Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. en U.S. Imperialism Pulls Desperate Move in Venezuela <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). </em></p> <p>For years, the criminal government of the United States has attempted to remove the democratically elected president of Venezuela and discredit the peoples’ movement in that country that has been so successful in lifting millions of Venezuelans out of extreme poverty. Under the corrupt Trump administration alone, the United States has conducted multiple illegal attacks against President Nicolas Maduro and the people of Venezuela, including: failed assassination attempts by drone, poorly orchestrated military coups, the random declaration of political-nobody Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, and the continuous use of deadly, multilateral sanctions (even in the midst of a global pandemic).</p> <p>On Thursday March 26th, in yet another desperate move, the Trump administration announced charges of narco-terrorism against the two-time democratically elected Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and a host of other top Venezuelan officials. US Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo declared a $15 million reward for any information leading to the arrest of Maduro. With zero evidence to support their bold claims, the US is alleging that Maduro and other government officials oversaw the use of Venezuelan territory and resources to help the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to move cocaine to the US.</p> <p>This sensational charge from the DOJ nothing more than the latest transparent attempt by the Trump regime to oust President Maduro, by any means necessary. It is a clear violation of Venezuelan sovereignty aimed at provoking the elite-led opposition in Venezuela into toppling the legitimate government in Venezuela. The opposition, coordinated with the Trump administration, has routinely failed to mount any popularly supported attempt to bring down Maduro in the last three years.</p> <p>These charges come as Venezuela accuses the governments of Colombia and the United States of plotting to use Colombian paramilitaries to selectively murder Venezuelans and sow chaos through terrorism. This accusation by the Venezuelan government came after a man was detained on March 24th at the Colombian border in a vehicle carrying dozens of weapons and other tactical materials to known terrorist groups training in the region.</p> <p>Furthermore, it is a gross irony for the US to accuse another government of collaborating with narcotraffickers, given the role the CIA played during the Central American Dirty Wars in the 1980s. During that time, the CIA worked to bring cocaine into the U.S. in order to fuel arms sales to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, those drugs ravaged African-American and Latino communities in the U.S. and Reagan’s War on Drugs created a police state in cities throughout the country.</p> <p>The Venezuelan government represents an anti-imperialist movement that has refused to bow to the whims of the U.S. empire. And with so many precious minerals, so much oil, and myriad other resources within Venezuelan borders, it is no surprise that the U.S is willing to go to such lengths to install a puppet government in that country instead.</p> <p>We denounce these bogus charges against the rightful president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro and condemn the Trump administration’s continuous illegal attempts to remove President Maduro from office.</p> <p>We support the government and people of Venezuela, as they attempt to battle the Covid-19 outbreak, even under crippling U.S. sanctions.</p> <p>We stand in solidarity with the people’s revolution in Venezuela, which has increasingly taken political and economic power away from neoliberal and corporate interests (foreign and domestic) and given it to the poor and working class.</p> <p>We call for an end to the deadly, crippling sanctions that the Trump administration continues to impose on the people of Venezuela.</p> People's Struggles Socialism Antiwar Movement Americas COVID-19 Donald Trump Healthcare International United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) Venezuela Venezuela Oppressed Nationalities U.S. Sun, 29 Mar 2020 17:33:27 +0000 Fight Back 7949 at The U.S. should be working with China to end the Pandemic, Not provoking a new cold war <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the statement from the MN Anti-War Committee.</em></p> <p>The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global crisis since World War 2. Millions may die in the coming weeks as the coronavirus spreads exponentially on every continent, irrespective of national borders. Hospital systems will be overwhelmed, supply chains will be stretched, shortages will be widespread, and impacts will be universal. Humanity will be united like never before, in struggle against an unprecedented public health threat.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems hellbent on using this crisis to further divide us. Trump’s insistence on calling coronavirus “the Chinese virus” has fueled right-wing calls for so-called “consequences” against China, the country where the virus was first identified. This rhetoric of blame has led to stigma and racist attacks against Asian-Americans, and recently caused a diplomatic row that saw the expulsion of journalists from both countries.</p> <p>Blaming China is also wildly unproductive for the U.S.’s fight against the disease itself. As the first country to experience a COVID-19 outbreak, China’s doctors have invaluable experience in treating and containing the disease. The World Health Organization has praised China for its efforts, and China’s public health response has been among the most successful in the world. Italy has invited and greeted planeloads of Chinese doctors with applause. Trump has only antagonized and mocked China’s hard-won expertise. Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has insisted on calling the disease “the Wuhan virus”, and laughably claimed that “the Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health”.</p> <p>This all comes on top of Trump’s long running trade war with China. The Office of the US Trade Representative has admitted that “the imposition of tariffs on certain Chinese imports has resulted in an overall decline in the availability of needed medical equipment and supplies.” US companies rely on China, “the world’s factory,” not only for medical supplies but basic machine parts and raw materials. The reality is that a decisive portion of the world’s productive capacity lies within China’s borders. Worsening political relations is a recipe for disaster.</p> <p>Republicans are not the first to ratchet up tension with China. President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” policy saw further militarization of the Pacific region with increased US troop presence in places like the Philippines, Japan and Guam. This strategy, which largely continues under Trump, is a clear perpetuation of the anti-communist “containment” strategy pursued by the US during the Cold War, now aimed at China.</p> <p>The Anti-War Committee says, “No New Cold War!” The world should be working together to build a better society for all, not dividing itself and preparing for mass destruction. A global pandemic calls for a global response. We want our leaders to work together with other nations to address this crisis.</p> <p>We call on leaders at the state and local levels to urgently develop independent relations with China, and to stand with Asian-American communities against Trump’s racism. When it comes to COVID-19, poor and oppressed communities inside the US have the most to lose from the Trump administration’s warmongering and refusal to back down. Governors, county administrators, mayors and city council members should immediately seek out advice from Chinese experts and explore possibilities for material assistance. Lives depend on it!</p> <p>Money for human needs, not war!</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Antiwar Movement Asia China China COVID-19 Donald Trump Healthcare International MN Anti-War Committee Oppressed Nationalities U.S. Sat, 28 Mar 2020 13:04:48 +0000 Fight Back 7948 at New Yorkers demand rent suspension <p>New York, NY - Due to the rising unemployment rate, New Yorkers are struggling financially. Some measures have been taken to help homeowners, as well as those going through eviction proceedings. An indefinite moratorium has been placed on evictions, and Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted a 90-day suspension on mortgages. The governor has even gone on to say that through these actions, he has “taken care of the rent issue.”</p> <p>However, this does not go far enough in helping the working class and poor hit hardest by the crisis. A recent survey by Property Nest found that 39% of New Yorkers won’t be able to pay rent if put out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak. The working class mostly lives paycheck to paycheck, making saving for rent difficult. This is why various housing advocates, organizations and some public officials are calling for a rent suspension.</p> <p>On March 19, State Senator Mike Gianaris proposed a bill for rent relief. He and a total of 16 senators then co-sponsored Senate Bill S8125, which would grant a 90-day rent suspension for certain residential tenants and small business commercial tenants. As of now, the bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Governor Cuomo has yet to publicly address the matter, potentially because it is more in his interests to protect homeowners over tenants.</p> <p>Despite the restrictions enacted against public gatherings and leaving their homes, various organizations have been active in demanding rent suspension. Housing Justice for All has been circulating an online petition that you can <a href="">sign here</a>, as well as The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition’s <a href="">here</a>. New York Community Action Project (NYCAP) has called for a daily call-in from noon to 1 p.m. to Governor Cuomo’s office at 518-474-8390 until he passes S8125. For more information about the call-in and how to get involved with NYCAP, visit <a href="">their Facebook here</a> or contact them at <a href=""></a>.</p> People's Struggles housing Housing Struggles rent freeze Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:43:45 +0000 Fight Back 7947 at New claims for unemployment insurance soar to record high <p>San José, CA - On Thursday, March 26, the Labor Department reported the new claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits rocketed to 3.3 million for the week ending March 21. This was almost five times the previous record of almost 700,000 new claims in October of 1982, when the recession drove the unemployment rate to 10.8%. The number of new claims for UI was 15 times higher than the report just two weeks earlier.</p> <p>This number certainly understated the number of lost jobs. Many states don’t allow part-time and gig workers, independent contractors, and the self-employed to file for unemployment benefits. Many workers were not able to file as state UI websites crashed and phone lines jammed. Similar numbers or even worse are expected for next week’s report as layoffs continued to mount this week and the backlog of jobless workers who were not able to file grows.</p> <p>The loss of more than 3 million jobs could increase the official unemployment rate from February’s 3.5% to 5.7% in just one week. This job loss will confirm the beginning of a recession as sales tank as stores close, household income drops and industrial production falls, with auto plants and other manufacturers closing their doors.</p> <p>But Wall Street ignored the human cost in terms of jobs and sickness of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the United States topping both China and Italy to terms of infections with more than 82,000. Stocks rose for the third day in a row to start a new bull market with the average prices of stocks up more than 20% from the low four days ago.</p> <p>Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, spoke for the president and Wall Street, saying that the huge unemployment insurance numbers are “not relevant.” Mnuchin is a former Wall Street executive with the investment bank Goldman Sachs, whose wealth was almost half a billion dollars last year.</p> <p>Mnuchin and Trump, in the daily press briefing, claim the economic bailout bill working its way through Congress would protect people from the economic costs of the pandemic. But Trump’s promises, first that COVID-19 would quickly pass, and now that the economy will recover soon, is starting to sound more and more like President Herbert Hoover’s “prosperity is just around the corner” as the economy sank deeper and deeper into the Great Depression.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy unemployment insurance Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:24:56 +0000 Fight Back 7946 at Veteran Chicano leader Carlos Montes blasts Trump response to crisis <p>Los Angeles, CA - Long time Chicano leader Carlos Montes blasted the Trump administration’s mishandling of the pandemic, March 25, stating, “President Trump’s irrational and disjointed response to this COVID-19 pandemic is causing major harm to working people.”</p> <p>Montes continued, “Especially hard-hit are non-unionized workers in the lower sectors of the economy that who have little to no benefits. They are primarily Black and brown workers who lack health insurance, sick leave, vacations and access to unemployment benefits. This pandemic with the economic crash is causing extreme hardships to Black and brown communities - especially the undocumented.”</p> <p>“Our communities not only do not have access to quality health care, but we are not being tested for COVID-19; and our local hospitals, the ICUs are already at 90% capacity. Thousands may die due to lack of testing and ER/ICU facilities in our communities. Any U.S. congressional stimulus funding package must meet the economic and health care needs of all working families, especially the lower sector workers in the Black and brown communities,” concluded Montes.</p> People's Struggles Carlos Montes Chican@ / Latin@ Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:21:32 +0000 Fight Back 7945 at Colombian prisoners ask for medical help and receive bullets <p>The National Prison Movement (Movimiento Nacional Carcelario) and other prisoner rights groups called a demonstration in Colombian prisons on March 21, to protest the lack of protection against the COVID-19 virus and the general lack of decent healthcare in the Colombian prisons. Twelve Colombian prisons answered the call for a ‘cacerolazo,’ a protest where one bangs on pots and pans to make enough noise so that the protest is heard.</p> <p>The protest in the prison Carcel Nacional Modelo de Bogotá began at 9 p.m. on March 21. The prisoners were mostly on lockdown in their cells and began banging on their pots and pans and chanting, “If the virus enters here, we will all die.” Rather than negotiate or open a dialogue, the prison called in armed guards who immediately began firing tear gas canisters at the prisoners, most of whom were locked in cells with poor ventilation. They then started firing their rifles at the prisoners. At the end of this attack 23 prisoners were killed and another 85 injured. The human rights organization Fundación Lazos de Dignidad called this massacre a “state crime.”</p> <p>Colombian prisons are infamous for overcrowding, poor hygiene and lousy medical services. There are some 120,000 prisoners in Colombian prisons and it is estimated that there is an overcrowding rate of 54%. Included in this prison population are around 1500 political prisoners who, three and a half years after the signing of the Colombian peace agreement, remain imprisoned. Many of these political prisoners qualify for release and a referral to the special peace court (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz). Due to government inaction, these prisoners remain incarcerated and one of them, a FARC political prisoner, was killed in this massacre.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Colombian political Simón Trinidad, unjustly imprisoned in the United States, languishes in long term isolation in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Despite the fact that Trinidad is a key spokesman and symbol for peace, there is no evidence that the Colombian government has taken any action to involve him in the Colombian peace process.</p> People's Struggles Americas Colombia Colombia COVID-19 Healthcare International National Prison Movement (Movimiento Nacional Carcelario) Political Prisoners In-Justice System Oppressed Nationalities Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:43:47 +0000 Fight Back 7944 at WFTU statement on the attacks against workers <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following March 24 statement of the World Federation of Trade Unions.</em></p> <p>THE WFTU STANDS SHOULDER TO SHOULDER WITH WORKERS AND THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD AGAINST THE ATTACKS AT THE EXPENSE OF WORKERS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC</p> <p>The World Federation of Trade Unions, its 100 million members and friends of militant workers around the world, we express our internationalist solidarity and support to workers and the peoples of all countries affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>What is once more reaffirmed is that in difficult times, such as during extreme natural phenomena, wars, disasters, pandemics, it is the workers and the poor people who are at the forefront of danger. The workers are required to pay the price of the pandemic’s effects on both their health and their working rights, so that large business groups, multinationals and big companies can ensure their profitability.</p> <p>From the first days of the spread of the Coronavirus up to the present day, where many countries register thousands of cases and victims, violations of rights, redundancies, restrictions on trade union rights and freedoms by governments and employers have not stopped. They take advantage of the pandemic in order to generalize anti-labor measures and tactics.</p> <p>Thousands of layoffs have taken place since the beginning of the month in sectors where the turnover has fallen due to the pandemic, as illustrated by Greece’s example, which measures 41.000 layoffs in the first half of March. In Austria, in March, 74.000 workers lost their jobs, in Sweden the automotive industry announced 20.000 suspensions. Still other businesses have been generalizing flexible working hours and forcing workers into compulsory leaves, as denounced by unions in Europe, France and Latin America, in countries such as Panama and Venezuela. Airlines like the colossal Turkish Airlines, Imperia, Lufthansa and Emirates have forced tens of thousands of workers to unpaid leaves, threatening them with layoffs, as did travel agencies, hotels and tourism companies in general.</p> <p>Many businesses, as workers in Italy denounce, continue to operate normally without the necessary protection measures against the Coronavirus for workers who went on strike across the country last week. In Peru, mining companies also force workers to work without any security protocol. In Serbia, in Turkey, the trade unions in transport, in metal, in other sectors demand the implementation of health and safety measures in the workplaces.</p> <p>In Portugal, a few days ago, the dockworkers of the port of Lisbon who went on strike because of the lack of basic protection measures, were called to work after the government announced a civil requisition.</p> <p>On the other hand, in businesses where turnover is rising sharply due to the Coronavirus pandemic, such as in Supermarkets etc, they are forcing workers to intensify their work. These workers are suffering exhaustion and occupational “accidents” and diseases. These “accidents” are often not even recorded by the Labor Inspection, which has been closed under these circumstances, instead of being present and carrying out intensive inspections. Also employees are denied leaves and day-offs, there is no information about COVID-19 cases in their workplace, the employers hide such cases so that a large number of staff is not quarantined.</p> <p>In countries such as Palestine, measures for workers whose workplaces were closed due to the Coronavirus are summed up in a miserable allowance while Israeli forces continue to violate rights and also murder Palestinian workers. In Jordan and elsewhere there is growing concern about the unsecured workers and those who work in the informal sector, who have been found with no income and are not entitled to allowances as it is the case for the long-term unemployed workers in many countries.</p> <p>In India, trade unions condemn the government’s attitude of leaving the masses of workers helpless, without financial support, while showing tragic shortcomings in the necessary material to deal with the Coronavirus, such as medical ventilators.</p> <p>In the USA, in New York alone, 21.000 unemployment applications, a record number, have been submitted in just one day.</p> <p>In Africa, COVID-19 outbreaks are on the rise in more and more countries of the continent, with workers in South Africa, the second-most-affected country, calling for protection measures for the most vulnerable groups of the population, and those already suffering from other diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis.</p> <p>The policies of the vast majority of African governments, along with multinationals and monopolies, are responsible for the serious survival problems of workers and the popular strata, as well as for the tragic shortcomings in health systems and in securing access to clean drinking water and suitable housing for the populations.</p> <p>The rights of workers who are at the frontline of the struggle against the Coronavirus, are also being violated. We are referring to doctors and other health-care staff, whose work is intensified to the fullest extent due to under-staffing and under-functioning of public health structures. Their risk of exposure to Coronavirus is high, they are required to work even if they themselves are ill, there are no protection measures for vulnerable groups among them. In countries such as Italy, where around 300 hospital beds correspond to 100.000 persons, the Health Workers are called upon to decide which patients to save and who to leave without the necessary medical care.</p> <p>Today, in the face of the pandemic, and with a steady stream of aid to large companies, with billions being offered to them in various countries, all lost jobs must be restored and secured, without any conditions. All the changes in working relationships that employers have made with the cover of governments must be taken back.</p> <p>The big trade union family of the WFTU, its trade unions members and friends on the 5 Continents, we are not passive observers – we continue our action to protect the lives and working rights of workers!</p> <p>Under these difficult circumstances, we find the right ways to keep our workers informed and continue to play our role. We must continue our daily struggle to defend our rights without “discounts” and compromises.</p> <p>Governments are announcing measures against the spread of the Coronavirus, putting forward the personal responsibility. However, it is revealed that gathering restriction measures and information campaigns for the implementation of personal hygiene measures cannot hide the inadequacy of public health systems to meet the requirements of hospitalization and health-care, due to the Coronavirus. Inadequacy that results from the deliberate undermining of all governments (both social- democratic and neo-conservative).</p> <p>– The governments have the primary responsibility to provide public, free, high quality and modern Health services.</p> <p>– The governments have the responsibility to stop the speculation of the capitalists.</p> <p>– The governments have the responsibility to ban the dismissals and the cut of salaries and working rights.</p> <p>In these difficult times, we are strengthening internationalism and solidarity among the workers of the world. We salute the initiative of Cuba to send 52 specialized doctors to Italy to help treat the pandemic.</p> <p>No one must feel alone!</p> <p>We are fighting to defend our health and our rights!</p> <p>We are fighting for a system that prioritizes human beings and their needs and utilizes the scientific achievements to deal with a pandemic, or other catastrophic events in a timely and planned manner.</p> <p>We once again congratulate the workers who continue in these difficult times to move the cogs of life, producing food, medicine, transportation, communication, services, even at the risk of their own lives.</p> <p>LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY</p> <p>THE SECRETARIAT</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy COVID-19 Healthcare International International Solidarity WFTU World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Labor Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:25:23 +0000 Fight Back 7943 at MN shows solidarity with Palestine during COVID-19 pandemic <p>Minneapolis, MN - The MN Anti-War Committee (AWC) wanted to be a part of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’s global week of action for Palestinian Land Day but they couldn’t do it as a protest the way they had originally planned. Instead on March 24 the MN AWC reorganized their protest as a call-in day, and then did a five-person social distancing bannering protest. </p> <p>In 1976, Land Day marked a turning point as the first mass mobilization by Palestinians within Israel against colonialism and land theft. Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel for protesting the Israeli government's expropriation of Palestinian land. Land Day’s significance in the Palestinian political calendar was compounded in 2018, when hundreds were killed and thousands injured by Israeli sniper fire as Palestinians demanded their Right of Return to their stolen land with mass protests in Gaza, called the Great March of Return.</p> <p>The MN AWC asked all their supporters to call Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar at 202-224-3244 or 612-727-5220 to demand she change her position on U.S. aid to Israel. </p> <p>In addition to the call-in day, the MN Anti-War Committee still sent five of their healthy committee members to hold signs, Palestinian flags and a banner on the bridge which runs from Loring Park to the Walker Sculpture Garden over Interstate 94. </p> <p>Misty Rowan, an activist with the MN Anti-War Committee was on the bridge and explained, “This action was planned to coincided with Land Day, an important Palestinian date on the calendar. Our action was part of an international call for actions on the anniversary of the Great March of Return, something Palestinians have been struggling for since the beginning of the occupation. We decided not to ask the public to come, because social distancing is important to keep everyone in our community safe. But it's also important to keep Palestine on people's minds. Especially when you consider the fact that the blockade and occupation of Palestine is going to spell disaster for efforts there to defeat this virus.”</p> <p>Rowan continued, “We need to be thinking about Palestine because the occupation has already devastated their healthcare system. And the U.S. plays a huge role in Israel's treatment of Palestinians in their own land. People are starting to point out the ways the virus is shedding light on the inequalities of our society. We want people who are staying home and dealing with the stress of that to remember what our country is doing to everyday people in Palestine and other parts of the world. There's also the economic piece of it, which is that the U.S. sends over $3 million every single day to Israel to help them maintain the illegal occupation. That is money we don't have; being spent on something we don't want. People should know that instead of ventilators and protective gear, this is what our tax dollars are being spent on. I don't know about you, but I want U.S. tax dollars spent here at home. And I want Palestinians to be able to help themselves to get the care they will need as this virus continues to gain traction in the region.”</p> <p>The MN AWC encourages all their supporters to call their senators this week to speak out in support of Palestine and against U.S. aid to Israel and against the Israeli blockade of Palestine.</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement COVID-19 Healthcare International Middle East MN Anti-War Committee Palestine Palestinian Land Day Oppressed Nationalities Wed, 25 Mar 2020 22:06:14 +0000 Fight Back 7942 at FRSO online forum: A people’s response to the coronavirus crisis <p>Minneapolis, MN - The world is the midst of a once-in-a-century disease pandemic. COVID-19 is a natural phenomenon that is quickly becoming a human disaster.</p> <p>Steff Yorek, political secretary of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) states, “We know that all the politicians serve the interests of the rich. We need to demand and win concessions that benefit poor and working people. This will be literally a life or death situation and will fall on those with the least resources the most.”</p> <p>Join us for an on-line forum addressing how capitalism fails to address the public health crisis, brings impending economic disaster for working people, and fuels racist attacks in our communities. Speakers will address the failures of capitalism, in contrast with examples set by the socialist countries, and how our movements can fight back. We will be available to take questions live via chat.</p> <p>Speakers will include FRSO leaders Frank Chapman and Masao Suzuki, and leaders from people’s movements across the U.S.</p> <p>The program will take place Thursday, March 26, 7 p.m. Central on the Freedom Road Socialist Organization YouTube Channel: <a href=""></a></p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Socialism Coronavirus Freedom Road Socialist Organization Wed, 25 Mar 2020 01:36:14 +0000 Fight Back 7941 at Tampa UPS Teamsters demand gloves, hand sanitizer to prevent COVID-19 spread <p>Tampa, FL - UPS preloaders held a demonstration March 24 demanding disposable gloves, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. The demonstration was part of an ongoing local and national fight by UPS employees to get the PPE they need to safely perform their job and prevent the spread of the virus to customers and the public. </p> <p>The fight for proper PPE in Tampa began weeks ago when part-timers and drivers began asking management for gloves, hand sanitizer and regular sanitizing of high use areas like clock-in areas and delivery vehicles. These requests were met with excuses and flat-out denials. As the days went on more and more UPS employees requested PPE, leading to local UPS management stating they would provide hand sanitizer and regular sanitizations of high-use areas, but disposable gloves were absolutely out of the question. </p> <p>The excuse used by management for why gloves would not be provided was that employees could still touch their face while wearing the gloves, rendering them ‘useless.’ The implication being that UPS employees are too incompetent to properly wear gloves and purchasing them would be ‘a waste.’</p> <p>Tampa UPSers, however, continued to demand gloves, hand sanitizer and comprehensive sanitizing of all work areas. As the company continued to drag its feet and infections across Florida increased, UPSers knew they had to act.</p> <p>“UPS is a Fortune 500 company making billions of dollars every year, getting us gloves is not going to hurt their bottom line. The refusal and inaction of corporate to address this virus is negligence pure and simple,” said Gary Neeld, a 19-year employee of UPS, “This virus has been in the United States since January and UPS has had all this time to figure something out. Anything they provide now is a day late and a dollar short.”</p> <p>After the demonstration was called, local Tampa UPS management held a meeting with the organizers in an attempt to suppress the rank-and-file demand for proper PPE. Management continued to belittle the demand for gloves but stated that hand sanitizer was being shipped and that steps were being taken to sanitize the building. At the end of the meeting, management contradicted their earlier refusal and stated they would be looking into the possibility of gloves being provided.</p> <p>Whether the company follows through with providing gloves and hand sanitizer to employees remains to be seen. Regardless of these claims, however, rank-and-file Teamsters are continuing the fight. A call-in to the UPS Ethics Hotline is planned for employees to express their concerns with management’s lack of action. The UPS Ethics Hotline number is 1-800-220-4126 and members of the public who don’t work at UPS are encouraged to call.</p> People's Struggles COVID-19 Healthcare Teamsters Teamsters UPS Labor Tue, 24 Mar 2020 22:10:58 +0000 Fight Back 7940 at