-tier management. The aim of the union bosses is to pacify us, to manage our transition into low wage, no benefit austerity. In short, to keep us contained.

So the history of the strike not only threatens the bosses, but the stranglehold that the Democrats and union bureaucrats have on organized labor.


The liberals want to have a rally at the capitol? Great. We know when the bill will be voted on, we can choose to have a rally that day. But what will the context of this rally be? What can everyone do to make things much more interesting?

We call on the police, who historically have stood on the opposing side of the strike and workers movements, to declare their solidarity and support for all Arizona workers.

If the police strike at the capitol, the legislators will then have to answer the people directly.
With the rest of the public employees declaring their intention to begin a general strike and march on and occupy the capitol we will make the uprising in Wisconsin look like a warm up.

Lets be clear, this is austerity. This law is designed to make everyone take the burden for what the business class has caused over the past decade, both in terms of the economic crisis but also in the form of billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks. As a community and city we can stand up and take a dramatic stand to defeat this bill which will encourage resistance across the United States. And hopefully, someone someday will say that Arizona unexpectedly did something nobody else dared to do….in a good way.


--------WAIT. BACK UP JUST A MINUTE...--------


What's this new Arizona bill all about, anyway? Here's a run-down from the Daily Kos earlier this week:


Arizona out-crazies Wisconsin on public sector unions. And more!


Tue Jan 31, 2012

We don't cotton to other states elbowing in on Arizona's limelight of the crazy, so when Wisconsin and others voted to curb the influence of collective bargaining (and Ohio repealed the same), the dunderheads at the Arizona legislature decided to wipe out public employee unions altogether, writes Channel 12 reporter Brahm Resnik.
Wisconsin's collective bargaining law enacted last year made unions effectively irrelevant by limiting issues that could be bargained by a government and an employee group. Arizona's bills would do away with collective bargaining entirely and also go beyond Wisconsin law by including public safety unions. azcentral.com
As a "right to [not] work" state, Arizona already does not recognize collective bargaining by the public sector, but that's not good enough for anti-union zealots like the Goldwater Institute, the influential libertarian gaggle that hosted Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at their annual power-fest in November. During his talk and in an NBC interview, Walker touted his policies as creating more jobs and better schools: "People see the reforms are working." Yup, they see they're working so well that more than a million Wisconsinites signed up to recall your ass. After Walker's visit, the Goldwater Institute sat down with key Arizona lawmakers to write the new anti-worker legislation:
Despite claims that "right to work" states do not recognize collective bargaining by public employees, the truth is that "meet and confer" laws are collective bargaining laws... That's why a total ban on public-sector collective bargaining, like the state of Virginia's, makes fiscal sense even in "right to work" states like Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia. Goldwater Institute
That's right, employees can't "meet and confer" even if the get-togethers are non-binding. The state certainly wouldn't want to hear what representatives of employees have to say! So, to head off any such likelihood, the first of three new Arizona bills goes way beyond Wisconsin's attack on public employees by including fire and police in the mix, and by restricting all union activity:
23-1422.  Public employees; unions; prohibitions; enforcement

A.  NO STATE AGENCY OR POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE IS VESTED OR POSSESSES ANY AUTHORITY TO:

1.  RECOGNIZE ANY UNION AS A BARGAINING AGENT OF ANY PUBLIC OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE.
2.  COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN OR ENTER INTO ANY EMPLOYMENT BARGAIN WITH ANY UNION OR ITS AGENTS.
3.  MEET AND CONFER WITH ANY UNION THAT REPRESENTS ANY PUBLIC OFFICER OR PUBLIC EMPLOYEE FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISCUSSING OR REACHING ANY EMPLOYMENT BARGAIN. SB 1485
Shut up, go away, nobody here wants to talk to anyone who represents workers. Another bill ends the practice of automatic payroll deductions for union membership fees:
THIS STATE AND ANY COUNTY, MUNICIPALITY, SCHOOL DISTRICT OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE MAY NOT WITHHOLD OR DIVERT ANY PORTION OF AN EMPLOYEE'S WAGES TO PAY FOR LABOR ORGANIZATION DUES. SB 1487
We're going to make solidarity more expensive and more difficult, so there! A third bill bans compensation by public employees for union work:
ANY EMPLOYMENT BARGAIN THAT INCLUDES COMPENSATION TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES OR THIRD PARTIES FOR UNION ACTIVITIES IS DECLARED TO BE AGAINST THE PUBLIC POLICY OF THIS STATE AND IS VOID. SB 1486
This three-pronged attack is in addition to Governor Brewer's plan to revamp the public employee system by offering state workers 5% of their salary to forgo union protections, as she told the annual ALEC gag-fest in Scottsdale:
Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to offer 5 percent raises to state employees who agree to give up job protections under the merit system isn't sitting well with some workers... The proposal requires employees to opt out of the system, which reduces certain protections such as the right to appeal demotions and protection from termination without cause. Arizona Republic
According to the Blog for Arizona's story about the ALEC presentation, Brewer's proposal amounts "to returning to the spoils system of political patronage and cronyism." Not surprisingly, many public workers are not lining up to collect their 5% bonus:
Valerie LaMar, who works in the child-support division of the Department of Economic Security, said Brewer's proposal will make it easier to fire employees based on politics, gender, age, race and ethnicity. "It's a complete set-up," said LaMar, who has worked nearly 17 years for the state. "It would lead to cronyism. I want a pay raise, but as far as going uncovered, I don't want any part of it. This is where the nail hits the coffin." Arizona Republic
And more!
Finally, if citizens are concerned about groups like ALEC and the Goldwater Institute throwing their considerable weight around on issues like corrections, immigration, campaign finances, education, and collective bargaining, don't worry. In the future you won't know about it. A bill being heard this week seeks to exempt nonprofit groups from registering as lobbyists or declaring their affiliation during testimony -- all nonprofits, even those like Goldwater engaged in political activity.
House Bill 2565 is aimed at resolving a dispute about the Goldwater Institute, which frequently sends staffers to legislative-committee hearings to testify about bills -- some of which the conservative think tank has also drafted. Arizona Republic
If passed, the bill will exempt Goldwater and similar advocacy heavyweights from registering as lobbyists, making it harder to follow their legislative tracks; it will remove the limits on gifts that lawmakers can accept from these yahoos; and it eliminates quarterly lobbying reports.

In sum: Let's shit all over employees but not tell anyone who is sitting on the pot.

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