Sep 152010

Prime sponsor for Spotlight Lexington has despicable global record

By Ian Epperson

How many times have you heard the phrase, “the World Equestrian Games are coming?” It’s perhaps the single phrase that can sum up the past year in Lexington. Everyone is getting ready for the Games. We’ve fast-tracked the streetscape improvements downtown. Business owners and managers have been attending training sessions to help them cater to international customers. The Herald-Leader churns out several articles a week regarding the WEG. The city is even putting together a festival entirely for the games.

Spotlight Lexington, the city’s festival during the games, has Coca-Cola as one of its primary sponsors. The choice of Coke as the exclusive soft drink and non-alcoholic beverage provider of Spotlight Lexington should be a concern to social and economically conscious Lexingtonians. Coke has willingly turned a blind eye to the violent repression of its unionized workforce in South America. As well, its business model in India includes monopolizing water sources for use in its bottling factories, water sources that communities depend on. The result has been polluted water and poisoned Coke products. Continue reading »

Apr 082010

Slave revolts, births and criminal syndicalism

NoC News

On April 8 in 1712, a slave revolt occurred in New York City, a city that at the time exploited a large slave labor force to grow its economic might. On the night of the revolt, twenty-three slaves set fire to a city building and waited—with hatchets, swords and guns—for white townspeople to respond to the fire. They killed nine people and injured six more before fleeing. In the roundup of slaves that occurred afterwards, twenty-one were executed and six committed suicide rather than be captured. The uprising resulted in new slave laws that included, among other things, more leeway in allowing masters to “discipline” their slaves—so long as the beatings did not result in loss of life or limb. Continue reading »

Apr 082010

’80s cult classic good food for thought today

By Patrick Bigger

Alex is really not your typical hero. For starters, Alex doesn’t have a gender pronoun attached to Alex. Also, Alex is helping foment a proletarian revolution in England by forcibly re-appropriating the fancy restaurant Alex used to work at, renaming it Bastards, and feeding the obnoxious politicians, socialites, and idle wealthy to one another.

This is the backdrop for Peter Richardson’s 1987 tour de force Eat the Rich, showing as part of the Cult Film Series at Al’s Bar on Wednesday, April 14. Lanah (Alan) Pillay, Britain’s first transsexual superstar, plays Alex, a down and out waitperson who is totally fed-up with flaky friends, rude social servants, populist rightwing politicians, and capitalism. The logical response, obviously, is to go door to door signing up other disaffected poor people. Alex is aided in the struggle by such diverse characters as Lemmy from Motörhead (who also provides the stellar soundtrack) as a shady arms dealer and Christopher Malcolm of Absolutely Fabulous as a Soviet double agent who surreptitiously guides Alex and their misfit crew of class warriors against the reactionary forces that dominate every aspect of their lives. Continue reading »

Mar 272010

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire, T-Bone Slim, strikes and assassinations

NoC News

On March 25 in 1911, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in NYC killed 146 of the approximately 500 workers there that day. The “factory” was a typical sweatshop of its day, and the death of the workers was taken up by many labor activists as an example of the horrors and inhumanity of industrial production’s commitment to the bottom line—money—at the expense of worker safety.

The fire started on the upper floors of the Ascher building. Workers on these floors were essentially trapped since overseers regularly locked the sweatshop’s exit doors to ensure that nobody stole materials from the factory. Without a way to safety, some workers jumped to their deaths rather than burn. Others pleaded from flaming windows that were located too high for fire department ladders to reach. Continue reading »

Mar 152010

Hotel Bauen, marches, evictions and other happenings

NoC News

In this month in 2003, former employees of the closed-down Hotel Bauen, located in the Argentinian city of Buenos Aires, reclaimed the rundown building and began making repairs. The space is now run collectively by its workers as a hotel, free meeting space for labor groups, and residence for (some) of its workers.

The story of Hotel Bauen dates back to the mid-70s, when capitalist Marcelo Iurkovich secured easy government loans to construct the four-star hotel in downtown Buenos Aires. Iurkovich was looking to cash in on the projected tourist influx that would hit the Argentinian coastal city when it hosted the 1978 World Cup. Sold in 1998 to some Chilean capitalists after Iurkovich sucked enough profit out of it to open two more hotels (though, curiously, not enough money to pay off his initial loans), the Bauen closed in 2001, leaving a number of workers jobless and forcing many into the streets, in the midst of Argentina’s great economic collapse. Continue reading »

Feb 282010

On Saturday February 27, 1943, an explosion in the mines killed 75 miners working at Smith Mine # 3, located near Red Lodge, MT.

On Saturday March 6, 1913, Joe Hill’s song “There is Power in a Union” first appeared in Little Red Song Book. The IWW song booklet has been re-printed over 30 times since its first publication in 1905.

On the same day in 1984, a year long British coal strike began.

On Sunday March 7, 1860, six thousand shoemakers and twenty thousand other New England workers struck in Lynn, Massachusetts. The largest strike to take place before the Civil War, the male and female strikers won wage increases for the poorly paid workers. The strike was the fruition of a number of forces, including the publication since 1830 of a radical newspaper, the Awl, which vociferously pushed for labor rights.

On the same day in 1932, police fired at a hunger march in Detroit. They killed four people, hungry people.

Monday March 8 is International Women’s Day. On this day in 1908 thousands working in the New York needle trades demonstrated for higher wages, shorter workdays, the right to vote and an end to child labor.

Information gleaned from “Solidarity Forever: Worker Resistance in Hard Economic Times,” the 2010 calendar of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).