September 1, Jimmy Williams Jr. officially became the president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). At 43, he is the youngest president in not only IUPAT’s history, but also within the building trades unions and any major affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Williams has big plans for his tenure: to diversify his union, grow and strengthen the labor movement and, of course, pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act — the most sweeping labor legislation since the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
The building trades unions have a reputation as conservative and insular, and Williams’ ideas and goals are the complete opposite: inclusive, sweeping and progressive. Williams is not afraid to tackle the tough topics that the labor movement as a whole still wrestles with: having difficult political conversations about racism; putting resources towards new organizing, including undocumented immigrants and workers in the South; and refusing resources to politicians who don’t unequivocally support labor. In These Times spoke to Williams about his outlook on the labor movement today, and his big plans for the future.
I understand that you’re the youngest president in IUPAT’s history. Tell me how you got your start in the union.
Jimmy Williams: I was born into my union. I’m a fourth generation member of the IUPAT, and a member of my local union in Philadelphia since 1998. I’m a glass installer by trade, a glazier. My great grandfather was actually a charter member of our local union, my grandfather was a member, my father was a member, and countless uncles and cousins were too. We all grew up in the Philadelphia labor movement and in our industry. That tradition is kind of dying off in the construction industry these days, but for me that’s how I got my start. And I’ve been lucky — I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with a lot of leaders who have come out of the Philadelphia labor movement, one of whom was my father, who was a previous president of the painters’ union [James Williams, IUPAT president from 2003 to 2013], and Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, who was also a member of my local union back home in Philadelphia as well. We have a long tradition of leaders who have emerged out of our local union.
How did growing up in a union household affect the way you view the role of the union and the importance of organizing?
Jimmy Williams: It was kitchen table stuff. It was ingrained in my childhood how important the union movement was to our family. Pretty much any time we would have dinner together as a family, we would always thank the union for being able to provide a great standard of living growing up. But there were also hard times that we fell on. When I was younger I remember my father having to go on unemployment often and was always so grateful when he did have a job, because the union provided such a good standard of living for him, and for us as children.
We would always be doing things with the union. I was probably seven or eight years old the first time I was on a picket line. We always viewed the union as our family to an extent, and just being active and around union activity, you got to see the impact a labor union could have on everyday, average people who just needed an opportunity and a start. I was shaped pretty early on to see what togetherness and collective action can do for people, when it comes to being able to live comfortably with health insurance, with knowing that you’d have a secure retirement in the form of pensions, with higher pay. In the construction industry, when people don’t work, they don’t get paid. The pride and the skills people took to the job site really shaped me in wanting to expand those opportunities to people regardless of where they come from and what background they have.
When you grow up in a strong union environment, and you see what it’s like for non-union workers, and the challenges that they’re faced with, it really does make you want to organize constantly. Because you know there’s a better way.
Maybe he can bring some fresh perspective to the post? Unions are great -- when they work for the worker. When it's just a bunch of people getting rich off union dues and selling the workers out, they're horrible.
I hope he'll be a good leader and I wish him the best.
Here's a video interview he did last week.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
Thursday, September 9, 2021. Iran bombs the Kurds, Iraq struggles to engage the electorate in next month's elections, and much more.
Chelsea Manning has been having a snit fit over Glenn Greenwald's TV appearances. Marcia's "Chelsea and Glenn " and our "Talking post" dealt with it last week and I thought that was it but I want to respond to a whiny e-mail to the public account and hopefully this will close the discussion on Chelsea Manning. She has publicly stated that she wishes she could give the $10,000 back to Glenn. She can't.
Because its not just $10000. What eh fool doesn't grasp is that standing up for her wasn't easy. The LGBTQ community wouldn't support her enough to make her an honorary martial in a gay parade -- that sounds like something Karen would say on WILL & GRACE, but it's honestly the truth. Over and over, she divided the gay community and this was when she was Bradley Manning. Being imprisoned during this, she may not be aware of it. But ask anyone who stood up for her when she was in a military jail and they'll tell you very clearly that a lot of people hated her. A lot.
Let's also discuss the lack of gratitude. Se was desperate for money and people were fundraising for her. There was no "Please don't donate if in the future you might go on FOX NEWS'' or any other qualifiers. She was desperate and people stepped up to help her. It goes beyond bad manners for her to now attack and insult the people who stood by her.
It's not surprising, but it's appalling. That's why we walked away from her the day she attacked Ann Wright. Like Glenn, Ann had been tireless in her support for Chelsea. And her thanks? To be insulted and rebuked publicly by Chelsea.
So let's get this straight, Glenn's wrong for going on FOX NEWS and Ann's wrong for what? Retiring from the State Dept in protest of the Iraq War? I mean, who is it that is pure enough for Chelsea now.
That bitch needs to get her s**t straight. We all have lives. Around the world, people who never met her gave to her -- gave time, gave money, gave support. And there's no gratitutde. We've had many, many public statemetns from Chelsea. We've never seen a thank you.
She's an ungrateful bitch and that's why she's so miserable. By her own words, after she was sentenced, her actions were wrong. She's not anti-war, she made clear when attacking Ann Wright. She's so stupid and vapid that over ten years after the Iraq War started she said publicly she still didn't know where she stood on it.
Hey, that's your first sign to shut your damn mouth and figure out what's going on in your head. You clearly haven't arrived at a point where you need to lead others.
Life is very hard for Chelsea, we're to understand, and she suffered. No, she really didn't. Barack Obama let her out early. The Iraqi people suffered. You know, the group of people she can never talk about. She can never issue a statement in support of them. She can never note their pain.
She wants to act as though she's been betrayed? She's the biggest betrayer of all. Maybe her next announcement can find her begging forgiveness from the Iraqi people? Or at least acknowledging the very real harm that they suffered and continue to suffer in a war that she's largely apathetic to.
If her foes had their way back when she was on trial, she'd be in a military prison for life. It was thanks to the work of everyone that she got released, that her story was known in the first place. The lack of gratitude? It's just one more bad feature making her a very ugly person.
Let's move on to a topic that matter, I AM SAMUEL.
That's the trailer for the new documentary. After seeing the film, Kurdish activist Zhiar Ali spoke with Queer Film Festival Utrech:
Zhiar, after the movie I Am Samuel you spoke with Tessa from Shelter City Utrecht. First of all… What did you think of the movie? Were you able to see it?
Here's Eli Lieb's "Boys Who Like Boys"
And one of the many things I like about Eli's song is that it throws the responsiblity where it belongs: What's your problem?
Persecution of LGBTQs -- and those suspected of being one -- continues in Iraq -- even when the press moves on to whatever hot topic everyone else is chasing at the moment.
They never really addressed the Turkish government's continual bombing of Iraq or sending in foot soldiers or putting up bases. Their laid back attitude to this breach of national sovereignty and these acts of war always meant other governments would feel emboldened. Layal Shakir (RUDAW) reports:
Iranian warplanes and at least one suicide drone attacked bases of
Kurdish opposition groups located within Iraqi borders in Erbil province
on Thursday morning, a top party official said. There are no reports of
“We have recovered the remains of a drone that was used in the attack on one target and we have photos,” Kawa Bahrami, top Peshmerga commander of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) which was the target of the attack, told Rudaw English.
The attacks started at 6:00 in the morning. Iranian warplanes, drones, and artillery targeted several locations in the Sidakan and Choman areas of Erbil province where several Kurdish opposition groups have small bases.
Top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) this week ratcheted up their threats and called on civilians in the Kurdistan Region to avoid areas where these groups have their bases.
The actions of the Turkish government made the above possible. Boycott Turkey notes:
Turkey keeps claiming that they're harming and killing terrorists but the people on the ground don't match the claims of the Turkish government. For example, Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) notes:
A family of three was hospitalized in northern Duhok province this week
after Turkish forces bombed near their home. The family said the bomb
produced a bad-smelling smoke. Authorities are investigating the cause
of their health problems.
Turkey dropped six bombs in the vicinity of Hirore village in Kani Masi sub-district on Saturday. They landed nearly a kilometer from Abdullah Hassan’s house, which is located on the edge of the village.
Hassan, his wife Hadiya Mustafa, and their daughter Zhiman were hospitalized two hours after smoke from the bombs reached their house.
“A Turkish bomb brought this to me. Smoke came towards me and I said ‘go inside as this smoke stinks.’ I went into the house,” Mustafa, 66, told Rudaw.
Turkey bombs homes, hospitals and refugee camps and the world is largely silent. It's no surprise that now the government of Iran thinks it can get away with doing the same.
Next month, Iraq is set to hold elections. THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck Tweets:
Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) reports on The October Revolution:
Emerging Iraqi political movements declared their open opposition to the political system formed after 2003, calling instead for substantial reforms.
On Sept. 4, an expanded conference was held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, by a group of forces that reportedly emerged from the October 2019 protests.
The groups declared their opposition to the country’s political system and signaled they would not be participating in the election.
The conference, titled “The Opposition Forces Gathering,” tackled the “disadvantages” of the Iraqi political system.
It announced the boycott of the elections, saying “[the elections] lack integrity, fairness and equal opportunities.”
It also called for commemorating the start of the protests on the first of next month with a “million-man” demonstration.
Contrary to some protest forces and movements, this conference did not raise the slogan of “overthrowing the regime” or finding an alternative. Rather, it indicated the need for reforms, which is what most large and small political parties in Iraq are calling for.
In a statement on Aug. 26, Bassem al-Sheikh, a spokesman for the opposition forces, said, “The opposition is working to reform the regime, and it may take bigger steps than those that were taken in the 2019 protests.”
According to the spokesman for the forces, the opposition gathering includes 40 movements and groups of movements and gatherings that emanated from the protests witnessed in Iraq over the past two years.
The following sites updated: