22 July 2021

Class struggle from below, and the media

Two major strikes under way in the US are manifesting another side of how, faced with a largely paralyzed government, American workers are taking action themselves.  Sadly, these strikes also illustrate how so much of the left in this country has lost its focus.

I've posted before about the Frito-Lay strike in Topeka, where workers endure forced overtime sometimes bringing total work time above eighty hours per week -- pay and safety conditions are also an issue.  It's possible that an agreement could be reached as soon as today, but during the two weeks the strike has been under way, I've seen almost no coverage of it on left-wing blogs or news sites (aside from a couple of Tumblr blogs) -- media which should have been, among other things, getting the word out about which products to boycott to support the strike.  I did unearth one small item at the Daily Kos, but it was far from prominent and took some looking to find.

In Alabama, coal miners have been on strike for three months over pay cuts and weakened safety standards, yet the mainstream media have totally ignored the story for all that time, and I've seen no mention of it on the left-wing blogs or news sites I normally read, though Crooks and Liars did post a story yesterday.  Everywhere has had heavy coverage of the silly and meaningless rocket antics of narcissistic billionaires, but hardly a word about labor actions which embody what used to be the essence and raison d'être of the left.

As for the mainstream media, their bias is so institutionalized that we hardly see it for what it is.  Every mainstream news site has a whole section for business news, but none has a section for labor news.  Every momentary fluctuation of the stock market is parsed and analyzed to death, and a corporation's change in business strategy or an absurdly-overpaid executive's move to a new sinecure are headline stories, but ordinary Americans' revolt against 84-hour work weeks or dangerous job conditions are unworthy of mention.

But that's how the MSM does things.  The left-wing internet can and should do better.  There's more to the news than what politicians are saying and doing.  What is being done from the bottom up deserves attention too.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

The Topeka strike has been all over twitter for days, but I had no idea about Alabama. But Alabama is not a bastion of leftism, is it? They vote against their best interests. Blaming 'the left' is slightly misguided. As is, the Repugs are painting even the slightest move to protect workers as Marxism! Communism! Socialism!
I agree with the stupid reporting on vacuous billionaires in a space pissing contest, though.


22 July, 2021 03:03  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I very much agree. I don't understand why these things aren't also reported.

22 July, 2021 07:04  
Blogger jono said...

The news organizations just need more viewers for their advertisers and whatever stories will sell is what they cover. We (U.S. and USSR) did 60 years ago what the rich guys are doing today. Now it's tourism for the rich and famous. The labor movement has been beaten down for at least 40 years and unless there is violence or something sensational it won't be covered. It's all about money for the "news" outlets.

22 July, 2021 10:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: I doubt the striking miners, or at least most of them, are the same as the people who voted Republican. Even in Alabama, 37% of the vote went Democratic in 2020.

As for "the left", I made it very clear I'm talking about the left media and blogosphere failing to cover the strikes even while they blather on endlessly about the meaningless minutiae of what politicians are doing and saying on any given day. But besides that, I haven't heard of the Democratic party institutionally doing anything to support the strikes or calling attention to them.

Ricko: I think it's partly laziness, and partly that we've grown over-focused on top-down actions by politicians over bottom-up actions by workers.

Jono: That may be true of news sites, but it doesn't explain why bloggers (who mostly aren't in it for the money and aren't making any) have also ignored these stories.

22 July, 2021 12:13  
Blogger Daal said...

this is a valuable post in that I've encountered of people who are truly out of touch with what working conditions can be like - maybe they watch too many sitcoms where employees are allowed to mouth off to bosses? or as the cost of higher education becomes more & more prohibitive, people sponge up facts but have neither the vocabulary nor classroom accountability to translate them into intelligent reasoning? when I talk to some, my mind reels for days...

22 July, 2021 15:25  
Anonymous Ki wa said...

As for the Alabama strike tose strikers are the thuglican base.
There is a video of Union leader Blankenship, and his cadre of thugs, attacking, upending a table and giving a bums rush to people who were at strikers picnic in support of the strikers but since they were not good white christian thugs not only was their support rejected but they were basically assaulted.
In past months there have been several reports of the strikers running off those who wish to support them because they were not the right religion, color, educated, not being ammosexuals or for not wearing that used toilet paper jokingly called a southern flag.
For years these people not only voted for thuglicans but have embraced ignorance and bigotry as the true hallmarks of american freedumb.
Not only have they brought this on themselves but they have supported movements that would inflict their bad judgement upon the rest of the nation.
As for the misleading excuse that 37% voted for Biden (but not the rest of the d ticket) remember 0ver 26% of Alabama's population are African/ americans and the small blue dots on alabamas voting map are in either heavily African/americans communitie or educated islands (Huntsville) amidst a sea of the proudly ignorant. Hardly the locales of coal miners.
They bought into diaper dons bs on coal and everything else and until they admit their mistakes and offer atonement I have little sympathy for a dying industry killing its own adherents.
As for Kansas well look at its voting record as well. They got the government they wanted and now they are whining without admitting they were played for suckers.

22 July, 2021 22:14  
Blogger Mike said...

I always laugh when the news people say, "The stock market was down today 3 points." No, the market was not "down". It barely flutuated. 1% is barely an up or a down.

22 July, 2021 22:39  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Daal: Thanks. I don't have much sympathy, in many cases. Anyone who goes to restaurants can see how tough it is being a waitress, for example. As for things like the exploitation of Amazon workers, the information is out there and easily accessible. Too many people just refuse to read anything that takes them out of their comfort zone.

Ki wa: Do you have any supporting evidence for the strikers doing those things? I mean on actual news sites, not just somebody on the internet claiming he heard about something.

Mike: They always claim to know things I don't see how they can know. For example, this Monday the Dow fell almost 3% and the pundits said it was due to fears about the delta variant. Then over the next two days it recovered from the loss. Was the delta variant suddenly less worrisome on Tuesday and Wednesday than it was on Monday? How do they really know why it fell and then went back up? I don't believe anyone can be so sure about such things.

23 July, 2021 05:20  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

i wish for them to get what they need and deserve...just don't mess with my Frito's, I am eating a Frito Pie and the bag is half full.

23 July, 2021 13:08  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I only have Netflix now no live Tv so I don't see a lot of news unless something pops up on Twitter so I didn't know about these.

23 July, 2021 13:09  
Anonymous ki wa said...

Two different Coal stories Black jewel in Harlan Cty. Kentucky
From Rolling Stone 9/3/19
"Harlan County went 85 percent for Donald Trump in 2016 as voters turned out to support the candidate who promised to bring the coal industry back. Trump would have miners believe that it was Obama’s regulations on coal plants that caused the decline, but industry experts agree that market forces were actually behind the shift, as both natural gas and renewable energy sources have become cheaper in recent years. "

Alabama incident. Read it elsewhere and saw video will try again.

23 July, 2021 17:45  
Anonymous ki wa said...

Articles about pro trump coal miners in kentucky went 85% for demented donnie and moscow mitch.


23 July, 2021 17:51  
Blogger Bohemian said...

All the Help Wanted Signs everywhere that won't pay a livable wage or offer Benefits is proof that the Bottom is rebelling and everyone will feel the effects of it if they just won't listen and make necessary changes that don't exploit the American Workers who really do fuel most of the Economy. Bezos in his Penis Rocket was so Tone Deaf he might as well have Thanked all the Workers he exploits and all the small Businesses he put out of business instead of Thanking Amazon, Right? There will be a shift and then it will have to receive Coverage, even if they'd rather not cover it and try to keep it covered up.

23 July, 2021 22:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: The way I eat now, I rarely buy that kind of food anyway. But giving it up during the strike is a small sacrifice for the common good, like wearing a mask during the pandemic.

Mary K: I don't have a TV at all, so I rely on the internet for news. One does need to read a variety of sources to keep up with things.

Ki wa: We're talking about these specific strikers in Alabama, so other people in Kentucky doing things is completely irrelevant. The WSWS post references just one racist incident and specifies that it was the union leadership, not the strikers themselves, who were responsible -- and makes it clear that the striking miners in general rejected the leaders' attitudes (I notice also that two of the four striking miners shown in the photo are black -- given the large black population in Alabama, I figured all along that quite a few of the miners there would be black). I see nothing to support "several reports" of the strikers themselves "running off" people who supported them for the reasons you stated.

Since you can't provide any back-up for your accusations, I'll take the point as conceded.

Bohemian: It's getting so bad that some restaurants can't even maintain normal business hours. People are quitting in the middle of shifts. Some owners claim they won't be able to stay in business if they pay people properly, but at this rate they won't be able to stay in business anyway.

Bezos just beclowned himself. All the response I've seen on the internet to the dong rocket either ridiculed him or berated him for not paying taxes, even with the media desperately pushing us to take him seriously.

24 July, 2021 00:37  
Anonymous Johnny Profane Âû said...

Why doesn't the "press" cover it?

Because the "free press" is largely owned by a few corporations. Who certainly have no interest in a resurgent Labor movement.

Bezo's Washington Post sure as shit ain't gonna cover it. And nearly all journalists work for a corporate board just as nakedly repressive.

Even local papers are owned by oligarchs... or their proxy corporations

And Twitter and the rest of the Internet?

Steered and strangled by 10s of thousands of burner accounts flooding the zone with propaganda paid for by corporations... governments... fascists.

This and your China post are excellent.

Thank you.

24 July, 2021 01:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

That's true where the MSM is concerned, but I was talking about the lack of coverage at places like the Daily Kos or the left-wing blogosphere (in contrast to the MSM, whose lack of coverage is more understandable). My point is, too much of the left is blinkered by a "top-down" model of achieving change, where the main focus is on what politicians in office do and the mass of the population is basically a passive recipient of that action. I'm arguing for more of a "bottom-up" focus, recognizing that mass actions like strikes and mass organizing are equally worthy of attention.

Thanks -- glad you liked the posts.

24 July, 2021 12:08  

Post a Comment

<< Home