4/28 Heather Rogers - Green Gone Wrong

4/28 Green Gone Wrong
A Public Forum and Discussion with

Heather Rogers
Journalist and Author of the new book
GREEN GONE WRONG: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution
7pm, Thomson 101 (Click for map)

As consumers take environmentalism into their own hands, a dynamic green marketplace has exploded in the West: the trade in organic food has continued its surge despite the economic downturn; hybrid automobiles and biofuels are now in full production; and an increasing number of companies offer the service of neutralizing consumers’ CO2 emissions.

Implicit in these efforts at “going green” is the promise that global warming can be stopped by swapping out dirty products for “clean” ones, with little disruption to daily life. But can earth-friendly goods really save the planet?

To piece together a global picture of a global problem, Rogers reports from places including Detroit, Paraguay and Indonesian Borneo. Come discuss the realities behind the products and practices that pledge to remedy our environmental woes and hear what’s happening in the name of today’s environmentalism.

Sponsored by
Demos and Haymarket Books.  

Co-Sponsored by
the UW International Socialist Organization and
Not A Number, Seattle's Political Gift Shop

To Co-Sponsor email info@seattleiso.org.

Heather Rogers is a journalist and author. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, and The Nation. Her first book, "Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage", traces the history and politics of household rubbish in the United States.


4/27 Panel: What Can You Do to Stop the Cuts?

What Can You Do to Stop the Cuts?
Tuesday, April 27 – 7 PM Miller Hall 301

What’s the big deal about ‘budget cuts’? • What was March 4th all about? • How will the budget cuts affect me? • How will the budget cuts affect others on campus? • What can I do to help stop the budget cuts?

The University of Washington is balancing its budget on the backs of students and workers – increased tuition, cuts to academic resources, lay-offs, speed-ups. Students are paying more for a lower-quality education, and workers are being paid less for more work. The administration says they’re not to blame – but should they be held responsible? Despite what President Emmert tells us, another budget is possible. Come and find out where we can get the money to stop the cuts. Presenters will include students and campus workers.

Join us for this informal panel on April 27th – listen, ask questions, discuss. Then strike on May 3rd to defend your education!

Sponsored by the UW Student/Worker Coalition


4/21 Howard Zinn’s The People Speak Film Showing

4/21 Howard Zinn’s The People Speak Film Showing
7pm, Thomson 101  (Click for map)
$5 admission

As part of a national ISO Film Tour we will be showing Howard Zinn’s documentary feature film THE PEOPLE SPEAK­—which brings to life the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans who fought for equality and justice from the bottom up and includes 20 min of footage not in the TV broadcast.

Narrated by acclaimed historian Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People's History of the United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People's History, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.

RSVP to the event on Facebook

THE PEOPLE SPEAK is produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove, and Howard Zinn, co-directed by Moore, Arnove and Zinn, and features dramatic and musical performances by Allison Moorer, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, David Strathairn, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Martín Espada, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O'Malley, Morgan Freeman, P!nk, Q'orianka Kilcher, Reg E. Cathey, Rich Robinson, Rosario Dawson, Sandra Oh, Sean Penn, Staceyann Chin, and Viggo Mortensen.

Check out the ISR guide to The People Speak
International Socialist Review magazine provides a list of related historical articles to accompany The People Speak.

Proceeds benefit activists travel to attend the SOCIALISM 2010 Conference in July 1-4 in Oakland, Calif. See the  Socialism 2010 Web site for more information. Contact info@seattleiso.org if you are interested in attending the conference with a group from Seattle.

Socialism 2010 - Ideas for Changing the World from International Socialist on Vimeo.

And here is a video preview from last year, it's 2009
but its gives a good sense of what the conference is like


Interview: David Parsons -- We make the university run

We make the university run
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United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4121 represents around 4,500 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington (UW). The contract covers undergraduate and graduate students working as research assistants (RAs), staff assistants, teaching assistants (TAs), reader/graders, tutors, fellows and trainees.

The first organizing drive for Local 4121 started around 10 years ago. At the end of the school year in June 2001, a two-week strike pressured the UW administration to work with the local in lobbying the Washington state legislature for union recognition. In 2004, the union was officially recognized and signed its first contract.
In early March of this year, negotiations for a new contract began between the local and the UW administration. April 30 marks the end of the union's second contract. On March 31, the union held a contract campaign rally on campus with some 200 union members and supporters. A week later, UAW Local 4121 President David Parsons met with Johnny Mao and Darrin Hoop to talk about the history of the local on campus and the ongoing negotiations and campaign to win a fair contract.
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Members of UAW Local 4121 on strike at the University of 
Washington in June 2001WHY IS it important for graduate students to organize?
FIRST, TO be clear, we're not just graduate students. The majority is, but the union includes anybody who is an academic student employee. That includes graders, readers and tutors, and there are also a number of undergraduates who work as TAs and RAs.

As to why we need to organize, we're ultimately a very cheap, but critical, labor force at the university, both in terms of carrying out its instructional mission, but also in terms of its research mission and its service mission.

Our members do essential work in each of those areas. Our instructional workers provide more than half of the total instructional hours to undergraduates on campus. Research assistants are a key part of the UW's ability to bring in over a billion dollars in grants and contracts. Our folks do research but also help to write the grants.

It's really important that as student employees, we have a strong voice. It can be very easy in a situation where you have mentoring relationships and advising relationships with the university that your needs as a worker can be overlooked. The fact that there are now so many unions of graduate student employees around the country is, I think, evidence of why this sector is really important to represent. It's an increasing trend.

IT TOOK four years to win union recognition?
TWO YEARS of organizing, a strike, a bill being passed in Olympia. We also faced a legal challenge. After the bill was passed, the university challenged whether or not it was appropriate to have research assistants be a part of the bargaining unit and that challenge landed us in a one-and-a-half year proceeding with the Public Employment Relations Commission. We won that as well. After all those things we negotiated and then ratified our first contract in 2004.

The strike was from June 1-15 in 2001. It was at the end of the quarter at a time, when most of the grading happens, which would have been done mostly by teaching assistants. We handed in our grading materials so the university could try and do it by themselves, which was difficult for them without our labor.
That had a major impact. It was a really intense job action--it took a lot out of everybody, as strikes do, but it was also a really meaningful part of the overall campaign.

The university knew that we had gotten to a point that we felt like that was our only option, and we were willing to do what we needed to do to win. It was after the strike that the university agreed to jointly lobby with us for a bill in Olympia that would remove their final excuse to not recognize us. So, on a very immediate basis, the strike had an impact.

WHAT ARE the key issues in the current contract negotiations?
WAGES AND health insurance benefits.

We also have some proposals having to do with ensuring that there's a measure of quality for instruction that gets preserved. Last year, there were major slashes to a lot of the instructional support centers on campus--tutoring centers, writing centers, the center for instructional development and research--all of which provide key resources for undergraduates, for underrepresented populations on campus, for international students, etc.

Without those resources, not only is there less support on campus for all populations that need assistance, but also the remaining tutors have less of an ability to effectively engage with the students coming to see them because there's just higher volume. We want there to be better ratios of students to instructors and are proposing that closures of those support centers be reversed. We have proposals on improving child care, health care and wages.

WHAT DOES the union think would be fair for wage increases? I see on your literature that the cost for one year's raise would only be $664,000?
YES, THAT was the cost of a raise that the board of regents approved for us in one year last year. That was about a 2.5 percent increase. We're in negotiations right now to see what it will be this year. As of right now, the university has proposed no wage increase at all, for any part of the contract.
It wouldn't be appropriate to put a number on what we're asking for, but suffice to say that when our members say we want fair compensation, what we're looking at is a level that accommodates the fact that student employees, as a condition of their employment, have to pay fees that have been increasing and have to deal with the cost of living in Seattle.

Due to those increases, it's critical, especially given how much we make as student employees, that we have some increased compensation in order to deal with that.

HOW MANY positions overall will be affected? The union estimates that possibly 447-plus quarters of TA positions could be cut, but then there's tutoring centers, and there's also the issue of layoff protections.
THAT NUMBER is specific only to the College of Arts and Sciences. In terms of overall cuts, it could be much greater than that. This is simply what we know from Arts and Sciences--that they're contemplating a cut that large.

And that's just TAs. When they're talking about closing all the main tutoring centers? Who knows, that could be potentially another couple hundred tutors. And beyond that, who knows? So we're talking about the potential for major, major cuts.

What we've been trying to get across is that these cuts clearly affect people's lives in a major way. Because if you don't have funding, then you're forced to pay tuition to stay here as a graduate student. And because tuition has been increasing so dramatically in the last few years, people are faced with this impossible decision. Do I take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt just so I can stay here and finish my degree, or do I leave?
And if you're an international student, it's even more serious. Because you can't get any job other than an ASE position. It's not like you can go wait tables to supplement your income. International students have also never able to apply for in-state tuition rates. So they have to pay out-of-state tuition and can't get another job to offset those costs. So a lot of them are just leaving the country.

What we've been saying to the university is: how is it in your interests to so dramatically compromise the quality of education that happens here, both on the instruction and the research side, by making cuts of that magnitude? It's not like enrollments have dropped, it's not like tuition is dropping--but students are paying higher tuition, and they're getting fewer resources available to them. It's bizarre and difficult to understand their rationale.

THE CONTRACT expires April 30. I know that some people are planning a student strike on May 3. What is the likelihood that the local will go on strike, and what are the possibilities of connecting the two?

IS IT likely that we'll go on strike? I honestly don't know. It's certainly a possibility, and if the bargaining committee makes the determination that we're not going to get a fair contract, then we've been authorized by our membership to call a strike. It was a 90 percent vote authorizing a strike, so we have overwhelming support.

As far as connecting the struggles, I think they already are connected. It started long before March 4, and we're in a situation now where we have great campus activism, which dovetails nicely with the issues specific to our contract.

We hope to have a contract by April 30. To have something that benefits our members, that's the goal. And to be honest, it's possible. The university is hiding behind the state budget, but we know what the "big picture" financial situation is. We know the university can do it. So we're trying to put pressure in various ways to get them to do the right thing.

There's a lot that goes into any kind of mass mobilization. We've been working on various mobilizations around the budget, tuition affordability, preserving jobs. Last year, we had two open letters that went to President Mark Emmert and to the legislature. The first one, we had around 2,300 signatures, and the second one had almost 2,800 signatures.

Doing that kind of work is valuable, because it sends a strong message and because it develops more of an infrastructure for further actions. When there are lots of people on campus who are doing phone banking, or talking to their coworkers and colleagues, there's a leadership development component that goes into that.
Right now, we're in the middle of starting to set up meetings within departments and hiring units where a member of the bargaining team will be giving presentations about what's happening with bargaining and possible next steps. The goal is to make sure that if we do have to escalate seriously that there's been plenty of communication and that people have a good understanding of what the issues are. So it's not as though people will be asked a question out of the blue.

In terms of how people can help, the Student Labor Action Project has been in touch with us that they're planning something in support. If people are interested in doing something showing how students and community members support us, that's fantastic. Any show of support is always helpful.
If people are student employees, we would urge them to get in touch with us and get involved with the department meetings--because the more people who are getting in touch with their coworkers and getting involved, the better.

We had our action on March 31. You can check out our Web site [1] and Facebook page [2] for other actions we've done.

WHAT DID you think about the March 4 actions here and around the country?
IT WAS great. You know, one of our sister locals at the University of California had contacted us because the call for action around the March 4 emerged out of California. Like us, Local 2865, which represents ASEs at the University of California, has been involved in the fight against budget cuts, and they contacted us saying they were endorsing this action and would we endorse it too--and we did.
There needs to be more of it. We know that when it comes to influencing decision-makers, whether they're elected representatives in Olympia or the board of regents or whoever, that organizing and taking action is one of the more meaningful and powerful drivers of the process. More so than just doing legislative work or something like that.

The creation of a mass, unified movement that is speaking out about the issues that affect people is, I think, a necessary precursor for anything to get changed.
  1. [1] http://www.uaw4121.org/index.php
  2. [2] http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=270875141375
  3. [3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0


4/14: Political News Round up Discussion and Organizing meeting

This Wed's meeting:
Political News Round up Discussion
and Organizing meeting 

7pm School of Social Work room 26 
For the first part of this weeks meeting we'll have a political roundup discussion centering on the April print edition of Socialist Worker Newspaper. There's tons to discuss, ranging from the case for socialism, to the democrats and the health care, financial reform, and Immigrant rights bills  - to Arne Duncan's School reform fraud , the War in Iraq AND How we can build today's struggles in the continuing fight for LGBT rights,  How walkouts were organized in CA on march 4th, as well as the history of the UAW Grad Students local at UW and the ongoing negotiations and campaign to win a fair contract. Join us for a free flowing political discussion of the socialist perspective on the last months news! 

In the second half of the meeting we'll discuss plans for our upcoming
Socialism 2010 Conference Ideas for Changing the World
A weekend of Revolutionary politics, debate and entertainment
in Oakland CA, July 1-4

We'll discuss how to get a group of students from Seattle down to the conference, as well as our upcoming fundraiser THE PEOPLE SPEAK FILM SCREENING


Seattle rallies for immigrant rights

Seattle rallies for immigrant rights | April 14, 2010

SEATTLE--As many as 4,000 people gathered downtown on April 10 for one of the largest immigrant rights demonstrations here in recent years.

The event was organized by the Washington Immigration Reform Coalition (WIRC) for America, an alliance of over 60 community organizations, faith groups and unions, in response to a call for a national day of action for immigration reform called by One America.

Frustrated by the lack of action on the part of President Barack Obama and Congress, and inspired by the large turnout in Washington, D.C., for the March 21 immigrant rights rally, activists hoped to seize the momentum to push the politicians to introduce an immigration reform bill by May 1.

According to organizers, the Seattle protest was the second-largest in the country that day, with buses coming in from every corner of the state, some from as far away as Walla Walla, where participants got up at 3 a.m. to make it to Seattle by Noon. The crowd kept its energy with frequent chants of "Sí se puede."

In addition to Latino activists, organizers pointed out that the Washington rally had a large contingent of Asian immigrants and supporters. There was also a considerable Native American presence, and a number of signs drew out the hypocrisy of white Americans opposing immigration.

One young women held a sign which read, "The only illegals in America arrived in 1492" and a shirt that said, "This border is illegal." "I'm here for justice," she said. "We were here before long before the borders, and we'll be here long after they fall."

Several of the speakers drove home the urgency of fixing the immigration system. One woman described her experience being stopped for a traffic offense and sent to the Tacoma detention center. "I looked around and realized that all the people were in there for some reason or another, but none of them were terrorists," she said. She began talking to the other detainees and trying to organize them, and was denied food for 72 hours as punishment. She ended up having to pay $10,000 to get out.

One of many labor leaders present, Sergio Salinas, president of Service Employees International Union Local 6, discussed the importance of labor supporting immigration reform. He described the devastating impact of workplace raids on the lives of workers, but also how they are used to divide the workforce, and particularly to target workers who are organizing and standing up for their rights.

Carlos Padilla is a senior and student body president at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle. He came to Seattle from Mexico with his family when he was 2 years old. "My parents were in search of the American Dream," he said. Instead, they encountered a lifetime of hard work.

"I remember one night, my mom was crying after working in the sweatshop because the pain in her fingers was so bad," he said. "I told her one day that I would take care of her, and she wouldn't have to work anymore." Carlos just got accepted to the University of Washington and plans to become a lawyer, but he can't get financial aid because he is undocumented.

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AN INDIAN program worker at Microsoft described the challenges facing high-tech workers at the state's largest employer. On average, workers in the H1B guest worker program have to wait 10 to 15 years to get a green card.

"I've been waiting 8 years," he said. "Because we are immigrants, I had to pay out-of-state tuition for both myself and my wife. And after completing her masters, my wife is still not legally allowed to work here...we've had enough." He and other H1B workers have been organizing, and 1,000 of them signed a letter to Washington's Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, demanding action on immigration reform.
Murray and Cantwell themselves addressed the crowd via pre-taped video statements. Both pledged to be strong supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, and Murray emphasized that it was important to "pass not just anything, but the right thing."

Unfortunately, the bills currently on offer fall quite short of the "right thing." The march organizers did not endorse any particular piece of legislation, but laid out four key provisions for any bill: legalization and a path to citizenship; family reunification, including for LGBT couples; protection for all workers, regardless of status; and full due process and human rights protections for all immigrants.

None of the proposals due to come before Congress--either the plan from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), or the one from Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)--meet all these. Worse, they include ramped-up enforcement provisions that will make the lives of immigrants even worse than they are already.

It remains to be seen whether the politicians who spoke at the rally will stick to their fine words back in Washington. In a telling statement, liberal Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott compared the coming fight on immigration reform to the Democrats' yearlong battle for an inadequate health care bill that was full of concessions to Republicans and the right.

Despite these challenges, activists left the event feeling hopeful. More and bigger events like this one will be critical to achieving real justice for immigrants. "This is our moment," said One America organizer Pramila Jayapal to a cheering crowd as the rally came to a close. "Congress will never make anything happen on their own. It is the people who will make immigration reform happen. Movements make things happen."


4/7 - Case for Socialism & Intro to the ISO Meeting

Want to know more about Socialism?
Thinking about Joining the ISO? 
This meeting is for You!

April 7, 7pm Room 26 School of Social Work
Case for Socialism & Intro to the ISO Meeting

The misery that millions of people around the world face is rooted in the society we live in--capitalism, where the few who rule profit from the labor of the vast majority of the population. A world free of exploitation where people come before profit -- Socialism -- is not only possible but worth fighting for.  The ISO is committed to building a left alternative to this world of racism,  poverty, war, and environmental destruction; to building Socialism from the bottom up through the struggles of ordinary people against exploitation, oppression, and injustice.

We have branches and members in more than 65 cities across the country --  The UW ISO Branch is part of the Student Worker Coalition fighting the budget cuts at UW, we participate in S.O.L.E. & Seattle OUTProtest in the struggle for LGBT rights, contribute to Ruckus, as well as the fight city-wide against teacher layoffs and school closures

At this week's meeting we'll  talk not just about socialism -- what its about and how we can get  there -- but also how the ISO is organized what we're involved in locally and how you can get involved. There will be lots of time for an informal Q&A so bring any questions you may have and  get involved!

The Case for Socialism with Sherry Wolf on Vimeo.

This is a longer and more in-depth presentation then we will be having this week in Seattle, so check out the video first and bring and questions or ideas to the meeting.

On March 24, 2010 the Burlington branch of the International Socialist Organization hosted a talk and discussion with Sherry Wolf, author of Sexuality and Socialism, on the case for socialism.