This is from a roundtable by Maximillian Alvarez at In These Times:
Gabbi Pierce: Hey. Yeah, I’m Gabbi Pierce, I am a trans union organizer, and I’m on the general board of the Minnesota State AFL-CIO, and co-chair of the Pride at Work Twin Cities chapter as well. I’m real into organizing around trans and queer issues in labor, and trans rights are workers’ rights. I want to work to make sure that shows up in the way we organize in our unions.
Martha Grevatt: My name is Martha Grevatt, I’ve been a member of the United Auto Workers since 1987. I worked 23 years at a Chrysler plant in Twinsburg, Ohio, which is south of Cleveland. At that time I served on the executive board of Local 122. That plant closed, I followed my job to Michigan, to the Warren stamping plant near Detroit. I also served on the executive board of UAW Local 869. I retired from the auto industry in 2019, but I remain active with the union. I’m also a founding board member of Pride at Work, which was founded in 1994 on the 25th anniversary weekend commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion. While in Michigan, I was vice president of Pride at Work Michigan. I’m active in some local struggles here in Cleveland, and I’m also a managing editor of a socialist newspaper, Workers World. I’m currently on the steering committee of Unite All Workers for Democracy, which is a reform caucus inside the UAW.
Maximillian Alvarez: All right, well welcome everyone to another episode of Working People. A podcast about the lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles of the working class today. Brought to you in partnership with In These Times magazine and The Real News Network, produced by Jules Taylor, and made possible by the support of listeners like you.
We’ve got a really special and really urgent episode for you all today. I could not be more honored to be joined by our amazing guests Gabbi and Martha, who you just heard right there in the introduction. We’ve been wanting to put this episode together for a while, but understandably there’s a lot of really dark shit happening in the country right now. That’s actually in large part why we wanted to put this episode together. We obviously, on this show, spend a lot of time talking to workers about their lives, their jobs, their dreams, their struggles. Their individual struggles, their struggles on the shop floor, and the larger struggles that we all face in our own way, living in a rigged economy and a vicious capitalist culture that teaches all of us to see each other as enemies and competitors and not as coworkers and community members and comrades.
I think that in the stories that we share on this show, you really see the effects of that vicious culture, that vicious economic system. But there are also some that maybe you don’t see depending on who you are and where you’re from and the kind of life that you live. But we all need to be very clear about the situation that we are in in this country right now. I’m sure anyone who listens to this show knows and understands the severity of what is happening. It didn’t happen overnight, this is a long brewing assault on our LGBTQ siblings. It is a full-fledged assault on the rights and humanity of our coworkers and our neighbors and partners and community members that has taken many forms. In state legislatures across the country, trans people are having their rights stripped and their existence basically written out of legal existence in a way that I can only really describe as genocidal, in the hopes that we can just erase trans people from our society.
But also, we know that the kind of rhetoric that we’re seeing, especially from the right wing, but it’s online where people are really targeting and dehumanizing LGBTQ people. It’s not an accident that far-right assholes are showing up at Pride events, that they’re showing up at drag story time events. Really toxic and vicious shit, painting LGBTQ people as “groomers” in the hopes that society will turn against them. And once that happens, unspeakable evils can happen without anyone really taking notice or caring about it. So we have to fight against this as much as we possibly can.
I really wanted to get Gabbi and Martha on the show today so that we could address this in the way that we best know how: Talking from the ground floor of the labor movement and building on up. I think what we really wanted to do today is mainly talk about what we can all do, what role the labor movement itself can and should play in fighting to defend and expand the rights and liberties and dignity of our LGBTQ siblings. Also, what within the labor movement needs to be done to better understand that this fight is all of our fight, and to improve where the labor movement has failed in the past to adequately defend LGBTQ workers.
With all that upfront, I want to do a shortened version of what we normally do on this show, which is to get to know a bit more about Gabbi and Martha before we wade into these heavy but important topics. But I could not be more excited to have Gabbi and Martha on to help us navigate this, and I’m really, really grateful to them for the time.
Yeah, I guess why don’t we start there? Let’s get to know a little more about you both, the kind of work that you do, how you got into organizing as a part of the labor movement, and what your experience has been, or what you’ve seen the experiences of other LGBTQ workers has been during your time as a worker in the movement.
Gabbi Pierce: I got my start in labor organizing by unionizing my former workplace, a climate org called Sunrise Movement. In that, I found just a great sense of empowerment around trans and queer worker issues. When we bargained our contract, we were able to include language establishing protections for trans people. I think I just found that unions can really accomplish a lot for trans and queer workers and win us a lot of the things that we need that politicians are failing to deliver. I think that through labor organizing, we can start to implement a lot of the changes that we need by utilizing the power that workers have, because workers do hold the power if we claim it and take it back. Through doing that and through our collective strength, we can really, I think, make a lot happen.
That’s I think what I found at my entry point to labor organizing and since then I’ve made it a big mission of mine to give effort toward supporting non-unionized trans workers in unionization, training them up on how to unionize, supporting them in initiating campaigns. If we’re unionized, we’ve got more protections, we’ve got people who have our backs, and we have collective strength, and I think there’s a lot of value in that.
We've got a roundtable at Third going up shortly.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Monday, August 1, 2022. Moqtada continues to make a mess in Iraq.
Looking at the AP photo by Anmar Khalil with this article, my first thought was, "I've never seen a gayer bunch of men." Moqtada's goons clearly are projecting self-hatred on others. The men in the photo say they're in for the long haul and, judging by the excitement they're building being around each other -- and only each other, they're going to be some interesting nights. Those rumors about Moqtada have always circulated so it's probably not that big of a surprise to finally realize why he and his followers don't want women to participate in the protests or 'protests.'
My second thought was, "They're occupying an empty building. How is this news?" Breaking into the Green Zone? I argued that was news twice last week. Occupying an empty building?
My third thought: How?
How did the photo get taken?
The October Revolution -- which Moqtada was not a part of though he briefly tried to glom on it -- existed largely though photos that were taken by participants. We know why that is, right?
Long ago, the Iraqi government began the crackdown on the press covering protests. They would secure the main square from reporters.
But they can't do that with Moqtada's love goons?
Easily over 600 participants in The October Revolution were killed for protesting in a public square. But, note, Moqtada's goons are all soft and ready for their night of passion with another. Anyone who thinks it's being laid onto thick -- I don't think so. Moqtada's a notorious homophobe who terrorizes Iraq's LGBTQ community -- and those thought to be LGBTQ. He also follows what's said here so we'll never be done with this topic.
Real protesters, brave ones, risked their lives in The October Revolution. Moqtada's goon squad just wants to sleep in mass with one another
It is the hollowest of hollow protests. And it's also very futile.
Moqtada is self-presenting as he's keeping the government from being formed and some will believe that. He's not keeping it from being formed. The Kurds have to decide on the president which, at this point, they still haven't. After the president is voted on -- and that has to be done in a gathering but that gathering doesn't have to take place in the official Parliament building and, due to COVID, it could, in fact, take place virtually.
But should cry baby Moqtada get his way and a new vote be held, he is aware he probably won't get his way then. Meaning? Moqtada saw his own cult -- after he instructed them to vote -- turn out in their lowest numbers ever. Let's say he and his goons were granted a revote that took place this fall. What has he accomplished to up those numbers?
By contrast, there are a number of non-Sadrists who sat out the vote that now feel they shouldn't have. It's much more likely that the same low number is all Moqtada will be able to turn out in a re-vote whereas many others could show up to vote. Equally true, Mustafa al-Kadhimi will be stopped if he tries to prevent the security forces from voting this go round. He'll be stopped by the court. He pulled that one out of thin air and surprised observers back in October. It was announced right before the elections.
There's already a court ruling ready to be released if there's a revote. He's not going to be able to deny Iraqis from voting this time just because they're close to Iran and just because they're in the security forces.
All security forces were supposed to be entitled to turn out in early voting. But then Mustafa announced that the paramilitaries couldn't. These militias were supposed to work election day -- often far from home -- to protect election polling places and then return to their own districts in time to vote before the polls closed.
It was Mustafa's attempt (goaded by the US government) to prevent the militia members close to Iran from voting.
It shouldn't have happened -- and a lot of non-Iraqis aren't aware it did because the western press ignored it. They only care about a fair vote when they're personal pets don't suffer. I don't like the militias, we were against them ever being made part of the Iraqi military. But I won't pretend that a fair election took place when they were disenfranchised.
Many did pretend, many western outlets. They would include the fact that the militias were saying the elections were not fair and then these 'fair' outlets would insist that there was no evidence of fraud. No evidence? They were prevented from voting with the rest of the security forces in the early election that is held just for the security forces. Then they were still expected to protect polling places on election day for their assigned shift -- often requiring several hours of travel to get to the polling place they were assigned -- and were supposed to somehow make it to their own polling place to vote.
This did not happen by accident. It was a means to suppress the vote.
Again, there is already a court ruling in place should this tactic be attempted again.
Most of the electorate that sat out was of the opinion that nothing was changing.
At least a third that sat out for that reason has voiced that they would vote in a revote. That means a higher turnout. The Shi'ite militias been enfranchised in a new election means a higher turnout.
How does a do-over election help Moqtada?
Again, he ordered his subjects to vote. And he had the lowest turnout he's ever seen.
He hasn't exactly done anything to impress anyone since the election. He repeatedly failed to form a government, over and over. Now he's sending his goon boys into the Green Zone where they are very lucky that security forces are not just opening fire on them. By the rules, they could. The Green Zone is a heavily protected area and if you're not supposed, you're not supposed to be there. If this were The October Revolution entering the Green Zone in 2019, you better believe that they would have been shot on sight. At some point, that move may be made towards Moqtada's goons.
Should that happen, his cult would have to admit that yet again Moqtada was safe while others were harmed carrying out his actions. And some of the internal complaints within his cult that really haven't surfaced since he last fled to Iran to hide out would surface.
Moqtada should worry that others have done the calculations I have. That might explain why the same government that cracks down on real protest in Tahrir Square is allowing AP's Anmar Khalil to take as many pictures as possible.
Moqtada had less of turnout in October than he ever has. And due to the never-ending corruption, The October Revolution, Mustafa refusing to call elections immediately as he promised he would, and so many other factors, the general population (non-Moqtada supporters) sat out in record number. By recalculating how they would count turnout, the government saved a little face and managed to call it a 41% turnout of registered voters.
Non-Moqtada supporters who didn't vote have seen how much havoc failure Moqtada caused -- months and months of being unable to form a government so that Iraq still has no prime minister and still has no president. And they've seen that when the Coordination Framework (Moqtada's foes) were given the chance, they stepped up with a nominee for prime minister quickly (and that now it's Moqtada trying to block the government from forming). It's not a surprise that all these months later . . . they would vote in a do-over.
Where Moqtada gets the idea that he can have a do-over and have it in October 2021, I have no idea. But it doesn't work that way. And a do-over would have potential voters thinking this might not be the time to sit it out.
In the meantime, news value may arrive shortly. There's a call for a counter-protest. AP notes:
Al-Sadr's chief rival, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the head of the Framework alliance, and Shiite leader Qais al-Khazali, appear to be leading the push for protests. Meanwhile, Fatah Alliance head Hadi al-Ameri is urging control and moderation, two Shiite political officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Kataib Hezbollah, another Iran-backed militia group, has also suggested it will not participate.
If the protests escalate, it would be the closest followers of al-Sadr and al-Maliki will come to a confrontation since 2008, when the former prime minister lead Iraq's army to drive the cleric's previous militia, the Mahdi Army, out of the southern city of Basra.
As we noted Saturday, the big news that day wasn't that Moqtada's love goons were occupying the Parliament, the big news was that they had breached the Green Zone again. EURASIA REVIEW included this, "The demonstrators breached the fortified barriers around the Green Zone, the INA said. The highly-secured Green Zone in the capital is home to several government buildings and diplomatic missions." THE LIBYAN EXPRESS noted Mohammed al-Halbusi, Speaker of Parliament, "Halbusi also called on Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to take necessary measures to protect state institutions and demonstrators."
The United Nations also had no trouble noting that the Green Zone was breached:
In a statement issued late Saturday night, the UN chief appealed to all relevant actors “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, avoid any further violence, and ensure the protection of peaceful protesters and State institutions”.
For the second time in a week, on Saturday protesters stormed the parliament in Baghdad, breaching the high-security Green Zone and injuring more than 120 people, news media reported.
Issue at hand
Following nine months of a political deadlock that has prevented the creation of a new government, on Wednesday hundreds of people first broke into the parliament.
News reports said that the unrest has been triggered by supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – whose block won the majority of seats last October and who opposes the nomination of a pro-Iran rival candidate for prime minister.
Respect fundamental rights
Mr. Guterres noted that “freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights that must be respected at all times”.
“The Secretary-General urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences and form, through peaceful and inclusive dialogue, an effective national government that will be able to deliver on longstanding demands for reform, without further delay,” the statement concluded.
The White House needs to speak. Twice last week, the Green Zone was breached.
Rockets fall in the Green Zone last January and the US State Dept rushes to tell CNN that Americans are safe in the Green Zone. For the first time ever, a mob has twice broken into the Green Zone and the White House has nothing to say to the public?
Meanwhile ALMADA reports on how nothing has been done to rebuild Sinjar (they're covering a US article, by the way) and they cite former US House Rep Frank Wolf has visited Sinjar repeatedly since it was 'liberated' from ISIS and each time finds no sign of improvement.
In the US, over the weekend we learned Joe Biden had COVID again. Benajmain Mateus (WSWS) observes:
The turn of events is a setback for the White House, which had hoped to bank on the president’s illness and quick recovery to assure Americans that coronavirus was now a walk in the park, given the use of the current vaccines and anti-viral therapeutics. Biden’s testing positive for COVID again coincides with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s similar rebound in late June, which has many questioning the complication's rarity.
There is a clear sense of damage control on the part of the administration’s health advisers to downplay the “rebound.” The corporate media cooperated, barely mentioning in the Sunday interview programs that the 79-year-old US president had come down with a second infection from a disease whose most lethal effects have been on his age group.
Nor was anyone so rude as to suggest that having the 81-year-old Nancy Pelosi, second in line of succession to the presidency, traveling to a potential war zone around Taiwan at this time was a reckless endeavor.
Biden left isolation on Wednesday and triumphantly removed his mask before the media and cameras at a staged Rose Garden rally to celebrate his negative test. He boastfully declared his symptoms had always been mild, and his quick recovery was evidence of his administration’s progress in bringing the pandemic to heel. After giving thanks to God for his swift recovery, he said, “The entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work, to carry out the duties of the office without any interruption. It’s a real statement on where we are in the fight against COVID-19.”
Since declaring his personal victory against the coronavirus, Biden has been recklessly attending public events unmasked, contrary to even the dubious and reckless guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , which recommends that after five full days after testing positive and without any fevers for at least 24 hours, isolation can be ended, but that a “well-fitting mask must be worn for ten full days any time you are around others inside your home or in public. Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.” The CDC specifically wrote, “If your test is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day ten.”
Jean-Pierre, when asked why Biden had violated CDC guidelines, particularly when he addressed CEOs during a Thursday meeting at the White House complex, side-stepped the issue by saying, “They were socially distanced. They were far enough apart. So, we made it safe for them to be together, to be on that stage.” Clearly, she didn’t receive the memo that COVID is an airborne pathogen.
White House officials are, however, conducting extensive contact tracing, which has been essentially abandoned by all public health officials and directly conflicts with the precept being put forward by the White House that every American will get COVID and that the pandemic will be with humanity forever. Apparently, top US government officials deserve greater protection from an infected president than school teachers from children who bring COVID into the classroom.
As for workers in offices, factories, warehouses and other workplaces, Biden’s smug declaration that he was able to work throughout his infection is clearly aimed at setting an example. Stay on the job no matter how sick you are or how many people you may infect!
It is worth recalling that the CDC had halved its isolation guidance back in December 2021 not based on any science but on the behest of Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian to decrease the isolation period to five days “to address the potential impact of the current isolation policy” on their bottom dollar. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted at the time that her decision to change guidelines were made to “keep the critical functions of society open and operating.” She added, “We can’t take science in a vacuum. We have to put science in the context of how it can be implemented in a functional society.”
In a study published in a preprint in March 2022, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital found no difference in viral kinetics [length of time someone remains infective] between people infected with Delta or Omicron with non-severe symptoms regardless of vaccine status. The authors wrote, “Over 50 percent of individuals had a replication-competent, culturable virus at day five, and 25 percent had a culturable virus at day eight.”
The following sites updated: